Hoard’s Dairyman has been producing articles on consumer activist topics fairly regularly, the last two issues suggesting that “Organic food marketers use scare tactics” and that lack of supporting science is what aborted a PETA advertising campaign against milk [mimicking the “milk mustache” ads] under a title “Got Autism?”
The PETA ads intending to link childhood consumption of milk to the increase in autistic children also had the potential to link cow’s milk to childhood onset diabetes if not many autoimmune diseases. The scientific link comes from old research in New Zealand and Australia that was challenged by industry, then picked up ten years later by the UN’s World Health Organization and researched in Eastern Europe to similar conclusions. The contentions from this research are as follows:
(1) Unlike human breast milk, as well as goat, sheep, water buffalo (essentially all studied mammals), there are multiple, mutated forms of “Beta Casein” in cow’s milk. These mutations occurred centuries prior to domestication of Bos Taurus (European) cattle, and are spread through all known dairy breeds.
The normal Beta Casein variant is A2, the mutated Beta Casein variants are A1, B, and a few others.
(2) The original New Zealand research believed it found an association between the consumption of A1 casein-content milk and the rise of auto-immune disorders in children. The NZ dairy industry’s response was to assert that no causal link was established Part of the assumptions on each side were conflicting interpretations of the effect of cows producing both forms of the Beta Casein (as a majority of NZ cows tested were “heterozygous” in gene possession as A1A2 Beta Casein).
(3) Based on all the evidence, pro and con, offered over the last twenty or more years, the conclusion of medical researchers was to recommend “IF you have a family [genetic] history of risk for auto immune disorders, such as Type A (Childhood) Diabetes, Autism, and related issues, avoid consumption of milk that is not produced by “homozygous” A2A2 dairy cows.” That is as far as science goes on it.
There is no “PROOF” that the mutated Beta Caseins in pooled cow milk “CAUSES” autism.
Lacking that proof, PETA was enjoined from continuing their planned series of ads that were, as all their efforts consistently seek, designed to destroy the dairy cattle industry (as part of the mega-industry of all animal-derived food, clothing and other products). However, Weston Price Foundation (not related to PETA) does publish and distribute a book entitled Devil in the Milk that is making a strong case to consumers- “seek out sources of DNA tested verified homozygous A2A2 Beta Casein cows and only consume their milk, thus avoiding ingesting the mutated forms of Beta Casein.”
THE TIME TO BE PROACTIVE HAS ARRIVED.
The proactive dairymen will select for A2A2 Beta casein and even “polled” heads. These are simple genetics. In our business alone we have over 140 homozygous A2 sires in twelve breeds, as well as 80 polled sires in eight breeds, with more being identified regularly. Some emphasis on health trait genes will assist you in lowering bulk tank cell counts over time as well. The trends in dairy are once again in favor of “quality” over “commodity” and the wise dairyman does not get jealous of the neighbor who pursues on-farm bottling, certified organic, or any other developing market with premium milk prices—he does his homework to qualify for what may be coming next in his market. Increasingly, the effort to fill premium markets will begin with genetic characteristics.