These notes were originally published by the Canadian Artisan Dairy Alliance, the only national organization with the goal of legalizing raw milk in Canada. Support and follow CADA for Canadian updates.
Mark McAfee IMGC Symposium 2022
Once a year, the world’s brainiest PhDs and scientists in the field of milk research gather at the Symposium of the International Milk Genomics Consortium to share their findings. Most years, the only farmer in attendance is the Raw Milk Institute’s (RAWMI) Mark McAfee who can ask the thought-provoking and disruptive questions everyone’s thinking but no one dares ask.
He explains that because of the financial grant system, researchers who’ve received grants from milk processors can’t ask questions about raw milk. As one of Mark’s PhD friends puts it, “A hungry mouth cannot freely speak.” While everyone loves to promote raw human breast milk, as soon as the conversation shifts to include other mammals’ raw milk, an uncomfortable silence descends.
However, despite the political and financial interests that limit research into raw milk, Mark still came away encouraged from the IMGC. Here are some of his top takeaways.
- Dr. Bruce German said: “Data is the currency of science”. This reminds me that RAWMI has collected thousands of milk bacteria test results and can now prove safety by analysis of the data! We have the currency! Two peer reviewed PUBMED articles are already showing this to be true. Data drives good decisions, solid evidence and proof.
- The gut is the most important and largest immune system organ in the body. Chronic inflammation drives chronic disease and illness. Raw milk could be the most powerful anti-inflammatory food in existence.
- Bioactive extra-cellular vesicles (EVs) found in raw milk may reduce inflammation, potentially decreasing the chances of arthritis and joint pain.
- Extra-cellular vesicles (EVs) include lactoferrin, alkaline phosphatase, and other bioactive proteins and enzymes. At least 60% are carried by the milk fat globule.
- EVs are critical to infants’ intestinal microbiota development, gut mucosal system, immune development, metabolic health, cognitive development and health.
- Infant formulas classically do not have fat and are made from spray-dried skim milk, denying the baby the bioactive elements critical to gut, nervous system and immune system development. One study has found higher levels of inflammatory markers in formula-fed infants compared to breast-fed infants.
- Companies are trying to develop technologies to extract EVs from whey proteins and make a special product from them, when they already exist in raw milk.
- Human breast milk EVs and bovine milk EVs are similar.
- Raw milk EVs survive the digestive process and are active in the gut.
- Cow’s colostrum contains substances that may provide passive immunity to human consumers.
- Raw cow’s milk has a regulatory effect on both the innate and adaptive immune response in humans.
- EVs help build the critically important intestinal mucosal layer.
- There is an entero-mammary link and pathway. Translation: Along a pathway between a mother’s gut and her breast milk, antibodies and bioactive elements can be passed to the baby.
- Mothers are antibody factories for their babies via their breast immune tissue and their own raw milk.
- High pressure processing (HPP) is sometimes used to pasteurize human milk held in breast milk banks. Unlike heat processing it does not destroy enzymes, antibodies or EVs found in raw milk, but it does kill pathogens and probiotics. HPP is not approved for cows’ milk in the USA.
Mark concludes: “All the presenters had a favourite milk EV that they researched and wanted to protect. Yet not one presenter saw the big picture of protecting whole milk. Not one presenter talked about making raw milk safe by testing or healthy cows or better conditions. Instead they talked about different kinds of processing and technologies to extract the EVs from raw milk to make a patented pill or potion out of it.
“My big take-away is this: raw milk safety and testing is on the right track and on the right side of history. RAWMI is good for the farmer and great for the consumer. One of the IMGC executive directors told me ‘You are a brave pioneer. You are leading and doing things we can only dream about because of the way the system works.’
“Researchers are being paid to extract little pieces of good stuff from raw milk and ignore the whole. It is all very reductionist. Every scientist I speak with loves what we are doing at RAWMI! They just cannot speak of it for fear of the loss of their jobs or grant funds. Our raw milk has all the good stuff, whole, undamaged, low risk and active. We have already achieved what world class scientists are trying to do. We use the whole and make it safe! This is contrarian and totally the reverse concept of currently allowed pathways of thought. That makes us true pioneers!
“Although many of these beliefs have been well known by those of us in the raw milk community for many years, some of these statements have never been made by the scientific community until now.”
Check out the RAWMI website to learn more about the Raw Milk Institute.