I am raising funds through the non-profit Society for Risk Analysis (SRA) to prepare and communicate the 'Whole Truth' about the scientific evidence on benefits AND risks of 'Whole Milks', fresh unprocessed (raw) milks from humans and cows. SRA, the world's leading authority on risk analysis and its applications since its founding in 1980, attracts members trained across multiple disciplines to solve complex and controversial societal problems.
SRA members from the US, the UK, and Australia and New Zealand joined me as partners on a multi-year project on the natural microbes (microbiota) in milks that led to this campaign. Additional international work includes expert testimony for colleagues in Canada. The goal of the campaign is to fund work to inform consumers, legislators, regulators, and scientists around the world about the state of the science for benefits and risks of raw milks.
Importance of the Work
Headlines about risks of raw milks in the media are often confusing, and claims are rarely supported by scientific studies that represent the best available evidence. Scientists previously assumed that if no microbes grew on an agar plate, none were present. However, advances in genetic methods now allow us to detect the presence of thousands of microbes in raw milks that do not grow on agar or cause illness.
SRA members are concerned about bias, subjectivity, and exclusion of evidence of benefits AND risks of raw milks in policies for human and cow milks around the world. Decision makers, including individual consumers and organizations like Human Milk Banks and state or national regulatory agencies, do not have available objective analyses of the full body of evidence so crucial to balancing benefits and risks.
Decisions by Human Milk Banks to pasteurize donor milks significantly increase risks of infectious and non-communicable diseases (asthma, inflammatory diseases, obesity) and consistently reduce benefits for infants in clinical studies conducted in Neonatal Intensive Care Units (NICUs) across developed and developing nations. Human donor milk banks pasteurize breast milk from donors because of the assumption that pathogens might be present at high enough numbers to cause illness in infants. Similarly, some fear raw cow milks because pathogens may be present. However, natural, beneficial microbes dominate milks from cows as well as humans. The MYTH is that the presence/absence of pathogens in milk samples predicts illness or health for humans who choose raw milks. (It is the dose of pathogens AND the dose of the competing microbiota that determine health outcomes, as studied by SRA members.)
Current policies are not evidence-based or balanced, but biased, set in the stone of outdated assumptions. SRA's well-established, international reputation for dedication to objectivity and high-quality analysis makes it the perfect organization for this global campaign and beginning open dialogues about balancing benefits and risks of raw milks. Without the planned objective systematic analysis and education for all impacted by raw milk policies, the outdated assumptions, misinformation, and myths about raw milks so common in the media will continue to confuse consumers and decision makers.
We need your donations because such work is both essential to good policy and grossly underfunded. Public funding is not available to conduct thorough, objective analyses for raw milk, due in part to misinformation so common in the media. The time is NOW for preparing the evidence for benefits AND risks so that fair, science-based policies can be developed that permit consumers to make food choices for themselves and their families that improve health based on the scientific advances of the 21st century.
Plan for Use of Donated Funds
Donations at any level are made directly to SRA for the project organized by Upstate NY SRA. Your donation will assist my team in preparing thorough, high quality peer-reviewed analyses of the state of the science that you can trust.
A technical paper on benefits and risks of the microbiota of human and cow milks will be prepared for submittal to the SRA journal Risk Analysis. Educational materials will be presented in articles, presentations, videos, and blogs designed to inform consumers, legislators, regulators, and scientists about the 'Whole Truth', scientific evidence of benefits and risks of 'Whole Milks', raw milks with microbiota intact.
As in past SRA grant projects, I will conduct analyses and prepare fully referenced drafts of papers, presentations, and blogs over the first 6 months in 2019. This work builds on cumulative bibliographies, from the first 2 years of the SRA project on the microbiota of milks. I will document my hours and invoice SRA at the discounted rate agreed to previously (40% discount relative to the rates charged to government clients for consulting).
Meet the Technical Team
Margaret (Peg) Coleman: I began serving as a medical microbiologist and microbial risk assessor in the US federal government in 1992, and continued that work as a consultant and founder of the woman-owned small business Coleman Scientific Consulting. My clients and colleagues recognize me as a trusted advisor, invited expert, educator, and peer-reviewer for methodology to assess microbial risks and predictive microbiology. I publish and lecture on diverse bacterial pathogens including Campylobacter, pathogenic E. coli, Listeria, Salmonella and Shigella, as well as biothreat agents causing anthrax, tularemia, and other diseases. An active member of SRA since the 1990s, I currently serve as President of the Upstate NY SRA chapter and an officer of the Dose-Response Specialty Group. My work on issues related to the microbiota of milks began with a presentation entitled Exploring Disagreements Regarding Health Risks of Raw and Pasteurized Human and Bovine Milk at the 2014 SRA meeting. Since then, I published five manuscripts in the prestigious journals Human and Ecological Risk Assessment and Risk Analysis, presented 6 lectures and a webinar on microbiota of milks at regional, national, and international events, and began leadership of this multi-year international project on the microbiota of milks. I am pleased to partner with my colleague Rodney Dietert on this first technical paper to document the 'Whole Truth' about the benefits AND risks of 'Whole Milks', with microbiota intact, from immunological and ecological perspectives.
Renown immunotoxicologist Rodney Dietert, a professor at Cornell University and a prolific author, is collaborating on this SRA project as a co-author for the technical paper. Professor Dietert has authored more than 100 peer-reviewed papers on immunity and the human microbiota. He previously contributed to two SRA events, a webinar in 2017 and a lecture in 2018 on Holistic Approaches to Microbiota and Immunology for Neonates (see blog with video of the lecture here). Two of Professor Dietert's recent books are offered as rewards for certain levels of donation. The Human Superorganism describes us as Homo sapiens plus our microbial partners in health, the microbiota. The back cover describes the work as 'packed with new insights'; setting out 'a fascinating perspective on the trillions of microbes that cohabitate with us'; and delivering 'must-have information for how we can harness their power to prevent disease and flourish alongside them. Truly brilliant!' The second book is titled Strategies for Protecting Your Child's Immune System. These are fascinating, highly-readable books for both scientists and non-scientists. You will love having signed copies in your library or to give as gifts to colleagues, friends, and loved ones!
Other Perspectives of the Campaign
View (and share) short videos about the campaign from other perspectives.
- Immunotoxicologist and author
- Business executive
THANK YOU in advance for your support of this important work documenting scientific evidence of benefits and risks of raw milks from immunologic and ecological perspectives!