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Lead Researcher in Dairy-Height Study Concealed Dairy Industry Connections

Animal Justice June 13, 2017

Animal Justice Demands St. Michael’s Hospital Stop Industry-Funded Research

TORONTO—Last week, St. Michael’s Hospital announced a study claiming that children who drink non-cow’s milk are shorter than children who drink cow’s milk, generating international headlines. Now, concerns are being raised about the integrity of the study and the honesty of its lead researcher.

When asked by science reporter Beth Mole about dairy industry funding, lead researcher Jonathon Maguire claimed to only have received “about $10,000 from the dairy farmers about ten years ago—and that’s it.”

In reality, in recent years, Maguire has received $90,000 from the Dairy Farmers of Canada and an undisclosed amount from the Dairy Farmers of Ontario, among other documented financial ties. The milk-height study itself was a project of TARGet Kids, which lists Dairy Farmers of Ontario and the Danone Institute as funders.

Maguire also denied having been involved with any dairy industry advisory committees. In reality, in 2016 he sat on the Dairy Farmers of Canada Expert Scientific Advisory Committee.

Maguire also apparently concealed his dairy industry ties in the conflict of interest declaration that authors sign before publishing research in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. The form requires that funding sources and potential conflicts be listed, yet a footnote to the study states, “None of the authors reported a conflict of interest related to this study.”

Now, Animal Justice is calling on St. Michael’s Hospital to stop accepting funding from industry lobbyists to maintain integrity in scientific research.

Dietitian Pamela Fergusson, who also holds a PhD in nutrition, said: “Researchers pointed to dietary protein and fat as a likely culprit, but this is an unsubstantiated hypothesis. A more concerning possibility is that if children drinking cow’s milk grow taller, this is a result of IGF-1, an insulin-like growth hormone naturally occurring in cow’s milk that has been linked to an increased risk of cancer. I’m troubled that researchers would omit this possibility from their press release, though they did mention it in their published paper.”

Lawyer Anna Pippus, director of farmed animal advocacy for Animal Justice, said: “Science should not be for sale to those with the deepest pockets. The public relies on unbiased research from honest researchers to know how to make healthy and sustainable food choices. It’s clear that Dr. Maguire’s research and conclusions have been tainted by the dairy industry’s long and insidious reach.”

Previously, Maguire published dairy-industry-sponsored research concluding that children should drink two cups of milk each day to obtain adequate vitamin D. But vitamin D is not even naturally occurring in milk and is added as a supplement.

The College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario states that “Physicians must not knowingly be involved in concealing research results or presenting them in a misleading fashion.” As a research institution, St. Michael’s must take this obligation seriously.

Previously, Animal Justice has filed complaints with federal regulators over Dairy Farmers of Canada advertisements disguised to look like public health announcements. Animal Justice has also exposed the federal government for funding research to actively seek out health benefits of dairy.

 

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The study can be found here.

For a detailed scientific critique of the study, please see here.

For more information, contact:

Anna Pippus
Director of Farmed Animal Advocacy
apippus@animaljustice.ca

Animal Justice

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Help Protect Calves From Veal Industry Cruelty

Animal Justice February 6, 2017

How the Proposed Veal Code of Practice Fails Calves and What You Can Do to Help

Calves used by the Canadian veal industry endure tremendous suffering. These babies are stolen away from their mothers shortly after birth, then isolated in tiny crates with hard, barren floors—denying them every natural instinct and urge.

The National Farm Animal Care Council—the industry group that creates guidelines for the treatment of animals in Canada—has released a new draft code of practice for veal calves, and it is open for public comment.

Now is the time to speak up for calves. Please take a moment to send in your comments before the February 14 deadline!

ACT NOW

The draft guidelines do not require farmers to follow many animal management practices that the latest welfare science indicates are the bare minimum to reduce suffering. Indeed, the science summarized by the Council’s own scientific advisory committee is too often unheeded in the draft guidelines, indefensibly sacrificing animal welfare for farmer convenience.

Some specific shortcomings with the draft guidelines include:

The draft guidelines permit calves to be isolated, even though the evidence (and common sense) is clear that calves crave social contact. Like all newborn babies, veal calves are biologically motivated to seek warmth, comfort, and social interaction. Taking calves from their mothers and isolating them from each other is cruel.

The draft code of practice permits farmers to keep calves on hard, barren floors. In addition to being uncomfortable, the scientific report indicates that hard flooring and/or a lack of bedding is also associated with a wide range of injuries and health problems.

Bursitis is painful joint inflammation, commonly caused by hard flooring in veal calf facilities. Despite it being a common, painful, and preventable condition, the draft guidelines only require addressing environmental issues if three consecutive groups of calves exceed a 15 percent rate of bursitis.

The scientific report indicates that if calves were left with their mothers, they would nurse ten times each day in the first week of life. The frequency would gradually decrease until natural weaning around nine months. The scientific advisory committee identified numerous serious health problems with a low frequency of daily feedings, yet the draft guidelines require only two feedings per day—a frequency that research has clearly associated with suffering.

Like all newborn babies, calves are born with a physical and psychological need to suckle. The scientific advisory committee identified numerous benefits associated with suckling on teats vs drinking milk from buckets, observing that “calves are highly motivated to suck.” Despite this, the draft guidelines don’t require the use of teats, suggesting only that farmers “consider” using teats.

The scientific advisory committee found that calves with average blood haemoglobin of ? 4.8 mmol/L (7.7 g/dL) were anemic, negatively affecting their appetite, growth, energy, and immunity. However, the draft guidelines only require iron supplementation when calves are “found to have” blood haemoglobin below 4.5 mmol/L (7.2 g/dL)—at which point the calves would be severely anemic. Moreover, farmers aren’t even required to actually monitor blood haemoglobin!

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As legal experts in animal law, we at Animal Justice make it our mission to identify and explain the many ways our animal welfare laws fail animals. With your help as concerned and engaged citizens, we can push to improve laws and policies.

However, consumers should remember that suffering is inherent in veal farming. Calves are literally waste products of the dairy industry, as cows must be impregnated to produce milk. These babies have been taken from their mothers within hours of birth, causing immense distress to both mother and baby. As together we move the ball forward on legal protections for animals, we consumers always have the power to vote with our wallets by boycotting industries that harm animals.

Photo by Jo-Anne McArthur / We Animals

Animal Justice

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Dairy Farmers of Canada Ads Violate Federal Law, Says Legal Filing

Animal Justice November 23, 2016

OTTAWA—National animal law organization Animal Justice has filed a false advertising complaint with federal regulators over Dairy Farmers of Canada ads that falsely claim dairy is required to prevent osteoporosis, colorectal cancer, and hypertension, when research shows dairy is not a necessary part of the human diet and may even be harmful.

The ad campaign is running on transit vehicles and stations across Canada. The ads are disguised as public health announcements from trusted Canadian health authorities, including the Heart and Stroke Foundation, Osteoporosis Canada and Colorectal Cancer Association of Canada, to which Dairy Farmers of Canada is a major donor. It is not evident that the ads are funded by a marketing organization with a mandate to sell dairy; in fact, the Dairy Farmers boasts an annual marketing budget of $80 million.

According to Dietitians of Canada, it is not necessary to consume fluid cow’s milk, yogurt, or cheese to avoid colorectal cancer, osteoporosis, or heart disease. On the contrary, Dietitians of Canada states that a vegan diet, which excludes dairy, “has many health benefits including lower rates of obesity, heart disease, high blood pressure, high blood cholesterol, type 2 diabetes and certain types of cancer.”

Dr. Walter Willet, Chair of Harvard’s Department of Nutrition and Professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School, observes that high dairy intake is not beneficial and may even be harmful. According to Dr. Willet, high dairy consumption is associated with increased risk of prostate and ovarian cancer.

“The Dairy Farmers of Canada has very effectively spent decades convincing Canadians that they need to drink the breast milk of another species,” said lawyer Anna Pippus, director of farmed animal advocacy for Animal Justice. “In fact, adult humans have no nutritional need to consume cow’s milk. This latest ad campaign is brazenly disguised as public health announcements from trusted health authorities. Moreover, it’s ethnocentric and racially exclusive to position consuming cow’s milk as a normal and natural food for humans when more than 90 percent of some non-European communities can’t even digest it. Cow’s milk is intended for baby cows. These predatory ads violate federal laws that prohibit false advertising.”

According to international market research company BBC Research, the global market for dairy alternatives is exploding, having reached $5.8 billion in 2014 and expected to rise at a rate of 13.3 percent annually to $10.9 billion by 2019.

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To read the complaint, please click here.

For high-resolution versions of the ads, please see the following links:

Stroke
Heart health
Colorectal cancer
Osteoperosis

For more information, contact:

Anna Pippus
Director of Farmed Animal Advocacy
apippus@animaljustice.ca

Animal Justice

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