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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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Chilliwack Workers Sentenced To Jail Time for Dairy Cow Abuse

Animal Justice May 18, 2017

Three B.C. men have been sentenced to jail time after pleading guilty to violently abusing cows at Chilliwack Cattle Sales—Canada’s largest dairy farm.

As reported in The Vancouver Sun, two workers were sentenced to 60 days in jail, to be served on weekends, and are banned from owning animals for three years. A third worker was sentenced to seven days in jail and a one-year ban on owning animals.

The cow abuse dates back to 2014, when Mercy For Animals released an undercover video exposing abuse at the farm. The footage showed workers repeatedly hitting, beating, kicking, punching, and whipping cows with chains and canes; a cow being lifted by a tractor with a chain around her neck; and workers abusing a pigeon.

Chilliwack Cattle Sales president Kenneth Kooyman and director Wesley Kooyman were fined $300,000 late last year after they pleaded guilty to several counts of animal cruelty on behalf of the dairy. Four more former workers are set to face trial, starting on Friday, May 19.

The Chilliwack case highlights a gaping flaw in Canada’s legal system: Animals on farms aren’t protected by effective oversight. Farms aren’t required to be licenced, employees aren’t required to have any training, and the government does not inspect or monitor farms for animal welfare measures.

Even when there is no overt abuse or neglect of animals, many consumers are surprised to learn that standard industry practices—which are considered legal by authorities—still involve extreme animal suffering.

For example, on dairy farms, calves are taken from their mothers at birth so the milk can be sold by the dairy industry. The baby calves are fed formula before they’re killed for veal (in the case of male calves) or used as dairy cows themselves (in the case of female calves). All dairy cows are killed when they become less profitable, at only a fraction of their natural lifespan.

Research by Animal Justice shows that more than 771 million animals were killed for food in 2016, making the treatment of farmed animals a pressing social issue.

Animal Justice

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