Milk men deliver citizens a blowDairy farming involves raising cows and producing milk. It also includes the production of other food items like cheese, butter and ice cream. Milk from goats, sheep and camels are also used for dairy products. The history of dairy farming goes back at least 6,000 years. An ancient Egyptian wall mural dated 4,000 B.C. found near the Nile River features cows getting milked.
Hippocrates, the father of Western medicine, described milk as “perfection.” In Western civilization, dairy was considered necessary for growth and survival. In Korea, there is an entry in the “Samguk Sagi” (“History of the Three Kingdoms”) that milk was used for treatment.
But there is skepticism about the nutritional value of milk. Thierry Souccar, a French journalist specializing and health and medicine, investigated the harms of milk and published the results in the book “Milk, Lies and Propaganda.” Insulin-like growth factor 1 (IGF-1) is a protein found in milk that boosts physical growth. But the World Health Organization says that high IGF-1 levels lead to a higher risk of cancer.
Souccar also claims that milk causes osteoporosis. In the human body, old bones are resorbed by osteoclast cells and new ones are deposited by osteoblast cells. In order to prevent osteoporosis, both osteoclast and osteoblast cells must function properly.
But if you consume too much dairy as a child, the function of the osteoblast cells gets exhausted, thereby increasing the risk of osteoporosis. Northern Europe and North America, where dairy consumption is especially high, have the highest rates of bone fracture cases.
The confrontation between Korean farmers and milk companies over milk prices has been tense for several days. Farmers have been delivering milk at the same price for the last three years at 704 won ($0.65) per liter but are now demanding a price increase of 173 won, or 24.6 percent in part because the price of animal feed has increased by 27 percent. Milk companies say they cannot raise prices by more than 81 won. The negotiation deadline has been extended several times. If the deal fails again, farmers may threaten to refuse to provide milk indefinitely.
If small businesses were fighting against a large conglomerate in the manufacturing sector, the government would have come forward and twisted the bigger company’s arm. Why doesn’t the government apply the same principle to milk prices?
The writer is an editorial writer of the JoongAng Ilbo.
By Shim Sang-bok