Milk? The Documentary
Milk? The Documentary, questions the much publicized health benefits of milk and dairy products. In the film, Sebastian Howard, director and narrator, interviews people on every side of the milk controversy—dairy farmers, doctors, nutrition researchers, scientists, government officials, and industry spokespeople, to find out the truth behind the milk debate. Is milk healthy or harmful? Is it complete nutrition or “white poison?” Is it good or bad? One thing for sure, milk is very controversial.
At the heart of the controversy are long-time government subsidies causing an over-supply of milk; industrial factory farms using hormones, drugs, chemicals and antibiotics to push cows to produce more milk; small family farms; the FDA and USDA’s food pyramid and conflict of interest acting on behalf of the dairy industry–not the health of consumers; scores of scientists, nutritionists and medical researchers questioning and disproving the touted health benefits of dairy; the American Dairy and American Advertising Council that run billion dollar advertising campaigns every year to promote milk; and an extremely lucrative cash-cow industry. All of these constituents have an enormous stake in this industry, with much to gain and much to lose.
Early in the film, Howard recalls when he was young, milk was the indisputable food. But what has happened since then? He conducts countless interviews on both sides of the coin, with medical doctors who have conducted numerous large scientific and medical research tests. Their findings reveal that cow’s milk raises cholesterol, is linked to breast and prostate cancer, digestive problems, allergies, arthritis, osteoporosis, heart disease and even—liver cancer.
On the positive side, dairy farmers and the dairy industry argue that milk is complete nutrition, complete protein and has calcium. But the medical establishment counters those claims with research that suggests not only is dairy unnecessary for us, it is actually harmful for us, and there are far better, healthier plant-based sources of calcium that are far less harmful. Additionally, several doctors in the film point out that dairy products are increasingly linked to many chronic and degenerative diseases, but oddly, the market is going in the exact opposite direction, with people eating more cheese and yogurt than ever before. The annual surplus of milk supported by subsidies now goes into the making of cheese, which the market must sell. That’s where the American Dairy Council advertising campaigns come in to sell surplus milk and dairy, and further propagate the myth that milk is somehow healthy.
Many medical concerns were raised in the film, but one in particular, the protein coding gene called Insulin Growth Factor-1 (IGF-1) found in cow’s milk when cows are injected with Monsanto’s artificial growth hormone RBGH, has been proven to cause cancer in both cows and in humans. In one study, all the cows injected with the growth hormone rBGH—to increase cow milk production and productivity—got cancer. Since 80 percent of U.S. feedlot cattle and nearly all factory farmed dairy cows are injected with rBGH, the health risk is enormous.
The film exposes the deep political roots entrenched in the dairy industry, underscoring past U.S. presidents and the kickbacks they receive from the dairy industry when they increase dairy subsidies or raise the price of milk. Richard Nixon received a 3 million cash bonus from the dairy industry in one day—and the next day—he arbitrarily raised the price of milk to give the dairy industry a 300 million cash increase and profit that year. President after president for the past four decades have done the same thing. A long-standing concern has been the decades long collusion between government agencies and the dairy industry.
In the end, who do you want to believe? The dairy industry and government, or science and medicine? Howard concludes, “The less we understand the more we argue and the more polarized we become. After two years of inquiry I’m still left with experts that disagree.” And they will continue to disagree as long as the federal government subsidizes the milk and dairy industry, and causes a surplus of product, in an otherwise dying market.
“The key to disease is animal protein.” (Robert Cohen)
“The protein in cow’s milk (casein) is actually turning on cancer. It’s dramatic. The protein level required to turn on cancer, was in excess of the amount we need. It’s the amount in excess that turns on cancer.” (Dr. Colin Campbell)
“Milk is completely unnecessary. There’s calcium in milk, the problem is everything that goes along with it – you can get in a much healthier form of calcium somewhere else.” (Dr. Neal Barnard)
“The medical establishment’s view on milk is really changing, but starting a couple of decades ago people started becoming concerned. So the view has gone from positive to something you need to be very cautious about.” (Dr. Neal Barnard)
“When you do the studies, people who drink the most milk or dairy, either have no protection at all from fractures and osteoporosis, or they even have more fractures than people who don’t drink dairy. That little bit of calcium is not enough to make any difference.” (Dr. Neal Barnard)
“Even though we have more studies than ever that show dairy products are linked to many diseases – the market is going in the exact opposite direction – people are eating more cheese than ever before, and yoghurt. People think it’s healthy, but it isn’t.” (Dr. Neal Barnard)
“It contains puss with hormones and glue. You get lots of estrogen and testosterone. Very tasty. It actually kills us before our time. Something we use to control the ‘herd.’” (Robert Cohen)
“The protein in milk and sodium is actually be harmful. Best case scenario milk is not helping, and good evidence shows milk is actually harmful.”
“We found we could turn on cancer growth by giving our test subjects more protein from casein, and decrease or turn off cancer cell growth, reducing the amount of casein protein consumed.” (Dr. Colin Campbell)
“There are 177 million cases of food-borne illnesses every year, 40% of the average diet is milk and dairy, and that’s what does it.”
“Take the fat out, the proteins trigger allergies and migraines, take the hormones out – then you’re left with water, which is probably healthier!”
“Politically – food is a weapon. When you have food in the hands of a few corporations, you control people. Do not underestimate the power and the danger we are in, because our food is in the hands of a few major corporations.”
“This product (raw milk) in humans is linked to just as many health problems as commercial milk. Milk is meant to grow a baby calf as quickly as possible then they stop drinking it when they don’t need it anymore.” (Dr. Neal Barnard)
“Some people advocate raw milk, and quite frankly, you have to live in a country with really good health insurance, because the fact is raw milk has deadly bacteria in it – it can be completely deadly and can cause major health issues.”
“Milk may be our biggest problem we have to face.” (Dr. Campbell)
Film Length: 58 Minutes
Originally Released: 2012
Official Selection 2012, New Hampshire Film Festival
Some Experts Interviewed on Milk?
Dr. Neal Barnard, MD, Founding President of the Physicians Committee For Responsible Medicine
Arthur Hill, PhD – Researcher on dairy science and technology
Watch the Film Milk?
Stream on IMDb
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More about Milk? The Documentary
Film Director, Writer and Narrator: Sebastian Howard
Executive Producer: Claude Barnes