Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald


Got beer?

In vogue with its efforts to curb dairy consumption across the country, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals is once again advertising its “got beer?” campaign.

The advertisement, which parodies the milk advertising slogan, “got milk?,” will soon be seen in campus newspapers in the Madison area, said Bruce Friedrich, director of vegan outreach for PETA.

Friedrich, himself a vegan, said the campaign’s primary aim is to persuade students that milk can be harmful to their health.

“Dairy products are linked to allergies, constipation, obesity, heart disease, cancer and other diseases,” according to a report on PETA’s website.

Originally begun in March 2000, PETA shut down the “got beer?” advertising campaign that same month in response to overwhelming protest by Mothers Against Drunk Driving.

“When we first unveiled the campaign, the phones were flooded with mothers from [MADD,] who created an illusion of widespread opposition to the campaign,” said Friedrich, who denies PETA is attempting to encourage people to drink.

“We are not telling college students to go out there and buy a keg,” Friedrich said. “This will not cause students to drink more beer. But what it will do is focus attention on the fact that milk consumption harms human health.”

Friedrich maintains that daily consumption of milk is more harmful to one’s health than daily consumption of alcohol, mainly due to what he says are hormones — RGBH and others — administered to cows to help them produce more milk.

Tom Zinnen, biotechnology outreach specialist at the University of Wisconsin, said he believes “PETA puts the word ‘hormones’ in their advertisements to scare people.”

The hormones administered to milk-producing cows occur naturally in cows and are harmless to human health, Zinnen said.

“RBGH is actually a replica of a hormone naturally present in cows,” Zinnen said. “The other hormone PETA often cites is actually Vitamin D.”

Friedrich also points out that milk “contains no fiber or complex carbohydrates and is laden with saturated fat and cholesterol” and is a major contributor to “rampant obesity” in the United States.

Amy Rettammel, a registered dietician and outreach specialist with the department of nutrition, disagrees with Friedrich’s claim.

“Nutrients contained in milk are essential for optimal health,” Rettammel said. “The same can not be said for alcohol.”

Dr. Pamela Ruegg, a veterinarian in the department of dairy science, has conducted research on dairy products for 16 years. She disagrees with Friedrich’s contention that milk is inevitably dangerous to human health.

“Milk is one of the most highly tested products. We’ve documented through research that virtually all antibiotic usage on farms is used for treatment of sick animals,” Ruegg stated.

Ruegg said testing the quality of milk is taken seriously.

“Every tanker load of milk that leaves the farm is tested to make sure it complies with regulations for purity and freedom from adulteration,” she said.

Clarence Castleberg, a dairy farmer and chair of the Wisconsin Milk Marketing Board who lives in Mondovi, Wis., concurs that each load of milk is examined.

“Any load that is picked up is checked on an either daily or every-other-day basis before it is accepted into the manufacturing chain,” Castleberg said.

Castelberg admits synthetic hormones are used by some farmers, but denies Friedrich’s claim that the milk produced from cows exposed to the hormones are dangerous to human health,

“Some dairy producers are injecting RGBH, a synthetic hormone, into cows in order to increase the cow’s milk production,” Castelberg said, “but it has not been proven in a medical study to be detrimental to the health of humans.”

PETA also maintains that milk contains an antibiotic, which Castleberg denied.

“If [the cows] are treated, milk from them is withheld and checked until it is free of antibiotic,” he commented.

Retammell believes drinking milk should be encouraged, not hampered.

“There is a calcium crisis in America today; nine out of 10 girls and seven out of 10 boys aged 19 currently failed to meet the recommended daily amount of calcium, 1200 mg/day,” Rettammel said.

“The reason we are worried about that is that we can foresee a lot of osteoporosis in the future as they age, a debilitating disease of weak bones,” Rettammel added.

Dr. William L. Wendorff, chair of the nutritional sciences department, said from a scientific standpoint the issue is not cut and dry, and that milk and beer can have different effects on different people.

“Obviously, someone who is lactose intolerant might be harmed by drinking milk, just as an alcoholic or a pregnant woman might be harmed by drinking beer,” Wendorff said.

“I certainly respect the choice of vegetarians, but you can’t legislate that lifestyle to everybody.”

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