We must draw the line on animal rights activists

We must draw the line on animal rights activists

Lowell Mohler

July 24, 2002

Just when you thought animal rights activists couldn’t stoop any lower, the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) has put up a billboard in St. Joseph that blasphemes the images of the Virgin Mary and the baby Jesus in an attempt to discourage people from drinking milk.

This latest attack on the nation’s food industry comes on the heels of PETA’s campaigns to encourage college students to drink beer instead of milk and convince teens that milk causes acne. And who could forget the cruel billboard ad featuring an unauthorized photo of former New York Mayor Rudolph Giuliani, a prostate cancer survivor, with a milk mustache?

It troubles me to even revisit these media messages, but I do so to show how desperate and devious this group’s behavior has become. Their antics should make sensible people shake their heads in disbelief – if not for their sensationalism, then for their baseless claims.

Just what are the facts? The American Academy of Pediatrics, a leading organization on children’s health, supports breast milk or iron-enhanced formula as the recommended diet for infants, a position supported by the nation’s dairy industry. The academy also encourages pediatricians to recommend milk, yogurt and other calcium-rich foods for children over one year of age. PETA stands alone in its view to eliminate dairy products from the diet, a stance that is counter to current government guidelines and the recommendations of reputable health and nutrition groups.

Our nation’s vital agricultural industry contributes to the well-being of every person on this earth. We enjoy the most abundant, affordable and wholesome food supply in the world. In Missouri, it is estimated that farming and related occupations employ one out of every seven workers and contribute an estimated $17 billion annually to the state’s economy.

We must not let fanatics destroy our heritage, nor our future. I join the National Dairy Council in encouraging consumers to get their medical and nutrition information from trained health professionals and reputable organizations, not from activists with an animal rights agenda and political motives.