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Safety vs. Freedom debate during raw milk hearing

MADISON, WI (WTAQ) - The safety versus freedom issue came up again Wednesday, when a state Senate committee held a public hearing on legalizing the sale of raw milk in Wisconsin. 

Both sides spent hours making their cases for and against legislation proposed by Senate Republican Glenn Grothman, and a similar Assembly bill offered by Trempealeau Democrat Chris Danou. 

Danou says there's already a black market for raw milk -- nobody can stop people from buying and drinking it -- and it would be better if the product were regulated. 

Previous arguments about the safety of raw milk came up. Supporters cited health benefits and freedom of choice. 

The dairy industry was among the opponents of the measure, saying there's risk of bacteria that could cause illnesses.

In the past, opponents have said that just one outbreak would bring Wisconsin's world-famous dairy industry to its knees. Former Governor Jim Doyle cited that reasoning when he vetoed the last effort to legalize raw milk sales in 2010. 

Mark Kastel of northern Wisconsin's Cornucopia Institute doesn't buy the claim. He says people are smart enough to know the difference between potential illnesses caused by raw milk, as opposed to pasteurized dairy products. 

Another public hearing on the bills is set for Monday at UW-La Crosse.