There has been much debate on the issue of A1 vs A2 milk, and Desi cows vs other cows. At Farmery, we have received multiple queries on this issue.

The last comment in particular attracted an interesting answer from my teammate, Aishwarya. which by and large clears the air on A1 vs A2 milk. Let us know if you appreciate it in the comments below.

Let's dive right in. Here’s what he said.


At Farmery, we are not deriding Desi cows or saying that HF/Jersey cows are better. It's fine for you to choose Desi cows and A2 milk. Similarly, it's fine if someone else chooses A1 milk.

As you said yourself, it's up to the people to make up their own mind and choose to drink the milk that they find best for themselves and their families.
Farmery's trying to do nothing more than present what we know about cows and dairy, as objectively as we can, and let people make their own minds.

For what it's worth, we're planning to launch A2 milk ourselves early next year. Even today, the milk you get from Farmery comes from HF cows that are cross-bred with Desis.

Now, let me address your points about Desi cows specifically. I tried hard to find something that I can agree with you there, but unfortunately, I couldn't.

Instead, I took your advice to compile the research on this topic. Let me briefly state the facts on all the arguments you presented above:

Claim #1. If you're not drinking A2 milk, you're inviting trouble for yourself:

First, it’s important to understand that A1 and A2 are more closely related than different. Both are variants of a milk protein called β-casein. The only thing separating them is one amino-acid.

Now, A1 milk upon digestion produces something called BCM-7. The European Food Safety Authority conducted a comprehensive study and found no relationship between any disease and drinking milk with the A1 protein. A separate review of the A2 milk case, published in Nature magazine, states that Australian and New Zealand food standard and food safety authorities, places where the A1/A2 debate started in the first place, concluded in 2003 that no relationship has been established between A1 or A2 milk and diabetes, CHD or other diseases.

Claim #2. A2 beta-casein is the only type of INDIAN DESI COW milk

Desi cow
A 2012 study by NBAGR studied 51 Holstein Friesian, 40 Jersey and 89 crossbred bulls and concluded that “the desirable A2 allele (is predominant) across all cattle types”. Interestingly, among the cross-bred cows, which is the cows we milk at Farmery, there is only about a 1% chance of you finding an A2 gene there.

Claim #3. All the diseases we see in last 25~30 years in India are just due to our stupidness of choosing Buffalo and Jersey Cow milk, leaving aside the elixir of our Desi / Indian Cow milk.

To be honest, the vast generalities in your claim here defeat your argument themselves. In the last 25-30 years, the country has changed a lot. Maybe you’re hinting to go back to 1991 with liberalization, when contemporary global practices began to be adopted here in India.

But if you really want to be honest about this, you’d consider going back 50 years, not 30, all the way to the White Revolution / Operation Flood in 1970. That’s when we first started using Jersey and HF cows to boost milk productivity.

Now, you can go ahead and dismiss it as a ‘stupid’ decision, but I believe the whole country is grateful to Verghese Kurien and everyone involved with that initiative, for, without the White revolution, milk may not have reached as many families as it does today.

Lastly, for such a tall claim that people are suffering from the said diseases because they are not drinking milk from Desi cows, and for all the emphasis you placed on honesty and research, I don’t think it’d be unfair if I ask you to bear the burden of proof here. Please share evidence that led you to make that claim.

Claim #4. IIT Delhi’s research

Lastly, on the video talking about IIT Delhi’s research on Indian cows. For the record, I did watch it till the very end.

Prof. Subbarao is talking about the mechanism in which the cows produce milk. Thereafter, the video talks about all the useful products that we get from the cow - including bio-gas, manure, and soaps. I don’t think anyone denies the usefulness of cows here.
But, again in the spirit of honesty, there is nothing in the ‘IIT Delhi research’, or the rest of the video, that anyway suggests that indigenous cows are superior to foreign breeds.
I hope this puts things in a fair perspective and goes to show that at Farmery, our intention is to present information truthfully. Unless you have a substantiated claim that I have not addressed above, I think we can settle this.

If you ask my personal opinion, I’m tempted to quote Narayan G Hegde who called the A1/A2 debate an Unnecessary Controversy in this Indian Express article last year.

We would love to know and discuss your views on this debate. Please add your comments below or reach out to us on Facebook and Instagram.

References:

  1. The original post on Facebook where this debate started.
  2. A 2012 study by NBAGR
  3. A comprehensive study conducted by European Food Safety Authority
  4. Nature magazine
  5. Indian Express