ANIMAL rights campaigners have been condemned as “dangerous” after targeting Scottish schoolchildren with grotesque leaflets in an attempt to stop pupils drinking milk.
Activists from People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) will hand their literature to pupils leaving Hyndland Secondary School in Glasgow today. The group yesterday launched their campaign at James Gillespie High School, in Edinburgh, and will picket Aberdeen Grammar tomorrow.
The disputed message that cows’ milk is unhealthy for children, and its production abusive for cows, is portrayed in a series of Milk Sucker cards, which warn that drinking milk causes spots, wind, phlegm and weight gain.
John Tierney, the president of the Scottish School Boards Association, said: “This is quite dangerous and I am quite taken aback by PETA’s approach. It is irresponsible and they should not be targeting schools.
“If they have serious issues about animal welfare, there should be other places they are picketing, but not schools.
“There are major safety issues at stake here and I know a lot of parents would be concerned about strangers approaching pupils outside school gates.”
Sean Gifford, a spokesman for PETA, defended the direct action of the group. He said: “We’re not welcome in schools, so we have to work from the pavement.
“Cows’ milk is meant for baby cows, it’s not meant for young humans.
“Drinking cows’ milk is not natural. It makes about as much sense as drinking the milk of a cat or dog.”
Health authorities say drinking milk is essential for children’s development and promotions designed to make it more appealing have led to more than 1,000 milk bars being introduced in Scotland’s schools.
Both Glasgow and Edinburgh councils condemned PETA’s tactics, but said they were powerless to intervene.