Friday, September 19, 2008

Masks, mirrors, and gold

photo by Jesse McClain, New Smyrna Beach sunrise
Loreena McKennitt in "Marrakesh Night Market" sings, "Would you like my mask? Would you like my mirror?" and later, "The truth is measured by the weight of your gold." The sounds and the words seem to directly play to my mood. I feel a little lost, what world is this? Where nothing is as it seems? How did I get to this place where it is a marketer's masquerade ball? Where everyone knows what is going on but me? I think back to all that has happened to me and my sense of confusion. And I realize that when I start to feel confused, it is because I am being told lies, stories to suit the whim of the teller or the organization. In 2005, I was kicked off Lactnet for comments made in a post about Thomas Hale's book being marketed by Abbott. Everything I said was twisted and sandwiched in the imaginary words of reading "between the lines." I reread that post the other day and I am still struck by the craziness of the accusations and how quickly I was booted off that all so public listserve for lactation consultants. It was done in silence, no one publicly said I was kicked off. No one seemed to notice. Funny how it is around this time that Medela was trying to patent their human milk fortifier in Europe. On Lactnet human milk component patenting became a forbidden topic in 2004 and then I was kicked off quietly and quickly in 2005. Mere coincidence? Of course, let's put on our masks and put up the mirrors.
Silence regarding the patenting of human milk components says alot about breastfeeding advocacy. Having an ethical tenet requiring IBCLCS to respect patenting says it even louder. I do finally get it. The majority of people in breastfeeding advocacy support patenting of human milk. Why else this push to sell human milk banking to mothers--lactivism. While lactivism is defined by Wikipedia as breastfeeding activism, one might want to note that alot of lactivism seems centered on funding/supporting human milk banking. I support human milk banking but I don't support it in the present atmosphere of patenting components or the broad claims on something called human milk "compositions." While the infant formula industry puts their claims on various components of human milk, companies like Medela and Prolacta make claims on all of human milk. How do you judge that? Thank you Nestle and Wyeth for only taking small parts of human milk and claiming it as yours? And thank you Medela and Prolacta for claiming you own whatever composition you make up? Medela compromised and stated that some of their claims could be bovine, too. So its all one big grab bag. Breastfeeding advocates believe that this doesn't stop women from breastfeeding. No it only stops women from making a living from selling their milk, they cannot commercialize the product their bodies make, only Nestle or Wyeth or Medela or Prolacta. Yes, let's continue to donate to the enrichment of the corporation. For donating your milk, we may let you breastfeed in public. Let the masquerade ball begin....
Copyright 2008 Valerie W. McClain

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