Thursday, August 6, 2009

Silencing other views, more patents

It seems to be a common response to alternative ideas on medicine, science, politics, even lactation consulting to respond in ways to silence those opposing views. This is done to protect one's reality, one's income, and one's ego. This response is so rampant in our society that I have come to believe that we, humans, are not very democratic. We treasure our reality and heaven forbid someone burst the bubble of our reality. How dare they think differently, see reality differently! Why can't they be nice and shut up? Yes, even I have succumbed to this ego-mania. Every once and awhile, I get stopped in my tracks and realize that reality is a composite of individual realities. No one has all the knowledge, all the answers. By shutting people out or up, one becomes lost in a fantasy of one's own making. Solving the difficulties of life, becomes impossible when one's mind is not open to other possibilities, other realities. Of course, that doesn't mean one let's other people bulldoze your reality. These last 10 years have opened my eyes to the difficulties in any profession in which "niceness" is the priority (mostly a woman issue). Being nice, means not openly telling the truth as you see it. Instead we beez nice and play nice....and maybe we getz a cookie for niceness. Actually niceness gets us to be speakers at Conferences, niceness gets us friends with the right pull, niceness gets us contracts with the government, niceness gets us jobs. Nice people gets to keep all the un-nice people out of sight and mind. Of course, the question is how do we define "un-nice." I leave it to the nice people in the world to define the "un-nice." My version is that niceness often involves having the right education and the right neighborhood. Having the right education (the Cornell, Harvard, Hopkins, etc higher institutions of niceness) means that one is automatically assumed to do no wrong. Heck, people with ivy league paper diplomas never lie, steal, or cheat. Just one of those American truisms that leds us "gently" around the world diplomatically telling the "unnice" people what to do. Breastfeeding advocacy is about being nice. Our niceness means that we do not discuss patents on human milk, human milk researchers who are funded by the infant formula industry (almost all of them) and the pharmaceutical industry, and never discuss any other formula company other than bad, bad Nestle. So we believe and encourage human milk researchers to speak at Conferences in which they do not have to publicly disclose their affiliations with the infant formula industry, nor disclose their patents they own. We don't know the names of the "other" infant formula companies because they aren't important. And we don't care to discuss the implications or even the facts about human milk component patenting. Nor do we discuss companies like Medela or Pigeon or Lansinoh because we are the nice people and it doesn't matter if these companies have easy access to breastfeeding advocacy organizations and their BODs.
Before I totally show my "un-niceness" I wanted to write about few patents that might interest some people.
In 1997 a patent was published at the US Patent & Trademark Office owned by Boehringer Ingelheim called "Human lysozyme" (patent # 5618712). Boehringer Ingelheim is a huge pharmaceutical company that has developed alot of hiv/aids drugs.
"Up til now, human milk and human placenta have been the only commercial sources for obtaining human lysozyme." human milk was sold commercially to the pharmaceutical industry prior to 1997. Interesting, something I have been saying for some time and been disbelieved. Patents are legal documents, so I would suppose that they aren't lying about it.
They go on to say in this patent that since the availability of human milk and placentas was limited, they have had to develop a synthetic version (a gmo version). Why bother with human lysozyme? because, "The therapeutically effective use of lysozyme is possible in the treatment of various bacterial and virus infections (Zona, Herpes Zoster), in colitis, various types of pain, in allergies, inflammation and in paediatric (the conversion of cow's milk into a form suitable for infants by the addition of lysozyme)." Treatment of allergies? Who to believe? Kramer?? a pharmaceutical company???
Another patent called "Method for expressing phosphorylated recombinant human.beta.-casein in a bacterial system," (patent # 5807702) owned by Abbott Labs (drug and infant formula company) published at the US Patent & Trademark Office in 1998. This infant formula company states, "Efforts have been made to develop infant milk formulas that have some of the advantageous properties of human milk and avoid the disadvantages associated with bovine milk based infant formulas such as allergic reactions and incomplete digestion by the infant."
Abbott Labs believes that human milk is "less likely to cause allergic reactions." Maybe they should talk to Kramer and not bother genetically engineering human milk .beta.-casein. "Hansson et al. demonstrated that recombinant human .beta.-casein was expressed in the yeast, S. cerevisiae using the pYes 2.0 vector (Invitrogen Corp., San Diego, Calif)."
Of course, I can hear people saying that they don't genetically engineer human milk components for infant formula. Maybe not. But published some 11 years ago (filed in 1995), so they could do it years ago. What would stop them from putting it into formulas now? The FDA?? Hm...I wouldn't answer that rhetorical question....signing off as one un-nice person...
Copyright 2009 Valerie W. McClain

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