Saturday, February 20, 2010

Milky Way Festival-part 3

We are on our way, on our way to Festival, Festival, the Milky Way Festival. I hear the sounds of voices. Quietly, quietly, whispering, lingering gently on the night. I catch some words but am lulled back to sleep. The voices ebb and flow like the ocean tides. Sleepy, oh so sleepy. Gradually, the wave of voices gets louder and louder. Sleep is over, time to wake up, Festival begins.
In a fog, the music wakes me up, but the words are garbled, oh so garbled. Scientific Speak spoken to the sleepy, sleepy supplicant. What's happening? The music is louder and louder, I can't think, no time to think, just feel the music. Words, what are they saying? Where are we going? Hold on, stand down, jump up, feel the beat. Where are we going? The fog rolls in and the sounds become tendrils of lost time. I can't see, I follow the music....quietly, quietly. Where are we going?
We are lost because we cannot see. We feel, we feel the deep unease of entering the unknown. We feel the power of those who wish to change the world. We are not humanity, we are our genes. We are not culture, we are our genes. I prefer jeans but these people prefer genes worn under the microscope. So where is Festival? Where is the Milky Way Festival? Well, we have the UC Davis festival (I wrote about that the other day). Now we have DTU (Technical University of Denmark) in collaboration with Danisco, Arla Foods, the University of Southern Denmark, University of Copenhagen (KU LLife) and University of Reading collaborating on a project to utilize human milk oligosaccharides to creat a better infant formula. Let me quote from the article, "Research in oligosaccharides from human milk is key to understanding the development of the immune system in newborn infants." Jorn Dalgaard Mikkelsen states, "We plan to develop a way to produce these oligosaccharides using an enzymatic process that will convert certain kinds of food materials into the desired products." You will be glad to know that they are developing a "green" process for this new ingredient in infant formula. Green process? Love it, go green, go infant formula...rah, rah, rah!!!!!!!

Not to be outdone in this rush to use human milk oligosaccharides, is the Bode Lab at UC-San Diego. The mission that they have accepted (Mission Impossible made Possible by funding), "is to provide formula-fed infants with the same benefits that breast-fed infants receive with their mother's milk." The NIH is funding Lars Bode to the tune of $927,000. Dr. Lars Bode interned at Numico, and also has funding from Wyeth ($150,000) and Dannon.

Key to the Milky Way Festival is the theme that "men of science want to make a better infant formula that more closely resembles human milk." That's a good thing, right? Who could ever be opposed to making infant formula safe? "Not me, not me, not me," said the little blind mouse to his brother or was it his sister? Rumor has it that mice really love science, they gather at truck stops hoping to be picked up by some Genome Truck. Life is good in a cage. You get picked up and petted by the labcoats.
Mothers, part of the deal of the Milky Way Festival is to donate your milk; so that the infant formula industry can improve their product and sell it back to you. Oh no, wait, they won't be selling it back to you because you are breastfeeding, right? They will sell it to your sister down the street, in the projects so that her baby will be safe. "We have a product that is genetically designed from breastmilk that will save that poor woman's baby. Your baby, too, if ya get tired of all the bother of breastfeeding," so says the men of designer baby milks. And the mists roll in and the darkness descends upon the festivities. Tomorrow, a new design, genetically engineered and specific for your baby. Are you on the DNA registry? Oh no, I haven't done that yet. The blind mouse laughes as he treads his wheel, "I gave at the office."
Copyright 2010 Valerie W. McClain

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