Friday, April 16, 2010

Rummage Sale: the connect between milk banks and the infant formula industry

The community of breastfeeding advocates accepts that non-profit milk banks gift/or sell their donor milk to projects that involve the infant formula industry. Is this correct? Is it acceptance or they just don't know or just don't care? I can't stop thinking about the relationship of a HMBANA milk bank-San Jose, CA and the UC Davis Milk Bioactives Consortium. So who cares? There is a bleakness and vast empty ethical space that seems to envelope a profession that is supposedly dedicated to helping mothers breastfeed. So the other angle is to help the infant formula industry/academia/US Government make a better infant formula? I now understand why the WHO Code is considered irrelevant in the USA. One can understand the recent research papers funded by milk banks that try to prove that milk sharing between mothers is risky. Or that using donor milk does not impact rates of breastfeeding among preterm mothers. Both papers written with major flaws but useful in building consensus among non-reading professionals. The goal is to monopolize the use of human milk, to make it illegal for moms to share milk. Patent related? You bet. The latest HMBANA Conference had researchers featured that own patents and patent applications on human milk components. This is not unusual--every HMBANA Conference seems to feature at least one researcher who has a patent or patent application on a human milk component. Are attendees to these Conferences informed of this? And do they even care? I guess all that matters is Business and this is the pervasive theme in the USA. To hell with ethics. What women don't know is their own fault. The recent Haiti fiasco to drum up donations for milk banks is a curiosity. So like the infant formula industry and its social marketing games.
The silence rains down and the Business of Breastfeeding grinds-on; building Empires for the makers of a "SAFER" infant formula, just like mom's milk.
Copyright 2010 Valerie W. McClain

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