Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Breastfeeding: The Tree of Life, an endangered species

From the milk cells clustered like leaves, to the branches of the milk ducts, the human mammary gland stands as a tree of life. It's function is to sustain human life and it does this quite simply, yet elegantly. It is food security and food sovereignty for a people. It represents independence: a freedom from corporate ownership, secrecy, and profit. It is traditional knowledge, passed from mother to daughter, within a community. It is genetic diversity, species specific, a food system rooted in immunology. Yet this tree, this tree of life is an endangered species. Like so many indigenous traditions, the knowledge is being lost. The global corporate worldview is destroying it like the rain forests in the Amazon.

With stealth and secrecy the corporate world of pharmaceuticals and food technology, acquires human milk to study and make claims, patenting as much of it as possible. These corporate giants prey upon the ignorance of the people. Donate your milk for research...not telling the donor that the plan is to plunder and profit from what is freely given. Like the indigenous people in the rain forest, women watch as the corporate world destroys a natural resource. We watch as the earth becomes bare from deforestation. We watch our natural resource dry up, as the robber destroys our safety and peace. We become dependent on their system, on their products to survive. The knowledge of breastfeeding is destroyed, replaced by the medical-industrial jargon, incomprehensible and destructive. Secrecy of the value of breastfeeding is part of the system. Breastfeeding is put on a pedestal of impossibilities, used as a whip to judge women, and denied to those who need to breastfeed.

Dripping words of encouragement, the authorities talk of poisoned breastmilk, toxic breastmilk, infectious breastmilk. The wondrous tree of life, full of milk becomes a barren, empty vessel. It's role relegated to sexual enticements. Women condemned by society to show their empty breasts while denying their infants its treasures. Women scorned, keepers of the tree of life. I weep for a world gone mad.
Copyright 2010 Valerie W. McClain

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