Wednesday, February 9, 2011

The shared values of infant feeding

"Good Food, Good Life," good grief another message from Nestle to consumers around the world. The bluebirds are nesting under the eaves of our house and creating "our" shared values. My eyes glaze over reading about my shared values with a multi-national corporation that provides the world with food products for the young and old. This is a corporation that espouses the creation of shared values promoted by Mark Kramer of Harvard University. How does a multi-national corporation share its values? Well, in the USA, Nestle [besides ConAgra, Food Lion, General Mills, Kellogg, Kraft, Kroger, Pepsi, WalMart, etc] is partnered with Feeding America, a leading organization that feeds the hungry. Yeah, there are actually hungry people in the USA. Government spending on bombs and bullets, leaves very little left in the budget for food. So we rely on multi-national corporations to feed our poor. Yeah its a tax write-off, too. But don't let your mind drift away from the value of gift-giving, of sharing values.
Nestle also gives farmers free training and assistance, some 594,233 farmers (according to the US Nestle website). They also have an "Adopt-A-School" program to share their values with the school systems. And a program called Healthy Steps for Healthy Lives which offers teachers tools to "educate" students.
Since Nestle is so willing to share their values, might they be interested in sharing their patents on human milk components? Their current slogan says it all, "Nothing else is breast milk. Nothing else is Good Start.
Nestle isn't the only multi-national corporation sharing its values to the world. Mead Johnson has a mission: to nourish the world's children for the best start in life." Their project, "Feeding Hope," in the Philipines is giving infants and children the best start in life. Of course, if one understands the value of breastfeeding, one might want to debate this with this company. In the USA, Mead Johnson gave a gift of $250,00 donation to Zeeland Community Hospital [home of a Mead Johnson manufacturing facility] to create family-oriented, home-like patient rooms.
Abbott Nutritionals is "committed to helping give every baby the very strongest beginning." Their motto is "Strong Moms." They also are sharing their values world wide.

And PBM (now acquired by Perrigo for $808 million) maker of store brand infant formulas shares its values around the world. It's owners gave $5 million to diabetes research. They donated products for Hurricane Katrina survivors, and some $250,00 of infant formula for Tsunami Relief.

When infant formula corporations share their values world-wide, whose values are shared? Family values? Community values? National values? Business values? How can we be surprised that the world seems to value the artificial, the store bought items over what use to be normal human behavior such as breastfeeding?
Copyright 2011 Valerie W. McClain


  1. Doesn't formula-feeding increase the risk of diabetes (like most other illnesses) making the PBM donation particularly hypocritical. It would be like a landmine manufacturer giving money to a hospital for artificial limbs.

  2. David,
    It depends on what side of the fence one lives on whether infant formula is considered a risk for diabetes. The infant formula patents are an eye-opening read for those interested in the ever-changing nature of infant formulas because of known adverse effects (known to the infant formula industry). Publicly, those risks are not disclosed. It is why I believe that we need a black box label on infant formula disclosing the risks. A few years ago, a US Breastfeeding Ad Campaign found themselves up against a wall of criticism (some of the criticism was from the AAP-American Academy of Pediatrics) in trying to disclose just some of the risks of infant formula. I certainly believe that diabetes is one of many risks of infant formula. So yes PBM's donation is particularly hypocritical. They also make beverages for diabetics.