Sunday, December 18, 2011

Choice: genetically engineered infant formula vs. breastfeeding

Insanity rains on our people, like a radioactive isotope drifting from one country to another country.  I am mesmerized by the propaganda that flies from website to website, from one facebook page to another.  The belief that breastfeeding advocacy must promote "choice."  The belief that somehow men can create a safe artificial milk for babiesIf we just mix it correctly, have clean water, then feeding a milk from another species will be safe.  Forget our immune system, our biology, that mammal milks are species specific, let's join the chorus of choice.

How happy this makes the infant formula industry because no one will question the basic problem of feeding artificial milks to the human baby in our technological age of genetic engineering.  It's an experiment, the consequences are unknown.  Babies are being fed a formula that contains a variety of substances that are genetically engineered.  Safety has not been properly evaluated for one substance.  No one knows the safety of mixing a variety of genetically engineered substances.

For instance DHA and ARA that has been a required substance in baby formulas for a decade.  Eleven years ago I wrote in Lactnet about the fact that the Martek Bioscience (the manufacturer of these oils from algae and fungi)patents showed that in all probability these substances were genetically engineered.  Martek denied that they were gmo products and threatened me by email to cease and desist calling them gmo.  There was no way I could prove that they were gmo but certainly their patents from the early 1990's showed that the company was investing in this technology.  
My post to Lactnet regarding Martek oils (many posts on this issue to Lactnet but shows that we could suspect that these oils might be gmo or would be in the future).

I started calling the oils novel--because it means new but also can mean genetically engineered.  Recently I read an article by that "DHA used in infant formula products comes from genetically modified algae."  So was Martek admitting that the algae was gmo?  No, their statement was that they mix their algae with gmo corn oil.  Interesting.  What does that mean for our babies?  We really didn't give you gmo algae, it was just mixed with gmo corn.  So technically you got the real thing....of course the real DHA and ARA is a component of human milk.  And since infant feeding is about choice, parents are making the choice for the gmo substance.  Who cares that this substance has never been ingested by babies before because we have our technology gods who can engineer our food by mixing genes from one species with another.  Yeah, who cares about species specific.  We are going to be one world, one huge mixture of organisms.  We know that there won't be any ramifications because we just know our science is perfect.  Of course, that is sarcasm.  It's like our belief in the 50's that men and women can watch an atomic explosion from a safe distance and it won't harm them, just great fireworks.  It's like our current belief that the Japanese nuclear reactor disaster will only have health effects to the people near those reactors.  Wind drift, ocean currents have no meaning to people who believe that humanity can deal with minute doses of radiation.  Yeah, plutonium,  you can bath in's perfectly safe.  The PR industry in full swing.  Funny how some of those PR people for the nuclear industry are the same people promoting breastmilk feeding.  PR people have no loyalities, just a need for steady employment.

Yes, off the beaten track.  So the world believes that only Martek is genetically engineering its algae...funny how no one asks about the fungi/ARA?  The organic movement thinks they can find a natural DHA and ARA, like you can find a natural source of vitamin D3 that isn't a gmo product. [flaxseed is being genetically engineered]  I laugh because laughing is far better than crying about this mixed-up reality show called life.  Martek is not the only one playing with genes to make DHA/ARA.  There are at least 3 other companies playing this game.

Patent #8049064 called, "Method for producing polyunsaturated C. sub.20- and C.sub.22-fatty acids with at least four double bonds in transgenic plants,"  owned by BASF Plant Science GmbH [vitamin/supplement company] filed in 2006

Patent #8067674 called, "Desaturase genes, enzymes encoded therby, and uses thereof,"  owned by Abbott Labs [drug and infant formula company] filed in 2009..abstract says, "Disclosed are isolated polynucleotides encoding an omega-3 desaturase and a delta-12 desaturase, the enzymes encoded by the isolated polynucleotides, vectors containing the isolated polynucleotides, transgenic hosts that contain the isolated polynucleotides that express the enzymes encoded thereby..."

Patent #8013215 called, "Production of arachidonic acid in oilseed plants," owned by E.I. du Pont de Nemours and Company filed in 2008...abstract says, "Oilseed plants which have been transformed to produce arachidonic acid, recombinant constructs used in such transformations...."

Processed foods contain gmo products.  Infant formula is processed food.  But the problem with processed food for infants is that we will not know the ramifications until these babies grow up, if they grow up.  Recently we learned that a Japanese formula has been contaminated with cesium from the nuclear reactor disaster.  A recall was issued.  But what about wind currents drifting to the USA or other countries?  Are we monitoring infant formula here?  Or are we believing that what we can't see won't hurt us?  How does a mix of gmo products with radioactive elements effect the health of infants?   

Breastfeeding, particularly exclusively, builds an active working immune system.  Infant formula cannot do this despite the enormous creativity of the industry.  What babies will be the most at risk as we degrade the environment?  Will we monitor how babies are feed in correlation to infant morbidity and mortality rates? Or will we continue to use PR to promote choice?  Is being politically correct more important than understanding the intrinsic risk of feeding genetically engineered, radioactive contaminated milks to infants? 
Copyright 2011 Valerie W. McClain

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