Saturday, September 1, 2012

Sacred promise: a better infant formula next year

"Man does not weave this web of life.  He is merely a strand of it.  Whatever he does to the web, he does to himself."  Chief Seattle

"How can you buy or sell the sky, the warmth of the land?  The idea is strange to us.  If we do not own the freshness of the air and the sparkle of the water, how can you buy them?  Every part of earth is sacred to my people."  Chief Seattle

How smooth must be the language of the whites, when they can make right look like wrong, and wrong like right."  Black Hawk

The discovery of America was in reality a giant land grab by the White Man.  The American Indian suffered the consequences of a system that believed that land could be owned.  In fact a way of life was destroyed in order that the White Man could own property.  Likewise we are currently witnessing a greed that knows no boundaries.  But it is not ownership of land/property but ownership of cells, of DNA.  It is a molecular tag sale in which bacteria, viruses, fungi, human and animal cells, tissue are up for grabs.  Patent it, stake your claim, and monopolize life.  The infant formula industry has become part of this biotech industry.  They believe that the manipulation of our DNA can create a better, safer infant formula.   Imitating human milk has been the game for many years.  In the 70's the infant formula industry wrote about humanized infant formula.  A patent filed in 1970 by American Home Products (which became Wyeth, which became Pfizer, which became Nestle) stated, "Breast feeding of all infants for at least 6 months offers the best nutrition and greatest resistance to disease."  Patent # 3649295 entitled "Humanized Fat Compositions and infant formulas thereof"

Fifty years later we still have a public that hasn't a clue that breastfeeding inactivates pathogens and gives "the greatest resistance to disease."  Breastfeeding in many people's minds is just a life-style choice with some added benefits.  Those added benefits are constantly disputed in the press so the public is kept in the dark about the riskiness of infant formula and how breastfeeding safeguards an infant from disease.  There is constant talk about breastfeeding being the "preferred method of feeding" but that is coupled with statements that some moms can't or won't breastfeed.  Very little discussion goes into why moms can't or won't breastfeed.  Instead the talk is that moms have to have "choice."  And moms sure have a lot of choices when it comes to choosing an infant formula.  Every year there is something new or improved in the formulations.  Why?  Because the industry finds out that last year's new and improved doesn't work well or it actually made infants sicker or in fact killed them.  We are relieved to know that most babies don't die from infant formula in the USA, just a few. But the reality is we don't study this issue at all.  An industry might take offense to such an endeavor.  And heaven forbid we get that industry upset because after all they make billions of dollars a year.  And the US Government is invested in the making of infant formula.  Well, yes they do proclaim their belief in breastfeeding but you know moms can't or won't breastfeed.  So in the interest of those who can't or won't, we must make a better infant formula, better than human milk.  Funny how they never say better than breastfeeding, its always about human milk-the product.

Breastfeeding advocates believe in the improvement of infant formula.  Because who would be against it?  I am not against the improvement of infant formula.  I just don't think it can be done.  In fact this constant changing of infant formulations is questionable.  We now have formulas to make the baby's poop more like breastfed baby's poop, more like a breastfed baby's immune system, to prevent obesity, to prevent diarrhea, to prevent respiratory illnesses, to create better brains, better eyesight.  The list goes on and on and each year something new is added.  We have all these human milk researchers who are going to make infant formula just like human milk through genetic engineering.  No one questions the genetic engineering because that's our spiffy new science (actually its old it dates from 1970s).
So in reality each year, a new set of infants who are given infant formula become the guinea pigs to a science that we are just beginning to ask safety questions.  How do you disable the virulence of e.coli that is producing the enzyme that makes human milk oligosaccharides?  I learned the other day you irradiate it, use cobalt-60 and nuke it.  Doe irradiation work?  I don't know but I honestly don't like my food nuked.  But its okay to nuke food for babies cause it makes it safer.  Then when we genetically engineer cells to produce oils, probiotics, or other products; we monitor the situation by adding antibiotic resistance genes.  Those antibiotic resistant genes are ingested by the infant.  They use to believe that those genes were not absorbed by the intestines.  Whoops, a little mistake, we now know that isn't true.  The gut takes it into it's cells.  So now we have an individual that may develop antibiotic resistance to certain drugs used in genetic engineering.  Improvement?    Pass the probiotics, please, I like my bacteria well done.  Who is monitoring this?  The FDA?  Yeah, sure they are and I believe in the Easter Bunny, too.

Newest trend in improving infant formula.  Hazelnuts.  Do you know that hazelnut oil mimics the structure of mother's milk?   Let's try it cause we know that women won't or can't breastfeed.  Maybe next year it will be some other nut. Another new trend is a purified antibody called secretory immunoglobulin A.  That's still in the research phase.  Surely, it will have to be genetically engineered?  We will try that next year and see what happens, probably goes well with hazelnuts.

Does the public truly understand what is going on with infant formula?  Do breastfeeding advocates who advise other advocates to modify their supposedly extreme statements about infant formula, understand this engineering?   I doubt it.  Here's a patent for ya, enjoy it.  It's another new formulation of probiotics.  This is owned by Mead Johnson and called, "Probiotic infant products,"  patent #8137718 filed in 2008.

"As used herein, the terms 'mutant,' 'variant,' and 'genetically modified mutant' include a strain of Bifidobacteria whose genetic and/or phenotypic properties are altered compared to the parent strain."

"Genetic modification includes intorduction of exogenous and/or endogenous DNA sequences into the genome of a Bifidobacteria strain, for example by insertion into the genome of the bacterial strain by vectors including plasmid DNA, or bacteriophages."

This novel probiotics came from the feces of a 3 day old male breastfed infant.  I wonder if the mom of this baby knows that her baby's poop is a treasured product used by an infant formula company.  Wasn't it a French Queen during the French Revolution that said, "Let them eat cake,"  in response to the starving masses.  I can almost hear the new biotech slogans for this decade, "Let them eat poop--breastfed poop."  Here's to making a better infant formula this year!
Copyright 2012 Valerie W. McClain



  1. I love your blog you are so right on about things!

  2. I love how your brain works.
    -Serena Meyer, IBCLC