Wednesday, August 13, 2014

If breastfeeding was normal...

                    "Squeezing the lives of people is now being proposed
                     as the savior of the planet.  Through the green economy
                     an attempt is being made to technologise, financialise,
                     privatise and commodify all of the earth's resources and
                     living processes."--Vandana Shiva

Breastfeeding is normal or so they say.  Yes, biologically, humans are mammals. And mammals feed their young with their mammary glands.  So yes-yes, breastfeeding is normal.  But I started playing this game in my head and you, too can play the game.  If breastfeeding is normal, the question of how a mom is going to feed her baby would not be asked.  The assumption would be that you would breastfeed cause that is the biological norm.  If breastfeeding is normal, a bottle would not be a baby shower gift.  If breastfeeding is normal, a healthy newborn would be at the breast within the first hour after birth.  The assumption would be that breastfeeding after childbirth is normal.  If breastfeeding is normal, no birthing mom would get a free "6-pack" of infant formula in the hospital.  The assumption would be that moms breastfeed their babies.  If breastfeeding is normal, moms would breastfeed whenever and wherever they needed to, no stalling for a suitable location.  If breastfeeding is normal, moms breastfeeding in public would be unnoticed because it was so normal as to be unremarkable.  If breastfeeding is normal, a symbol of babyhood would be a breast not a bottle.  If breastfeeding is normal, infant formula would be by prescription only (instead of human milk being by prescription only).  If breastfeeding is normal, mothers would be given plenty of time to establish breastfeeding and/or family leave from their employers.  If breastfeeding is normal, our stories, our art would be full of written and visual imagery of breastfeeding.  If breastfeeding is normal, nursing bras wouldn't cost so much.  They would be standard items in every department store and they would include all sizes.  If breastfeeding is normal.....(your turn dear reader to play the game!)

Breastfeeding is normal biological behavior in mammals (humans being mammals).  But breastfeeding is not normal in our society.  If and when breastfeeding ever becomes normal in our society, we wouldn't need to talk about the normalcy of breastfeeding.  Yesterday I read this interesting article in NUTRA The article was entitled, "Breast is best:  Punjab gov sets new infant formula labelling rules," by Annie-Rose Harrison-Dunn, dated August 4, 2014.  This article is what triggered my thoughts on the game-playing, if breastfeeding was normal...

"Labelling of infant formula sold in the Pakistani department of Punjab must now include the warning, 'mother's milk is the best food for your baby and helps in preventing diarrhoea and other illnesses,' according to new prohibition and guidance rules released by the region's government."

I am all for warning labels on infant formula, which should have a long list of risks for parents to read.  And maybe this article is an English translation problem.  But to me a warning label should not include a statement about mother's milk/breastfeeding is the best food.  A warning label is about the risks of the product, breastfeeding is not the risk.  If breastfeeding is normal, a can of infant formula would not have to warn parents that mother's milk is the best food.  The assumption would be that breastfeeding is the normal way to feed a baby and that feeding anything else is a risk.  But you see we don't live in a world where breastfeeding is normal.

More patents...

Patent # 8754126 entitled, "Methods for improving tolerance, digestion, and lipid soluble nutrient absorption in an infant, toddler, or child," filed in 2011.
Invented by Chron-Si Lai et al. and owned by Abbott Laboratories.

"Unfortunately, a small percentage of infant formula fed newborns can experience gastrointestinal (GI) intolerance problems, including loose stools, gas, necrotizing enterocolitis, colic, and the like."

"Presumably newborn infants are deficient in lipase, and thus, they do not digest and absorb fat as well as breast fed infants who receive lipase in the mother's milk."  

Patent # 8785163 entitled, "Desaturases and methods for producing polyunsaturated fatty acids in transgenic organisms," filed in 2008.  Inventors are Toralf Senger and Jorg Bauer and owned by BASF Plant Science GmbH.  This about using genetic engineering to produce polyunsaturated fatty acids.  BASF is the largest chemical company in the world.  It has worked with Monsanto in biotechnology of products.

"Thus, for example, polyunsaturated fatty acids such as docosahexaenoic acid (=DHA, C22:6.sup..DELTA. 4,7,10,13,16,19) or eicosapentaenoic acid (=EPA, C20:5.sup..DELTA. 5,8,11,14,17) are added to infant formula to improve the nutrional value.  The unstaurated fatty acid DHA is said to a positive effect on the development and maintenance of brain function."

"The present invention relates to polynucleotides from Helobdella robusta, Laccaria bicolor, Lottia gigantea, Microcoleus chthonoplastes, Monosiga brevicollis, Mycosphaerella fijiensis, Mycospaerella graminicola, Naegleria gruberi, Nectria haematococca, Nematostella vectensis, Phycomyces blakesleeanus, Trichoderma resii, Physcomitrella patens, Postia placenta, Selaginella moellendorffii, and Microdochium nivale, which code for desturases and which can be employed for the recombinant production of polyunsaturated fatty acids."

Patent # 8795750 entitled, "Method for manufacturing low-phosphorus whey," filed in 2010.  The inventors are Nobuo Seki et al. and the patent is owned by Morinaga Milk Industry Co., Ltd. (Japan).  Cheese whey is the raw material fo infant formula.  It was discovered that over-ingestion of phosphorus from foods exerted an adverse effect on bone metabolism.  (Morinaga Milk Industry produces infant formual).

"However, when whey is used as a raw material for infant formula, because the whey includes large amounts of minerals, there are limitations to the potential applications of the resulting formula."

Telling moms that breastfeeding is normal when the reality that moms see is that it is not normal creates distrust.  Normal is defined as the "usual, expected or standard state."  While breastfeeding is upheld as the standard by experts around the world, a mom's reality (brought to you by the infant formula industry control of the media) is that it is not really expected of her to breastfeed.  The expectation is that she can't or won't breastfeed (a statement made over and over again in human milk component patents and infant formula patents) and there is a belief that that will never change.  
Copyright 2014 Valerie W. McClain

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