Sunday, May 16, 2010

"It was the winter of despair...."-Charles Dickens

"It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to Heaven, we were all going direct the other way....."
Charles Dickens, A Tale of Two Cities
It has been the winter of my despair for quite some time. Humanity has entered into a season of Darkness. Our science has brought us to great heights. Yesterday I heard the shuttle go up. I live about an hour north of the Cape. The ground shakes and vibrates in waves. I had forgotten that this was the last shuttle trip. I went outside to see the white plume trail. Ah, how many pounds of rocket fuel vented today. A respiratory therapist told her mother (a friend of mine) that after a shuttle launch, the ER has a significant rise in asthma attacks/breathing difficulties. Anecdotal information not worthy of serious consideration?
Will someone investigate it? Not when the job situation in this area is so bad, stop the space program-you have to be kidding!!! I see that white plume and remember the Challenger. I didn't go outside that day-babies napping. Just saw it replayed over and over again on TV-embedded in my brain like the 9-11 plane hitting the World Trade Center. Traumatized by those images, can't forget, never will forget. How the media impacts our lives....not the same as seeing it happen, yet emotionally I feel I was there. Lives lost. Why?
The pursuit of knowledge is the quest for truth. Truth is on who's side? Is there a side? Is the infant formula industry truthful? Are breastfeeding advocates truthful? Is truth relative? Is truth dependent on what side of the fence you live on? Is honesty ditched because your side is the right side? What is the right side? What is academic scholarship? What is intellectual honesty? Where be thee? Is publication a game of roulette? What does it mean, when publication becomes a means to an end, not pursuit of truth. How can we depend on publication, if it can be changed at the whim of the researcher/publisher/editor? I mull this over this morning, wondering if I will ever bother reading online journals again. Despite it being "the spring of hope," I feel winter has not left us.
Copyright 2010 Valerie W. McClain

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Dali, Fountain of Milk....

Some years ago I saw a Dali exhibit and was entranced by his art and what I perceived to be a visionary perception of the future. I was particularly struck by his "Fountain of Milk Spreading Itself Uselessly on Three Shoes." This is dated 1945.
Are we there, yet?? Woman, on a pedestal, allowing her milk to fall to earth. No baby in sight. Barren landscape, except one man standing by a shoe.....


Well what do you know, my computer keyboard jammed and I couldn't go forward or backward, couldn't do anything. These computer viruses, sure get around town.
Okay, so lets see, if it will let me continue or totally shut me down.
I was writing that Dr. Lisa Amir was involved with a milk bank in Geelong, Australia. see
If you want to read the article on milk banks that I commented on see
What do you think? What should I think? Should I believe that all this mess was accidental? Yeah, sure, give me a break. The push to sell milk banking down our throats has just begun. Who wins? Yeah--researchers cause they get a resource easily and free to do research on. Corporations win, cause they get a product to develop and sell to consumers and yeah its free to patent and monopolize. Who loses? Well, just mothers and babies. Mothers cause they will be sabotaged into believing that the product is just as good as breastfeeding. And babies who will be denied access to the breast because the mother believes the world of "medical research."
I was amused reading Lactnet and the hoopala regarding the media article on the rotovirus vaccine and breastfeeding. People still don't get it. The rotovirus vaccine is derived from research done on human milk components, genetically engineered, and then sold to our medical community. And yes, this will directly sabotage breastfeeding. It's the money, guys, wake up!! We don't need the freakin vaccine, if women would exclusively breastfeed. But we can't have that can we?? So thank your milk banks for their generosity to researchers around the world!! Yes, feel the heat. Who controls what research gets printed? Editors....and don't tell me about how fair-handed they are regarding what gets printed and what doesn't. Where is truth? Obviously lost forever, because who controls what is printed/what is believed controls human life and activity. The earth is bleeding, we see that in the Gulf. But the lifeblood of mammalian survival is like that geyser of oil in the Gulf. Steadily leaking into a lab filled with empire builders, who care not if women breastfeed. Like the Gulf oil crisis, the care is only about profit.
Copyright 2010 Valerie W. McClain

The Nitty-Gritty

I really, really thought that once I wrote about the situation with the International Breastfeeding Journal, that I could move forward. Nope.
I decided something didn't ring true, something just ain't right. The editor of this Journal is Dr. Lisa Amir, who is also a researcher from Australia. Why was her response so strange (in my mind) to this article on milk banks. My alarm bells were ringing in my head. She didn't seem to understand that just making a name change (from breastfeeding to breast milk feeding) in the conclusion did not correct the essential problem with this paper.
Well, I did a little search and found that Dr. Lisa Amir is involved with a milk bank in Geelong, Australia.
Copyright 2010 Valerie W. McClain

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Time Out--online free journals

I will continue the tale of the company, Ventria Bioscience tomorrow or the next day. Within days of writing about Ventria Bioscience in my blog, Ventria withdrew their FDA GRAS notice for lactoferrin and lysozyme. Should we presume that this is the end of it? Will the company go on to other endeavors? Or are they just changing strategy? I read that a company does not necessarily need GRAS to market a product. So who knows what this company will do in this game-playing world. There has been a huge investment. But I leave that tale for next time.
Instead I want to introduce a new concept in the world of free online publication of medical research. It's called change the text, change a table after publication. "Now ya see it, now ya don't."
In March of this year, I read an article online called, "Does opening a milk bank in a neonatal unit change infant feeding practices? A before and after study" in the International Breastfeeding Journal. I read alot of their articles because its free (can't afford medical journal subscription prices). And I comment on some of the articles. I wanted to read this article because this was the second article on milk banking in a professional journal in a month. The other article was authored by people involved in the HMBANA milk bank in San Jose. This article was authored by researchers in Spain--Torres et al. I read the article and thought it was poorly done. They defined exclusive breastfeeding as equivalent to exclusive breastmilk feeding. Then concluded, "We demonstrate how milk banks do not cause reduction in the rates of breastfeeding or in promoting its protection and support." Study never showed that milk banks did not cause a reduction of breastfeeding (the act of suckling an infant). Their research seemed to show that infant formula usage was decreased by the use of donor milk. Breastfeeding and breastmilk feeding are not equivalent. We may "feel" the need to support mothers who pump their milk and never get the baby to the breast. But scientifically, breastfeeding and breastmilk feeding are two very different modes of feeding an infant. In fact the use of technology to collect breastmilk creates change in the product (fat content). It is similiar to the difference between kneading bread made from whole ingredients and using a bread machine using the same ingredients. There is a taste difference, even a texture difference. Machinery saves time, but it creates it own problems.
So I wrote a comment regarding this study and it was published. Some weeks later I went back to reread the article because I was going to write about it in this blog. And I became thoroughly confused. The text had changed making my comment appear totally bizarre. In fact the whole article seemed different. If I hadn't quoted from the text of the article in my comment, I would have thought I lost my mind. Yeah, I know alot of people think I have lost my marbles. I realized at the very least the sentence had changed since I had made my comment. So I wrote the editor about the changes made to the conclusion of this study. I was concerned that changes were made without readers knowing that changes were made. The editor wrote me back and stated that changes had been made by the authors to correct a Table error and while they were making those changes they changed the sentence. The editor stated that a comment would be made to reflect that changes had been made. I wrote back to the editor asking which Table was changed. The response was that the change was a number change not related to the feeding data. But I was not told which Table was changed. There were other issues. The significance of this, seems huge to me. How easily our technology can be used to change perceptions. If I hadn't quoted from the text, I would have thought I had lost my mind. If I had let it pass and not written the editor, readers would have presumed that Valerie W. McClain was a nitwit. Of course, now I look at online professional journals in a different light. What might be changed? Is it the same text as yesterday, will it be the same tomorrow? Trust in print....god save of us.