Monday, August 25, 2014

A Critique and A Patent

                       "Globalized industrialized food is not cheap:  it is
                        costly for the Earth, for the farmers, for our health.
                        The Earth can no longer carry the burden of ground-
                        water mining, pesticide pollution, disappearance of
                        species and destabilization of the climate."
                        --Vandana Shiva

I recently read, "Supporting Formula-Feeding Moms During World Breastfeeding Week," by Suzanne Barston (Fearless Formula Feeder blogger) published at the Huffingtonpost website on August 6, 2014.  Suzanne Barston is an advocate for formula feeding familes.  Yet, recently she became a Certified Lactation Consultant (CLC).  How exactly does one adequately advocate for both infant formula feeding and breastfeeding families?  Isn't it possible that some families may get short-changed by this middle-of-the-road approach?  I remember from my childhood a biblical verse that seems to address this concern about a middle-of-the-road approach.  From Matthew 6:24, "No one can serve two masters.  Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other."  

Suzanne Barston states that World Breastfeeding Week, "is the perfect time to spread our own message about self-care, individuality and confidence."  Timing of social media messages is critical.  Why pick the same week as World Breastfeeding Week?  What message does this send out to the world?  Hm, if infant formula feeding is about self-care, individuality and confidence then breastfeeding is not about self-care, individuality and confidence.

I feel a sense of competitiveness, why else pick the same week as World Breastfeeding Week to celebrate infant formula feeding families?  Why not pick another month or another week?  From the beginning Barston writes about failure--playing at soccer, losing the game because as a goalie she failed to block a shot by the opposing team.  Then being yelled at by her teammates and feeling like a failure.  This is the author's issue.  Should this issue be the basis of running a social media campaign that in essence sabotages a time to celebrate breastfeeding?

The author writes, "What's best for the masses isn't always best for the individual."  One has to conclude from the article that infant formula feeding is about individualism and by implication that breastfeeding is what everyone is doing.  Yet that isn't even true.  Most women do either a mixture of breastfeeding and infant formula feeding or exclusive formula feeding.  The message of individualism speaks to who?  This is a subtle media message, a Republican ideology, stemming from Herbert Hoover days who coined the term "rugged individualism".  Hoover believed that the federal government should not interfere with the American people during the Great Depression.  He also said, "After all, the chief business of the American people is business." Business is the priority of our society.  Infant formula is a billion dollar business that thrives when women believe that choice is an individual, rational decision not governed by advertising or social media campaigns.

The author writes, "Breastfeeding is one part of a complex puzzle that makes up child health."  She states, "Public health messaging is about public health, not individual health."  Say what?  This statement is bizarre in the extreme.  I won't even comment because it is beyond rationality.

The author to prove that bottlefeeding is wonderful and that bonding does not require breasts, let's readers click on a link to a picture of a mother bottlefeeding her baby.  Where has the author been for the past few decades?  There are bottlefeeding pictures everywhere, glorifying bottlefeeding--just look at infant formula advertising on the internet.  What we don't get to see so much is breastfeeding pictures.  Even Facebook up until recently was taking down pictures of breastfeeding.  We don't need more bottlefeeding pictures.   And the fact is that glorifying pictures of bottlefeeding will definitely sell more cans of infant formula.  This makes me question how someone who advocates for infant formula feeding (families) can also serve breastfeeding clients well if at all.

I think the biggest problem I have with this media campaign is that all these messages play into an industry that stands to gain in more people using infant formula to express their individuality.  And actually this campaign seems to create an even bigger divide between breastfeeding mothers and infant formula feeding mothers with its focus on how infant formula feeding mothers are made to feel like failures (by who else breastfeeding mothers).  The reality is that feelings of failure are self-induced and to blame someone else for feelings of failure in a public venue is scapegoating, a well-known propaganda technique.

From my perspective, Huffington Post is unsupportive of breastfeeding, otherwise it would not have published this kind of article, particularly on World Breastfeeding Week!

Another patent...regarding irradiation of infant formula...

Patent # 88902018 entitled, "Apparatus and method for radiation processing of fluent food products," by inventors Shekhar Patel and Laurence J. Kiely and owned by Nestec (Nestle).  Filed in 2006.  The invention uses e-beams to reduce levels of Enterobacter sakazakii.

"Figure 9 is a flowchart depicting a method of irradiating powder infant formula according to an embodiment of the present invention."

"In most scientific literature it is assumed that on an average E. sakazakii contaminated infant formula has approximately 36 cells/10Kg of product.  If an infant formula contaminated at this level is processed by e-beam at a dose level of 3.4 KgY, it will bring down the microbial load to 0.36 cells/10 Kg (almost impossible to detect using current microbial testing procedures)."


Food irradiation has some health risks.  Vitamin E and C levels are reduced which can be compounded by longer storage times of irradiated foods.  By-products are created by irradiation, one chemical is known to cause DNA damage in rat colon cells at high doses.  "Food irradiation does not inactivate dangerous toxins which have already been produced by bacteria prior to irradiation."  from Position Statement of The Food Commission-July 2002

I don't know if infant formula is irradiated in the USA or in other countries.  Interesting that Nestle owns a patent on irradiating infant formula and I wonder whether this technology is used and in what countries.
Copyright 2014 Valerie W. McClain 

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Apartheid: Racism & Violence in America

                "A nation that continues year after year to spend more
                 money on military defense than on programs of social  
                 uplift is approaching spiritual doom."
                 --Martin Luther King, Jr.

We are a visually-impaired country.  We are a violent country.  We are a society that is racist as well as sexist.  And actually racism exists in almost any country in the world.  But the US is one of the more dominant violent countries of the world.  We have the bombs and the bullets and we use them to suit the business needs of our corporations.  Its about power, profits and wealth.  As the old bumper sticker states, "He who dies with the most toys wins."  Somehow we believe that in the afterlife, that those who made a "killing" on the stock market or in business will be rewarded.  

Ferguson, Missouri, a suburb of St. Louis Missouri, home to the Monsanto Corporation, is currently faced with massive protests regarding a white policeman shooting to death an unarmed young black man, Michael Brown.  His body left on the street for hours, without the dignity of a shroud. He is one of many young black males to die in the US in confrontations with police.  How many will die before our society says enough is enough?  Will there be justice for Michael Brown?  Was there justice for Trayvon Martin?  There is an utter senselessness to these killings.  And then when the community stands up against this injustice, they face tear gas and guns pointed in their faces? Why? Is protest now a crime?  

I never heard of Ferguson, Missouri before this happened.  But I certainly knew that St. Louis, Missouri is the home of Monsanto. It seemed ironic that a company so hated by environmentalists because of its poisoning of the earth and its people, seems smack dab in the middle of racist turmoil.  Although, one might consider that environmental degradation is not only poisonous to the health of people but poisonous to the poorer communities, particularly poor black communities. Monsanto, is known for its manufacturing of DDT, aspartame, glyphosate herbicides-"Round Up," Agent Orange/Dioxin, PCBs, genetically modified seeds, aspirin, saccharin, caffeine, vanillin and assisted in the development of our first nuclear weapons.   Monsanto is also known for its political influence in Congress, the FDA, the USDA, the EPA, the Courts-including the Supreme Court. Monsanto has the power to influence the nation;  to make the populace accept the poisoning and pollution of our land.  So should we be surprised that racism seems to be embedded in the roots of a city that Monsanto calls home?  Is Monsanto still as racist as their 1950's ad, "It's Plastics Picking Time Down South, depicting blacks picking cotton? see

Or is the racism more subtle?  For example, there has been a 98% decline in black farm ownership.  Part of the reason for this decline is Monsanto's monopolies on seeds and its curtailing of saving seeds.  The saving of seeds has been farmers economic lifeline; without that ability, farmers are put into greater and greater debt. 

Who has suffered the most from unemployment (latest statistic from New Pittsburgh Courier/August 2014 jobless rate-4.9% white males, 11.4% black males, 4.9% white females, 10.1% black females)?  Who is last to be hired and first to be fired?  What neighborhoods have the worst schools with high drop out rates?  Racism impacts jobs and education.  It impacts medical care.  Infant mortality rates for black infants is 2-3 times higher than white infants in the USA.  Infant mortality is a barometer of economic well-being of a people.  High rates of infant mortality shows us that the well being of the black community is in jeopardy.  Black infants have the lowest breastfeeding rates. Racism has a lot to do with a community's access to knowledge about breastfeeding and the risks of infant formula.

When I was a young girl in the fifties I remember watching the television and seeing Southern police and their dogs attack civil rights protestors.  I didn't understand that kind of cruelty then and I don't understand it now.  I didn't understand why black people had to sit in the back of the bus?  Or why they couldn't eat at lunch counters with white people?  Or why there were bathrooms for white people only?  Or why there were white hospitals and black hospitals? A black person who got into a car accident and was critically hurt near a white hospital would not be allowed in the white hospital and would have to travel to the black hospital (that is if there was a black ambulance). While desegregation has happened, the poisonous nature of racism still exists.  It exists in laws that are applied unequally, in whether you can obtain a job or an education or where you can live. 

Recently UN human rights official, Navi Pillay's commented to US authorities "urging the US authorities to investigate allegations of brutality and examine the 'root causes' of racial discrimination in America."  She further stated, "..privately I was thinking that there are many parts of the United States where apartheid is flourishing."  and, "Apartheid is also where law turns a blind eye to racism."(Reuters, Aug 20, 2014, "Missouri racial violence recalls apartheid, UN rights chief says," by Stephanie Nebehay)

As Pillay states in this article racism breeds conflict and violence.  Martin Luther King, Jr. stated many years ago, "Discrimination is a hellhound that gnaws at Negroes in every waking moment of their lives to remind them that the lie of their inferiority is accepted as truth in the society dominating them."  We seem to be stuck in the continuous tragedy of racism and violence.  The US is the number one arms dealer of the world.  We also export our crowd control weapons:  tear gas, flash bang grenades, and rubber bullets.  All this violence we have exported, only to have the police use it on our own streets.  

I realize this is not my usual kind of post for my blog. Violence in our society is a huge problem that creates a common state of fear and anger, an exportation of wars across the globe, and violence in our streets.  Violence towards one race, towards women and children, is self-perpetuating.  It will never end unless more people demand an end to violence, racism, and sexism.  This is the time for justice.  A time to realize that violence only begets more violence. 

Copyright 2014 Valerie W. McClain

"In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends."  --Martin Luther King, Jr.

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

Sunday, August 10, 2014


              "Advertising is the art of convincing people to spend money
                they don't have for something they don't need."
                                                   --Will Rogers

Well, US News and World Report, you have truly breached the gap between news and advertising.  When advertising becomes a news article, do we laugh or cry?  Should I be surprised?  Me, who only reads newspapers to figure out what the government wants us to believe.  No, I am not surprised.  Well dear reader how about taking a look at this news article.

"But sometimes, breast-feeding just isn't in the cards..." 

Let us believe in fickle fate, luck of the draw, or tarot cards in determining how we feed our babies.  Let's not question how hospital birthing policies and practices, lack of support and correct information, and advertising dressed up as news influences the roulette wheel of infant feeding choices.

"[Read:  Is Breast-feeding Always Best for Babies?]"

Subtle, eh?  I read it, didn't like it.  But I am sure that you can convince a number of readers in the validity of choosing the right formula rather than choosing breastfeeding.

"U.S. News, in partnership with Pharmacy Times, conducted a survey of 2,490 pharmacists to see which health products they recommend most often.  When it came to infant formula, 49 percent of pharmacists recommend Enfamil as the brand of choice.  Similac came in a distant second place with 21 percent of the votes, and PediaSure came in third with 17 percent."

Okay Mead Johnson (manufactures Enfamil) wins the contest...but pharmacists are recommending PediaSure (Abbott manufactures this product as well as Similac) for infants???  Hold on, PediaSure is not an infant formula!! Package brochure states for children 1-13 years old not recommended for children under 1 years of age and states consult a health professional for children under 2 years of age.  Obviously consulting a pharmacist about infant formula might not be the wisest thing to do, if some of them are recommending PediaSure as an infant formula.

"Formula isn't the place to look for a bargain."
"Generic companies don't put as much research into their products..."
"Don't splurge on organic."

No, splurge on name brand formulas.  Wow if I was Perrigo, manufacturer of store-brand infant formulas I would not be happy with this news article.  Perrigo won a lawsuit regarding Mead Johnson's false advertising in 2011. we go again the accusations regarding store brand formulas.  Oh wait this isn't advertising...its news!!!!!!  God save me from this crazy, messed up world.  Orwellian?  You bet.

Here's some more patents to enjoy...

Patent # 7893041 entitled, "Oligosaccharide compositions and use thereof in the treatment of infection," filed in 2004.  The inventors are Ardythe L. Morrow, David S. Newburg, and Guillermo M. Ruiz-Palacios and owned by the Children's Hospital Medical Center (Cincinnati Ohio), Instituto Nacional De Ciencias Medicas Y Nutricion(Mexico, D.F.,MX), and University of Massachusetts (Boston, MS).

"Significantly enhanced immunologic protection by breastfeeding has been demonstrated for diarrheal diseases, respiratory tract illnesses, bacteremia, meningitis, and necrotizing enterocolitis." 

Patent # 8715769 entitled, "Preventing diseases in infants delivered via caesarean section," filed in 2006. The inventors are Joachim Schmitt et al., and the owner is N.V. Nutricia (Netherlands).  The believe that C-sectioned infants have different intestinal flora than vaginally-born infants.  The C-sectioned infants have less Bifidobacterium and less diverse Bifidobacterium. 

"Human milk contains non-digestible oligosaccharides which specifically stimulate the growth of lactic acid producing bacteria, such as species belonging to the genus Bifidobacterium and Lactobacillus and prevent the growth and/or adhesion to the intestinal wall of other (pathogenic) bacteria.  Hence, when an infant receives human milk, the infant's intestinal flora develops into a healthy flora rich in lactic acid producing bacteria.  The presence of a healthy intestinal flora improves gut barrier maturation and/or gut barrier integrity, stimulates the formulation of mucus, inhibits pathogenic bacteria and stimulates the immune system."

Patent #8637297 entitled, "Isolation, identification and characterization of strains with probiotic activity, from faeces of infants fed exclusively with breast milk," filed in 2010.  The inventors are Jose Maria Vieites Fernandez et al., and owned by Hero AG (infant formula company in Europe).

""The general objective of this study is to isolate probiotic microorganisms for a subsequent use in the food and pharmaceutical industry, especially for using them in infant formula milk."

"..the French microbiologist Tissier observed that the fecal microbiota of breast-feeding newborns have more bacteria from the genus Bifidobacterium than the fecal microbiota of children who have received artificial milk and acknowledged the beneficial role of this microorganism."

Henri Tissier discovered Bifidobacterium in the 1900's.  He called it Bacillus bifidus communis but it is now called Bifidobacterium bifidum Ti. (Encyclopedia of Food Microbiology, ed. by Carl A. Batt).  The health of breastfeed infants was believed to be caused by this substance.  So do breastfed infants need probiotics?  No, they get it naturally through breastfeeding.  The infant formula industry will use this bacteria (derived from the feces of exclusively breastfeed infants) to imitate human milk's beneficial attributes.  Of course the question is how does one manufacture such substance and consider it equivalent?
Copyright 2014 Valerie W. McClain 

Thursday, August 7, 2014

World Breastfeeding Week 2014: Artificial feeding is risky

                             "Artificial feeding is risky.  This basic fact upsets people
                      who feel insulted if they or their mothers did not
                      breastfeed but most women do not 'choose' how they
                      feed their babies:  they do what their culture and 
                      society expects." --Gabrielle Palmer, The Politics of
                      Breastfeeding:  When Breasts are Bad for Business

In our society is infant feeding really choice or cultural expectation?  Gabrielle Palmer's book unveils our presumptions about infant feeding.  Reading and rereading her book, I continue to learn from it.  I heard her speak many years ago and went out and bought her book.  Shared the book and never got it back.  Bought an updated and revised edition and it is so worn that I think I need another copy.  

I just finished reading an article in the Washington Post entitled, "I fed my newborns formula to keep them alive.  Still, I felt guilty about it," by Darlena Cunha.  I must say that the media has outdone itself in creating articles during World Breastfeeding Week that are unsupportive of breastfeeding.  How can a breastfeeding advocate respond to such an article?  But a response is needed.

The author states that she learned, "Good mothers, I learned, breastfed.  Lazy mothers don't."  Where did she learn this?  I remember meeting with breastfeeding mothers and we were all talking about how we were lazy and how breastfeeding fit into our lazy lifestyles.  Meaning it takes a lot of work to bottle feed babies.  Sterilizing bottles, cleaning bottles and nipples, making sure that everything is done as safely and correct as possible is no easy task.  Breastfeeding one simply puts the baby to breast, no fuss, no kitchen clean-up.  Where did she get this notion that lazy mothers formula feed?  Lightbulb goes off in my head, as I read further in the article about a survey taken by Baby Talk Magazine in which "33% of breastfeeding mothers called their formula-feeding counterparts lazy and selfish."  I don't particularly have much faith in media surveys, particularly when the media is supported by infant formula advertising.  Surveys can be set up to be slanted.  And what better way to create the "mommy wars."

Then the author of this article states that this idea that women must breastfeed is echoed in "scary" media stories about stores pulling formula off the shelves after a baby died of a bacterial infection.  I believe there was a recall--meaning in the interest of public safety the product was removed off the shelves.  The bacterial infection is called Cronobacter sakazakii and infants who contract this bacteria (known scientifically to reside in powdered infant formula)  have a 40%-80% risk of dying or being brain damaged.  Scary story?  Or scary reality? 

The article goes on to state that "when breastfeeding adult medications must be stopped so that the effects don't reach the infants via the mothers' milk."  There are very few medications that need to be stopped. ("It is currently known, that most medications have few side effects in breastfeeding infants because the dose transferred via milk is almost always too low to be clinically relevant, or it is poorly bioavailable to the infant."--Thomas Hale, PhD, "Medications and Mothers' Milk)

The author goes on to tell the story of a mother who was talked into breastfeeding by a well-meaning nurse.  So in reality this woman did not want to breastfeed.  Finally, a health professional told her to stop breastfeeding.  This is an example of how choice is often controlled by who is believed to have the power in your life. The mother felt forced to choose breastfeeding because a medical person decided for her.  And then she had to wait for a medical person to tell her she could quit.  This is an example of a mother who has lost her autonomy and power to the medical establishment.  We shouldn't be surprised that breastfeeding didn't work out.  Or that the mother feels badly.  The decision to breastfeed or not is far more important than our society recognizes.  Who should control that decision-making process?  The mother.  A mother that let's others make her decision has lost her autonomy and depression is often the end result.  Depression often leads to blame placed on the wrong people or the wrong institutions.  

This article is a very thoughtless article and I am surprised that the Washington Post published it.  It is an article that misinforms readers and perpetuates myths regarding breastfeeding and breastfeeding advocacy.

More patents...

Patent # 6232094 entitled, "DNA encoding human .kappa. casein and process for obtaining protein," filed in 1995.  Invented by Lennart Hansson et al. and owned by Symbicom Aktiebolag (Sweden).  This invention is about a DNA sequence encoding the human milk protein .kappa.-casein.

"Thus infant formula, often prepared on the basis of cow milk, is generally incompletely digested by the infant, and is lacking substances known to have effect on the physiological funtions of the infant.  In order to obtain an infant formula with a nutritional value similar to human milk, a number of additives including proteins, protein fragments, vitamins, minerals etc., which are normally formed or taken up during the infant's digestion of human milk are included in the formula with the consequent risk of posing an increased strain on and possible long-term damage of important organs such as liver and kidney. Another disadvantage associated with the use of cow milk-based formulae is the increased risk for inducing allergy in the infant against bovine proteins."

Patent #5741957 entitled "Transgenic bovine," filed in 1995.  Inventors are Hermon A. Deboer et al. and owned by Pharming B.B. of the Netherlands.  For those who don't know what transgenic means, "an organism whose genome has been altered by the transfer of a gene or genes from another species."

"Further, it is apparent that a need exists for methods for producing transgenic bovine species which are capable of producing recombinant polypeptides such as human milk proteins and human serum proteins in the milk os such transgenic animals."

"Still further, it is an object herein to provide food formulations supplemented with recominant polypeptides from such transgenic milk such as human infant formula supplements with human lactoferrin."

This is the company that created Herman, the bull.  The following website is an article about the creation of a herd of transgenic cows in Blackburg, Virginia back in 1999.  There are many other herds now.  The transgenic cows in Virginia were not initially separated from normal cows. 

Patent # 7914822 entitled, "Method of producing nutritional products from human milk tissue and compositions thereof," and filed in 2009.  The inventor is Elena Maria Medo and owned by Prolacta Bioscience.

"Artificial baby milk, predominantly based on cow's milk, have been prepared and used to nourish an infant, but there is increasing evidence that infants fed artificial baby milks suffer long-term ill consequences."

"It has been known for a long time by physicians, scientists and nutritionists that the best food or nutrition supplied to an infant is its own mothers' milk, ie., fresh human milk."

"Accordingly, it would be desirable to provide a standardized source of human milk that can be modified to reflect the various stages of lactation and various immune responses."

The human milk industry, Prolacta in this patent, recognizes that fresh human milk (note that they don't say breastfeeding) is the best source of food for babies.  Yet there product is not fresh, it is frozen with additives.  The beauty of human milk is that it is not standardized, it is individualized.   Breastfeeding is the competitor for this industry as well as the infant formula industry.  Both recognize and state that some women can't or won't breastfeed, so we must buy their products.
Copyright 2014 Valerie W. McClain

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

World Breastfeeding Week 2014: Breastfeeding is our Inheritance

                "Globalized industrialized food is not cheap:  it is too costly
                  for the Earth, for the farmers, for our health.  The Earth 
                  can no longer carry the burden of ground water mining, 
                  pesticide pollution, disappearance of species and destabilization
                  of the climate.  Farmers can no longer carry the burden of
                  debt, which is inevitable in industrial farming with its high 
                  costs of production.  It is incapable of producing safe, 
                  culturally appropriate, tasty, quality food.  And it is incapable
                  of producing enough food for all because it is wasteful of 
                  land, water and energy.  Industrial agriculture uses ten times
                  more energy than it produces.  It is thus ten times less 
                  efficient."--Vandana Shiva

There is an ecological burden that we add to the Earth, when countries do little to promote, protect and encourage breastfeeding.  Instead the promotion and protection is extended to the infant formula industry. In a very unbalanced system, this industry can market its products directly to mothers and fathers using advertising techniques that promote their products while sabotaging breastfeeding.  This billion dollar industry influences our government, our educational institutions as well as the medical establishments through large donations.  They advertise on the internet, in magazines, and TV.  This very same industry owns human milk research.  They own it cause they bought it and staked a claim through their patents.  They wage marketing campaigns to silence breastfeeding advocacy.  And we live in such strange times that marketing has becomes truth and truth cannot be tolerated.  Out of fear that the truth creates shame and guilt, we are encouraged to omit the truth.  Some call that lies by omission.  Who benefits when we massage the message, speak and write unclearly about infant formula?  Well, let's watch how that billion dollar industry makes billions more.  But you know this isn't just about making money, its about a product that creates higher morbidity and mortality.  What other products do you know that can do this and still get the support of the average citizen? 

Breastfeeding is our rightful inheritance.  By breastfeeding, a baby is getting gulpfuls of their mother's DNA, a fresh and a live substance.  Formula is not a live substance and the DNA the baby receives is either cow or goat or some other mammal or sometimes a plant-soybean DNA.  This is why we talk about species specific milks.  The design of mammal milks is to benefit the particular species of mammal.  Cow's milk is designed to quickly create a big animal.  Human milk is designed for human brain function.  Should we be surprised about our obesity problem in children, when a majority of infants are ingesting cow's milk formulas at some point in their early lives.  The infant formula industry is now working on patents to make an infant formula that will resolve the obesity problem caused by their product.  Should we applaud the industry for solving a problem they created?  And actually the resolution of the obesity problem is breastfeeding not the creation of another untested product.

Some years ago I met a young mom who was breastfeeding her son despite some enormous difficulties.  I asked her why she continued to breastfeed despite all the obstacles placed in her life.  She told me that it was part of her religious belief and that breastfeeding was her children's rightful inheritance.  She could not even think of quitting.  I was impressed by her courage and her conviction to continue to breastfeed.  I met many women who overcame many difficulties to breastfeed over the years.  I was always impressed by how many mothers move mountains to make breastfeeding work for them.  As I have looked at so many patents on human milk components and how these patents study the DNA of these components, I find myself thinking that it is quite appropriate to view breastfeeding as one's inheritance.  You can inherit money and land but if you don't have your health (and we know that breastfeeding impacts your health not only as an infant but into adulthood) living your life will be a struggle.  Most people who suffer with health problems, would rather regain their health than be given money or gifts.

More patents...

Patent #8394370 entitled, "Nutritional formula for optimal gut barrier function," by inventors Clara Lucia Barcia-Rodinas et al. and filed in 2004.  Owned by Nestec (Nestle).

"During the postnatal development, the newborn intestine experiences a process of maturation that ends by the establishment of a functional barrier to macromaolecules and pathogenic bacteria.  This phenomenon is called gut closure and appears to be affected by diet.  Hence, differnt studies with infants (JPGN, 1995,21:383-6), and animal models (Pediatr Res, 1990, 28:31-7) show that maturation of the barrier is faster in breast-fed than in formula fed newborns.  This could explain the higher prevalence of allergy and infections in infants fed formula than in those fed with mother milk."

Patent #8293264 entitled, "Nutritional composition to promote healthy development and growth," invented by Francisco J. Rosales et al. and filed in 2009.  Owned by Mead Johnson. The patent states that Bifidobacterim spp. bacteria dominates the intestines of breastfed infants.  And while Bifidobacterim spp (not necessarily the same species as found in breastfed infants) is also in the intestines of formula-fed infants, there are also many pathogenic bacterium.

"Bifidobacteria are generally considered 'beneficial' bacteria and are known to protect against colonization by pathogenic bacteria."

"Bifidobacteria are also associated with resistance to gastrointestinal (GI) tract and respiratory infection as well as an enhanced immune function, especially in children and infants."

HM [Human Milk] oligosaccharides are believed to elicit an increase in the number of Bifidobacteria in the colonic flora, along with a reduction in the number of potentially pathogenic bacteria."

Patent # 8282927 entitled, "Immunoglobulin fraction and process thereof,"
invented by Andrew Brown et al, and filed in 2006.  Owned by Murray Goulburn Co-Operative Co. Limited (Australia).  This patent states that very little IgA present in cow's milk and their intent is to make an IgA enriched milk product.

"Immunoglobulin A (IgA) is the dominant immunoglobulin in human secreetions, including breast milk and provides the body with protection against pathogens, binding to disease-causing viruses, bacteria, fungi and their toxins.  IgA provides infants essential protection against the aforementioned pathogens."

Copyright 2014 Valerie W. McClain

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

World Breastfeeding Week 2014: Breastfeeding is a "safety net"

                     "Breastfeeding is a natural safety net against the
                      worse effects of poverty." --James P. Grant, former
                      Executive Director of UNICEF

I have always felt that the above quotation was very important as well as insightful.  Access to nutritious food is essential for well-being and can be a life or death situation for infants.  Poverty can mean that access to nutritious foods is extremely limited. It takes money and resources (transportation, fuel, safe water) to formula fed a baby.  Lack of money or resources jeopardizes the well-being of infants fed artificial formulas.  Mothers may limit the amounts of formula or water-down the formula, jeopardizing the infant's health and well-being. Exclusive breastfeeding saves money because there are no costs to the mother, other than an investment in time spent breastfeeding.  Infant feeding choice is a luxury designed for those who have adequate resources to cover the cost of formula feeding and the medical care that is needed because formula fed infants are at higher risk for diarrhea, upper and lower respiratory infections, pneumonia, diabetes, obesity, SIDs, etc. 

In the USA, we have the WIC Program that provides infant formula for low income mothers, who choose to use it.  Since it is a supplemental nutrition program, most participants find that they have to buy more infant formula out of pocket.  One state WIC website declares that moms should be prepared to spend $30 per month for the first 12 months.  WIC does provide breastfeeding education and breastfeeding peer counselors.  While low income mothers can get free infant formula from the WIC Program, they still have to pay out of pocket because it is only a supplemental program.  Which creates an element of risk because these moms may feel compelled to limit infant formula given or water down infant formula (a dangerous practice that can led to death of an infant if not caught in time).

The reason many low income mothers do not breastfeed at all or longer than 6 weeks is the need to be employed to pay for housing, food, and transportation.  Depending on her educational background and experience, she may have to exist on minimum wage jobs which often do not offer nursing breaks or time to pump.  Thus, many of the low income moms I worked with to help breastfeed, were financially compelled to quit breastfeeding early.  And some moms, told me that because they were going back to work so early they didn't want to become too attached to their babies through breastfeeding. A sad statement about being a low-income mom and the obstacles to breastfeeding in our society.  Breastfeeding can be a natural safety net against poverty, if our society created practices that supported breastfeeding.  

More patents...

Patent #4977137 entitled, Lactoferrin as a dietary ingredient promoting the growth of the gastrointestinal tract."  Filed in 1987 with inventors Nichols et al. and owned by Baylor College of Medicine.  This is the infamous Pharm Woman patent in which the European Greens protested and had the European patent application revoked.  The US and Australian applications became patents.

"A substantial growth of the intestines of newborn animals takes place in the first one to three days after birth.  For example in newborn pigs who are nursed by the mother there is substantial growth, approximately eight to ten inches of the intestines of the infant within the first few days after birth.  In a large number of human newborns, who are not nursed by the mother but are placed on an infant's formula, this growth of the gastrointestinal tract during the first few days may not occur, and, as a result, the infant is predisposed to chronic intractable diarrhea which must be managed for a period of three or more months at considerable expense and discomfort to the infant."

Patent # 8498729 entitled, "Manufacturing execution system for use in manufacturing infant formula," filed in 2009 invented by Shane M. Popp and owned by SMP Logic Systems, LLC.

"The key to successful formula design is to match as closely as possible the physical and nutritional properties of breast milk."

"Baby formula is a synthetic version of mother's milk and belongs to a class of materials known as dairy substitutes."

"In the United States alone, the infant formula industry is a $3 billion a year business, with another $1 billion in sales outside of the United States."

Patent # 8518894 entitled, "Human Milk Peptides," invented and owned by James Kenneth Friel and Apolinaire Tsopmo and filed in 2010.  The human milk peptides are to be used in food supplements, milk substitutes, infant formula, mother's milk, cell/tissue/organ storage, perfusion solutions, and pharmaceutical formulations.

"The present invention relates to the discovery of 27 novel peptides derived from human milk."

"Infants fed with human milk are found to gain protection against necrotizing entercolitis and have fewer upper respiratory tract infections and system infections."

"There is therefore, a need for new compounds derived from human milk that provide antioxidant advantages and may be used as ingredients to mother's milk substitutes."

This patent also states that their invention can be used to manufacture new formulations of TPN (Total Parenteral Nutrition) "to prevent the photo-oxidation of TPN components."

Copyright 2014 Valerie W. McClain


Monday, August 4, 2014

World Breastfeeding Week 2014: Supporting breastfeeding mothers

                            "Women who make choices that optimize their own
                      health and the health of their infants need to be
                      acknowledged and supported by their families, the
                      public, and the medical profession."
                                    --Patricia Stuart-Macadam & Katherine A. Dettwyler,
                                    "Breastfeeding:  Biocultural Perspectives"

There are enormous challenges to breastfeeding in our modern, technological world, where we are overloaded with information and breastfeeding gadgets.  And to add to that challenge a lot of the breastfeeding information out there is contradictoryI remember a home visit I made a few years ago in which the mother broke down and cried.  Why?  Because her own doctor told her one thing, the pediatrician another, the nurse told her something totally different, her friends another, her mother and mother-in-law something else, and now I, the lactation consultant was telling her something different.  She couldn't see her way past the cacophony of voices.  She asked me, "Who should I believe?"   All I could think to say was for her to follow her instincts. Yet that isn't really a good answer because in our current society, most of our instincts are drummed out of us.  So I added, "Who makes sense to you, who explained their reasoning, who is willing to take the time to help you work this out and did their plan to resolve the problem work?  

Mothers are offered a ton of gadgets to resolve breastfeeding problems.  And many times those gadgets get them into deeper trouble.  When I relactated back in 1982, I didn't have easy access to gadgets.  Never saw a nipple shield or breast pump or an SNS.  I did something quite simple.  I slowly decreased my baby's intake of infant formula by 2-3 ounces every 3 days while breastfeeding more frequently.  It took me about 6-8 weeks to get to exclusive breastfeeding.  I didn't like using the infant formula for so long a time but I was steadily decreasing it and I eventually eliminated it.  I think if I had to use a breast pump, a nipple shield and/or an SNS, I would have given up.  There wasn't enough time in my day to fiddle with gadgets, clean them, use them properly.  But then my personality is such that I am always looking for a simple approach to life's challenges.  And if it costs money, requires cleaning, and takes up too much of my time;  my interest in the thing dissolves.  One of the problems with all these devices is that the time for breastfeeding gets short-changed.  And the breastfeeding challenges, like relactation, is that more time with breastfeeding is required not less.   I recognize that everyone is different and that my challenges and resolutions are not necessarily going to fit for some or even many mothers.   Yet if a mom is spending more time pumping and cleaning equipment than breastfeeding (and often mothers are also doing infant formula--with all the added work that entails), then should we be surprised that breastfeeding appears to be not working?  Mothers need time to breastfeed.  Sometimes equipment makes that time next to impossible.

I will never forget the woman who came up to me at a swim meet when I was breastfeeding my youngest.  I was nursing her in the bleachers, next to a man and his wife that I didn't know.  This was back in 1993.  She told me what a pleasure it was to see a mom breastfeeding and what a wonderful job I was doing.  It was good to hear because it is often hard to shake the "evil eye" one gets for breastfeeding in public.  I didn't have time to respond or even thank her because she moved on after her own children.  But I have passed that praise on to other breastfeeding mothers, knowing how much it meant to me.  We call that "paying it back."  What better honor to World Breastfeeding Week, than to give a thumb's up and a big smile or a word or two of praise to a mother who is breastfeeding in public!!!

More patents...yes plenty more...

Patent # 7354896 entitled, "Administration of leptin," invented by Susan M. Kirwin and Vicky L. Funange.  Nemours Foundation owns the patent that was filed in 2002.

"For the newborn infant (both full term and premature), the physical benefits of breast-feeding are multiple and provide such diverse attributes as protection from infections (upper respiratory, intestinal and middle ear), and a decrease in atopic diseases.  Many components of human breast milk have also been show to be necessary for development of the brain, intestinal tract, spinal cord and retina. (Crawford MA et al., A.J. Clin. Nutr. 31:2181-2185, 1978)  In general, the bioavailability of human milk components is remarkably high and is superior compared to cow's milk or formula. (Fuchs, AR:  Pysiology and Endocrinology of Lactation p.549-577.  In Obstetrics:  Normal and Problem Pregnancies, 1986)."

This patent was derived from human milk research-leptin contains milk fat globule.  The owner of this patent is the Nemours Foundation (Du Pont de Nemours is part of the infant formula industry offering their soy protein, called SUPRO, and prebiotics, probiotics to various infant formula companies)

Patent # 6613367 entitled, "Infant formula," is owned by N.V. Nutricia (Netherlands) and filed in 2001.  Inventors are Wells et al.

"It has also been reported that infants that are exclusively fed with these artificial formula suffer from longer episodes of crying compared to those that are fed with human milk.  This suggests a general feeling of discomfort due to perhaps hunger, pain, or even medical problems.  These problems may delay development of the child and produce concerns and practical problems to the parent."

This patent resolves the problem with increased levels of vitamins and changes in protein and carbohydrate content of infant formula.

Patent 8314061 entitled, "Adiponectin for treatment of various disorders," owned by Childrens Hopital Medical Center (Cincinnati, OH) and University of Massachusetts (Boston, MA).  The inventors are Ardythe L. Morrow, Lisa J. Martin, and David S. Newburg and filed in 2007.

"Breast fed children tend to be healthier, with lower incidence of allergy and infectious disease, and tend to be leaner than formula fed children."

Adiponectin is found in human milk.  This patent is to reduce the risk of obesity and certain metabolic disorders in infants and children.  It is to be used in infant formula or as a treatment.  This patent collected human milk samples from donors to the Cincinnati Children's Research Human Milk Bank and from the NICHD-funded grant entitled,"The Role of Human Milk in Infant Nutrition and Mexico City."

The owners of this patent could license this patent out to an infant formula company.  Both Ardythe Morrow and David Newburg have had their research funded by Mead Johnson.  And of interest is the fact that Mead Johnson Pediatric Nutrition Institute collaborates with the Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center, "a world leader in the study of human milk."  (as described by Mead Johnson on their website)

Copyright 2014 Valerie W. McClain

Sunday, August 3, 2014

World Breastfeeding Week 2014: Breastfeeding is Political

                      "Nevertheless, inappropriate feeding practices--
                       sub-optimal or no breastfeeding and inadequate
                       complementary feeding--remain the greatest
                       threat to child health and survival globally.
                       Improved breastfeeding alone could save the lives
                       of more than 3500 children every day, more than
                       any other preventive intervention."
                                    from the Innocenti Declaration 2005

How many people remember the statement, "the personal is political."  This was a statement made by Carol Hanisch, a feminist back in the late sixties/early seventies.  It was in response to the criticism made regarding the feminist movement's use of conscious-raising sessions.  The critique was that these sessions were merely personal bitch sessions and not political.  Hanisch wrote that the personal is political (which became a feminist tract/book).  I must have read it years ago because I believe that the personal can be political and the political can be personal. Breastfeeding is personal.  Breastfeeding is political. I found myself thinking about the social media campaign of "I Support You" and its lack of political awareness.  From my perspective it appears that breastfeeding advocacy has disintegrated into believing that infant feeding choices is a personal issue.  Are the angry feelings expressed by infant formula feeders towards breastfeeding mothers and advocates misplaced? 

The issues that infant formula feeding mothers bring up appear to me to be about issues of power and powerlessness of women within a society that supports breastfeeding in meaningless words of support rather than in adopting medical and legal practices of support.   Birth practices impact infant feeding. The care or lack of care by health care providers when giving birth is about who holds the power when giving birth.  Mother?  Or the medical institution?  Or the Doc?  Or the Midwife?  Birthing can either empower you or make you feel helpless, depressed and angry.  Likewise learning to breastfeed can either empower you or make you feel helpless, depressed and angry.  Who holds the power when breastfeeding?  The mother?  The IBCLC or CLC?  The Doc?  The Midwife?  If mothers hand over their power to the supposed expert, they become powerless and helpless.   Control over your body is a human right. Birth and breastfeeding can be a struggle to have some control over your body.  If a woman cedes control to someone else, then this is an issue of power and not a personal issue.  If a mother gives birth in a hospital that separates moms and babies, gives out gift packs of infant formula, touches her without permission and does painfully invasive procedures, is her depression self-inflicted?  Or is her depression a result of the politics (power) of medical institutions over birthing mothers?

And what about the struggle to breastfeed, when one must return to employment within two-four weeks (very common in USA).  The first 6 weeks postpartum is statistically filled with the most breastfeeding problems.  Thus, mothers are under a time crunch to get breastfeeding working well before they go back to employment.  Most mothers are faced with unsympathetic employers and a society that has little sympathy for the problems faced by mothers who have to return to work far too early.  Mothers are often faced with an unfair choice of financial disaster if she stays home too long.  And going back to her employment early means breastfeeding ends before it really begins.  Is this really a personal issue or a political issue?  Our society has chosen to not support women with families, to not give them sufficient leave time to get their babies off to a good start.

What about the marketing of infant formula and how this impacts women and their infant feeding choices?  Marketing is a powerful tool to control a society.  It is a powerful tool used to create a desire for products.  Infant formula has intrinsic risks but the industry does not inform its customers of this fact.  Instead customers are persuaded to believe that infant formula is better than ever because it is more like breastmilk.  The labels tells us that pediatrician recommend it or hospitals recommend their product. or even pharmacists recomment infant formula.  Who holds the power of the media?  The infant formula industry.  I would prefer the truth about these products but an industry that makes billions is allowed to hold sway over the media. We become powerless because the control of information is in the hands of those who have the most to gain economically.  Politics is about power.  The WHO Code, if it were enforced, would balance that power, so that consumers would not be manipulated by the media hype regarding infant formula. Infant feeding may be about making personal choices but those choices are ultimately tied to politics.  

Here are some more infant formula patents to think about:

Patent # 8771789 entitled "Oligosacharide ingredient," filed in 2009.  This patent is owned by Nestec (Nestle) and the inventors are Sprenger et al.

"The large quantity of sialylated oligosaccharides in human milk is of particular interest.  Sialic acid is a nine-C sugar that is a vital sturctual and functional component of brain gangliosides.  It is thought to play an essential role in nerve cell transmission, memory formation and cell to cell communication.  Studies in rat pups indicate that early supplementation with sialic acid improves brain ganglioside sialic acid and learning ability in well-nourished and malnourished animals and that these changes persist into adulthood."

They also state that "infant formulas have lower content of sialylated oligosaccharies than human milk."  The reason they want to add this substance to infant formulas.

Patent # 8703173  "Newborn infant formulas and feeding methods," filed in 2011.  Patent owned by the University College of London, Cambridge, Great Britain with inventors Atul Singhal and Alan Lucas.

"We have found from our long term infant studies that rapid early growth, achieved in large part from nutrient enriched feedings from conventional infant formulas, may result in long-term adverse health effects in individuals later in life, particularly with regard to long term vascular health relevant to the development of atherosclerosis and to the later propensity to insulin resistance and non-insulin dependent diabetes mellitus (NIODM), while slower growth in newborn infants, achieved in large part from feeding human milk or formula with a modified carbohydrate, fat and protein calorie distribution (ie., higher protein, lower caloric density) can have a beneficial effect in the form of reduced occurrence of markers of adult morbidity."

Patent # 8648036 entitled, "Use of nutritional compositions including lactoferrin and one or more prebiotics in inhibiting adhesion of pathogens in the gastrointestinal tract," filed in 2010.  Owned by Mead Johnson with inventors Anja Wittke et al.

"Lactoferrin is one of the primary proteins in human milk and is considered a glycoprotein..."

"Lactoferrin has been known to both bacteriostatic and bactericidal in inhibiting growth of specific bacteria while also killing microbes prior to a susscessful invasion of intestinal cells."

"Further, as known in the art, human breast milk is relatively low in iron, containing about 0.3 milligrams of iron per liter of breast milk.  While this quantity is low, human infants have high absorption rate, absorbing about half of the iron from breast milk.  However when human infants are given prior art formulations with high levels of iron fortification for example of from 10mg to 12 milligram per liter, the infants absorb less than about 5% of the total iron."

The reason why infant formula fed infants are more likely to be anemic than breastfed infants. 

Copyright 2014 Valerie W. McClain