Sunday, December 16, 2018


"But if thought corrupts language, language can also corrupt thought."
                                        --George Orwell, 1984

Words can be used to clarify human reality or they can be used to deceive our understanding of that reality.  Words sell products but they also sell ideas.  Advertising and marketing strategists use language to influence people's buying habits.

The infant formula industry is now advertising a new added ingredient to infant formula, which they name, Human Milk Oligosaccharide (HMO).  On the label of Abbott Nutrition's Similac infant formula with this added ingredient, they state in tiny, tiny, print, "Not from human milk."  Gerber (owned by Nestlé) on its formula with an added HMO makes the same statement that is also in tiny, tiny print.  An ingredient is named a Human Milk Oligosaccharide but it is not from human milk.  It reminds me of George Orwell's novel, 1984, in which "War is Peace," "Freedom is Slavery."  Or how the US War Department in 1947 became the Department of Defense.  Or how the military uses the term collateral damage rather than civilian casualties.  It is the corruption of language, what some people call double think.   It becomes the ultimate paradox to simultaneously hold two contradictory beliefs as correct.  A human milk component that is not a human milk component.  The truth gets lost in the contradiction.

According to the Codex Alimentarius, in the guidance of infant formula labeling,

9.6.3 "The terms 'humanized,' 'maternalized,'  or other similar terms shall not be used."

In 2017 Mead Johnson challenged a number of claims made by Abbott Nutrition in its advertising of HMOs in its formulas to the National Advertising Division (NAD, part of the Council for the Better Business Bureau).

"The National Advertising Division has determined that '2'-FL human milk oligosaccharide,' a claim made by Abbott Nutrition in advertising for its Similac Pro-Advance and Pro-Sensitive infant formulas, doesn't convey a misleading message, as long as the advertiser makes the necessary disclosure, 'not from human milk,' easier for consumers to notice, read and understand."

The National Advertising Division has supposedly fore-filled its obligation to help industry to self-regulate its advertising.  After this decision in 2017, I do not think that Abbott's and Gerber's infant formula labels are any more enlightening to consumers. Self-regulation by industry is a joke, another version of double thinking.  It's like the analogy of the fox guarding the hen house.

A number of companies manufacture HMOs for the infant formula industry:  Glycom, Jennewein, Inbiose, Elicity, ZuChem, Medolac, Glycosyn.  Recently BASF announced a two-year collaboration with UC Davis regarding human milk oligosaccharides.

Glycom, a Danish biotech company, is owned by its founders, Nestlé, and other individuals.

Glycom was the first company to apply for FDA GRAS for an HMO, named 2'-O-fucosyllactose (FDA GRAS #546), considered the most abundant HMO in human milk.  Yet this component is not in every woman's breast milk.  Lars Bode, human milk researcher at UC San Diego, has described human milk oligosaccharides in an article in 2012 in Glycobiology entitled, Human Milk Oligosacharides:  Every baby needs a sugar mama,

"Human milk oligosaccharides (HMOs) are a family of structurally diverse unconjugated glycans that are highly abundant in and unique to human milk."


"Oligosaccharide amount and composition vary between women and over the course of lactation."

How does one duplicate something that is unique, that varies from person to person, and individually varies over time?  Glycom states in its letter to the FDA,

"...the 2'FL manufactured by Glycom is chemically and structurally fully identical to the 2'-FL that is present in human milk.  Glycom's 2'-FL is therefore referred to as a human identical milk oligosaccharide."  FDA GRAS #546

In a Glycom patent #9012625 they describe the various methods that have been used to manufacture HMOs:  isolation technology, chemical, enzymatic which uses enzymes produced in genetically modified organisms, and various biotech methods which would likely encompass genetic engineering.  All have various drawbacks.  Glycom in that particular patent describes a crystallization method that appears to be the basis for their FDA GRAS #546.

But in a later Glycom patent (#9896470) dated in 2013 called, "Enhancing the stability and purity and increasing the bioavailability of human milk oligosaccharides or precursors or blends thereof," they discuss that the crystalline process is still contaminated with small residues:  toulene and protic solvents.  And they mention in this patent that, "crystalline HMOs are relatively unstable when stored for extended periods without refrigeration."

Glycom received FDA GRAS for another 2'-O-fucosyllactose (#650) in which they use fermentation and genetic engineering techniques with the bacteria, Escherichia coli (E.coli) K-12SCR6, to produce the 2'FL HMO for infant formula.

"As discussed, 2'-FL produced by fermentation with Escherichia coli (E. coli) K12 SCR6 is chemically and structually identical to the 2'-FL produced by chemical synthesis methods described in GRN 546 and to 2'-FL that is present in human breast milk as confirmed by ¹H- and 2D-NMR spectroscopy, mass spectrometry and x-ray crystallography."

Glycom states in patent #9234225 entitled, "Method for generating human milk oligosaccharides (HMOs) or precursors thereof," in 2013
"The large variety of oligosaccharides in human milk and colostrum and the difference to other species, however, makes it difficult to prepare suitable replacements in foods, particularly in infant food formulae, which display at least part of the entire spectrum of human milk oligosaccharides. Furthermore, their recognized importance in the maturation of the immune system and their prognostic use as immunomodulators underlines their importance as a possible immunomodulator."

The infant formula industry has decided to name a novel ingredient they are adding to infant formula, calling that ingredient a Human Milk Oligosaccharide.  The US FDA in the GRAS process does not question this name.  And it has no questions regarding statements by companies that manufacture HMOs in which they declare their product to be exactly identical to the real HMO.  Substantial equivalence has been the FDA's view of novel/genetically engineered ingredients.  The understanding was that genetic engineering does not exactly duplicate the natural ingredient.  It seems that this FDA policy has now changed and the FDA accepts a company's belief that their genetically engineered product is identical to the natural component in human milk.

FDA GRAS #650 by Glycom in which the FDA had no questions,  

"2'FL produced by fermentation with Escherichia coli (E. coli) K-12 SCR6 is chemically and structurally identical to the 2'-FL produced from Glycom's chemical synthesis methods as described in GRN 546, and to 2'FL that is present in human breast milk..."

In the USA both Abbott Nutrition and Gerber (Nestlé), have added  a so-called Human Milk Oligosaccharide (HMO) to some of their formulas. Abbott has Similac Pro-Total Comfort™, Similac Pro-Advance™ and Similac Pro-Sensitive™, "closer to breast milk than ever before."  Gerber has Good Start® Gentle HM-O, "closest formula to breast milk." Close, closer, closest:  who should we believe? 

The challenge to human milk researchers who are funded by industry is to create and imitate a component of human milk so that infant formula is more like real human milk. It's a tall order creating a substance that is unique and diverse.  There are some 200 different HMOs in a woman's breast milk.  Although the number of different HMOs seems to not really be known.  Some papers state that there are over 100 different HMOs, some say over 200 HMOs, and some state over 500.

Why does the infant formula industry try to imitiate human milk components? It would appear that the Federal United States Code definition of infant formula may be the reason why the industry studies human milk and tries to simulate it.

" The term 'infant formula' means a food which purports to be or is represented for special dietary use solely as a food for infants by reason of its simulation of human milk or its suitability as a complete or partial substitute for human milk."
--from 21 U.S.C. §321 (z), United States Code

So we are now suppose to believe that industry can chemically and structurally duplicate a human milk component?  A process that uses various toxic solvents to extract the substance.  And this particular substance is identical to a genetically engineered and fermented bacteria?  So all 3 substances are supposedly identical and named a Human Milk Oligosaccharide?  What will parents believe about our newest infant formula?  Will they believe that what is made in a factory lab is exactly identical to what nature makes?  Since the FDA has no questions regarding these statements, then it would seem the FDA believes that genetic engineering is an exact science that duplicates nature.  The human mammary gland is quite amazing but I don't think it needs toxic solvents like toulene to produce an HMO.  Nor can I imagine that the human mammary gland uses E. coli to produce an HMO. So how can the real human milk component be identical to the manufactured?

As disturbing as this is, what seems little noticed is that Medolac, a for-profit milk bank is listed as a manufacturer of HMOs.  Prolacta Bioscience, another for-profit milk bank, has a US patent and World Organization Patent on Human Milk Permeate which contains human milk oligosaccharides.  In patent #8927027, they state,

"The present inventors have found that, surprisingly, permeate (which had been thought to be a waste product lacking significant nutritional value) contains high biologically active content, including human oligosaccharides. Because the starting material, from which permeate is obtained, is pooled human milk, permeate can contain more discrete molecular forms or types of oligosaccharides than individual mother's milk.

The permeate can be added to non-human or human milk to increase its nutritional value. For example, the permeate can be added to human milk fortifiers and standardized milk compositions described in application U.S. Ser. No. 11/947,580, filed on Nov. 29, 2007, the contents of which are incorporated herein by reference in their entirety. The permeate can also be added to non-human milk formula, e.g., bovine milk formulations or mixtures of human and non-human milk formulations."

It would appear that a human milk oligosaccharide should have a clear definition so that consumers know what is contained in baby formulas.  It is possible that at some future time the real HMO from donated human milk may become part of the composition of infant formula. Prolacta and Medolac appear to be moving in that direction.  Of course, a pasteurized HMO from donor milk that stores for months, cannot be considered equivalent to the HMOs a mom provides when she is breastfeeding.  For after all, HMOs are genetically specific for each mom and vary over time.  If a genetically engineered bacteria or an extracted crystallized version with added solvents is considered equivalent to an HMO made in the mammary gland, then maybe we should consider that we are living in a Orwellian nightmare.
Copyright 2018 Valerie W. McClain



Saturday, November 10, 2018


"The expansion of Palm Oil plantations are the primary reason for the destruction of the rain forests of Indonesia.  The expansion of GMO soya plantations is a major reason for the destruction of the Amazon rain forests and cerrado, in Brazil and Argentina." --Vandana Shiva, "Gandhi's Ghani," 2/16/16

When I was 5 or 6 years old I had vivid dreams of walking down a path in a jungle.  The dreams were colorful:  bright greens, deep reds and yellows.  I walked a path in which the vegetation was over-run by heart-shaped vines.  Born in Northern Ontario, Canada in the fifties, my family did not have a TV until we moved to the US, when I was 6 years old.  It was a black and white small screened TV. Color TV did not exist; or if it did, my family could not afford to buy one.  My father took my brother, me, and quite a few neighborhood children to the store to buy the TV.  What an adventure, riding in the car that was packed with excited kids and a TV.  I am not sure how my Dad survived that adventure.  I think he bought all us kids ice cream cones to shut us up!

When I moved to Florida in my adulthood, I noticed this particular heart-shaped plant that is considered an invasive plant in our landscape.  It's called an air potato (Dioscorea bulbifera) and snakes counter-clockwise around plants, shrubs, and trees producing various sized brown potato-like seeds that drop to the ground that reseeds into more air potato vines. According to some experts air potato plants grow 8 inches a day!  I have spent hours pulling out the vines because it grows and reproduces exponentially like in some horror flick.  Yet I do not hate this invasive heart-shaped plant but am fascinated by the patterns it makes upon the landscape.  The curious thing is that those bright green heart-shaped leaves are the very same leaves I saw as a child in my dreams.  Now I am living in a landscape that I dreamed about in my childhood. 

Living in Florida I have gotten an appreciation for plant life in a sub-tropical climate.  Rain forests fascinate me, although I have never actually stepped foot in a rain forest.  I can imagine it because I have watched you tube videos on  rain forests. But I don't know the rain forest like indigenous tribes know their forest.  I don't live in it.  Yet having lived in Florida for 40 years, I have seen the destruction of our subtropical forests.  A company had bought land near my town and basically cut down almost all the trees.  Burnt the trees which started a huge fire that the firefighters had to get under control.  I passed by the area and watched a gopher turtle (endangered species) hurrying across the scarred and burnt landscape.  How many gopher turtles made it out of there safely?  What was the reason for destroying all the trees?  Months later, the property sits there bare, life interrupted.  Not a rain forest, just another section of Florida environment destroyed to make room for more stores or car dealerships.  The heavy rainfalls we have had this summer and fall have made the property into mini-lakes.  Paving it over and building on it will surely cause flooding? Flooding will have an economic impact to the area.  The loss of trees will increase warming trends.  The loss of habit for various animals, many already endangered, increases the risk of extinction. 

The inter-connections between human economic activities, the environment, and the future of life on this planet need to be considered.  If one lives indoors all the time, then the outdoor environment is often not even considered. Eating manufactured, "convenience" foods without understanding how it is produced and the real costs of factory farming to the land and to human health is creating death and destruction to many plant and animal species.  Eventually if we continue unconscious thinking, humanity will also disappear from this planet.  The suffering this causes is not yet fully acknowledged.


                              Iceland's banned TV commercial

Our food choices impact not only the economics of nations but also the environment of nations. The choice to not breastfeed and use infant formula is also a choice that impacts the environment.  Palm oil is one of the fats used to make infant formula more like human milk.  A 1980's infant formula patent owned by the Bristol-Myers Company (which owned Mead Johnson at that time, now owned by Reckitt Benckiser) stated,

"Vegetable oil mixtures are prepared containing from 20-50% by weight of palm oil and quantities of lauric acid oils, oleic acid oils, and linoleic acid oils needed to provide proportions of oleic, palmitic, and linoleic triglycerides similar to proportions in human milk." 
US patent #4282265, entitled, "Fat Compositions for infant formulas." 1980.

Thirty-five years later a Mead Johnson patent states,

"In some embodiments, the fat or lipid source comprises from about 10% to about 35% palm oil per the total amount of fat or lipid."
US Patent #10,034,937 entitled, "Synergistic nutritional compositions and uses thereof," 2015.

There is about 200 US patents that discuss palm oil use in baby formulas or list it as an ingredient.  The following US patent filed in 2006 by a company called, Enzymotec Ltd. of Israel (manufactures Infat for use in baby formulas, "a SN2  palmitate ingredient that mimics the fat structure and properties of human milk fat.")

Their 2006 US Patent states,

"Thus in accordance with this aspect of the invention there are provided a process and triglyceride compositions employed therein, wherein the triglycerides are blends of palm stearin interesterified with palm oil, palm stearin interesterified with rapeseed oil, and the like."
US Patent #9332771 entitled, "Human milk fat substitutes," 2006.

In 38 years the infant formula industry is still using palm oils in their baby formulas.  And they still seem to think that palm oils can imitate human milk fats.  New and improved?  Not sure that we can call their technology new or improved, when they are still stuck on thinking a palm tree equals a human mammary gland.

The choice to use infant formula is due primarily because the infant formula industry and its suppliers influence governments and medical educational institutions and their facilities  Most of the obstacles women see regarding breastfeeding has a lot to do with pressures that women have little control over:  corporations that refuse to give women maternity leave or family leave after the birth of their babies.  Advertisements influence families and women to believe that the choice to use infant formula is a choice that has no health ramifications to mothers and babies.  And the environmental cost is never ever mentioned.  Many women make a choice to formula feed because of personal circumstances never realizing that their choice was not a personal choice but a choice orchestrated by mighty big corporations who prefer their profits over the safety of mothers and babies and ultimately prefer to degrade environments rather than take responsibility for destroying our mother earth, the only planet that supports human life.  Most of us will not be able to financially take the space ship to Mars or wherever. And most of us would not want to live on another planet unless...we have no other option in order to survive. 
Copyright 2018 Valerie W. McClain

Wednesday, October 31, 2018


"In the time of the sacred sites and the crashing of ecosytems and worlds, it may be worth not making a commodity out of all that is revered."
                                                            --Winona LaDuke

"I saw some women had written that the cloning of Dolly* was wonderful since it showed that women could have children without men.  They didn't even understand that this was the ultimate ownership of women, of embryos, of eggs, of bodies by a few men with capital and control techniques; that it wasn't freedom from men but control by men."--Vandana Shiva

The Earth, Mother of us all, sends her message in hurricanes of wind and rain, flooding and devastation.  We are just like the ants floating in the flood waters, surviving by sheer will power or dying from exhaustion.  We are circling the storm drains of life, believing that somehow we will be rescued.  Passive to the storms created by mankind, we believe that someone or some government will rescue us.  But it appears that we are just ants to a government of ghosts from the past.  Their incompetence and ignorance means that the life boats are reserved for them and you are on your own.  

Survival?  How does one survive when the life boat you are on is filled with a flickering screen of constant entertainment.  The struggles in life muted or distorted by a Hollywood version of life or a social media version of community.  And then there is the constant background drone of trump, trump, trump.  A day without Trump and his trumpets would be heaven on earth.  Every day becomes a schizophrenic nightmare of media messages of idiocy.  At what point will the people say let's get off this train of incompetence, nastiness, and lunacy?  

I went to a library, to sooth my soul.  Escaping into the stacks of books, of quiet reflection and peace.  I found a book I wanted to read, Braiding Sweetgrass, by Robin Wall Kimmerer, a botanist and a Potawatomi woman.  And I lost myself in reading about the sacred and medicinal plants, indigenous knowledge of life on earth, and the principle of reciprocity in nature.

She writes in the chapter called, The Consolation of Water Lilies:

"I remember my babies at the breast, the first feeding, the long deep suck that drew up from my innermost well, which was filled and filled again, by the look that passed between us, the reciprocity of mother and child."


"We are showered every day with gifts, but they are not meant for us to keep.  Their life is in their movement, the inhale and the exhale of our shared breath.  Our work and our joy is to pass along the gift and to trust that what we put out into the universe will always come back."

Kimmerer's book, her observations danced around in my head and reminded me of my own observations of breastfeeding mothers and babies. Seeing the struggles of mothers to breastfeed in our society, reminded me of how isolated women are from nature and how artificial our world has become.  

Human being learn by imitation, what we see and hear becomes our reality
Modern observations of life are in many cases governed by the media.  In TV and Movie lands, life is seen through a mostly white male-dominated, corporate viewpoint. Solutions to problems involve buying certain products.  Breastfeeding problems?  Buy this or that breast pump, infant formula, pacifiers, bottles that mimic breastfeeding.  Solutions in our fast-paced world must be resolved quickly or else we go onto a newer better product to resolve a problem.  Having a baby in our consumer-driven world, means buying lots of things.  The problem with all these things is that these things don't necessarily make breastfeeding easier and often make things worse.  

Time spent using and/or cleaning breast pumps, bottles, and pacifiers is time and attention given to things.  Time taken away from the baby.  Time taken away from breastfeeding.  How did we learn to walk, when we were babies?  Babies are totally focused on learning that skill, so simple once you learn it but an investment in time measured in days and hours.  The baby never gives up, that drive and intensity is amazing to watch.  Babies are fearless in learning to get up, balance their body, push off, and reach out into space.  They watch you do it and they absolutely know they can do it, too.  As they wobble and fall down numerous times, they are comforted by their families, cheered on to continue to learn to do what comes so natural to all of us.  Many of us have forgotten that energy, that drive, that runs through our bodies as we learn a new physical skill.  Breastfeeding often requires that intensity of physical learning.  But moms often trade that learning time with baby for taking care of things.

What causes some adults to feel defeated quickly and others to continue forward despite the obstacles?  What is the reason why some women do not believe in themselves and their ability to breastfeed?  What is the thought process of mothers who seem helpless, when faced with breastfeeding difficulties?  As a lactation consultant, I met some mothers who were defeated, depressed by life and learning to breastfeed was just one more impossible task.  I also met some mothers who overcame difficulties that would defeat most people.  And some mothers who breastfed with ease.

Babies learn to walk at various ages, some are early and some are late bloomers.  But the interest and intensity in learning to walk is very much present.  They don't harbor doubt or helplessness but neither do babies have years of so-called experts telling them what and how to think.  They just see what they want to do because everyone around them is doing it.  And they don't depend on the Baby Walking Consultant or their doctor for a diagram of how their legs work, parts and function of legs, and crutches to rent to help them walk.  Babies usually have their families, who cheer-lead their efforts to walk, who pick them up when they fall. The breastfeeding mother may have few people or family members who delight in her learning to breastfeed. 

Breastfeeding is natural.  But we don't live in the natural world.  Most of us live in buildings that are temperature controlled.  We have cool air when its hot outside and warm air when its cold outside.  If we go outside, we must adjust to a vastly different temperature than our indoor temperature.  We wear clothes on our bodies, babies have to adjust to having diapers and clothes.  The skin is our largest sense organ.  In artificial environments such as ours, we have comfort without the challenge and sensation of temperature, wind, rain, and snow.  Women cover their breasts with bras and shirts, and men can go bare-chested at the beach or outdoors.  But women rarely do so without public complaint.  Breastfeeding in public, where skin-to-skin contact is required, creates unease among many people.  That discomfort at the idea or actual breastfeeding by mothers in public, creates an obstacle for some mothers that they cannot overcome.

It is no surprise that our society is becoming more and more trapped by its artificial facade.  If one is born into a world of artificial things that never challenge our bodies or our thinking, then breastfeeding appears to be this rather antiquated and unnecessary behavior.  Some women and men believe that female liberation is to have women behave more like men.  Therefore breastfeeding is unnecessary because anyone can feed a baby--even men.  Chestfeeding is the newest lingo.  Tinker with a few hormones and men can now breastfeed.  I read that the only problem is that men's boobs may get larger. 

Nature and nurture is being challenged by scientific-industrial interests.  Human milk is being standardized to fit a male-dominated society in which the belief is that some women can't or won't breastfeed.  No one questions why some women won't breastfeed.  Yet some men seem to be eager to take over that female biology by chestfeeding.  No one asks how many women can't breastfeed.  

Instead of considering breastfeeding to be a sacred gift of mothers to their children, social marketing is telling us to embrace the idea that anyone can be a mother.  Is this really what feminism is all about?  Isn't this rejection of the female and a furthering of human survival based on corporate science?  Standardize how humans are fed, instead of embracing the diversity of the gift of breastfeeding by a mother to her child serves what purpose?  The purpose appears to be so that people have to buy more products.   Will buying more products satisfy people emotionally and spiritually?  Or is this just another form of enslavement to a corporate world that uses science to hold on to their power?

*Dolly, the sheep, was cloned  using electrical pulses fusing a mammary gland cell and an unfertilized egg cell.  She was born in 1996. The mammary cell's ability to act like male sperm in fertilizing the egg is rather astounding.
Although we shouldn't be surprised by how mammary tissue (breastfeeding) is amazingly unique and life-promoting.  We now know that human mammary cells have stem cells that have great potential to treat disease.

Copyright 2018  Valerie W. McClain

Monday, October 1, 2018

The Contempt of Women: The Other Side of Violence

"The rise of reductionist science was linked with the commercialization of science, and resulted in the domination of women and non-Western peoples.  Their diverse knowledge systems were not treated as legitimate ways of knowing." --Vandana Shiva, Biopiracy:  The Plunder of Nature and Knowledge

This week has been quite awful and I guess it has been quite awful for most US women.  I believe that Judge Kavanaugh and the Republicans have really misjudged how their performance theater came across to most women.  I can't look at all those Republican men without feeling upset, pissed off, and angry.  And I don't care what the FBI turns up because this whole circus performance by the Republican Party reflects on how white entitled males view women.  So we basically know what will happen, if Judge Kavanaugh gets on the Supreme Court.  Yes, quite simply I believe Dr. Christine Blasey Ford.

You may wonder what this has to do with human milk or patents.  Who controls the making of our laws and our government?  Legislators, billionaires, corporations and their lobbyists;  all mostly males.  The perpetuation of rape culture particularly in academic institutions of higher learning puts women in "their place."  The use of rape is a common war tactic used to subdue other nations and in our own country to control women.  It's not about sex, its about power and control.  Domination.  Fuel the need to dominate with alcohol or drugs, and what we get is a society of violent acts and violence towards people, particularly women and children.

Societies prone to violence treat their young with emotional and physical violence.  The Spartans of Greece, were considered great warriors.  They were brought up strictly:  infant cries ignored, boys at a young age taken away from parents to be trained in the military, hazing and fighting encouraged in children.

In the US, the violence of our actions globally are also reflected in how women and children are treated in our own society.  Birthing is manipulated and violent with women enduring either a very drugged birth, surgery, or a very painful birth based on the convenience of a medical staff.  Sleep training, letting babies cry it out until they vomit, separation of mothers and babies/children as normal: are all ways in which nurture/nature is disdained.  Women no longer believe that their bodies work and postpartum depression has become the norm. Birth/breastfeeding can not be achieved without technological interventions and drugs. Natural birthing  or exclusive breastfeeding is dangled in front of women as impossible, impractical, and unsafe.  Meanwhile maternal and infant mortality increases as more women are persuaded that male-dominated medicine and corporate infant feeding is the only answer to risky female biology.  Female instincts are mocked and driven underground.  Women are encouraged to return to employment while having their babies and children.  Mocked for being depressed because of forced early separation.  Mocked for being tired or sick.  Told to remember that indigenous women had their babies in the fields as they worked and went right back to work.  So women feel guilty for not having babies easily in hospitals and guilty for being so damn tired.  And guilty for not breastfeeding.  How easy to manipulate women into one huge guilt trip regarding their own biology.  Women have a biology that many men do not understand or even care to know.  It is a biology not necessarily connected to them and their sexuality.  War-like societies do not want a society that nurtures the next generation.  They need a society devoid of connections to humanity, a society that turns a blind eye to its violence against women and children.

Women can grow and feed a human, sustaining life without dependency on corporations.  Men of science are busy in their labs trying to imitate that ability in order to make a profit.  Meanwhile the propaganda machines continue to spew out messages that make women feel less capable physically and mentally.  It's a societal rape on the nature of women.  Modern science no longer needs women.  They can make a baby in a petri dish, grow it in a plastic sack, birth it, and feed it an imitation human milk.  So women can be more like men and men can have babies and feed them, too.  The problem with presumption of control of nature/biology is that life is far more complex than current knowledge.  Do we understand the biological and societal repercussions?  How much of this science is based on discrimination and contempt of women?  

"Indigenous knowledge systems are by and large ecological while the dominant model of scientific knowledge, characterized by reductionism and fragmentation, is not equipped to take the complexity of interrelationships in nature fully into account." --Vandana Shiva, Biopiracy:  The Plunder of Nature and Knowledge

I consider breastfeeding a system of primal, instinctual knowledge that runs counter to the current medical, legal, corporate, and scientific value system. Originally breastfeeding was shared from mother to mother, passed from one generation to the next.  It was survival.  It was about keeping the next generation fed.  And it was about quickly responding to infant cues for comfort, food, and warmth with the breast. The cries of infants were never ignored. Babies slept with their mothers because an infant alone in those early days would not survive.  Modern medicine ignores the instinct of mothers to be near their infants, to sleep with them, to hold them close, to breastfeed them.   That instinct is always close to the surface of a mother's emotions in the early days postpartum.   And sadly that instinct is discouraged, replaced with medical-technical advice that is contradictory and confusing.  Mothers suffer, when breastfeeding fails because it is a far bigger loss than is recognized by society.  The primitive part of the brain recognizes the loss but society refuses to recognize it.  Women are told breastfeeding doesn't matter.  We have infant formula, "closer to breast milk than ever before." 

The domination of women impacts our lives as girls, young women, in pregnancy, childbearing, and even into our "elder" age.  Violence towards women is part of that domination and control.  Rape is one part of that domination.  Similar violence permeates birth and breastfeeding.  

I feel tangled up in a variety of emotions.  Hopeful because of women like Christine Blasey Ford who are willing to speak their truth to power. Disgusted by the contempt republicans revealed in the Congressional hearing, towards women.  I have seen that same contempt towards women by males in the medical, legal and business communities.  Contempt is the other side of violence.  Contempt blinds people from seeing the person in front of them as human, as worthy of time and consideration.  It blinds people from seeing the physical and emotional pain of another human being. 

Likewise, the patenting of human milk components shows a contempt, a violence, towards women and their biology. Human milk components are not inventions or the intellectual property of researchers and corporations.  Human milk components are part of a complex nurturing system that cannot be owned. We do violence to women and future generations, when we ignore the violence behind a system that patents life, that claims ownership in the biology of women.  The culture of contempt of women creates a blindness to rape and a blindness to the usurious nature of patenting human milk components.
Copyright 2018 Valerie W. McClain


Tuesday, September 25, 2018

A critique of Fed Is Best's emergency considerations

"Breast-fed infants are better protected against infections of the GI, respiratory, and urinary tracts as well as other diseases compared with those who are formula-fed (Cleary T. D. "Human milk protective mechanisms" Adv Exp Med Biol 2004; 554:145-54). Salminen and co-workers have attributed this effect at least partly to differences in microbiota composition (Salminen S. J., Gueimonde M., Isolauri E., "Probiotics that modify disease risk". J Nutr 2005; 135:1294-8)."


"Given the characteristic gut microbiota of breast-fed infants and the associated health benefits such as protection against infections, there is a real need to develop formulas with similar properties to human milk to ensure that infants who cannot be breast-fed obtain at least some of the beneficial effects conferred by human milk."
--Both quotes from Nestec (Nestlé) patent #9131721, entitled, "Gut microbiota in infants," filed in 2008. 

The Fed Is Best Foundation has put out a pamphlet for mothers who are formula feeding, supplementing, combo feeding or exclusively pumping and living through emergency situations.  It was written by co-founder of the Fed Is Best Foundation, Jody Segrave-Daly, RN, IBCLC.  One of the major problems with this particular information and their pamphlet is a lack of understanding of who is hardest hit by emergency situations.

Those who are of middle or higher incomes can easily buy supplies in preparation for a hurricane or other emergencies.  If they have to evacuate, they have the money or credit availability to travel, buy gasoline, pay for lodging and survive without a paycheck for a number of weeks.  Most lower income families live from paycheck to paycheck.  So going out to the store and buying extra formula and bottled water may be next to impossible because they don't have the extra money to buy extras of anything.  Their credit may be maxed out and their car barely running.

Segrave-Daly recommends that a mom who is pumping buy 1-2 hand pumps.  Depending on the pump that could cost at minimum $60 (not a battery-operated pump).  Not sure how an unemployed mom or a family of low income could afford that along with all the necessities needed to prepare for an emergency?  She mentions batteries for a hand pump.  Batteries are very expensive.  Any emergency that goes on for weeks (Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico--no power for many for as long as a year).  Batteries are the first thing to go off the shelves of local stores--so finding batteries after a storm is usually an impossibility.  Same story for gasoline after a hurricane or emergency, no gas and if electricity is out no pumps at gas stations work.

I have lived in Florida since 1978 and been through a number of hurricanes.  The worst one was Charlie and I had no power for 11 days.  No stores or gas stations were open for some 2-3 days, no phones-cause cell phone towers came down.  September in Florida is one of the hottest months of the year.  No ice for coolers for several days.  Many roads impassable because of downed trees and power lines, traffic lights not working and many people did not understand that meant intersections were 4-way stops.  This area was hit by Matthew (category 3) in 2016 and Irma (category 3) in 2017.  We had mostly wind damage but flooding in some areas.

Fed Is Best emergency pamphlet mentions buying 4-7 day supply of ready-to-fed bottles of formula (mentioning single use bottles of formula).  Very expensive and depending on where one lives of limited supplies in stores.  The pamphlet mentioning buying extra bottles and nipples.  Also mentioned is buying a 4-7 day ready-to-feed toddler foods.  Expensive products to buy and families living pay check to pay check may find this impossible to purchase.  Also this supposes that the emergency situation lasts only 4-7 days.  We know that some emergencies may last much longer.

The pamphlet suggests storing a 2-week supply of clean water.  This may be an impossibility.  Those families with wells rather than city water supplies may have wells that don't work because pumps need electricity.  And wells may be contaminated and need to be tested.  Even city water supplies can be contaminated.  

The most careless suggestion in this pamphlet is about cleaning bottlefeeding supplies without power or hot water.  I consider it pretty risky to clean bottlefeeding supplies in cold water., particularly if a mom has a newborn or preterm infant.  A camping propane stove or barbecue grill (used outside-concern about carbon monoxide) can heat up water easily for washing bottles and nipples.  But may be an impossibility for low income families, if they have already spent most of their money on extra formula and bottles. 

The pamphlet mentions using a freezer with frozen ziplockbags of water.  I had a very large chest freezer and by day 4-5 with frozen 1/2 gallon containers of water it would be totally defrosted.  So thinking that a freezer will store your formula or breast milk is dependent where you live--tropics/subtropics, on the length of power outage, whether you have a generator (and gasoline is available--generators need to be outside because of carbon monoxide), and availability of ice.  

While it is not surprising that there is no suggestion or encouragement on Fed Is Best website and pamphlet to exclusively breastfeed, I find it very troubling.  I can only believe that the author, Jody Segrave-Daly has never really experienced living through a hurricane or a seriously large emergency situation.  Nor does she have an understanding that her suggestions reflect a limited view of breastfeeding, pumping, formula feeding and its true effect on families of limited means.  I think Hurricane Florence will be a lesson for many people regarding the length of an emergency situation and the health repercussions.  I can only hope that health workers/researchers will carefully track infant feeding as related to  infant mortality and morbidity in North and South Carolina.  The presumption that there will always be electricity, grocery stores open, gas stations open and that an emergency will only last 4-7 days is short-sighted.  The belief that infant formula will always be available and that clean water will be available no matter what emergency is a blindness to reality.  But then the Fed Is Best organization is quite blind to everything but their mission;  all babies using infant formula or pumped human milk and maybe breastfeeding a little bit.
Copyright 2018 Valerie W McClain

Thursday, September 20, 2018

"The Beast is the Breast." Exclusive Breastfeeding Tales

"'I think we've conquered the social media thing," says Barston, who has witnessed the evolution of online discussion of infant feeding go from 'beast is breast'  to 'fed is best' since launching her blog, The Fearless Formula Feeder nearly a decade ago." --interview of Suzanne Barston at

The Fearless Formula Feeder Conquers Social Media or 
The Beast is Breast
I think the author of this article, "Formula Feeding mammas don't feel supported--and that needs to change," at meant "Breast Is Best" not "beast is breast," but I am not sure.  Was it a Freudian slip?  Did the author know that Suzanne Barston, the Fearless Formula Feeder, who she was interviewing is now a corporate journalist for an infant formula company (AbbVie--parent company is Abbott Labs marketer of Similac infant formula)?  

The Fearless Formula Feeder's constant attacks on breastfeeding advocacy now appear obviously slanted because she really was a shill for an infant formula company.  People believed that her statements were legitimate.  Breastfeeding advocates turned against their own advocates for "shaming" formula feeding mothers.  I can see the infant formula industry clapping their hands in joy.  Not only was this media blast of Barston's encouraging more formula feeding but she turned breastfeeding advocates against each other with accusations of shaming.  Barston is quite proud of herself and her accomplishment and in this article shares the spotlight by giving thanks to the Fed Is Best Foundation.

"According to Barston, moms who physically can't breastfeed or who don't produce enough milk are more supported now than ever before, thanks in large part to the efforts of organizations like The Fed Is Best Foundation and its co-founders, Dr. Christie del Castillo-Hegyi and B. Jody Segrave-Daly, who advocate against formula stigma in an effort to protect babies from dehydration and starvation."

A month later (August 7, 2018) Suzanne Barston is interviewed by PR News (a Public Relations news outlet) and asked, "Why healthcare communication professionals have been slower than other industries to make the transition to social media?"  Her response,

"Typically it comes down to two things: regulations and fear. Social is a wild animal, and once you let it out of the cage, you need to be prepared to fight back. This makes all corporations uncomfortable, but when you add in the intense scrutiny healthcare is under (and I’m not just talking about pharma, but hospitals, insurers, and even individual physicians – have you seen the backlash when doctors advocate for vaccinations, for example?), it brings it to a whole other level."

Yes, I would say that the Fearless Formula Feeder let the animal out of the cage.  No wonder AbbVie/Abbot Labs hired her.  She did a great hack job on breastfeeding promotion and now she gets to enter the big time arena, pharma.
I find it fascinating that she gets to play the Fearless Formula Feeder while getting paid by a company that makes its profits from the destruction of breastfeeding.  Who needs ethics these days?

Iatrogenically-caused inadequate breastfeeding in the newborn

Meanwhile,   the Fed Is Best Foundation, social media buddies of the Fearless Formula Feeder, continues to spread the media message that exclusive breastfeeding is not safe.  Their stories of infant starvation caused by exclusive breastfeeding are horrifying.  Yet are these tragic stories the result of exclusive breastfeeding or the result of iatrogenic events?

What is an iatrogenic event?  Here's is a definition,

"When medical or surgical treatment causes a new illness or injury, the result is considered to be iatrogenic."

How did the human race survive, if exclusive breastfeeding caused dehydration and starvation in babies?  We know that breastfeeding newborns/infants before the advent of the infant formula industry meant infant survival.  Few infants fed foods or other animal milks back then, survived.

Is dehydration and "starvation" in breastfed infants caused by exclusive breastfeeding?  Fed Is Best uses the term, starvation-an emotive word that is not truly an accurate term. Do formula fed infants get dehydrated?  Yes, they do.  And formula fed infants also starve to death, particularly in famines, wars and disaster zones where the supplies of infant formula are non-existent or severely limited due to the chaos of war, hurricanes, floods, or earthquakes.   

Are the causes of dehydration and starvation in breastfed infants the same as formula fed infants?  Yes and no.

Diarrhea is a known cause of dehydration in infants and children.  It has a high rate of infant morbidity and mortality.  Infants fed infant formula are at a greater risk for dehydration due to the renal solute load (high protein and sodium load) of infant formula.  Cow's milk has a higher renal solute load than infant formula and is the reason why cow's milk is considered an inappropriate substance for infants.  Breastmilk has the lowest renal solute load and therefore is less of a stress on a young baby's immature kidneys.

"There is strong epidemiological evidence that the feeding of cow's milk or formulas with similar potential renal solute load places infants at an increased risk of serious dehydration." --EE Ziegler

One would suppose that breastfeeding, particularly exclusive breastfeeding, would lessen the risk of dehydration in newborn infants.  Unless the baby for various reasons has:  a birth defect or infant birth trauma, tongue-tie, excess sleepiness due to maternal medication, first time mother or first time breastfeeding mother of subsequent babies; and is at higher risk for breastfeeding difficulties that could lower milk supplies.  A medical staff that does not prioritize a first-time breastfeeding mother as needing more assistance, or is ill-informed about how to observe actual breastfeeding, looking for suck/swallow patterns creates greater risk for inadequate breastfeeding.  Infants younger than 39 weeks at birth are at a higher risk for complications such as lung immaturity, jaundice, difficulty with feeding, digestive difficulties and various other risks.  Therefore the need is for greater observation of the infant while supporting breastfeedingInfants that have sustained bruising during birth, will have higher jaundice levels due to red blood cells being processed out of the newborn's body. 

Birthing medications and practices impact breastfeeding and inadequately trained medical staff compound the problem.  Is a hospital birth reflective of a normal birth?  Is birth a medical event that must be managed, timed, and quantified?  Does managing birth with drugs and machinery improve health outcomes for mothers and babies?  There is reason to question the current birthing practices used in US hospitals because statistically maternal and infant mortality is increasing, particularly for African American populations.  Despite all the machinery and drugs and testing, birth has become a risky business in the USA.  And likewise exclusive breastfeeding like natural childbirth is medicalized, considered too risky, and cannibalized into a medical version that traumatizes mothers and babies.

For example the standard use of IV fluids in laboring mothers can have side effects to the mother and to the newborn. There are 3 common IV solutions used for laboring mothers who are not allowed anything by mouth (normal saline/sodium chloride, Ringers lactate, dextrose).  Side effects mentioned regarding saline/sodium chloride IV's for adults:  hypernatremia, heart failure, kidney damage, electrolyte abnormalities, etc.  Side effects mentioned for neonates is intraventricular hemorrhage.,_and_how_does_it_work_(mechanism_of_action)?


"In neonates or in very small infants even small volumes of fluid may affect fluid and electrolyte balance. Care must be exercised in treatment of neonates, especially pre-term neonates, whose renal function may be immature and whose ability to excrete fluid and solute loads may be limited. Fluid intake, urine output, and serum electrolytes should be monitored closely."

The use of IVs in labor within hospitals is so common that one may be unaware that IV solutions carry risks for some adults.  Consider that the IV solution used for a laboring mother is adjusted to the weight of the mother not the neonate in utero.  After the birth, the newborn appears disinterested in nursing, losing incredible amounts of weight, or is diagnosed with hypernatremia.  The assumption by Fed Is Best followers is that these problems are caused by exclusive breastfeeding.  Reality may be that IVs in laboring mothers have side effects and seems highly likely that side effects may be unrecognized in newborns.  Studies are now showing that the huge weight losses we are seeing in breastfed newborns after birth are related to IV solutions given to laboring moms.  A 150-pound mother losses 1 pound in 24 hours is of little concern. On the other-hand a 6-pound infant losses 1 pound in 24 hours represents a huge amount weight for its body size.  Rapid weight loss in adults may cause electrolyte imbalance, dehydration, fatigue, irritability, muscle loss, etc.  The recommendation for weight loss in adults who want to lose weight is 1-2 pounds a week.  Yet some newborns may lose up to 1 pound in 24-48 hours after birth.  Might IVs be a far more serious risk for newborn problems than pinning the blame on exclusive breastfeeding?  Do many US medical institutions and staff have the knowledge to support exclusive breastfeeding in the newborn period?  Inadequate breastfeeding in the US is caused by iatrogenic factors during the early postpartum period.  Change birthing practices (like standard IV use-let moms drink and eat according to their thirst and hunger) in the US would lower the risks of dehydration and jaundice.  Educate medical staff and parents to recognize the importance of more support and care for first time breastfeeding mothers. 

Organizations that have no credentials in supporting breastfeeding and in some cases are linked to infant formula companies should not have a seat at the table of US government breastfeeding policies.  People who have credentials such as CLC or IBCLC who are involved in these organizations should have their credentials revoked.  It is obvious that these people have chosen to blame breastfeeding for iatrogenic issues that cause inadequate breastfeeding.  They are ill-informed and don't deserve the credentials that they use and it dishonors all of us who have worked for years to promote and protect breastfeeding.

The Beast is the Breast, seems to me to be an accurate description of the fears that these organizations promote.  They fear the Breast because it represents a nature that must be controlled, conquered.  It must be isolated, weighed, measured and lo and behold it is found deficient.  Blinded by our artificial world, they blame the very thing that they should support. 
Copyright 2018 Valerie W. McClain