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