Tuesday, February 28, 2012

The Tyranny of Formula-Feeding

I just read, "The Tyranny of Breast-Feeding," by Elisabeth Badinter in the March 2012 Harper's Magazine.  It's a "feminist" rant against La Leche League, rather hard for me to stomach because I was a La Leche League leader for 10 years.  I am somewhat amazed by her perspective.  She has a wonderful detailed history about the founding of La Leche League.  And seems to have some information, the facts, correct but her interpretation of those facts are really off-base. 

In a NY Times article, entitled "In Defense of the Imperfect Mother," it states that Ms. Badinter says that "the baby has now become 'the best ally of masculine domination.'  The impression I get is that Badinter believes that La Leche League is anti-feminist, that it's political objective is to make the stay-at-home mother the ideal.  She believes that La Leche League's agenda is to make breastfeeding a moral decision.

Interesting.  From my perspective, La Leche League's efforts from the beginning were to give mothers information on a wide range of reasons to breastfeed.  What always interested me was the amount of medical/scientific papers La Leche League collected in order to present a rational reason for women to consider breastfeeding.  And even back in 1982, when I attended my first La Leche League meeting, there was plenty of medical and scientific evidence regarding the health benefits to mother and baby regarding breastfeeding.  Back then, I wondered why this evidence seemed to be suppressed, pages and pages of studies showing the risks of infant formula.  Yet the public never heard it back then, just like the public has no idea of the patenting of human milk components to be used in baby formulas.  The risks of infant formula were drowned out by an industry who controls the media.  And nothing has changed much since then because the industry still controls the media.

How much control does the infant formula industry have?  This article is an absolute example of the control the industry has over public knowledge.  Ms. Badinter is a professor at the Ecole Polytechnique in France ( former military academy, a engineering school).  But she is also a billionaire according to Bloomberg Market.  A billionaire who inherited her stake in Publicis Group after the death of her father.  Publicis is the 3rd-largest advertising agency in the world with $7.6 billion in 2010 revenue. Who is one of their clients, Nestle.
So is this the tyranny of breastfeeding or actually the tyranny of Nestle.  Feminism has become a capitalist game.  Feminism, as designed by billionaires who envision a world of men-like women.  Liberation?   Nestle, used slave labor during WWII (as well as some well-know pharmaceutical companies).  And we are to believe that Nestle has an interest in freedom/liberation of women? 
We are to believe that Ms. Badinter's only interest is in the feminist perspective of child-rearing? Give me a break.
Copyright 2012 Valerie W. McClain   

Sunday, February 19, 2012

A cruel, cold wind is a'blowing

I shiver.  The wind continues to blow.  The tree tops sway and I smell something new, ozone?  Change, change is a'coming this way.  Cruel, dark, dank and full of sorrow, the winds of a world gone mad.  And even more cruel, a world that does not feel the wind at their backs.  A people afraid of the dark, no, afraid of the outside.  How is it that a nuclear disaster can spew its toxic vomit into the sea, and no one notices.  No one notices that dinner is from a box or maybe a can.  Meaningless ingredients from meaningless companies, tasting like some kind of sweetened salt mixed with paper.  Let's go for the banana.  Strange texture, stranger taste, what has happened to food?  What has happened to people?  Pale, sickly-looking, drug-addicted people who wander through life buying their reality at the corporate kiosk.  Nothing changes, except the wind and the speeding of time.

Walking, walking, walking, there is a dead lizard on the sidewalk.  I look at him, what happened?  Too many fast food dinners?  Or was it that idiot drunk driver who mowed ya down?  Or was it the drugs or the alcohol?  I stare at the dead body and wonder whether it even matters.  You don't look happy but then ya don't look sad.  What happened?  Does anyone care?  Or are you just that strange dead body on the sidewalk of despair?

I see you in that casket, a flag pinned to your chest.  Limbs crossed, tears and kleenex, tears and kleenex;  what makes you cry?  You were once handsome and now a shell of the person you once where.  Tributes pour from the mouths of sad souls who wonder if they are next?  Lies and more lies, to sooth our souls.  Is this guilt or is it love?   Do we even care about the persons we walk this earth with or is it all about our own misery?

I suspect that it really is about our own misery.  Our own delusions of what reality should be or could be.  We cannot feel the pain of others because we are too entombed by our own pain.  A sad, miserable world for adults whose brains are warped by a unforgiving world.

A sad tribute to the many people in my life who have vanished into death.  The older I get, the more I feel the loss.  I wonder what it all means? 

Ah cruel, cold wind a'blowing; I suppose I should continue with the purpose of this blog.  Here's a patent for those who need a reality tea with a slice of lemon.  Patent #8114441 called, "Immune stimulatory infant nutrition," filed in August of 2005 and owned by N.V. Nutricia with inventors Gunther Boehm et al.

This patent is about "reducing the risks attached to feeding whey dominant infant formula."  Didn't know there were risks....

"It is particularly desirable to mimic the protective effects of human milk." 

Protective effects of human milk?  Moms and Dads, where are you?

"Moreover, the flora of infants fed with formulas containing whey dominant bovine protein source contain increased amounts pathological bacteria such as clostridia and enterobacteria."


"As the very young infants have an immature immune system and immature intestinal tract, development of the suboptimal intestinal flora may result in infections, diarrhea, allergy and inflammation." 

Who would have thought it?  I feel the cold, cruel winds a'blowing.  Why?  Why do we continue to ignore the reality of infant formula?  Twenty plus years of patenting and nothing changes but the need to fix the old version of formula because it causes disease and death.  Choice??  Do parents really know what they are choosing?
Copyright 2012 Valerie W. McClain

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Antibiotic resistance, deadly bacteria, and genetic engineering

Painting by Jessie McClain

"Drug resistant infections kill more Americans than AIDS and breast cancer combined."  Forbes magazine June, 2006

"The two bacteria, ha-MRSA [hospital-acquired methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus] and ca-MRSA [community-acquired], are only two strains from an entire arsenal of pathogens that are now resistant to almost all available antibiotics."  Der Spiegel, January 20, 2012 from article entitled, "Antibiotics Prove Powerless as SuperGerms Spread."

Both my parents died from MRSA infections, although their death certificates read stroke for my Dad and end-stage renal disease for my Stepmom.  But it was these infections that precipitated the complications that lead to their deaths.  Both were given the big gun antibiotic, vancomycin, which is like chemo therapy.  It didn't save them, in fact the vancomycin was a horrendous drug causing great discomfort for both my parents. 

A recent article from US News by Jason Koehler entitled, "Antibiotic-Resistant Bacteria Found in 37 U.S. States,  "In at least 37 states, Washinton, D.C., and Puerto Rico, doctors have identified bacteria, including E. coli, that produce Klebsiella pneumoniae carbapenemase, KPC-an enzyme that makes bacteria resistant to most known treatments."   "...the mortality rate for patients infected with KPC-producing bacteria has been estimated to be as high as 50 percent."

Most articles seem to be of the belief that it is factory farms that are to blame for this problem.  Animals are treated with antibiotics whether or not they are sick.  The article from Der Spiegel states, "Some 900 metric tons of antibiotics are administered to livestock each year in Germany alone."

Feeding healthy as well as sick animals antibiotics is certainly a prescription for disaster.  The same can be said about the use of antibiotics in humans (antibiotics given to healthy patients for dental procedures).  Or antibiotics given for people who have colds.  Yet I wonder why it is that there isn't an investigation into genetic engineering and its use of pathogens and antibiotic resistant genes (that are used to trace whether the bacteria has added the new genes).  While the growth of huge feedlots in factory farming seem responsible for the huge use of antibiotics, it would seem that genetic engineering may also have some responsibility for the fact that many pathogens have become resistant to antibiotics.

In an article written by the Union of Concerned Scientists on the. "Risks of Genetic Engineering,"  they state, "Most genetically engineered plant foods carry fully functioning antibiotic-resistance genes."  They believe these genes have several harmful effects:  the degradation of antibiotics in the gut and the transfer of pathogens resistant to antibiotics.

Some of the other risks of genetic engineering discussed in this article are:  production of new toxins, concentration of toxic metals, enhancement of the environment for toxic fungi, and unknown harms to health.

In Common Dreams progessive newswire dated June of 2002, they discuss "new evidence from British scientists raises serious quesitons about the safey of genetically engineered foods."   "...for the first time that a gene inserted in a genetically engineered crop has found its way into bacteria in the human gut."  and "The biotech industry has long maintained that DNA is destroyed during digestion and that there are barriers to incorporation of genetically engineered crop genes by bacteria."

The other day I ran across a very interesting patent owned by Nestec (Nestle) entitled, "Genetic remodeling in Bifidobacterium,"  patent #8071353 filed in August of 2007.  Nestle seems to have seen a problem and found a solution.  "This invention relates to antibiotic sensitivity in lactic acid bacteria.  More particularly it relates to removal of tetracycline resistance genes in Bifidobacterium spp., and a method of removing or disabling genes in Bifidobacterium spp."  and 

"Use of any bacterium that possesses or has acquired antibiotic resistance in food processing or agricultural production poses a potential, theoretical risk of transfer of the resistance fostering genes to other bacteria in the food, the gastrointestinal tract (GIT) of a person or animal after consumption of the food, or environment, at some point before or after consumption."

Bifidobacterium is used in probiotics.  Probiotics can be a supplement or added to foods such as infant formula.  Interesting that Nestle seems to be acknowledging and patenting on a "theoretical risk."  Obviously, there is more to this subject than is being publicly discussed.  As far as consumers are concerned, probiotics is about getting healthy.  Maybe?  Maybe not?  What about infants ingesting these substances through infant formula?  Where are the public questions regarding this issue.  I hear the sounds of silence.  
Copyright 2012 Valerie W. McClain