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The International Breastfeeding Symbol » For-Profit

Archive for the 'For-Profit' Category


Just Noticed This…

February 12th, 2008 by MamaBear

I just noticed that The Lactivist’s Tuesday, June 05, 2007 post on The International Breast Milk Project accurately reflects the current reality with the IBMP and Prolacta now (Hm. I recently noticed Prolacta.com looks different — different colors and different pictures and different overall format — kind of annoying since before it was more technical and straightforward — though woefully incomplete — and now it’s more “soft” and “vague” and “wishy-washy” — and still missing a lot of really important information. When someone’s primary motivation is making a profit, you gotta wonder about these things…).

I want to thank her (The Lactivist) personally for updating her original, breakthrough thoughts on the IBMP with this thorough post: Thank you, Jennifer. :)

Please read her post. She has captured a lot of the concerns I’ve been writing about with regard to Prolacta and the IBMP. As a recipient (Jennifer is writing from the perspective of a donor), I can agree with most of what she has to say. I am not a capitalist at heart. I have learned to work within The Patriarchal Machine, and I do it really well, but I really do believe in a true democracy, where money doesn’t really matter (and everyone is equally important). But that information is not really that relevant to this particular post of mine. It’s really important that y’all read what Jennifer has to say regarding “What This News Doesn’t Change” and “Where Does This Leave You?” if you’re thinking of formal milk donation (unlike informal milk donation — like MilkShare, which for me as a mother who has desperately needed breastmilk for my child on numerous occasions and gotten it through there, has been a Godsend).

Please read her post. It’s very important. Don’t miss it.

Thank you. The International Breastfeeding Symbol Website and Blog thanks you.

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The Business of Being Born

November 29th, 2007 by MamaBear

There is a new documentary out, by director Abby Epstein and executive producer Ricki Lake. It’s called “The Business of Being Born.” It explores homebirth and hospital births, and how hospital births have become big business. The film is currently showing in limited venues across the country (and even in Australia!). I was heartened to discover that here in Texas, there is one screening scheduled for December 10 in San Antonio. I was even more thrilled to discover that it’s FREE! I am hoping to make it to that free screening, and I’m hoping others in the area will join me to watch it. If you live in Texas anywhere near San Antonio, come on over.

There’s also another screening in Texas, near Houston (Webster, TX is about 30 minutes away from Houston), so if you’re in Texas and can’t make it to the San Antonio one, go to the one there. It’s not free, but the movie is worth paying money for, imo. If there weren’t a screening in San Antonio already, I’d probably make the 4 hour drive and pay the $25 for it (it includes food!).

Here’s a trailer of “The Business of Being Born:”

Now you want to watch it, right? :) Find upcoming screenings for your hometown.

ETA:  Women’s Health News blog wrote a review on “The Business of Being Born.”  Check it out.  :)

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A Philosophical Question

October 20th, 2007 by MamaBear

If you know a person is lying and making lots of money by lying, but they’re also doing a little bit of good within all that lying, does it make the lying O.K.? This is an honest, open-ended question, which I still have no answer for.

Now, completely different topic (lest you think that question above has anything to do with what I’m about to report)… Jill Youse is in the news again! She is ABC News’ Person of the Week this week. I almost died… Hyperventilating with laughter… When I saw that. Congratulations, Jill!

You know what I found really funny about the second ABC News report on the International Breast Milk Project? There was NO mention of a few really important details (which makes me think ABC News either did a sloppy job with this one or that these important details were deliberately not mentioned — why, I don’t know; could be for any number of reasons):

  1. Prolacta gets at least 75% of the milk donated to the International Breast Milk Project. According to the IBMP website, this 75% of the donated breastmilk is exchanged for a $1/ounce “donation” from Prolacta (in other words, Prolacta buys at least 75% of whatever is donated to the IBMP for $1/ounce). On an older version of the IBMP website, it used to say that 100% of this money would be donated to various African outreach organizations (like the Lewa Children’s Home in Eldoret, Kenya). None of that money was actually donated, and then when I (and another blogger) started asking questions about the “100%,” the IBMP website was changed to say that, actually, some of that money would go to “operational expenses” within the IBMP. How convenient. It was vague enough that now there’s no telling how much will go to “operational expenses” within the U.S. and how much will go to Africa.
  2. The money received by the International Breast Milk Project in exchange for breastmilk, which, to date, is estimated at over $50,000 (probably well over double that figure by now, given how much time has elapsed, but let’s be conservative), was not mentioned in the ABC News report at all. The money the IBMP claims to have sent to Africa on its “September Update” page was donated privately, some of it by Prolacta’s other milk funnel, The National Milk Bank, to the IBMP. From the IBMP website:

    “Because of your generosity, in addition to shipping thousands of ounces of donor milk to iThemba Lethu in Durban, South Africa, we have donated $13,000 to the Lewa Children’s Home in Kenya, another $15,000 for clean water and health care projects in Tanzania, and $5,100 for hospital equipment in Cameroon through Dr. Peter McCormick’s Beryl Thyer Memorial Africa Trust.”

    All that money the IBMP allegedly sent to Africa? The IBMP sent it before May 31, 2007… Before the IBMP allegedly started receiving money from Prolacta in exchange for the milk (according to Jill Youse, through email correspondence). All that money was privately donated, some of it from the National Milk Bank (again, according to Jill Youse, through email). Any money the IBMP made and donated after May 31, 2007, there is STILL no mention of anywhere, not on the IBMP website, not from Jill Youse through email correspondence (I asked, and last I heard from her, none of the money had been donated yet), and certainly not in the ABC News report. I do not know if the money has already been donated, or if it’s being put in a bank awaiting donation for the “early 2008″ construction of the Lewa Children’s Home clinic, or if it’s being used mostly to cover “operational expenses” now. Speaking of “operational expenses,” it’s difficult to know what percentage of the money made from selling milk to Prolacta will make its way to Africa. The ABC News report didn’t even mention money, so it’s not like I’m looking at ABC News as a reliable IBMP update information source, kwim?

  3. The ABC News report did not mention the dates of the milk shipments, or even how many total shipments to Africa have been made since the IBMP was founded. According to my tally (which was established by calling South Africa and asking Penny Reimers at iThemba Lethu how many shipments she received), there have been a total of four shipments already sent to Africa, not including the one that allegedly will be done now. If the 50,000+ ounces of breastmilk actually make their way to Africa (which I am confident that they will, since it’s so highly publicized), that will bring the grand total of shipments the IBMP has made since April 28, 2006 (the date of the first shipment) to FIVE (please, Anna Coutsoudis or Penny Reimers, if you can confirm or correct this, write me and I will). The total number of ounces donated by the IBMP to Africa would then be around 62,000 ounces in a year and six months. Sounds like a lot, right? Well, in absolute terms it is a lot, but if you compare it to the amount of milk the IBMP has received from generous breast milk donors, it’s actually a pittance. The IBMP received an estimated 65,000 ounces of breastmilk from its generous donors in just two months (June and July 2007)!!! From the IBMP “August 2007 Update” letter: “In June, we collected over 30,000 ounces of milk, and in July we collected over 35,000 ounces of milk.” If you assume the IBMP only receives half the lowest amount (30,000 ounces) for August and September, that’s an additional 30,000 ounces, also not going to Africa (because, according to the IBMP, the 50,000+ ounces of milk going to Africa right now were all donated before May 31, 2007). Details, details…

The first ABC News report on the International Breast Milk Project (aired October 4, 2006) also had a few important details missing. For instance, the report aired on October 4, 2006 and there was no mention of Prolacta. The milk that arrived in Africa for the second shipment (the one filmed in the first ABC News report) was raw breastmilk, unpasteurized. That shipment was delivered free by DHL. Prolacta had not officially partnered with the IBMP when the footage was filmed, but the partnership with Prolacta was in effect by the time the report aired (October 4, 2006). Oh, but it’s just details, and nobody will notice, right? Nobody except anyone who’s paying attention.

Look, I have nothing against a project that sends breastmilk to African orphans. Who would have a problem with a program like that? It’s altruism; it’s a beautiful, touching concept. More importantly, it gets people talking about (and therefore, normalizing) breastmilk (and by proxy, breastfeeding and lactation). Does the IBMP do more harm than good? I don’t know. More good than harm? Hard to say. Does the IBMP do some good in the world? Clearly, yes, in many ways. Is the harm is does worth it? I don’t know. That’s the part I have trouble with. The partnership with Prolacta cannot be ignored, and is not without negative consequences.

My only point in writing any of what I write is so that people become more informed and more aware of what’s really going on behind the scenes. If you have all the information at your disposal and you still feel like it’s a net benefit to donate to the International Breast Milk Project (and you are fully aware that if you do, you will forfeit any rights to your milk and that the majority of your milk — very likely ALL of it, statistically speaking — will actually go to Prolacta and be sold for a profit here in the United States and NOT make its way to Africa), I have NO problem with that. The part I have a problem with is the NOT knowing. The part that bothers me is that some really generous women will donate their breastmilk thinking that what they’re signing up for is not what they’re actually signing up for. …If you catch my drift.

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The “Women’s Choice” Myth

October 13th, 2007 by MamaBear

This post is not about abortion. If you want to read about abortion, Google “abortion,” but don’t expect to read about it in this post. Nope, this post is about another “women’s ‘choice’” issue.

Ever heard of babyfeedingchoice.org? Me neither, before about five minutes ago. But after a quick perusal, I now know everything I need to know about it. Babyfeedingchoice.org is a website created by the International Formula Council (an infant formula lobby group). In it, you will find much lip-service about how “breastfeeding is best,” blah blah blah more politics, etc. They have a very craftily worded page dedicated entirely to “Support for Breastfeeding.” They have another one totally about “mother guilt.” (How’s that for political?) …But the main crux of the site is to convince the world that women WANT to feed their babies formula, and by golly, they have every right to, because women have rights! And freedom! And women need their formula! They WANT it! They ask for it! (Sounds kinda like what you hear some rapists say when speaking of their victims, coincidentally enough. Or is it a coincidence…?)

Let me be crystal clear about something: of course women have the right to feed their babies formula if they want to. But I’m going to spell this out just in case my point is lost: the formula “choice” debate isn’t about women’s freedom. It isn’t about feminism. It isn’t about women’s rights or even consumer advocacy. Women will always have the choice to feed their infants infant formula. Babyfeedingchoice.org isn’t about that, though, as much as they want everyone to believe it is. It’s really about rallying support for formula manufacturers in their quest to disenfranchise women and infants of their rightful biological norm by convincing everybody that what women really want (and spend all their time thinking about, apparently) are those “awesome” infant formula gift bags in hospitals. After all, everybody else is doing it. And furthermore, [insert some other contrived reasons here].

To help illustrate this, they have a whole page dedicated to “What do moms say?” Here’s a little gem from that page: “…mothers approve of receiving infant formula samples, and they do not believe samples have much, if any, impact on a mother’s decision as to what to feed her baby…” Replace “infant formula samples” with “free packs of cigarettes” and “as to what to feed her baby” with “to smoke” and see how it sounds: “…mothers approve of receiving free packs of cigarettes, and they do not believe the samples have much, if any impact on a mother’s decision to smoke…” Hmmm…

The thing is, marketing research demonstrates definitively that receiving free anything impacts consumer use, even if the consumer doesn’t believe he/she is being influenced by the free item(s). That’s why companies do it — because it works! They wouldn’t waste their time and precious money on paying to distribute free samples if they didn’t think it was going to result in returns ($$$) on their investment. It doesn’t really matter what the product is, if you receive a free sample of it, you’re more likely to try it (and if you’re a health care worker, you’re more likely to recommend it). For a lot of products, that’s not necessarily harmful, but for a product like infant formula (or cigarettes, or pharmaceuticals), it can (and often does) have disastrous consequences to the consumers. It does not matter if the consumer perceives the sample doesn’t affect them; the fact remains that receiving free samples DOES affect resultant consumer behavior.

What a lot of people don’t understand is that formula manufacturers are very well-versed and well-educated about breastfeeding. Formula executives learn about it, their companies even pay for research on it, so they “know their enemy” (their enemy being their most threatening competitor: breastfeeding) very, very well. Formula executives (those in charge of making marketing decisions) are very well aware of the deleterious impact on breastfeeding of interfering with a newly born infant’s suckling reflex by introducing an artificial nipple, and of separating infants from their mothers. They use this knowledge to push baby-unfriendly hospital practices — which they know will sabotage breastfeeding — to get the majority of their customers by marketing through the health care industry. Magazine and television ads are just marketing icing on the cake for them. The marketing cake for formula corporations is: the samples handed out by doctors during prenatal check-ups, the routine formula bottle-feeding of newborns separated from their mothers that hospital workers engage in every day in hospital nurseries, the free formula gift packs given to exhausted, convalescing postpartum moms, and last but not least, WIC program contracts with formula manufacturers which ultimately encourage formula use (WIC is responsible for over 50% of formula sales in the United States (PDF)). That’s where formula manufacturers get the bulk of their customers, ironically from the very people that should be encouraging breastfeeding the most! Formula executives push to short-circuit the breastfeeding learning process from the very beginning, encouraging mother-baby separation immediately after birth because it ensures them sales in the future — at least a year’s worth of formula sales, per baby! That is a lot of money, and whatever it cost the formula companies to provide the free samples in the hospital, per baby, is easily a write-off, after the first week or two the baby’s parents buy formula. The rest is pure profit (minus the tiny cost of manufacture and transport — miniscule in comparison to the profit), since formula is so grossly overpriced (even the “cheap” powdered stuff).

Recommended reading:

So now you know. Babyfeedingchoice.org is full of marketing lies designed to convince the general public that the formula industry should be allowed to keep marketing to health professionals by fighting to keep formula samples in hospitals.

There is another website also full of lies you should know about: Momsfeedingfreedom.com. It is also paid for by the International Formula Council to further convince the general public that marketing through health care workers (doctors, nurses, hospital administrators, and WIC employees) is not only OK, but that moms WANT it, and that therefore this woman-unfriendly and baby-unfriendly status quo should be maintained. Absurd, ridiculous, and completely diabolical are words that come to mind when I see websites like this, but what can you do? At the very least they’re open about their funding, which is more than I can say about some researchers who conduct infant feeding studies.

Actually, that’s a good question: What can we do as lactivists to make things better for other moms and their babies? At the very least, we should work hard to get the Breastfeeding Promotion Act passed, which is something every American over the age of 18 can do (link provides ideas and plans of action). Beyond that, it is possible we can beat formula companies at their own game. They “know their enemy.” We should (at least) do the same, so that we become aware of what we’re up against. Knowledge is power. Let’s put the knowledge (power) about destructive formula marketing practices in the hands of women so that they can make truly informed, REAL choices for themselves and their babies. Let’s promote real breastfeeding education so that the formula pushers don’t win.

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The Story of Ranjit Chandra

October 2nd, 2007 by MamaBear

In order to understand the present and what the future might bring, it’s crucial to be aware of what’s happened in the past. History has a tendency of repeating itself, though not always in exactly the same way.

I’m going to relate to you now the story of Ranjit Chandra. Ranjit Chandra was a world renowned professor at Memorial University at Newfoundland. He is rumored to have been nominated for the Nobel Prize in Medicine, twice. He was the recipient of the prestigious Order of Canada, Canada’s highest civilian honor, for a career of medical and scientific excellence. He has been lauded for his brilliance and intellect for over three decades.

There’s a lot of information the Order of Canada probably didn’t know about Ranjit Chandra when they issued that honor.

In 1989 (possibly 1988), Ranjit Chandra accepted money (estimated at over $50,000) from Nestlé to fake a study on their new infant formula, Good Start. (There is no hard proof of this — no one has found a check stub with “Nestlé” made out to Ranjit Chandra –, but there is overwhelming reason to support it, including testimony from Marilyn Harvey, Chandra’s assistant and whistleblower who was in charge of gathering participants for the study.)

Good Start was a formula previously owned by Carnation, but Carnation got bought out by Nestlé in 1989 and Nestlé wanted a way to draw attention to their new investment by citing “scientific” studies in their promotional material that claimed it protected babies against allergies when compared to another formula (Similac). They were planning on making these allergy-protection claims already, but the FDA wanted scientific studies to back these claims up by a certain deadline, so Nestlé “made” the “science” happen toward this end by bribing Chandra.

Those studies were never actually conducted, but they were written up by Chandra and published in several medical journals. They remain there to this day, even though they have been debunked by other scientists, including researchers who were members of a secret panel formed by Memorial University in 1994 (a committee created specifically to address the possibility of scientific fraud committed by Dr. Chandra). Anyone visiting PubMed.org and typing “Ranjit Chandra” and “breastfeeding” and/or “formula” will find studies by him, more than likely faked. Here’s another one that’s fake. It’s a five-year follow-up to the first fake study, which never had any data gathered for it. Notice how there’s nothing denigrating about breastfeeding in either study. (Both studies can be reasonably assumed to have been paid for by Nestlé; the first one definitely was, and the second one — well, Chandra would have had no reason to write it at all if he hadn’t been paid for it, too, so that’s why I think the second one was paid for by Nestle as well.) Not denigrating breastfeeding is not a guarantee that a given study is truthful. These studies Chandra faked, while they say nothing bad about breastfeeding, DO denigrate Similac, a formula competitor, and that got Similac’s attention. A representative of Similac, Mark Masor, investigated to see what the problem was, and he discovered that fraud had been committed.

Here’s some food for thought: If Nestlé should bribe a researcher to denigrate breastfeeding, where is the breastfeeding representative that will investigate the researcher on behalf of lactating mothers? Where is the Mark Masor of breastfeeding? Oh, I see, breastfeeding has no commercial representative to defend it. Breastfeeding has no advocate because breast milk is freely produced by a woman’s body and not by companies that foster perpetual dependence on their product. So, if you think the results of a breastfeeding study (or any kind of study) are suspect, your best bet is to do your own investigating to see if the study is legitimate or not. Remember, even if Ranjit Chandra had collected data for his studies, they would still be fraudulent, because he accepted more money from Nestlé than he did from Similac, so he was inclined to see things Nestlé’s way (hint, hint) at the expense of Similac (Similac did pay Ranjit Chandra $50,000 to conduct a study for them, but apparently Nestlé paid more because Chandra told Masor that Similac didn’t pay him “enough” to “do it right.”)

In probably the most ironic twist ever (in retrospect) one of the people who spoke out against Ranjit Chandra was a certain Dr. Michael Kramer from McGill University. He wrote a three page paper in 1997 to Health Canada (the Canadian government), explaining why one of Chandra’s studies was suspect (for one thing, the control group was almost identical to the experimental group, which in reality is unheard of in a study like the one Chandra was conducting — a virtual impossibility in the real world). The reply Kramer received was that Health Canada could do nothing because it hadn’t funded the study. Kramer thought about pushing it further, but in his own words, “…it just didn’t seem like it was worth doing,” so he dropped it. Lesson learned = it’s too much trouble for any individual acting alone against a prestigious scientist to get the scientist’s studies investigated, even if there is reason to suspect that said prestigious scientist might have committed fraud. At least, that’s what I’m learning from all of this.

From 1989 (when Chandra published the fraudulent Nestlé Good Start study) to 1997 (when Dr. Michael Kramer, independent of Marilyn Harvey’s testimony, took the initiative to report Chandra), is eight long years. Even though Memorial University, Health Canada, Dr. Michael Kramer, Nestlé, Similac, and Marilyn Harvey all knew Dr. Ranjit Chandra was a phony, nobody outside the world of academia was alerted to anything about this. And the Good Start studies remained in circulation. Did I mention they still are? Did I forget to mention that the original fake study has been cited in 83 publications? And that the fake five-year follow-up to the original fake study has been cited in 137 publications? The term “cited,” for those of you who aren’t familiar with it, means “referenced.” These studies are being used, right now, as references to help back up other studies’ claims. The “findings” from them are being taken seriously. Most of the scientific community, even though Ranjit Chandra has been proven without a shadow of a doubt to be a fraud, is not aware that these studies they are citing (or have cited) are fakes. So, imagine if they had actually contained data! Wow, then they’d probably be considered legitimate, right? I guess if you’re not looking deeply enough, yes. But I know better than to trust a study’s conclusions just because it contains real data. It’s not only important to find out if there is data for a particular study. Yes, that’s important. But it’s also important to find out what a researcher’s motivations for conducting a particular study are, what conclusions the researcher is motivated to come to, as well as a thorough examination of the data (which, let’s be real, what government entity has time for that?).

It wasn’t until 2001, when Chandra tried to publish another fraudulent study (not about formula or breastfeeding) in the British Medical Journal, that he caught the attention of then-editor Richard Smith. Smith was alerted to the suspicious study upon its submission by one of his astute statistical reviewers, who said the study had “…all the hallmarks of being entirely invented.” The study was eventually rejected by the BMJ after Smith tried to get in contact with Chandra numerous times and got nothing but vague circuitous answers to his questions (or no answers at all). That didn’t deter Chandra. He submitted the fake study to another journal, Nutrition, and got it published. It stayed published there until 2005, when it was finally retracted due to the overwhelming suspiciousness of the findings (still no hard evidence, though).

It is well-accepted now in certain circles (though not all of academia, unfortunately) that all Ranjit Chandra’s work is under suspicion. It’s hard to know which studies were faked or otherwise compromised by outside interests (bribes and/or pilfered grant money), and which ones were legitimate. Was Ranjit Chandra always a faker? Probably not. He probably published some real studies in his lifetime. It’s even possible that most of the studies he published (upwards of 200) were legitimate. There’s no way of knowing without examining every single one (a daunting task for anyone), but with the conflict-of-interest of receiving money from corporate interests to fake studies (like Nestlé, who apparently “outbid” Similac in the Good Start study), it’s reasonable to conclude that none of his studies (for which he is the principle investigator) should be cited in future publications, and that furthermore, none of the studies he’s published after 1989 should be taken seriously. But they are.

From where I stand, it looks like Nestlé won’t stop trying to convince the world that formula doesn’t cause allergies (or that breastfeeding provides “no protective effect” against allergies when compared to formula — eh, same thing). I, for one, am not buying it. Though I am loathe to use analogies because they are incomplete, I will use one here: I will be the Mark Masor of breastfeeding, even if no one else will be. If I suspect that a study was conducted improperly or if there’s even a hint of a whiff of conflict-of-interest, I will come after you like it’s a murder investigation, because as far as I’m concerned, with formula manufacturers and their marketing tactics, that’s exactly what it is. If no fraud has been committed, if you’ve got nothing to hide, I’ll figure that out — I can give the benefit of the doubt like the best of them. I’ll probably find out either way, so make sure, all you researchers out there (principle investigators, especially), that you cross your t’s and dot your i’s, because I am watching your breastfeeding study “results” and your motivations behind them like a hawk.

By the way, anyone wondering what disciplinary action was taken against Chandra, after so many people in academia discovered that he was a fraud and had taken money from Nestlé to fake formula studies? Well, in a nutshell, none. Nothing happened to him. He was not arrested. He was not fired. He was not even fined or formally reprimanded by anyone. He retired from Memorial University in 2002, just around the time the shit started hitting the fan when the BMJ started asking questions. He moved to Switzerland (or India) and hasn’t really been heard from since. He’s still selling his nutritional supplements, the same ones he claimed in his fake study could cure dementia (the one that got the BMJ’s attention).

You know what I would think if I were a Canadian researcher upon witnessing all of this academic and scientific corruption (circa 1997-2002)? Well, first I’d think: “Man, I work and work and work and am an honest person, an honest researcher, and I don’t make more than $150,000/year. Whereas, this asshole (Chandra) is a dishonest fuckwad, fakes data, and has over $2 million in secret accounts all over the world, in addition to the salary he gets from the university… And NOTHING happens to him!” This would lead me to think one of two things (1) Fuck it, I’ll make some real money too, then, if it’s so easy… But I’ll do it better than him to preserve my reputation and good name and I won’t get caught because I’ll use real data; or (2) C’est la vie. Just ’cause he’s unprincipled doesn’t mean I have to be, no matter how much money is to be made.

I am making it my job to see which of those two conclusions is the right one. Dear readers, you don’t have to join me in my quest. I’m not asking for help (though I welcome any and all kinds of questions, leads, etc., even if they disagree with or contradict my own findings). If you have nothing to contribute, just sit back and enjoy the ride. I think it’s going to be an interesting one.

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Required Consumption

September 30th, 2007 by MamaBear

I’ve been talking lately about corporations and corporate interests (regarding some of my posts on Prolacta and Nestlé), and I think a lot of what I say may be misinterpreted by some, and some of it may just not be registering at all for others. I have had the blessing of being educated by incredible influences in my life, and it is part of my life’s mission to impart some of this wisdom to the world. It’s one of the reasons why I blog. I am not trying to sound arrogant. If anything, I want to make sure there’s more equity in the world by making injustices be known so that they can be corrected. I always try, whenever possible, to include links to references so that you may be the judge of what I say. Ultimately, I want my readers to assess for themselves if what I’m saying is true. Don’t just take my (or anyone else’s) word for it.

I want to make sure that everyone is on the same page before I continue with my blogging, so in order to do that, I want to make sure you know what I know. I’m embedding this video, of a documentary called “The Corporation,” as a primer for starting to understand how things work in the corporate world. Incentives and motivation are key in people’s lives, for both individuals and corporations. While it is really hard to distill into one thought the wealth of information contained in this documentary, I will say that one of the important lessons I learned from watching it is this: “A corporation has all the rights of an individual, but none of the responsibility.” It’s a very powerful statement, and an apt assessment.

Please note: I don’t think there is anything wrong with making money. Money (and having to make a living) are necessary aspects of life. I have a problem with hurting others to make money, and I do not think it is necessary to hurt others in order to make a living. “Hurt” can be a matter of interpretation, where “deception” may be considered by some to be perfectly reasonable and not the same as “hurt.” That’s for you the viewer to decide. Personally, I think it depends on each individual situation (in some cases, “hurt” is pretty clear-cut and in others, not so much).

Also, some required reading (if you have the time after sitting through the whole 2.5-hour-long documentary): Blink (a book that is essentially an analysis on Occam’s Razor), The Tipping Point (about ripple effects), and Freakonomics (Yes, Jill, I know he’s your friend, but it’s a really good book on some of the hidden economies of life, so I’m recommending it despite that). ;)

“The Corporation” (first there’s a brief commercial of sorts, where the filmmakers ask for monetary donations for the film; after that, the film begins). Film is in two parts, both embedded here:

Part 1 lasts one hour, 26 minutes and Part 2 lasts almost exactly one hour. Total time is about 2:30 hours. Dedicating the time to watching it is time well spent. Cheaper than a college course, way shorter, and almost as informative (actually, depending on the course, probably more informative). You owe it to yourself to watch this.

Edited to add:  I’ve found some transcripts on some of the interviews seen in “The Corporation” on the official website.  I apologize in advance that I can’t find anything better for my Deaf and hard-of-hearing readers.  I wish closed captioning were available in the video itself.

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Thinking of Donating Your Breastmilk? Read This First.

September 2nd, 2007 by MamaBear

Many women who pump for their babies often find that they have way more than their baby will ever consume. It is at this point that the thought of donating that extra milk to a needy baby comes to mind.

There are three ways of milk donation that are available so far:

  • Informal milk donation, mother-to-mother
  • Formal milk donation to a HMBANA milk bank, to help babies in the NICU
  • Formal milk donation to Prolacta Bioscience, a for-profit milk processing company, usually through a milk depot that calls itself a “milk bank”

Breastmilk donation is one of the most beautiful, pure, and selfless acts a mother could do for another. Unfortunately, some people are exploiting this generosity and using it for their own ends. If you are a mother intent on donating your excess breast milk to help a needy baby, one option that will allow you to be sure that your intended recipient is a baby and not a for-profit milk processing company is informal milk donation. Informal milk donation is when you donate your breastmilk directly to the family that will be feeding their baby with it. The biggest hurdle with this for most milk donors and recipients seems to be finding a family near them that either needs milk or has a surplus of it.

The best option right now in North America for informal milk donation match-up is an organization called MilkShare. With MilkShare, you can meet your recipient and get to know your recipient family. The only fee involved is a one-time $15 fee for the recipient to join MilkShare. That is all, and $15 is a bargain compared to all the other options available to recipients out there. Donors join for free.

Another match-up organization which will hopefully be up and running soon is Milk Match. It is a forum that will be devoted exclusively to matching up donor and recipient moms informally, though it hasn’t started quite yet. It is not known at this time whether Milk Match will charge a fee for its services.

It is important when engaging in informal breast milk donation to get to know the family you are dealing with, both on the recipient and donor sides. For the recipient, it’s important to screen your breast milk donor by getting blood tests done, which should be at the recipient’s expense, and asking any relevant questions about lifestyle, the same way a milk bank would. The recipient could also learn to pasteurize the breast milk at home very easily and cheaply, if there is a concern about potential pathogens in the milk even after screening with a blood test. If applicable, the recipient should pay for shipping expenses; the donor should never have to incur any expense for donation. No money should be exchanged for the milk itself, as that may tarnish the altruism of the act.

For the donor, it’s important to make sure that the breastmilk you are so generously donating is going to a baby and not to an organization that will re-sell your milk (that’s why it’s important to get to know the family you’re donating to, in addition to the satisfaction of getting to know the baby you are helping to nourish with your milk!) It is an extremely rewarding act, the act of milk donation, when both recipient and donor know each other directly, without a middle-man.

However, there are many legitimate reasons to donate to HMBANA milk banks, a collection of eleven milk banks in North America, as well. HMBANA milk banks take breast milk donations from screened donors, pasteurize the donated milk, and provide it to needy babies in NICUs all across North America for a fee of $3.50/ounce. Often, raw donated breast milk can’t be given to delicate preemies because everything they come in contact with must be free from pathogens, and it is possible that unpasteurized donor milk could contain pathogens that for a normal infant wouldn’t cause a problem but in a preemie could be devastating. This is why HMBANA milk banks provide such a valuable service to the babies that need it the most, including abandoned babies who don’t have parents to advocate for them through MilkShare. What is especially compelling about HMBANA milk banks and what convinces me that they are truly there for the benefit of sick babies is that if the family cannot afford to pay $3.50/ounce for the milk, which is reportedly less than what it costs the HMBANA banks to process it, HMBANA banks will waive this fee for a critically ill baby. Truly, HMBANA milk banks are a godsend to babies in the NICU, regardless of whether or not they have a family to care for them, and regardless of whether their family can afford to pay for the pasteurized breastmilk.

There is a third option for breastmilk donation that everyone should be aware of but that I do not recommend. There are several milk depots across the United States that call themselves milk banks, but these “milk banks” are NOT affiliated with HMBANA milk banks at all. These “milk banks” don’t actually distribute milk to needy babies. These so-called “milk banks” are collection stations, sometimes freestanding, sometimes found inside hospitals or birthing centers, taking in milk to sell it directly to a company called Prolacta Bioscience (the price Prolacta pays for the raw milk ranges from $.50-$2/ounce). To all outward appearances, these milk depots look and sound like a real milk bank, but they do not distribute any milk to any babies, which is part of what real milk banks do.

Prolacta Bioscience, the company which processes the donated breast milk collected at these milk depots, is the only for-profit human milk processing company in the world. It processes donated breast milk and turns it into human milk fortifier, which is meant to be added to human milk, for preemies. What Prolacta doesn’t mention on any of its publications is that this human milk fortifier carries a price tag of $6.25/milliliter, which, when converted to ounces, is $184.83/ounce. This is alarming enough, but since Prolacta is a for-profit company and not in any way associated with HMBANA, if a family with a critically ill baby can’t pay or doesn’t have health insurance or Medicaid, they don’t get the human milk fortifier, even if their baby needs it. Additionally, there are no peer-reviewed studies so far that have even proven Prolacta’s human milk fortifier to be necessary. HMBANA milk banks already have the technology in place to provide preemies with higher-calorie milk, and preemies have already been known to thrive off of the HMBANA-provided milk, so the necessity of Prolacta’s human milk fortifier is questionable. Furthermore, if people donate to a Prolacta “milk bank” and give their breastmilk to Prolacta Bioscience instead of a HMBANA milk bank (both organizations have very similar screening criteria and thus receive donations from the same pool of donors), this depletes the supply going into HMBANA banks which means fewer preemies get the milk they so desperately need at a price that could be afforded.

Unfortunately, this isn’t the only thing disturbing about the for-profit business model thus far. In addition to not easily disclosing the price of their human milk fortifier, and not explicitly informing its donors that their milk will be sold for a profit, Prolacta also reportedly has their donors sign a contract which essentially strips the donors of all the rights to their own breastmilk. Any royalties made off the sale of their breast milk, and any findings made from studying the components in their breast milk, the donors have no right to have. If Prolacta chooses to share their findings with their donors, it will be at Prolacta’s discretion, but the donors give up the right to any royalties or knowledge gleaned from the study of their breast milk the instant they sign a contract with Prolacta. Prolacta can patent components found in any of the human breast milk they receive, which means that Prolacta could potentially use these patented components, manufacture them, and sell them to formula companies so that formula can become even “closer to mother’s own milk.” This not only affects donors and recipients of Prolacta’s products today; it has the potential to affect breastfeeding for the future. If the public becomes convinced that formula is so close to mother’s milk that breastfeeding is unnecessary, then more people will choose to formula-feed instead of breastfeed, and the breastfeeding mothers that do remain will be seen as a societal “nuisance” because they insist on feeding their children in a way that’s “inconvenient” or “obsolete” or incompatible with the way society runs. As it is, with the advent of DHA and ARA being added to formulas to make them more like breast milk, already many people, including doctors, have the perception that formula is “just as good” or “almost as good” as breast milk, which is simply not true. Formula is still far inferior to breastmilk, for many, many reasons beyond talk of mere “components,” but even with the addition of 50 more components (not likely within this lifetime), formula would still be far inferior to breastmilk, given that there are at many hundreds of components in breast milk, many of which do not tolerate heat-treatment or sterilization, which all formula undergoes during manufacturing.

(Martek Bioscience owns the patent on DHA and ARA, for anyone that’s interested. DHA and ARA really are found in breast milk, and those components have been isolated in a lab and now are manufactured to be sold as supplements for adults and children or as additions to formula, so this concept of patenting manufactured breastmilk components isn’t some hokey-conspiracy science fiction fantasy. It’s happening now.)

I’m not saying improving formula for infants is a bad thing. Far from it. I have to supplement with formula for my own baby, so I want what I feed her to be as good as possible. The problem I have with this scheme is the way the donor milk is being obtained from generous donor moms and the implication that the addition of “breastmilk components” in formula has on the future of breastfeeding and mothers’ right to breastfeed. Is it possible that in the far future (100 years from now), women who choose to breastfeed be taxed by the government because the formula lobby insisted on it? If formula becomes perceived by the majority of the population as “just as good” as mothers’ milk, even if it isn’t, because of formula marketing (their marketing tactics are clearly working today, since even some doctors are convinced formula is “almost as good” as breastmilk), and if most voters are formula-feeders 100 years from now, it’s definitely possible. I don’t know about you, but I don’t want my granddaughters and great-granddaughters to be taxed for breastfeeding.

All speculation aside, what I’m saying is, inform yourself. Ask lots of questions before donating to anyone. If you are interested in breast milk donation, especially in donating to a milk “bank” that is partnered with Prolacta, read the contract very carefully before signing, especially the parts about the rights you will be signing over to Prolacta. Prolacta often offers a free breast pump to its donors, and this offer can seem very attractive, but it’s not worth signing away all the rights to your own milk for a breast pump. If after asking all your questions, you have more questions than answers, you may want to consider donating elsewhere.

The following milk depots partner with Prolacta, which means that ALL the milk donations donated to the following milk “banks” are sold to Prolacta Bioscience for $.50-$2/ounce (usually $1/ounce). Prolacta then processes the raw donated breast milk and re-sells it for $184.83/ounce. Also, the following milk depots require donors to sign a contract which reportedly strips the donors of their rights to their own milk. None of the following milk “banks” distribute milk to needy babies:

The above list is not comprehensive and does not include all of the milk banks that partner with Prolacta. You need to ask the milk bank you donate your milk to whether or not Prolacta processes its milk in order to be sure.

The following organization partners with Prolacta and sells at least 75% of its milk donations to Prolacta Bioscience for $1/ounce:

It has still not been confirmed by the IBMP’s founder, Jill Youse, what has happened to all the money made from selling the milk to Prolacta thus far. 100% of that money, for three months (May 31, 2007-August 31, 2007), was promised toward the building of a health facility at the Lewa Children’s Home at Eldoret, Kenya. During those three months, the International Breast Milk Project reportedly earned at least $50,000 in sales of donated breastmilk to Prolacta (~$25,000 for June and ~$25,000 for July. It is not known how much was earned for August 2007). This amount of money still has NOT been sent to the Lewa Children’s Home, according to the IBMP. As of the date of this posting, many questions still remain unanswered about how much breastmilk and money are really going to Africa.

ETA:  The IBMP has updated their site a few times since the original posting of this entry.  Happily, according to the newly updated FAQ section of the IBMP site (which is ever-changing), the money in question was donated to Africa.  Hopefully the IBMP will continue its charitable efforts in Africa because, after all, that is the reason why the organization exists.

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Breastfeeding Ad Campaign Hoopla

September 1st, 2007 by MamaBear

I’ve been sitting on this for a while, letting my thoughts percolate through my mind. Recently it has come to light, through a Washington Post report, that certain breastfeeding promotion ads in 2004 were toned down because of pressure from The International Formula Council (representing, as of April 2004: Ross; Mead Johnson; Nestle USA Solus Products; PBM Products, LLC; and Wyeth Nutrition).

The ads which were toned down depicted a rubber nipple placed on an asthma inhaler or an insulin bottle, with a syringe in the background. The images, in my opinion, are striking and definitely attention-getting. Some might even call them inflammatory.

When I first read about this on a few blogs, I was very upset about the original ads getting pulled because of pressure from the IFC. Clearly the incentive on the part of the formula companies is to make money, and a negative ad campaign like that one would make formula a difficult sell to any mother who thinks of breastfeeding as a mere “lifestyle choice.” But what bothered me the more I thought about it is that the inflammatory ads would disenfranchise a person like me, too, who does not bottle-feed by choice (my baby refuses to breastfeed). As it is, even with a mostly anti-breastfeeding culture, I find myself in the position of having to explain to perfect strangers why it is I’m feeding my baby with a bottle (because they ask me), or getting impolite stares when I pull out a bottle to feed my baby. I pump every day, eight times a day, for twenty minutes, using a double electric hospital grade breast pump (actually, two different ones), but I still manage to only produce about 16 ounces for any given 24-hour period. This means I must supplement with something else, some other, lesser milk, so that my child won’t starve. For various reasons, I’ve chosen this supplement to be formula. Yes, I have received donor breastmilk from extremely kind-hearted donors, but it takes a lot of milk to feed a baby, and now that she’s a year old, my donors have understandably “hung up the horns,” a euphemism that means they’ve stopped pumping for my baby. So I am left with the only viable option: supplement with another mammal’s milk.

I am not under any delusions that the formula companies make their formula better or “closer to mother’s milk” because they care about my baby. I know they are watching their bottom line, and any new marketing strategy, including improving the quality of their artificial baby milk so that it contains more components found in breastmilk, will improve their chances of making a sale. I know this, and as a consumer, I don’t buy formula because I want to help the formula companies succeed with their business. I do it because I need to feed my baby something that will sustain her, since the quantity of breastmilk I produce isn’t sufficient to meet her needs (notice that I said “quantity” and not “quality.” The quality of my milk is far superior to any formula or other mammals’ milk for my baby; I just don’t make enough of it).

So, within this context, here’s my take on the ad campaign bruhaha: I agree that the ad campaign which featured a rubber nipple on an asthma inhaler and insulin bottle is inflammatory and, because of its negative nature, would not be effective at convincing women to breastfeed. It would succeed in shaming women who aren’t successful at breastfeeding, and that would turn a large percentage of women against breastfeeding activists, which would in turn, slow or stop all progress toward getting breastfeeding recognized as a cultural norm.

I think the alternative, softened, ad campaign is also not effective at getting women to breastfeed, though.

Furthermore, I think trying to convince women to breastfeed using ad campaigns is like changing a tire on a car because the engine overheated and burned out. I think the problem lies much deeper than merely women “choosing” not to breastfeed, and I don’t think individual women should take the fall (in the form of criticism for their feeding “choices”) for a societal and poorly incentivized medical model problem.

The real problem? It’s very simple: doctors and nurses don’t have the right incentives in place to encourage women to breastfeed. Our United States “health care” system (and quite possibly, other health care systems around the world, with completely different medical models), is not about health. It’s about making money. Unfortunately, because most hospitals in this country and their affiliates (like pharmaceutical companies, which make and sell drugs) are for-profit entities, and because we as a society tolerate that in the spirit of democracy (which it really isn’t) and capitalism (which is definitely is), corporations that benefit from this broken system buy off a lot of politicians that could enact real social change but who choose not to because enacting real social change to benefit the majority of the population is not lucrative enough. Not as lucrative as, say, receiving a check from the IFC. Or, if need be, a threat, overt or implied.

This is what makes Mayor Mike Bloomberg’s recent decision to make hospitals more breastfeeding-friendly in New York City so incredibly revolutionary. It seems like such a small thing, especially with the negative way the media handled it, but it’s not. It’s HUGE. For a politician to stand up to such a powerful lobby like the IFC and say, “Nah, I’m not interested in your money or your threats. I’m going to enact this breastfeeding-friendly policy anyway, regardless of your negative media publicity because it’s the right thing to do,” speaks volumes about the sort of person Mike Bloomberg is. This is the sort of legislation that needs to take place in cities all over this country if our culture is to ever going to accept breastfeeding as the norm. An ad campaign is a nice idea, but it will not have the impact that enacting breastfeeding-friendly hospital policies will.

Now the only problem is figuring out how to do that in places that don’t have Mike Bloomberg for a leader.

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Jill Youse Responds, And So Do I

August 30th, 2007 by MamaBear

I received a message from Jill Youse, founder of the International Breast Milk Project, who wrote me by using my contact form last night. She sent it twice. It was the following:

Hi Breastfeeding Symbol,

Thank you for suggesting that we update the FAQs, I will do that as soon as possible.

Just to clarify, we have donated funding already to Lewa (in conjunction with Run
for Africa, our sister organization) and moving forward we have identified Village
Life Outreach, the organization focused in improving health care for the three
villages in Tanzania as a recipient of the funding. Any other organizations
interested in receiving funding should email jill@breastmilkproject.org.

Please let me know if there is anything else I can clarify or update for you or feel
free to email me anytime at jill@breastmilkproject.org.

I really appreciate your feedback and anything else you can suggest so that I can
continue to serve you and other donating moms in the future as best as possible.

Jill Youse

The first thing I want to say is that I really appreciate you contacting me directly, Jill, and I have to admit that, upon reading this, my heart softened a little. I gotta hand it to you, you do have a way with words. When I read the message, I thought to myself, “Maybe the $20,000+/month she’s getting for selling the donated breastmilk to Prolacta is all going to help African orphans after all… Maybe, just maybe, all your suspicions about the IBMP based on your observations so far have been unwarranted, Mama Bear.”

I thought about it. And then I thought some more. I think “moving forward” onto Tanzania is great, fantastic, even, but I’m still wondering what happened to the children at the Lewa Children’s Home in Eldoret, Kenya.

“…we have donated funding already to Lewa…,” the message says, almost dismissively. That’s the only information on Kenya there is. But I have a few questions about that matter, so here’s my response:

Dear International Breast Milk Project,

When did the IBMP donate to the Lewa Children’s Home in Eldoret, Kenya?

How much (in US dollars) did the IBMP donate to the Lewa Children’s Home in Eldoret, Kenya?

Was the donation to the Lewa Children’s Home 100% of all the money the IBMP made while that figure (”100%”) was used on the IBMP website to collect more breastmilk donations? Because those questions are relevant and still unanswered.

I did notice that the IBMP FAQ page now has this addendum (added August 29, 2007):

Until now, International Breast Milk Project has been an all-volunteer organzition. [sic] As a result of the astounding and unexpected growth we have experienced over the past six months, we will be allocating a very small percentage of finincial [sic] donations to pay for program management and coordination of the International Breast Milk Project including a financial manager. This will ensure full accountability, progress, and transparency.

The typographical errors on “organization” and “financial” notwithstanding, I am assuming that the word “now” implies “August 29, 2007,” because that’s when that statement was written. This means that before August 29, 2007 (yesterday), the program management, coordination and financial stuff was taken care of by volunteers for free, right?

Volunteers don’t get paid a dime for their altruism. Or have some of those funds been “allocated” for some IBMP “volunteers” here in the United States? Or perhaps the volunteers didn’t get paid, but somebody has? In case you’re wondering, I don’t actually think that’s a problem, except in the case where this fact is not disclosed and something else is being implied. As of right this moment, no such fact has been disclosed and the implication is now (as of yesterday) that, other than a tiny percentage of the money made off donations, the great majority of the money will go straight to Africa. The wording also implies that this “allocation” hasn’t taken place yet, that it will take place sometime in the future (”we will be allocating” is what is written, instead of “we have allocated” or “we have been allocating”), so if the IBMP “has been allocating” already, that information STILL isn’t on the IBMP website, yet it should be, instead of “will be allocating.” Does that make sense? Also, I think people probably will want to know how much has been, is being, and will be allocated for operational expenses. It’s only fair that people be told up-front how much of what they donate in breastmilk will wind up making its way to Africa in the form of a monetary contribution, because it might change their decision to donate.

Before this addendum was written, I noticed that in every newspaper and magazine article about the International Breast Milk Project that I read (and I have read dozens, believe me!), the implication is very strong that nobody in the United States has ever made any money off this endeavor, that making money for people here in the United States is NOT the focus of the IBMP, and that all those IBMP volunteers (including Jill Youse) are running the IBMP out of the goodness of their hearts. So, I actually think it’s relevant to know if Jill Youse or anyone else is receiving any money from it to keep for themselves, and if so, for how long and how much, because the implication that the IBMP is doing it for free tends to open up people’s hearts and wallets, but, more importantly, it opens up lactating women’s freezers. I don’t think they’d be so eager to help out the International Breast Milk Project if they knew most of their milk were making already well-off Americans money more than it is helping African orphans. Does that make sense? I’m asking these questions, as uncomfortable as they are, because nothing on the IBMP website and in articles about the IBMP, and nothing that I’ve learned by talking on the phone with Prolacta and the people in South Africa reassures me that the opposite is true. In fact, when I read the IBMP website and after talking to people in South Africa, I’m uncomfortably led to believe that most of the money isn’t making its way to Africa (I already know the vast majority of the breastmilk isn’t). Please set the record straight about this, as I’m sure I’m not the only person curious about the answers to these very important questions.

To clarify my point, I was under the impression that 100% of the money made from the milk sold to Prolacta, 100% of that money would go to the Lewa Children’s Home. If 100% of that money didn’t go to the Lewa Children’s Home while that information was on the IBMP website…. 100%, remember? …If that didn’t happen, I want to know why.

I want to know what happened to all that money.

I want to know what percentage of the funds made off of selling donor milk acquired via the IBMP made it to the Lewa Children’s Home. Additionally, I want to know the dollar amount (in U.S. dollars, please) that made it to the Lewa Children’s Home in Eldoret, Kenya, as of today’s date: August 30, 2007.

And I’m sure I’m not the only one.

I will be sending an email to jill@breastmilkproject.org with the information contained in this post, so that Jill Youse can have a chance to clarify all of this and update all of us. Thank you for your kind attention to this matter, IBMP.

Sincerely,

Mama Bear

P.S. I got Jill Youse’s other message, sent shortly after the first:

I went to the page….
http://web.archive.org/web/*/http://breastmilkproject.org

Worked for me…?

Jill Youse

Yes, I (and others) noticed that yesterday it started working perfectly, as well, after I posted what I did. Thanks for pointing that out, Jill. The day before, though, August 28, 2007, it was “experiencing technical difficulties” for the whole day. Also, and this may very well be the archive’s fault and not IBMP’s… Several FAQ pages are missing. Many, many months’ worth.

*******UPDATE*******UPDATE*******UPDATE*******

(The following is an edit to the above original post made September 1, 2007):

Jill responded to the post above by emailing me the following message:

Thanks so much for posting and helping me identify areas of
improvement. I will
work to answer all of your questions.

Good to see there are no hard feelings! I will be awaiting the answers from the IBMP (or Jill), which if everything is on the up-and-up, should be a cinch for the IBMP (or Jill) to answer.

Edit:  A lot of the links under the category of “Prolacta” and “International Breast Milk Project” don’t work anymore because they don’t go to the same place I originally linked to.  This is not anything I did; the changes were made externally.  I’ve chosen to leave the links there and issue this edit so that you, my readers, are aware of what has happened.

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The International Breast Milk Project Rewrites History?

August 29th, 2007 by MamaBear

Congratulations, International Breast Milk Project. You have officially lost all respectability and credibility as of today. There are a couple of reasons for this. All day today, it has been very difficult to access information about the International Breast Milk Project on the Wayback Machine. Every time I type in “www.breastmilkproject.org” into their search engine, I’m met with a “we’re experiencing technical difficulties” report. Funny, when I type in any other website URL, the internet archive has no such “technical difficulties” whatsoever. Other people have reported the same trouble with looking up anything IBMP-related there today.

Lauredhel made an incredibly rocking post on the IBMP recently, pointing out inconsistencies in the IBMP’s FAQ page between about a week ago and today. Two weeks ago, the IBMP FAQ page said that 100% of the money made off selling donated milk to Prolacta would go directly to the Lewa Children’s Home in Eldoret, Kenya. Suddenly, that promise to those children is gone, evaporated into thin air. So, what does this mean? NO money to the Lewa Children’s Home now? All the money made in the name of that Children’s Home will not be sent to Kenya? So it’s okay to take more than a hundred pictures of those African children and use those pictures in a slideshow, along with John Lennon’s hit song “Imagine,” for months to help convince women to donate their breastmilk to the International Breast Milk Project, but now that the IBMP have the breastmilk donations, now that they got what they wanted, NO money to the Lewa Children’s Home? Now, supposedly the money will go to some unnamed organization in Tanzania? What’s the next IBMP FAQ update going to tell us? “Now donating money to a remote spot in Namibia”…? Hey, why don’t you change countries every month! That’s fun, ’cause no one will notice, right? Certainly no one in Africa will. Who knows if anyone in Africa is even told they’re recipients of anything. How convenient! Planning on surprising them with your “goodwill,” are you, IBMP? Yeah, that’s probably it.

I find it an incredible stretch that the “technical difficulties” experienced today on the Wayback Machine are a mere coincidence, given that Lauredhel’s post was so spot-on, accurate, and shows without a shadow of a doubt that the IBMP keeps changing their story about where the milk and the money are going.

Dear readers, if you really want to help African orphans, I suggest researching the charity you wish to donate to scrupulously before giving anything. Ask many, many questions and make sure that whatever you send WILL go to the intended recipient.

As for breastmilk donation, I highly recommend either donating to a baby in need locally through MilkShare, or donating to a HMBANA non-profit milk bank. There are only eleven HMBANA milk banks in all of North America, so be sure to check that the milk bank you donate to is a HMBANA one so that the recipient gets the milk for the most affordable price possible.

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