Sunday, April 10, 2016

The organic industry's war on breastfeeding

Stephan Neidenbach -
Edited by Nandu Nandini

Breast is best. But those who have been following me on Facebook for a while may have noticed that I occasionally get upset with a certain group of people who attempt to shame formula feeding parents. Mom shaming is a horrendous tactic used by many people to try and take advantage of new mothers and the vulnerable emotional state many find themselves in. Breastfeeding may be preferred when everything is equal, but anyone with a child knows that seldom things are equal. My best friend and his husband clearly don't have the option, and many new mothers have a myriad of reasons why formula may be a better fit for their own family.

Moms Across America's
 leader Zen Honeycuttt.
Until recently I was under the impression that this guilt was directed unilaterally towards formula feeding parents. After witnessing the shaming directed towards breastfeeding moms, from the most unlikely of sources, I now stand corrected.

Two years ago Moms Across America, with Claire Robinson of Earth Open Source and GM Watch,  issued a press release that detailed a report they had created showing detectable levels of glyphosate in breast milk. Samples of breast milk were submitted to them from 10 mothers, and 3 supposedly contained glyphosate. No validation of the assay used was submitted, the source of the breast milk is unknown, and there was no independent verification of the results. It did, however, catch the attention of Professor Shelley McGuire of Washington State University.

Professor McGuire has a PHD in human nutrition from Cornell University, and her field of study is lactation physiology. There is no doubt that she supports the promotion of breastfeeding, and accepts, “The scientific evidence that breastfeeding provides optimal nutritional and immunological support”. The professor wanted to make sure breast milk was safe after hearing the results from Moms Across  America.

Professor McGuire now finds herself under attack by the multi billion dollar organic food industry. Why? Because she undertook her own peer reviewed research and concluded that breast milk was in fact safe. With results published that contradict the narrative the industry wished to spin, they mobilized quickly in an attempt to silence and discredit her.

Post card sent to Professor McGuire featuring the artwork
of ant-Semitic David Dees.
The harassment took many forms including threatening postcards in the mail, the hacking of her original Twitter account, and culminated in an organic industry funded freedom of information request similar to ones conducted by the tobacco industry when trying to silence their own critics.

Why would a movement that claims to love all things natural attack a public research professor for promoting breastfeeding? Some hints may very well come from a 2010 document called the “National Organic Action Plan". The plan describes some of the goals the organic industry feels it must reach in order to continue growing. Using language that is very similar to what is used when describing addictive drugs, the industry states that “organic dairy products serve as a gateway to organic food for new mothers, opening up the door for them to purchase additional organic products.“

It is clearly evident why the organic food industry is so intent on opposing biotechnology. Organic dairy farmers are having a supply problem because they can't feed their cows feed from GE crops. If GE crops are banned, they can increase the supply of their “gateway" product.
Anti-GMO NGOs are sending the message that breast feeding
should be feared in favor of "Non-GMO" formula.

"It makes sense when you consider some basic supply and demand principles," says blogger The Farmer's Daughter, ", and consider them in light of how the Plan depicts the current state of organic dairy. First, consider the realities of our agricultural commodities. Aside from maybe sugar beets, corn and soybeans are the most prevalent genetically modified crops in the marketplace today. In 2014, 93% of field corn produced in the United States contained a genetically modified trait, while 94% of all soybeans are genetically modified. Obviously, it’s fair to say that GMO corn and soybeans dominate the market place." 

Biology Fortified's Anastasia Bodnar
This attack on breastfeeding seems to me like a natural progression for them to boost sales of organic and "Non-GMO" formula. I spoke with Dr. Anastasia Bodnar of Biology Fortified, a biotechnology expert and mother who practices attachment parenting as well as extended breastfeeding:

“Will mothers-to-be choose non GMO formula instead of breastfeeding because…. Monsanto? I hope not, but the possibility is there. Breastfeeding isn't the end all - fed is best - but there are benefits to breastfeeding, and any articles claiming breast milk is dangerous are a problem.”

This is especially true if these fears are exported to developing nations that lack clean drinking water for mixing formula. It is an outrage for Professor McGuire to be treated this way merely for trying to reassure mothers that breast milk is safe. I hope parents everywhere will join me in demanding that US RTK end their FOIA harassment and Moms Across America (with their partner Earth Open Source/GM Watch) end their war on breastfeeding mothers.

1 comment:

  1. In addition to Dr. McGuire's study, the German BfR commissioned a study on glyphosate in breast milk that also found no glyphosate present. Here is the press release explaining their methods and results in plain language. Apparently the German government, no friend to Monsanto, dislikes scaring breastfeeding moms even more.
    Here is a link to the entire article.