It’s long been our suspicion here at the IWF that the U.N. campaign to force manufacturers of infant formula to plaster their products with alarmist warnings is actually an effort to ban bottle-feeding of babies altogether. I’ve blogged quite a bit on this subject, and the IWF has taken a strong stand against the proposed rules in releases here and here.
It’s our position that, while breast-feeding is obviously best for both mother and baby, there are many circumstances, from health problems such as blebs, thrush, and mastitis for the mother to the mother’s need to return to work at a job where breast-feeding may not be possible, that make a properly used infant formula a perfectly viable alternative. Furthermore, our own federal Food and Drug administration has approved the formulas as safe and nutritious here in the United States, and we think it is condescending to women in the developing world to bar access to them of a method of feeding their babies that has been safely used for generations by millions of women in America and Europe.
So we’ve posted a special report by physician Scott Gottlieb to that effect. We received this letter from reader S.M.:
“The article ‘United Nations Scaring Women Unnecessarily,’ contains misinformation. The issues of blebs, thrush and mastitis are incorrect. While difficult to manage, they are not as common as the author states without reference, not ‘contra-indications’ to breast-feeding or what commonly keeps moms from breast-feeding.
“The difficulties encountered with encouraging employers/industry to accommodate breastfeeding mothers are important to be aware of, but shortsighted. Also problems that Nestle started in developing and underdeveloped countries in the 1960’s by introducing formula–such as lack of safe water, inappropriate formula dilution, loss of bacterial/viral protection for the infant, and though not a perfect family-planning method–loss of ‘natural family spacing’ due to lactation, etc – still exist. There are conflicting studies about HIV/AIDS and breastfeeding….
“The author’s loyalty to the FDA is commendable but not-well placed regarding formula. The human race has survived because of many millions of years of effective, successful breast-feeding, reproduction, etc. There is much yet to be learned in this emerging science of human lactation; the FDA cannot know what has not yet been discovered…. While there may be the occasion when the use of formula outweighs the benefits of breast-feeding, those moments are rare, especially in at-risk populations.”
S.M., you are entitled not to trust the FDA if you so choose. And you’re entitled to do all the enthusing over breast–feeding and crusading against baby bottles that you like–this is a democracy, and you’re entitled to your views.
But it’s objectionable for breast-feeding ideologues to try to use the U.N. to override both U.S. government agencies and the views of individual doctors in order to force other governments to instigate policies that would be considered both unnecessary and highly intrusive here in the United States. Letters like yours confirm my suspicions that the fight for infant-formula regulations isn’t about ensuring that mothers use the formula safely but about frightening them into abandoning it altogether. It’s a mere propaganda campaign that U.S. tax dollars, which pay the U.N.’s rent, shouldn’t be subsidizing.
Now for a letter from E.R., who loathes our links:
“I find it very interesting that you would create an ‘Independent Womens Network’ and then develop a list of ‘Women we Hate.’ If this really isn’t a forum for independent women, then call yourselves what you are.”
E.R., I’m confused: Do truly independent women love everybody? Seems to me that truly independent women (and men) know what they like and what they don’t like.