Monday, June 04, 2012

New House Bill That Will Change the Milk Code

A new bill is authored by these Congressmen, representatives Magtanggol Gunigundo, Josephine Veronique Lacson-Noel, Anna York Bondoc M.D. and Lani Mercado-Revilla that will change the existing Milk Code. I'll copy and paste this article by Atty. Rita Linda V. Jimeno which explains the changes that will happen.

An alarming House bill

Filipino mothers are barely becoming more aware that nothing beats breast milk but already, four representatives in the House sponsored a consolidated bill that, if passed into law, would effectively set back the gains achieved in the campaign for exclusive breastfeeding. The House bill, ironically authored by three women and one male representative, contains provisions that would substantially change the contents of the existing Milk Code (Executive Order 51) and the Expanded Breastfeeding Promotion Act of 2009 (Republic Act 10028).

Sad, because even with the existence of these two laws which encourage lactating mothers to breastfeed, implementation has been tough. And why not? The makers of infant formula and breast milk substitutes have continued to glamorize the use of breast milk substitutes and continued launching promotional gimmicks that entice mothers to use infant formula. Thus, lactating mothers, especially those with lower educational attainments, are drawn toward favoring the use of powdered milk formula more than their own breast milk. If the draft House bill entitled “An Act Promoting a Comprehensive Program on Breastfeeding Practices and Regulating the Trade, Marketing and Promotions of Certain foods for infants and Children” is legislated,  it will surely weaken our country’s breastfeeding laws to levels preceding the years before the Milk Code was passed in 1986.  Without doubt, the health, well-being and intellectual development of children will be compromised.

What are the features of the draft bill that will effectively shoot down the salient provisions of the Milk Code and the Expanded Breastfeeding Promotion Act of 2009?

First, it will narrow down the application of the Milk Code. While the Milk Code provides that artificial baby foods, such as infant formula, should not be used for babies aged 0 to 36 months, the draft House Bill limited the application of the law to infants aged 0 to six months only.

Second, the draft bill lifted the restriction on donations of artificial milk products in emergency situations. Thus, mothers who suffer from disabilities would be encouraged to shift to milk substitutes instead of being encouraged to continue breastfeeding assisted by support persons.

Third, while lactating mothers used to be entitled to lactation breaks for a total of 40 minutes in an eight-hour-work period, with pay, under the bill, lactation breaks will no longer be paid.

Fourth, milk companies will now be allowed, once again, to give away free samples of artificial milk products in the health care system. The irony of it is that those who are most hard-up will take this as a symbol of class and stature. Hence, they would, most likely, continue to feed their babies with formula rather than breastfeed. I have seen not a few minimum wage earners or farm workers grappling with the high cost of milk formula to feed their babies. Some would often borrow money to buy milk. When I asked why they were not breastfeeding, their answer was incoherent. I suspect they believed it was the right thing to do considering the advertising tack of milk formula makers.

Fifth, the dual language (English and Filipino) of the literature in milk cans and boxes will be removed.  The literature explains that breast milk is superior to artificial milk products and cites the dangers of formula feeding.

Finally, the bill also allows milk formula manufacturers to get involved in educational activities and the production of materials relating to breastfeeding, infant and young child care and nutrition. Can we expect milk manufacturers to relegate their profit motive and survival in the market, to the background? Not in our wildest dreams.

Scientific research has conclusively shown that artificial milk formula can never equal breast milk in nutritional and health benefits. Breast milk has all the essential vitamins and nutrients needed by a baby. It has natural antibodies and amino acids that help reduce the occurrence of ear and respiratory infections, diarrhea, meningitis, asthma, obesity and the sudden death syndrome. There has also been consistent evidence that feeding with artificial milk formula results in increased neo-natal and child mortality; poorer growth and nutrition status; lower scores in cognitive development and intelligence tests; and increased risk of later chronic diseases such as heart ailments, diabetes and some cancers. Bonding between mother and child is also hampered.

On the part of the mother, breastfeeding will allow her to get back to her pre-pregnancy shape as she burns calories and loses fat while breastfeeding. Her uterus also gets back to normal more quickly when she breastfeeds.

Nature has provided for both an infant’s and its mother’s needs. To top it off, it is for free. What are the four authors of the pending House bill thinking? And whose side are they on: the infants and their mothers or the makers of milk formula?


To stop this horrible bill, please sign this petition. Please, please, please click on the link and sign the petition! And please re-blog and urge your readers to sign the petition.

Day 25 of 30 (x2)

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