Sunday, March 22, 2015

The market for breast milk

Should breast milk be bought and sold?

Andrew Pollack in the NY Times has the story:
Breast Milk Becomes a Commodity, With Mothers Caught Up in Debate

"Breast milk, that most ancient and fundamental of nourishments, is becoming an industrial commodity, and one of the newest frontiers of the biotechnology industry — even as concerns abound over this fast-growing business. The company that owns the factory, Prolacta Bioscience, has received $46 million in investments from life science venture capitalists.
"But the commercialization of breast milk makes many people uneasy. They worry that companies might capture most of the excess breast milk and make products that would be too costly for many babies, while leaving less milk available for nonprofit milk banks.

“The competition comes in the form of how much surplus breast milk is there in the country and who’s getting it,” said Kim Updegrove, executive director of the nonprofit Mothers’ Milk Bank at Austin. “The nonprofit milk banks have a long history of providing milk to the sickest babies, and provide it based on medical need and not on insurance reimbursement or financial resources.”

Debate is also intense over whether women should be paid for their milk or donate it altruistically. Opponents of payments, worried about breast milk “farming,” say women might try to increase their milk output unsafely, hide health problems that could make the milk unsafe, mix in cow milk to increase volume or deprive their own babies so they can sell more."

Here are my earlier posts on breast milk.

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