Wednesday, December 19, 2018

Regulation of human and animal milk, in the U.S. and France

Here's an article full of interesting observations:

Mathilde Cohen, Regulating Milk: Women and Cows in France and the United States, 65 American Journal of Comparative Law, 469 (2017)

"Much like nineteenth-century milk reformers lobbied for a safe cow's milk supply in the cities, twenty-first-century public health officials are calling for the regulation of human milk.
"Milk is peculiar, however, in that, unlike other embodied forms of labor, it is also a food, cutting across species in two ways.15 Humans do not typically eat other humans' body parts or bodily fluids, yet human milk is their primal food.' 6 Humans do not typically turn to animals for sex cells, wombs, or sex, yet they commonly consume animal milk.
"The analogy between human and animal milk is sure to offend some. Much of human life and thinking, especially in Western cultures such as France and the United States, is concerned with distinguishing humans from other animals.
"I argue that some of the social and legal norms that have shaped the relationship
of the French and Americans to animal milk equally apply to human milk.
Why compare the United States to France? These are two of the biggest dairy consuming and producing countries in the world, 26which regulate animal milk production with little concern for animal welfare. Yet, the French and Americans entertain different cultural and regulatory approaches to human and animal milk, presenting us with a puzzling chiasm. The American sanitary regulation for animal milk is stricter than the French, resulting in a federal ban on raw milk.27 France, the birthplace of pasteurization, 28 is laxer, in part because raw milk is a necessary ingredient in its prized cheeses. With respect to human milk, the picture is reversed. The United States is the more permissive country, a land of no law, where American women can freely trade their milk. In France, human milk is so stringently governed that French women are prohibited from giving their milk to others, even for free, unless they turn to state-controlled milk banks."
p486. "In France, at the peak of the wet-nursing profession in the 1880s, close to 100,000 infants were placed in the care of wet nurses-about 10% of the children born in the country at the time."
p494. "Under French law the sale of human milk is illegal because milk is considered a bodily part similar to an organ.153 Article 16-1 of the French Civil Code states, "The human body, its elements and its products may not form the subject of a patrimonial right."54 Lactariums possess the exclusive right to process and distribute human milk.1 55 They are prohibited from paying donors for their milk 156-which, incidentally, has resulted in a state of near-constant shortage. Before the HIV/AIDS crisis, lactariums did compensate donors "for the time spent for the milk donation." 157 Since 1992, donors can no longer be indemnified. 158 The official explanation for this shift is that compensation would be contrary to the principle of gratuity of contracts pertaining to bodily parts."
p506. "The milk-sharing website,, hosts wet-nursing classified ads. A recent example read:
'I am a Surrogate who is due to deliver any time in the next 2-3 weeks. I am an over producer and will not have a child to feed so I am looking for a local family who is in need and would like to provide their baby with liquid gold. I am looking to nurse a baby during work hours (M-F) and can provide pumped milk for over nights and weekends. Occasional weekend feeds can be .'

See my other posts on breast milk.

No comments: