Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Message to P-Noy: Please protect breast milk

President Noynoy Aquino, please listen to this plea from child,
maternal, and environmental health advocates: Do enforce the strongest
pollution prevention laws to protect breast milk, the best food for
babies, bar none, from chemical contaminants.

The collective frantic cry for help comes from the Arugaan/Save Babies
Coalition, the EcoWaste Coalition, and the Global Alliance for
Incinerator Alternatives, to coincide with the release of the report
“Mother Earth, Mother’s Milk, Mothers’ Stories: Breastfeeding in a
Chemically Contaminated World” at the 18th session of the Commission
on Sustainable Development held recently in New York City to address
issues concerning toxic chemicals.

The report contains the results of a recent bio-monitoring project
that tested the breast milk of five first-time mothers from Alaska,
Czech Republic, Kenya, Mexico, and the Philippines for levels of
persistent organic pollutants (POPs). POPs, which stay in the
environment and in humans for long periods of time, have been linked
to serious ailments like asthma, learning and developmental
disabilities, birth defects, diabetes, greater susceptibility to some
infectious diseases, infertility, and cancers.

Through bio-monitoring, amounts of chemical substances or their
breakdown products in human tissues or fluids can be identified and

The bio-monitoring results show that all the five participating
mothers had quantifiable concentrations of six major organochlorine
pesticides or their by-products.

All of them had quantifiable levels of polybrominated diphenyl ethers
(PBDEs), which are flame retardants commonly used in airplanes,
building materials, electronics, furnishings, motor vehicles,
plastics, polyurethane foams, and textiles.

Participating mom Mary Ann Lantin of Batangas stoutly asserts, “The
government has a big responsibility to ensure that breastfeeding
flourishes and that breast milk is protected from contamination.”

The feisty mom gave out breast milk samples to rally support for
breastfeeding and raise awareness about toxic chemical body burdens
and the need for stronger and more comprehensive regulation to stop
the production and use of harmful personal pollution chemicals.

Once more with much more feeling: “Breast milk, even when it contains
industrial chemicals, remains the best food for babies, as affirmed by
many scientific studies. Studies indicate that breast milk may reverse
damage that may have occurred during critical periods of development
in utero from toxic chemical exposures. Breastfeeding is even more
important for the health of the baby, given the chemically
contaminated world we all inhabit, and into which the baby is born”
declares Sharyle Patton of Commonweal, the California-based group that
coordinated the bio-monitoring project.

Here’s to P-Noy, says Manny Calonzo of the Global Alliance for
Incinerator Alternatives, “We urge the Aquino administration to pay
close attention to the right of every Filipino baby to be breastfed
and further ask the President to ensure a safe and non-toxic
environment for all by taking action against toxic chemicals that pose
hazards to human health and the environment.”


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