Newsletter: May 1999

This issue is devoted to one very special and courageous mother.

Her name is Catherine Young. 

Most of you know that Catherine is the founder and owner of The Compleat
Mother Magazine. Recently Catherine entered a very foreign and quite
frightening place-- the courtroom. Catherine tells about her harrowing
experience in the article below . She wrote this piece for the Web and the
print magazine and she does not know I am publishing it here. I wanted to
make sure that all of you could read this whether you visited the website,
http://www.compleatmother.com , or not. You can write Catherine at *
[email protected] * -- I know she would be very happy to hear from you,
especially during this Mother's Day month of May. 

Here is Catherine's message:

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Irrelevant!

by Catherine Young

A year ago, a brave Cambridge, Ontario woman picked up the telephone and
asked a Mead Johnson employee what would go on at a Baby Step Seminar
advertised in her community. Pregnant women would get formula samples, she
was told. Ruth-Anne Andrew asked about the World Health Organization code
that emphatically states pregnant and lactating women are not to be the
focus of such aggressive advertising. She
spoke to managers and supervisors and finally a nutritionist running the
Baby Step Seminar invited her to be a breastfeeding advocate at the
Holiday Inn.

It was winter and she was six months pregnant, but Ruth-Anne volunteered
her time and with a box of breastfeeding posters and World Health Code
sheets, set up a modest display on a tiny table, next to a gift wrapped
door prize with a can of formula in the centre.

During intermission, Ruth-Anne explained the code and distributed her
literature, until Mead Johnson's nutritionist Cathy Raven ordered her out
into the snow. Ruth-Anne asked why she was being made to leave. "Handing
out information about the WHO code," said Mead Johnson's Raven, as if it
were a naughty deed. Later, Ruth-Anne wrote about
the appalling treatment and the Baby-Steps formula push in an article for
The Compleat Mother Magazine, Spring 98, called Baby Steps for Formula;
Giant Steps for Profit.

It was read by then president of The Society of Obstetricians and
Gynaecologists of Canada, Dr. Robert Reid, who wrote to Mead Johnson's
category director Allen Lalonde. Lalonde wrote back: 

"When Ms Young refers to our activities as in violation of the (World
Health Organization) code, she is incorrect with this statement."

"Allegations of providing a $50 gift which turns out to be formula is
completely wrong."

"We do not provide samples at these seminars; the gift contains no formula
samples."

"Ms Young makes statements what could be extremely misleading if not
completely inaccurate."

Dr Gro Harlem Brundtland, Director General of the World Health
Organization, sent us a copy of the code (regarding breastmilk
substitutes, bottles and pacifiers)
intact, including sections 5.1 to 5.3:

5.1 There should be no advertising or other form of promotion to the
general public
5.2 Manufactures and distributors should not provide, directly or
indirectly, to pregnant women,
mothers or members of their families, sample of products
5.3 There should be no point-of-sale advertising, giving of samples, or
any other promotion

A year after Ruth-Anne's article was published, The Compleat Mother
Magazine was involved in a legal battle, to prove Mead Johnson's Lalonde
had been libellous. Ruth-Anne and her nursing one-year-old Faith and I
drove six hours to Kingston's Frontenac County Court House.

The next five hours were gruelling.

Her Honour deemed the World Health Organization code, which Mead Johnson's
Lalonde denied violating, to be irrelevant and we were not allowed to read
it in court. Thanks anyway, Dr Gro Harlem Brundtland.

When Allen Lalonde finally admitted on the stand that his company did give
formula to pregnant women, Her Honour found that irrelevant too.

When Dr Robert Reid said I was a breastfeeding evangelist who has weird
ideas that breastfeeding protects babies from juvenile onset diabetes, Her
Honour insisted the American Academy of Pediatrics breastfeeding statement
on breastfeeding and specifically on juvenile onset diabetes as, yes,
irrelevant.

When we tried to read the information supplied by Health Minister Allan
Rock that Canada adopted the World Health Organization Code in 1982, Her
Honour used her favourite word, irrelevant. The consequences of formula
promotion in the maritimes, where 47% of newborns do not receive a drop of
mother's milk, was also irrelevant in that
Kingston courthouse.

It was a long, apparently irrelevant day.

Her Honour made a point of saying she did not approve of Mead Johnson's
tactics, but her judgement didn't reflect her words. We got to pay all
court costs. Mead Johnson never got so much as disapproving glance even
though their star witness, Dr Reid said he came to doubt their
truthfulness.

Driving back in the rain, only one thing was clear. Baby Faith, who
endured hours of courtroom verbosity and miles of car seat cramping and
back seat boredom, was a clear winner. Nursing when she felt like it for
comfort, fun, and to fill her tummy, she was a fully portable testimony
for the relevance of breastfeeding big babies.

We lost the battle of libel, but the war against the formula business is
just beginning. In Canada, mothers are worth $1000 a piece to Mead Johnson
et al, because that is how much they will spend on food inferior to their
free milk. Each year, approximately 100,000 mothers are conned into buying
Enfalac, and their company loyalty is rewarded
by an increase in breastcancer, ovarian cancer, obesity, and steoporosis.
A 100 million dollar business in Canada, home of provincial health care
where we collectively pay for the side effects of formula: Crohn's
disease, ulcerative colitis, necrotizing enterocolitis, sudden infant
death syndrome, lymphoma, allergic disease, baterial meningitis, low IQ,
diarrhea, otitis media, bacteremia, botulism, and yes Dr Reid,
insulin-dependent diabetes
mellitus.

Fed up with formula coupons, flyers, ads and cans coming your way?
Pack them up and send them, postage free, to:

Minister of Health Allan Rock 
House of Commons 
Ottawa, Ontario K1A-0A2

It isn't irrelevant.

Catherine Young

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