Letters: Breast milk vs big business

These letters appear in the Monday 1 July edition of the Independent

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In equal societies, the role of woman is esteemed and breasts are for feeding infants. In patriarchal capitalist societies men “own” women, along with their breasts. The role of woman is not esteemed, she doubts her role, and is therefore a perfect target for big business (“After Nestlé, now breast milk scandal strikes Aptamil manufacturer”, 29 June).

In the 1930s baby formula companies persuaded us that, while nature had perfectly arranged the pre-natal stage, it had, unbelievably, not done the same for the post-natal infant. Infants were to be fed at strict four-hourly intervals, and not on demand like all other mammals. Babies cried in between breast feeds, proving that formula was the answer, because the mother had “insufficient” milk.

Once breast feeding is relinquished, the breast is “returned to the woman, and therefore the man who owns her”. (One theory suggests that successful breast-feeding mothers have partners willing and able to “share” their woman with the new baby.)

Baby formula was based on cows’ milk, which is designed to create fast-growing bovine strength, entirely opposite to human milk designed to create sensitive brain growth. Until very recently the progress of babies was erroneously measured against the growth rate of cow formula-fed babies. So thousands of infants, wrongly considered to be “underweight” have unnecessarily been switched to formula feeding.

Until women are confident in their reproductive role, big, patriarchal business in the form of Nestlé and Danone will always prevail.

Diana Baur

Llanarmon DC, Wrexham

 

Radon peril from fracking must be taken seriously

Your reports on the Government’s panglossian support for fracking rightly explore the concerns of residents living in areas ripe for fracking exploitation.

One aspect of fracking that has received no press coverage is the prospective human health hazard to gas consumers of using fracked shale gas.

Heath minister Anna Soubry told Labour MP Paul Flynn in a written answer in May that Public Health England (formerly the Health Protection Agency) “is preparing a report identifying potential public health issues and concerns, including radon (release/emissions) that might be associated with aspects of hydraulic fracturing, also referred to as fracking. The report is due out for public consultation in the summer” (Hansard, 20 May: Column 570W).

PHE is concerned to evaluate the potential risks of radon gas being pumped into citizens’ homes as part of the shale gas stream. Unless the gas is stored for several days to allow the radon’s radioactivity to reduce naturally, this is potentially very dangerous.

Radon is the leading cause of lung cancer in non-smokers. Initially radon released from its virtually sealed underground locations will be in monatomic suspension, but then it accretes on to dust particles, pipework, etc, and some of it may remain suspended in the gas and come out in our cookers.

The current concern about how much radon is likely to be piped into people’s kitchens was spurred by a report last year by Dr Marvin Resnikoff of Radioactive Waste Management Associates, who has over 50 years’ experience in radiological risk analysis.

Dr Resnikoff estimated radon levels from the Marcellus gas field – the nearest one being exploited to New York – as up to 70 times the average.

I am all for creating new  jobs in the energy sector, as long as they are sustainable. The public surely will demand the unadulterated facts on fracking. Public Health England’s forthcoming report is eagerly awaited.

Dr DAVID LOWRY

Environmental policy and research consultant

Stoneleigh,  Surrey

Any licences for shale gas exploration should include the rider that it is the responsibility of fracking companies to prove at any subsidence and damage to properties wasn’t caused by drilling, rather than put the onus on the claimant.

Brad Mottis

Winkfield,  Bracknell

 

Silence protects bad surgeons

I fear we are barking up the wrong surgical tree (“Still no reason to keep surgeons’ mortality rates secret”, 30 June). The practice of surgery is far too subtle to allow “marks” to have any sensible meaning: and if they did, a “good person” can always have a “bad” day. The issue is not to give every surgeon “marks”; the issue is to outlaw the persistently bad.

And a scoring system is a very clumsy way of doing this, for the relevant information lies elsewhere – in the observation-based knowledge of other doctors, and nurses too. The insiders know who the bad apples are long before the public will ever know, and long before the statistics will give a clue.

But while there is an evil conspiracy of “professional” silence, those who know will  not declare. That’s the problem to solve.

Dennis Sherwood

Exton,  Rutland

Hospitals are suffering from the belief of the previous government that central control is best. There used to be organisations whose members were local volunteers with a salaried secretary called Community Health Councils.

These organisations kept an eye on what was happening and had the ear of the patients. They were in contact with the District Health Authorities who were able to address problems at a local level.

This quietly effective system was replaced by a quango at a national level. Members of the quango are paid employees with an interest in keeping their positions, thus allowing whistleblowers to be bullied because they now have something to lose.

John Henderson

Winchester

 

Ways to control payday lenders

A simple 1-2-3 will solve the payday loan problem.

1. Cap all APR at 60 per cent. That’s three times the rate of a credit card and high enough for any legitimate lender to make a good living. But it’s low enough to force all payday lenders to be more responsible about who they lend to, or they’ll go broke.

2. Beef up the credit unions. There are sources of alternative credit out there, but the sector is small and can’t compete for access with the likes of Wonga. Sometimes it’s just a question of having the right software. Check out London Mutual Credit Union, where you can get a payday loan at 26.8 per cent APR. A little competition will go a long way.

3.Financial literacy. Teach everyone about money and how the money system works. It’s not taught in schools, but it is taught to the members of the financial elite at their fathers’ knees. Make the whole country financially savvy.

Surely that would be good for the national economy (though not for the elite) It would also produce better politicians, as they’d no longer get away with ignorance and waffle. They’d have to act or lose their jobs.

Mike Wolstencroft

Financial Inclusion  Officer, Rochdale Boroughwide Housing

 

Get off that  world stage

I must concur with other contributors to your letters page: Britain’s standing in the world is far less important than our politicians wish it to be. 

David Cameron grandstands on the world stage, spending billions on overseas aid and costly interference in other countries’ affairs. Meanwhile the standard of living in Britain is dropping and now there is a likelihood of power cuts due to the lack of investment in our own country.

David Cameron, Gordon Brown and Tony Blair all appeared to be more concerned with the rest of the world than with the people who elected them. Our politicians should realise that we can no longer afford to be the world’s policeman or the world’s benefactor.

We are one of the richest countries in the developed world but are near the bottom of the league when it comes to wellbeing. Let us first look after ourselves and then pay regard to the rest of the world.

S Silgram

Blackburn,  Lancashire

 

The men who would be Caesar

Considering film portrayals of Cleopatra (29 June), Geoffrey Macnab says Claude Rains was “strangely cast as Caesar” in the 1945 Caesar and Cleopatra. He may actually have been the most accurate screen actor to handle the role. 

Ideas of what constitutes short in stature have changed over 2000 years, but records suggest that Julius Caesar does seem to have been physically unimposing, but an extremely powerful presence, in which case Rains was ideal casting.

The role of Julius Caesar has been frequently cast strangely with tall actors: Warren William, Louis Calhern, John Gavin, Rex Harrison. Even the more recent TV series Rome went with Ciaran Hinds.

BRYN HUGHES

Wrexham

 

Nuclear stand-off

Like Peter Popham (World View, 28 June) I can see the advantage of all small states having sufficient nuclear weapons to wipe out an American task force heading in their direction with aggressive intent. But it is also dangerous to have such a massive arsenal that humanity can be wiped off the earth. It is hard to find a compromise. The only sensible insurance policy is to “ban the bomb” now. 

R F Stearn

Old Newton, Suffolk

 

Future in the past

For the record, unlike Dr James Martin (Obituary, 29 June), who apparently predicted the arrival of the internet in 1978, my American friend and I predicted the arrival of the internet in 1975. I also predicted the arrival of the tablet-computer in 1976. Unfortunately, I didn’t write any books about my futuristic revelations.

Ray J Howes

Weymouth, Dorset

 

Cute slogans

Your piece on cute phrasing on product packages (Trending, 24 June) attributed its introduction to Innocent drinks (founded 1999). In the UK, possibly. It was, however, commonplace among trendy US products in the 1980s, Tom’s toothpaste (1975) being one of the earliest examples.

Steve Jackson

London N7

 

False step

The excellent Simon Calder (Travel, 29 June) tells us that Moscow’s main aviation hub now has at least three taverns dispensing “faux bonhomie”. No, no: what they dispense is fausse bonhomie.

Chris Bolger

Stoke-on-Trent

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