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Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Dr. Mercola to produce and sell infant formula in a year's time : A question of ethics

For the most part I'm a pretty laid back person and not quick to judge.  I like to think that I'm open minded and that I am analysing all the angles before making a decision or voicing an opinion.  Some times I kick myself though.  Sometimes the little voice in my head tells me that if it smells like a rat and squeaks like a rat, then it's probably a rat, yet usually I'll ignore the little voice and I'll try to figure out if the squeak is just a figment of my imagination and will keep hoping that the rat is really just a squirl with a shaved tail.... then I find out that it really was just a great big rat anyway.

It's even more difficult discovering that someone you have admired and "trusted" is actually a rat in disguise.  Dr. Joseph Mercola is one of those kind of disguised rats.

For years I've been reading articles by Dr. Mercola, posting his info on Facebook and here on Informed Parenting, and have thought of him as a free thinker, as a doctor who's escaped from under the thumb of Big Pharma and is willing to speak out against the major medical associations.  Over the course of the last year or so, the nagging voice in the back of my head has been questioning his reasons and pondering the commercial aspect of his newsletters and blogs.  It just seemed that for every article that warned about this and that, there was a product that he was marketing to remedy this situation or that and more and more it appeared that his articles were more financially motivated than anything else.  For the most part I ignored the monetary aspect of his site and just focused on the good information he was providing.

A few months ago several people contacted Dr. Mercola on his site and Facebook group to ask his position on Male Circumcision.  They were not attacking him, they were just enquiring about his stance and views on the subject.  They very quickly  learned that it was a subject that he did NOT want to discuss, and every question and/or comment on the topic was instantly deleted and the people who asked were banned from his group.

Huh. Well I guess that answers the question of how he feels about circumcision, doesn't it?

At the time I thought.... well, while I totally disagree with his stance, I was willing to let it go and just concentrate on all that "good" Info he was sharing.

Fast forward to this past week.  Dr. Mercola posted an article about a new Canadian study that shows that children exposed to high concentrations of manganese in drinking water performed worse on tests of intellectual functioning than children with lower exposures.  Fine and dandy.  A good thing to be aware of, right?  Then further down in the article Dr. Mercola talks about infant formula and  the dangers of using soy formula and comes out with the announcement that he is going to be making a powdered infant formula!!
"But there is another source of manganese that many people are completely unaware of, which may be even more significant than groundwater, and that is soy infant formula!
Soy formula is frequently used when a baby is allergic to milk, or if the parents are somehow convinced that soy is a healthier alternative. Unfortunately, nothing could be further from the truth, because soy formula could easily be considered one of the most DANGEROUS food products on the market…
I always recommend breast feeding, if at all possible, but if you can't, please educate yourself about the dangers of soy formula!
This is such an important issue because so many mothers end up using formula in lieu of breast feeding or after breast feeding for a short time, not realizing just how bad most formulas are for their baby's health, particularly soy formula.
I've been concerned about this for a long time, and my team has now been working on an infant formula for an entire year. We still have about another year to go, but once we're done we should be able to offer the best commercial infant formula available in the US."
The article goes on to discuss the evils of soy (which really Really IS evil!!)  and he ends with these comments about Breastfeeding:

There are certain medical conditions that can prevent a woman from breastfeeding, however the majority of women are able to breastfeed successfully. If you need help, contact a lactation consultant in your area for tips and support. You can also visit La Leche League, which is a phenomenal resource for breastfeeding moms.
If for some reason you're not able to breastfeed, or you have adopted a baby, your next best option is to make a healthy infant formula using raw milk. You can find homemade formula recipes here.
As I stated at the beginning of this article, we're also in the process of producing the finest infant formula on the market. I'm hoping to have it available in about a year.

Instantly my hackles were raised and my suspicions confirmed:  it's all a marketing ploy!!  He's preping the world for the launch of his "Finest infant formula on the market".... wow!  Way to promote breastfeeding.

Of course the Breastfeeding community didn't take well to this at all and the comments came pouring in.... but unfortunately, you can't read them because every single comment that even slightly opposed his promotion of formula has been deleted.  Which inturn caused even more outcry:

Dr Mercola's natural-minded fan base is angry about his decision to market an artificial breastmilk product. His ethics are called into question.

Dr Joseph Mercola's Facebook Fan Page was buzzing with activity early on the morning of Monday, October 18, 2010. Some of his "fans," which (at 8am PST) number over 128,000, are angry with his decision to market a breastmilk substitute for infants.
The controversy has inspired women to speak out against his lack-of-a-position regarding male genital mutilation (routine infant circumcision) as well.
 HERE to read the entire article

"Fans" were so angered by this that a Facebook group has been created to "Boycott Mercola" 

Now, before people start saying that "Dr. Mercola can market whatever product he wants and that if I don't like it, then I don't have to buy it", that's not the point of my distaste.  What I'm furious over is the fact that Mercola refuses to allow ANY comments that do not support him or his products.  For the Mercola censorship crew there is no room for discussion, no room for debate, not even any room for the exchanging of facts, studies, ideas or opinions and THAT speaks volumes to me.  Yes it's his site so that gives him the right to say and edit or delete whatever comments he wishes whenever he wants.  I understand that- as blogger, I've deleted comments on my blog too.  BUT... if someone posts a comment here that disagrees with my post, states their opinion, gives facts/studies to back up their opinion, I will always allow it, regardless of whether I agree with them or not.  This is called an exchange of ideas.  This is how we learn from each other and open our minds to other possibilities.  Without discussion our minds stagnate and become closed.

When I read the above mentioned article, I wrote to Dr. Mercola to express my opinion and my response to his actions of the past few days. I sent my letter to him by email and posted a copy of the letter on the Facebook Mercola group.  I was polite and straightforward.  I didn't "yell", I didn't freak out.  My letter/comment was deleted and as of yet, my email has remained unanswered.

Below is a copy of the post on the Mercola Facebook page- a screen shot taken before the mercola censors had a chance to remove it.

I'm annoyed as hell.  But my little preface on this topic is now over, lol!  The following is a guest blog by Emma Kwasnica

Dr. Mercola to produce and sell infant formula in a year's time : A question of ethics

by Emma Kwasnica on Wednesday, 20 October 2010 at 10:26
The backstory :

And yes, I am wholly responsible for igniting the backlash against Dr. Mercola on the morning of Oct. 18th with the letter I wrote to him, posted as my status update, and to the Wall of his fan page here on Facebook; incidentally, I never received a response from him, and I was banned from his fan page and had my letter and all my comments deleted from his page, without a word, on the evening of Oct. 18th... For a screen shot of one of the comment threads from his fan page where my comments can be seen, i.e. before he deleted each and every last one of them, go here :

Just FYI, it is a bovine-based powdered infant formula that Mercola intends to produce and have ready on the market within the next year. This much I do know. It will be organic, yes, but I HIGHLY doubt it will be whey from RAW cow's milk that he will be using (he goes on and on, *raves* about RAW, ORGANIC cow's milk, but don't believe for one second he will source it out for the infants who will be consuming his formula --too expensive for him to make a good enough profit margin :/). And never mind the delicious oxymoron contained in all this regarding the fact that he will be producing and selling a DEAD, powdered substance to mix with water to feed to babies as their every meal. What happened to all the benefits of RAW, living food, doc? Do those not apply to the most vulnerable members of our society? I guess not.

Mercola deleted a whole whack of other comments of mine, too, on other threads, but one of the things I was trying to convey on his fan page throughout the entire day on October 18th (before I was banned, and before I had all of my informative comments deleted in one fell swoop), is that Mercola's "special, world-class formula" will absolutely NOT only be used in cases where breastmilk or breastfeeding is not possible. This is exasperating to me, to keep hearing people say this (i.e., "But Emma ! What about the real cases where women can't make enough milk/baby doesn't have access to his mother's breast, etc.?"). So, to that, I say, Yes? What about the nearly 3 billion lactating HUMAN women on the planet? It is an absolute myth that breastmilk is incredibly hard to find. Don't buy into it. And all of us need to start shattering the rhetoric that you hear about other women's breastmilk being "gross" or "unsafe". It's what patriarchy WANTS us to believe. So speak up, CHALLENGE that talk whenever you hear it. It's so important.

I have to wonder.... How can we possibly be saying there isn't enough breastmilk to go around, and then turn around and feed our baby a highly-processed, sub-par BOVINE-based substitute? GO AND SEEK OUT THE HUMAN MILK. IT IS ALL OVER THE FREAKIN' PLACE. Stashes of it all over the world, sitting in women's freezers. Ask me how I know! You just need to start asking. Start by asking me. Start by checking at  And for gawd's sakes, if you can afford Mercola's ALIEN SPECIES milk formula, why not go and PAY FOR THE REAL DEAL at your nearest human milk bank?!

And please, don't kid yourselves if you think Mercola's formula will only be sold to or used by the babies that "truly need it". A direct result of this marketing ploy simply means more and more women will be lured away from breastfeeding by the (false) idea that his formula is someohow ok, or that his is safe. His rhetoric about this up and coming "healthy" formula is incredibly damaging and misleading. Now he's touting his formulas as healthy! ACK!! There is no such thing as "healthy formula", and women need to know this. We are not stupid enough to accept this as truth.

For the record, I am not worried about women using this who have the cash and who DO NOT WANT TO BREASTFEED, and all the better if they are making an informed choice to do so, but even if they are not. If they are truly CHOSING to use formula instead of feeding their baby at their breast, then so be it. No skin off my back.

What I *am* concerned about is women who would like to breastfeed, but who are undermined, or not given the support or info they need to succeed, and then they hear that Mercola's formula exists and they then think, oh, ok - I'll get that for my baby, because it's BETTER than all the rest, and now, since this really healthy formula exists, it's ok if I don't breastfeed, because this formula is SO GREAT, it is probably only marginally worse for my baby to be getting *this* stuff, rather than being breastfed. Right?


I call BULLSHIT on Mercola, and I call it right there. If he gave a rat's ass about health, he'd help today's women overcome their abounding lack of self-confidence, in general, their lack of confidence in their bodies to provide the biologically-expected, most NORMAL food for their babies. Because who is kidding who? How many women are truly making an informed choice to feed formula? They are feeding it, because they didn't trust their bodies (nor their babies...) at the out-set, and were undermined by healthcare providers and family members, and ended up faced with low supply (imagined or not), and they END UP feeding formula, and then convincing themselves that it is ok. Because it has to be so. It is *these* lost breastfeeding relationships that I am lamenting right now, well in advance of this whole cock-up.

Health advocate Dr. Mercola is in a prime position to speak up and not just pay lip service to breastfeeding and breastfeeding support. This is absolutely about profits for HIM and has NOTHING to do with caring about babies or their health. Don't be fooled.

Lastly, may I just say, once and for all, that we need to STOP fearing other women's breastmilk and start recognizing it for what it truly is : the elixir of life. If you cannot breastfeed your baby at/from your own breast, you should source out human milk from a donor. Nearly 3 billion lactating women on the planet, and we are buying bovine-based, sub-par formula and feeding our babies with THAT? What the hell is wrong with us women?!?!

And so, I ask you : If Mercola wasn't afraid that this inconvenient little FACT would take away sales of his upcoming powdered infant formula, that women reading on his page might have their consciousness raised by what I was saying, and be woken up to his lies, to the lies that we as an entire patriarchal society have bought into about the inherent filthiness of women's breastmilk, then why the hell did he censor me ?

Seriously, womyn, we need to RISE UP. Take back our power and do what we know is best by our children... and by ourselves.

October 2009 --
Chloë, 16 days old, in her "habitat"
October 4th, 2009 --
Chloë's first latch - a PRO from the get-go, of course.
Chloë's first latch - a PRO from the get-go, of course.
October 2009 --
Day 9 - Chloë's first bath













Never a nicer pillow there was...


Nursing and peeing - simultaneously ! Hooray for cue-feeding and elimination communication !