Wednesday, September 04, 2013

Breast Milk and Bees

Breast Milk and Bees
While the world seems to be on hold until US President Obama decides how many Syrians should die directly by American hands (the missiles don’t launch themselves without somebody pressing a “go” button), here at home we have some pressing life skills that we are all failing.  I don’t think I would be exaggerating if I claimed that the fundamentals of life are under siege.  Human breast milk, the symbol and certainty of the continuation of life is not what it used to be.  And bees, those tiny, industrious workers of the world whose tireless  pollinating of food and beauty, are dying out.  Both bees and breast milk need strict and prompt attention if we, as a race, are to survive with a reasonable amount of food and health security.
Words are things.  Words have power.  So much power that I am almost afraid to bring up all the chemicals accumulating in human breast milk lest this in some way adds to the mounting  evidence that might turn women off breast feeding their babies altogether.  But most people, particularly women, already know about the chemicals in breast milk .  We know, but file this kind of information away in the storage unit of things we’d rather not consciously think about.  Why?
Because the subject of chemicals in breast milk seems impossible to address.  And the consensus still seems to be, in spite of the pollutions in breast milk, that mother’s milk is still the very best food for babies.  Mother’s milk has evolved over hundreds of thousand, nay, millions of years to be the perfect human food for babies. Still, we must talk about these things.  Openly and urgently.  And there is a glimmer of hope on the horizon regarding getting rid of some of the pollution in mother’s milk.   That’s because much of the rest of the world seems to be trying, more or less, to move away from some of the chemicals that are showing up in breast milk.
Among the most worrying of pollutants in breast milk are chemicals called POPS.  What are POPS?  According to the report from the 2013 UN Stockholm Convention on protecting human health and the environment, POPS are described thusly:
 “Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPS) are organic chemical substances, that is, they are carbon based. They possess a particular combination of physical properties such that, once released into the environment, they:
(a) Remain intact for exceptionally long periods of time (many years);
(b) Become widely distributed throughout the environment as a result of natural processes involving soil, water and, most notably, air;
(c)  Accumulate in the fatty tissue of living organisms including humans, and are found at higher concentrations at higher levels in the food chain; and
(d)  Are toxic to both humans and wildlife.
And the UN report goes on to say…

“…Specific effects of POPS can include cancer, allergies and hypersensitivity, damage to the central and peripheral nervous systems, reproductive disorders, and disruption of the immune system.  Some POPS are also considered to be endocrine disrupters, which, by altering the hormonal system, can damage the reproductive and immune systems of exposed individuals as well as their offspring; they can also have developmental and carcinogenic effects.”

So what are the products that contain POPS?  The report lists three categories;  Pesticides, Industrial chemicals and By-products.  For a list of the names of various POPS visit

Canada is a party to this UN organization and has ratified our membership.  Even Afghanistan has joined and ratified. The US has not. The biggest chemical polluter on this earth has evidentially refused to give up polluting the earth, mothers’ breast milk be dammed.  But much of the rest of the world is moving toward trying to limit or eliminate these toxins.  Same story with the bees.  Coming up. 
New posting on  entitled “Size Matters)

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