Wednesday

Is HM4HB a grassroots organization or astroturf?


















Remember astroturf, that fake grass in football stadiums?  Well, that's what they call fake grassroots organization that are run by public relation people who may represent industry, organizations, or government.  They have an agenda, often political.  They create the illusion that there are many people involved in an issue.  Astroturf operations has been known to sway legislators, our lawmakers into believing that they are witnessing genuine grassroots organizations.  The thing about astroturf operations run by public relation companies is that some people involved with these fake grassroots organizations are honest citizens who have no idea that the organization was developed by public relations.  

My question has been whether HM4HB is a grassroots organization that just sprung up within the last year.  Or whether HM4HB is astroturf, an organization that Is public relations and has another organization's agenda.  HM4HB stated mission statement is, "to promote the nourishment of babies and children around the world with human milk.  We are dedicated to fostering community between local families who have chosen to share breastmilk."
http://www.hm4hb.net/about.html 

If one goes to the above website, words pop out at you in wonderful technicolor, "think globally share locally, transparency, honesty, solidarity, consensus..."  We see these words, we are engulfed by these words and we presume that the words are the substance of the organization.  But for words to have substance, we have to have a structure in which those issues become reality. What governing structure does HM4HB have in creating their policies?  We are told that 300 administrators decide on policy.  Sounds very chaotic to me and very difficult to obtain consensus.

Transparency?  Facebook pages of HM4HB suggest donating to HMBANA milk banks, the very organization that has publicly stated that mother-to-mother internet milk sharing is risky.  What is the relationship between HMBANA and this organization?  One-sided?  All fluff and no substance?

Why do administrators of HM4HB contradict themselves?  Why do they not know that HM4HB is suggesting to donate to HMBANA milk banks in various Facebook pages?  Who creates HM4HB policy?  All 300 administrators?  It seems like someone is creating policy for HM4HB without informing all their administrators of that policy (suggesting mothers donate to HMBANA).  Yet the public has no knowledge of who is guiding this organization and it seems that even some of their administrators are left in the dark regarding policy.


If this is a astroturf operation, what organization is behind HM4HB?  Is it HMBANA, who from the year 2000 was contacting the FDA because of their concerns about internet milk sharing?  Is this a way to prove to the FDA that milk sharing is becoming widespread and worthy of regulation?  And why would HMBANA want internet milk sharing regulated?  If mother-to-mother milk sharing was regulated, who benefits?  Is there really risks to milk sharing?  Or is the risk about control of a natural resource?  Is HMBANA faced with a critical donor milk shortage?  Why is their no public discussion of where some of HMBANA's donor milk goes, to the research community?  How much of donor milk for HMBANA goes to human milk researchers who are funded or employed by the infant formula industry?  Several patents, mention HMBANA donor milk as a source of their research.


Why are organizations that are involved with women donating their milk, not willing to fully disclose to mothers and fathers the widespread patenting of human milk components for various industries-infant formula, food, supplements, drugs, and vaccines.  The commercialization of human milk components means that human milk is not some "yucky" substance but considered by commerce to be valuable, worthy of patenting.  It means that mothers and fathers, too, need to be aware that donating may not be about giving their precious milk to some poor premature baby.  What it may mean is that mothers are giving away a valuable resource to various industries who will profit from that donation.  I call that exploitation.  I believe that every organization that is involved with donor milk/mother-to-mother milk sharing ought to fully disclose this possibility, so that mothers are truly informed and understand the possibilities of their donation. 
Copyright 2011 Valerie W. McClain

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