The ups and downs of babyfeeding
Thumbs up to the Ministries of Health and Education in Nicaragua, collaborating on breastfeeding education programmes for high school students.
But the babymilk companies have shifted their emphasis to the medical profession: Genesis II, the local baby food action group, reports on a real need also to educate the medics. Ditto the labour unions, to de-mythologise the idea that women workers cannot breastfeed.
In the United States, infants are suffering from malnutrition and diseases related to formula use problems, according to a Public Advocates report based on a year-long research project. Infants arrive in hospitals vomiting, dehydrated and malnourished. The problems are particularly acute among poor, non-English-speaking and illiterate families — who are also the heaviest users of formula.
From Consumer Currents No. 42
Back in February, Latin America Weekly Report warned that Argentina’s President Leopoldo Galtieri was said to have obtained a promise of neutrality from his Uruguayan opposite number, Gregorio Alvarez, in the event of the Argentine armed forces invading the Falklands/Malvinas. Montevideo, the Uruguayan capital, would have been a logical staging post for a British military operation to defend the islands.
Was British intelligence not listening? Or did they think the old imperial lion could snooze in the safety of its remembered roar?
Saving the Sami
The Sami people of northern Norway are becoming desperate. Known popularly in the West as the Lapps (a term the Sami detest), their ancient way of life has been patterned according to the ecology of their territory. But now the Norwegian government, sanctioned by the Supreme Court, is building a dam that will destroy those patterns, despite strenuous nonviolent pleas by the Sami.
Some Sami have finally turned to direct action. During a failed attempt to blow up a bridge, one Sami lost an arm and may go blind. He and a companion will probably spend years behind bars.
Now the Sami have appealed to the Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg. The case is expected to be heard in July. In the meanwhile, they are trying to raise funds (they reckon lawyers’ fees alone will amount to 75,000 Norwegian crowns — about US $13,000) and make their case known outside Norway through further non-violent demonstrations.
Contact point: The Sami Movement, c/o Miljoloftet, Grensen 8, Oslo 1, Norway.
Dumping radiation in the moat
A Japanese antinuclear group has suggested that atomic waste should be dumped in the moat of the Imperial Palace if it is as harmless as the nuclear power companies claim.
And build an atomic plant smack-dab in the centre of Tokyo? That’s what the environmental group Modori-Nokai (Green Association) are proposing. Although a slim majority of the Japanese public favour building more nuclear plants, very few want to live near one. Takashi Hirose, the group’s leader, wants pro-nuclear Tokyoites to put their homes on the line.
Modori-Nokai’s book, A Nuclear Plant in Tokyo, sold 150,000 copies within months of its publication last year.
Life, death and other 'unnatural' pursuits
Hundreds of incensed women demonstrated at a protest rally held in London when senior obstetricians from the Royal Free (sic) Hospital withdrew from their patients the right to choose whether or not to have their babies by active (or ‘natural’) methods.
Commented one consultant: ‘These women want natural childbirth, natural food, natural yoghurt, natural everything and they don’t want any medical intervention at all. But childbirth isn’t natural — it’s about as natural as death is.’
From the Observer, 4 April 1982.
Campaigning for peace
Peace groups all over the world will be running campaigns leading up to and coinciding with the UN’s Second Special Session on Disarmament (7 July — 9 July). Two British examples: the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament ran a ‘Peace Week’ in early April; the Campaign Against Militarism will be holding an ‘antimilitarist week’ from 5 — 13 June.
If you want to add your voice to the growing peace lobby, don’t delay!
The overdosed hamburger?
Indiscriminate use of’ ‘miracle drugs’ over the years has meant the evolution of super-bacteria, resistant to antibiotics. In a dramatic appeal, 150 scientists from 26 countries have called for international controls to halt this ‘global drug abuse’. Too many antibiotics are dispensed without prescription, especially in the Third World. In the US, they say, drug abuse could be substantially curtailed if doctors stopped prescribing drugs so casually.
But even that would not solve the problem completely. Half of all antibiotics used in the US go into animal feed and turn up in meat products.
From Newsweek 17 August 1981.
No crocodile tears
Crocodiles are flourishing in Papua New Guinea, largely because they are worth money: about US$2 million foreign exchange per year. The UN’s Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) and the Papua New Guinea government have jointly set up a conservation scheme based on the profit principle and crocodile numbers have now reached the 200,000 mark — about one croc for every 15 Papuans.
From New Scientist, 20 October 1981.
Colombia’s largest export, coffee, is also its main source of river pollution. Large quantities of water are used in fermenting and washing the coffee beans, giving the coffee its distinctive aroma — and then discharged untreated into the rivers. As a result, the rivers which are the direct source of drinking water for many people are highly acidic and contain an unacceptable level of organic pollution.
The Cauca River in southwest Colombia is further polluted by sugar, paper and leather industries. But successful efforts are being made to clean up the river. The Cauca Valley Corporation has forbidden construction of new factories without water-treatment plants and introduced financial incentives for industries that recycle waste.
From Development Forum, November 1981