Start at the cradle, get back to fresh milk
Daily Mirror Editorial
Feb 28, 2011

With the focus now on Geneva and state propaganda organs whipping up demonstrations against the US sponsored resolution on accountability issues in Sri Lanka, attention has been temporarily diverted from the issue that directly affects the lives of millions of commonpeople.

The prices of milk powder and other essential food items are rising in the aftermath of the huge increase in fuel prices and the Government needs to consider long–term measures to control the cost of living through a national policy on food and nutrition. A good place to start will be milk food. Until 1977 when Sri Lanka swallowed wholesale the globalised capitalist market economic policy, most people lived healthy lives by drinking fresh milk produced by our farmers in a thriving dairy industry. Most mothers’ breast fed their children for up to two years and then switched to fresh milk which provided the necessary nutrition at affordable prices.

But after 1977 trans-national companies are known to have used various sophisticated and sometime unethical methods of promotion to draw people into the powdered milk culture. These promotional factors and other aspects of the highly-competitive market economy also led or misled urban mothers to turn from the breast to the bottle unknowingly denying their children not only the extra nourishment from fresh milk but also the deep and lasting love and bonding that develops through breast feeding.

At a different dimension farmers were led, misled or sometimes forced to give up their fresh milk production, with their cows being bought at high prices. Slowly but surely the era of milk and honey was brought to an end and most people switched to the easier but certainly not the better way of using powdered milk.

In addition to a serious drop in the nutritional levels especially of children, this trend also led to a major drain in foreign exchange with Sri Lanka now spending millions of dollars annually on the import of various brands of powdered milk. Intense competition has brought about a situation where claims are being made without a scientific basis. Qualified nutritionists say dazzling promotional methods are being used to convince people that their child’s brain will not develop fully unless a particular variety of milk food is used. Sadly many well-known personalities in various fields are also allowing themselves to be bought up for such promotion.

With prices soaring and public outrage likely to reach the proportions of a popular uprising in the coming weeks and months, the Government needs to act fast and effectively in renewing and rebuilding the local fresh milk industry. As a first step, the National Livestock and Dairy Development Board needs to aggressively promote good quality fresh milk in packets or bottles. Till the 1980s Sri Lanka had hundreds of fresh milk booths and we hope there would be a revival of that trend so that we will get not only better nutrition but also save millions of dollars in foreign exchange.

Beginning with milk the same national food and nutritional policy could be implemented on a broader dimenssion. Western nutrition has failed and if proof is needed we see it in the dangerous trend where 45 per cent of Americans are suffering from obesity, so much for their fried chickens, hamburgers and heavy fat nutrition.

For thousands of years Sri Lankans have lived a healthy life with locally produced nutritious food including red rice, vegetables or mallung, most of which could be produced even in our own home gardens where we won’t use imported fertiliser, pesticides or weedicides to poison or pollute the food.

Source: Daily Mirror - Sri Lanka