Observations of a Nerd

I am all for animal rights, to an extent. I mean, fur is murder, and who needs fur anyway? And those Japanese should definitely stop slaughtering dolphins and whales. That’s just wrong. However, there is a such thing as taking an issue a bit too far, and that is exactly what PETA has done…again.

PETA, known for their outrageous activist stunts, has found their way into the headlines yet again with a recent letter they sent to Ben & Jerry’s. Why, you ask? I’ll let the letter itself explain.

“On behalf of PETA and our more than 2 million members and supporters, I’d like to bring your attention to an innovative new idea from Switzerland that would bring a unique twist to Ben and Jerry’s.

Storchen restaurant is set to unveil a menu that includes soups, stews, and sauces made with at least 75 percent breast milk procured from human donors who are paid in exchange for their milk. If Ben and Jerry’s replaced the cow’s milk in its ice cream with breast milk, your customers-and cows-would reap the benefits…

The breast is best! Won’t you give cows and their babies a break and our health a boost by switching from cow’s milk to breast milk in Ben and Jerry’s ice cream?”

Yeah. Wow.

I understand the sentiment – cruel treatment of cows and calves, yadda, yadda, etc. But… I simply can’t bring myself to even think about buying breast milk ice cream. If you want to make it and eat it you go right ahead, but I’m sorry, it’s just not for me.

For one, it’s gross. But that aside, I don’t think it’s a good idea scientifically. While the PETA letter does outlines some of the links between cow’s milk and health issues, they tactfully neglect to mention the possible risks of using human breast milk. HIV, tuberculosis, and other diseases as well as some drugs and antibiotics are transmitted through breast milk. So without some FDA-approved method of making breast milk safe for general consumption, you can bet that I won’t drink any (and, considering the low demand, I doubt there’s guidelines currently in place). To add to that, no formal studies (that I could find) have looked at how drinking human breast milk affects an adult, so for all we know, it could have all the same health drawbacks as cow’s milk.

To be fair and unbiased, there are some people who suggest that breast milk is beneficial for adults as well as children. One study from 1995 did show that a protein in human breast milk, alpha-lactalbumin, killed brain tumor cells in a test tube. The same team used the compound in 2004 to destroy warts caused by HPV (Click to see study). Some patients have tried consuming human breast milk to treat cancer or boost immune systems, but there has been no scientific study that shows whether drinking breast milk does, in fact, help in those situations.

Bottom line: It’s still gross. It’s effects are wholly unknown in adults. And again, it’s gross. I agree with Ben & Jerry’s response: “We applaud PETA’s novel approach to bringing attention to an issue, but we believe a mother’s milk is best used for her child.”

Comments

  1. #1 Jose
    November 8, 2011

    I understand why you would be upset, but here is the deal with that campaign. PETA never actually intended to make Ben and Jerry’s switch to human mother’s milk. It was simply to bring awareness of how gorss, inhumane and unnecessary it is for humans to consume milk. Like Ben and Jerry’s responded “… a mother’s milk is best used for her child.” a cow’s milk is for her calf. There is no need for us humans to steal it, and drink. Basically, PETA was bringing up this issue with a silly yet controversial campaign. As you can see, it got you to think and maybe understand a bit more of the dairy industry. It was a joke, and simply a joke. Just like you believe drinking milk from a human is gross and belongs to a child, same thing happens with cows. They produce that milk to feed their calf, and it’s stolen from them as well as being unhealthy and filled with puss and blood. Just a little food for thought for this very effective campaign. Never once were they really asking to switch. It was bringing attention to an issue.

The site is undergoing maintenance presently. Commenting has been disabled. Please check back later!