In an attempt to raise the nation's historically low rate of breast-feeding, federal health officials commissioned an attention-grabbing advertising campaign a few years ago to convince mothers that their babies faced real health risks if they did not breast-feed. It featured striking photos of insulin syringes and asthma inhalers topped with rubber nipples.
Plans to run these blunt ads infuriated the politically powerful infant formula industry, which hired a former chairman of the Republican National Committee and a former top regulatory official to lobby the Health and Human Services Department. Not long afterward, department political appointees toned down the campaign.
I am shocked--SHOCKED!--to find political pandering going on in this administration!
The formula industry's intervention -- which did not block the ads but helped change their content -- is being scrutinized by Congress in the wake of last month's testimony by former surgeon general Richard H. Carmona that the Bush administration repeatedly allowed political considerations to interfere with his efforts to promote public health.
Rep. Henry A. Waxman's Committee on Oversight and Government Reform is investigating allegations from former officials that Carmona was blocked from participating in the breast-feeding advocacy effort and that those designing the ad campaign were overruled by superiors at the formula industry's insistence.
Man, I hope Waxman nails these bastards to the wall by their latex nipples. If you want to learn more about the sorry state of affairs in the U.S. regarding formula and breastfeeding, check out Milk, Money and Madness by Naomi Baumslag and Dia L. Michels. It's disturbing and eye-opening, and puts the above mess in context.
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