Monday, June 15, 2009

How awful! Food production is rational and efficient -- and -- gasp! -- the producers make a profit!

Much better to be "green", "local", "organic" etc. Fortunately we still get a choice about that, though

The new documentary Food Inc. takes aim at corporate giants behind the U.S. food supply. As director Robert Kenner and food advocate and author Michael Pollan tell Steve Inskeep, they made the film in order to raise Americans' awareness about where their food really comes from.

Pollan says he wanted to address "the pastoral illusion we're spinning in the way we market food... You would think it comes from farms and that ranches with big hats are producing the meat."

In fact, say Pollan and Kenner, America's food comes primarily from enormous assembly lines, where animals and workers are being abused.

There are benefits to the current system; as Pollan points out, Americans spend less than nine percent of their income on food — less than any other people in history. But, he adds, the benefits have come "at an exorbitant cost, because the system depends on cheap fossil fuel to work. The system depends antibiotics to work. The system depends on abuse animals to work. And if people want to pay those costs for cheap food, that's great, but let's tell them about the costs first."


Stillbirth risk triples for Scottish women who choose home delivery with private midwife over NHS

Homebirth has a long tradition in Scotland and what this shows is that women who expect problems would rather go to a private midwife than the NHS! This is a great reflection on the NHS. If the NHS did not treat women like no-account cattle, their first choice in such cases would surely be a hospital

Women who give birth at home aided by an independent midwife are almost three times as likely to have a stillbirth than those who deliver their child in hospital. Home births have long been debated amid concerns about their safety, because specialist care is not on hand in case of serious complications. However, the number of mothers choosing this option have been rising since 1988 and now about 2.5 per cent have a home birth.

NHS babies were more likely to be premature and admitted to a neonatal intensive care unit than those delivered by an independent midwife

Scientists from the University of Dundee studied records of more than 8,6000 women who gave birth in Scotland between 2002 and 2005. This included 1,462 who used the Independent Midwives Association (IMA) and 7,214 who relied on the NHS. They found the risk of stillbirth or neonatal death within a month of birth was 1.7 per cent in the IMA group compared with 0.6 per cent in the NHS group.

However, independent midwives had more patients who knew there would be problematic births, and were expecting twins or had a history of complications in labour. When 'high risk' cases were excluded from both groups, there was little difference between them. [But is that the point? Surely high risk cases should be in hospitals?]

The authors also pointed out that home births had a number of advantages when comparing the two groups. IMA mothers were significantly more likely to start labour spontaneously and have an unassisted birth than NHS mothers. They also took fewer pain relieving drugs.

Their babies were significantly heavier than mothers who had babies in hospital. NHS babies were also more likely to be premature and admitted to a neonatal intensive care unit. Finally IMA mothers were much more likely to breastfeed successfully than NHS mothers.

Belinda Phipps, Chief Executive of the National Childbirth Trust said: 'Women at high-risk of complications are still entitled to choose a home birth and I think we have to ask why they are made to feel that their only option is to turn away from the health service.'


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