Action Against Formula sign now

To the Senate of Australia and all Relevant Governmental Bodies,

WHEREAS breastfeeding is universally recognized to be a superior source of nutrition for infants, such that failure to breastfeed is a significant risk factor for infants who are denied breast milk, and;

WHEREAS current labeling requirements for infant formula products are insufficient to warn mothers of the dangers of substituting such products for breast milk, and;

WHEREAS despite government action to promote breastfeeding, significant numbers of mothers still substitute inferior products for the healthiest available option,

WE, the undersigned members of the Australian public, do hereby petition the Government of Australia:

a) To recognize that overuse of infant formula is a significant health risk to vulnerable children who have no way to choose in the matter, and furthermore:

b) To enact legislation that will enforce the attachment of highly visible health warning to all Infant Formula products sold within Australia, in a manner similar to the labeling methods currently demonstrating their efficacy in the public health campaign against smoking.

In support of our petition, we quote from an Australian government website:

"Breastfeeding is one of the most important contributors to infant health. Breastfeeding provides a range of benefits for an infant's growth, immunity and development. Exclusive breastfeeding to around six months of age gives the best nutritional start to infants and is recommended by the Australian Government Department of Health and Ageing, the World Health Organization (WHO) and other health authorities. In addition, breastfeeding benefits maternal health and contributes economic benefits to the family, health care system and workplace."

Reference: Australian Government Article on Breastfeeding.

In view of this undisputed fact, we regard it as disingenuous, misleading and hazardous to see Infant Formula being advertised with statements such as it is "what growing bodies need", and "As a doctor I recommend this brand of formula." We underscore that these types of strategies are absolutely unacceptable and are giving Australian mothers the impression that formula is comparable to breast milk. Governing legislation prohibiting such tactics is already in place in places like Bangladesh, following World Health Organization guidelines, and we urge the Australian Government to follow their lead.

We also refer to the simple fact that that the marketing of infant formula within Australia is resulting in serious illness across the country, with an accompanying wastage of money that is being spent to treat illnesses in the public health system that would often be prevented by early breastfeeding. We refer the government to an Australian cost-benefit study, the results of which mirror those from other Western countries, namely, that a massive reduction in health care expenditure would accompany a rise in breastfeeding rates (Smith, Julie. "The economics of breastfeeding" Australian Financial Review 7/24/97). We underline that both ethical codes relating to public health, and governmental fiscal responsibility dictate absolutely the promotion of an initiative of the one which we are requesting.

Mothers are not being told about the health risks associated with formula feeding their child. There are at presentSMALL labels on cans which state "Breastmilk is best for babies..." we do not feel that this is enough, particularly when it is in small font, buried on parts of the can that are most unlikely to be read. We petition the government to legislate that quotes such as those listed below be printed on cans of formula, so that mothers who otherwise lack resources to gather information, can become aware of the health risks that formula poses for their children:

"This product does not contain antibodies to protect your child against infection."

"Infant Formula has been directly responsible for 1.5 million child deaths per year."

"This product contains 32 nutrients, breastmilk contains over 200."

We argue that these labels are not unlike the advertisments now seen on cigarette and tobacco products, and that there are therefore significant precedents for the imposition of such constraints on products that threaten the health of the most vulnerable segment of our population. We insist on proper labeling to protect smokers from their own poor choices as adults- we cannot fail to insist on proper labeling to protect children from the uninformed choices of their parents.

PLEASE NOTE* When signing this petition, please select the E-mail Address Privacy Option as 'Available to Petition Author'. This is because the Australian Senate will NOT accept E-petitions without e-mail addresses provided along side the signatures. Not doing this WILL make your signature INVALID.

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Olga PaceBy:
Entertainment and MediaIn:
Petition target:
Australian Senate

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