By Kusal Perera –
DCD (dicyandiamide) –
Chlostridium (C.) Botulinum –
Whey Protein –
What do I know about all those medical and specialised lingo ? Nothing until a huge uproar broke out in media about a week ago and prompted some digging in. How much would a nurses’ trade unionists in Sri Lanka know ? Doubt they know it right. The medical doctors in government service ? They may know something, but what is their credibility ? What do journalists know ? They know what others say. This is everything about the on going battle against imported milk foods, especially the “Fonterra” brand from New Zealand. Little is now said about “Maliban” non fat and “Diamond” that were also marked as contaminated. It is now just plain “Fonterra”.
This uproar reminds me of a similar campaign over two years ago, against imported pesticides and fertiliser. The origin was then an academic from Kelaniya university, a gold medallist in mathematics turned “fiction theorist” claiming “Naatha Deviyo” (god) informed of cyanide in fertiliser and was thus researched and proved right. Another publicist Channa Jayasumana of Rajarata University who sat with Rev. Athuraliye Rathana thero, the Sinhala introvert, told media on 04 August 2011, “…… These (pesticides from Germany, Switzerland and Europe) had high content of arsenic, mercury and cyanide and can have damaging side effects such as sensory impairment, disturbed sensations, lack of co-ordination, kidney dysfunction, damage to the skin and infertility.”
These publicity campaigns were later shot down by few other academics, who questioned the methodology and rationality of the “so called research done on Naatha deviyo’s information”. Any way, the Sinhala mindset created by these pseudo academics and Sinhala introverts, does not fade off with logical answers. They get life through other similar social campaigns by violent groups like the BBS and RB. Their campaigns too harp on “other forces” and attempts at making Sinhala people “infertile”, a symptom linked to imported fertiliser by Jayasumana.
Their advantage is, they do have enough parallels and some information that can be exaggerated, interpreted with bias, misconstrued and argued on. But what they don’t say or refrain from saying is, poisonous chemicals are consumed through many media and remain ineffective, unless taken in a fatally large quantity. In fact almost all pharmaceutical drugs that members of the GMOA prescribe to human patients are “poison”. They have to be taken as prescribed by a qualified medical practitioner in “mili grams” in doses with time lapses. Any overdose, will have serious side effects, some immediately and some over time. That is how “sleeping tablets” turns into a “suicidal drug” taken in large quantities. It is for all these reasons that pharmacies operate under strict regulations and always under a qualified pharmacist with a license.
The claim that DCD, Whey proteins and Chlostridium botulinum is fatal, needs to be treated as all other poison taken as drugs. The World Health Organisation (WHO) has published a heavily researched and referenced publication titled, “International Programme on Chemical Safety – Poisons Information Monograph 858; Bacteria” which is in public domain. This is exclusively on Chlostridium botulinum. Modern science and technology often don’t leave any poison, any virus and any bacteria without putting them into human use. Botulinum has therefore been used for medical treatment of spastic muscular conditions, childhood strabismus, apraxia of eye lid opening, writer’s cramp and in similar cases. It is also used for cosmetic purpose in reducing wrinkles. (page 10, no. 4.1.2)
Again, what this clearly says is, Chlostridium botulinum has its good side, but has to be watched as unrestricted, unknown consumption can occur through unnoticed contamination.
So is the case with whey protein. “Whey” is defined as a derivative of milk. Its the liquid that is left behind, after the first stages of cheese making. “Whey” in one processed concentrated form is “whey protein”. Research claim, whey protein has anti cancer and anti inflammatory properties. It is also hypothesised it may act as an effective supplementary treatment for diabetes and heart disease. Also in arresting weight loss in HIV positive patients. There is no mention of whey protein as a fatal factor, but is documented to have side effects such as increased bowel movements, nausea, thirst, bloating, cramps, reduced appetite, fatigue and headache. (Check http://medicalnewstoday.com/articles/263371.php)
The whole “DCD and Whey in milk powder” campaign does not bring any such information into discussion. There is no denying “Fonterra” in New Zealand (NZ) has smudged their reputation with sheer neglect in their manufacturing process. A neglect that can not be pardoned for a company of such repute. Fonterra in NZ had informed the NZ Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) of their folly on 02 August, 2013. The reason for contamination had been identified by Fonterra as due to a once laid away production line being used for re-processing, without proper and appropriate cleaning. Now this is “facts”. The next is the official statement made by the NZ government on 07 August through its Foreign Affairs and Trade ministry. They said the “NZ government has advised trading partners about the potential contamination of some products made from milk whey protein concentrate (WPC 80).” They also said, “Products known to be potentially affected are confined to three batches of whey protein concentrate manufactured at one Fonterra plant in NZ.”
So, this is not like what the “anti Fonterra SL lobbyists” say. One, DCD and Whey protein have to be consumed in large quantities for undesirable effects. Two, it is not “everything from NZ, nor is it everything from Fonterra” that is contaminated, unless you lump the NZ government authorities with their counterparts here in Sri Lanka. Then they lie and you don’t have to believe them.
The NZ authorities have also listed destinations these “potentially affected” products have been exported to. They are, “Australia, China, Malaysia, Saudi Arabia, Thailand, Viet Nam and Hong Kong” only. Sri Lanka is no “jurisdiction” the potentially affected products have been exported to, unless SL has bought those potentially affected products from one of those listed countries.
It is more a shame than a pity the GMOA goes on a stupid, irrational campaign threatening health authorities, demanding a ban on these milk products. Such has been their arrogance and habit for a long time now. They have not been proving themselves an organisation of educated men in a decent profession. Nothing better can therefore be expected from an ignorant, petty nurses’ union boss. He joins in with a writ application granted by the Gampaha district judge, banning all Fonterra products. Their allegations are that the ITI has tested positive and the health ministry has directed all contaminated powdered milk should go off shelves. It is a fact that ITI is no more a credible institute to place your trust on. Their initial report on Rathupaswela water showed they don’t handle issues with professional standards expected from such institutes. They also don’t say how Maliban milk powder imported from Australia was included as contaminated, when the issue is NZ and Fonterra. Obvious. The quality of researchers and men of dignity like Dr. R.O.B Wijesekera are no more there and those who have stepped into their vacant shoes are no patch of the old bloc.
But yet, why ask for a ban on sale of all products, when the NZ government clearly says the issue is only regarding 03 batches from one single plant and SL is not where the potentially affected products have been exported to ? If these unions are as concerned about people’s well being as they pretend and want more guarantee that SL has not in any way fallen prey, then all that had to be done was to check using by batch product codes, if SL was a transshipment destination from any of the countries the NZ government had listed. Neither have the GMOA asked for such guarantee, nor has the Health ministry checked back on possibility of transshipment. Why ? Ignorance ? Neglect ? Impossibility ? Nothing of that sort.
What then is this mad milk mayhem ? This campaign certainly has other ulterior motives by questionable characters, tied to this regime. On 12 August, 2013 businessman Dillith Jayaweera, implicated in Colombo Stock Exchange manipulations over which Thilak Karunaratne resigned as its Chairman, with two others of questionable reputation, Laugh’s Wegapitiya and Nature’s Secret Kumarasinghe, called a media briefing at the Independence Square hall, on Sri Lanka’s milk imports. They are no credible voices. But voices that could indicate about political motives by this regime. This high security location for a media briefing they got, will not be allowed unless they pair off very well with the defence authorities. They do. The question therefore is, “is there any one in this regime, manipulating the local milk industry ?”
If there is, these 03 businessmen orbiting this regime choked with corruption, should have more in their belly than what they said about developing a local dairy industry. Their blank accusations of importing “contaminated powdered milk” from multinational companies, is just plain bluff. They gave no clue as to how Sri Lanka could develop a dairy industry to produce enough liquid milk for the whole population. None of them represent business in any branch of live husbandry. Developing the dairy industry was not their intention for sure.
Today, Vijithamuni Soyza would tell, his biggest problem as Minister of Wildlife Resources and Conservation is to save forests from hundreds of cattle sent in for grazing by their owners, due to lack of grasslands. In upcountry where comparatively better hybrids are available, grass is scarce, due to large organised plantations. The coconut triangle, the other area with a large population of milking cows, can not be further expanded through the existing household ownership model. Extensive growth is no more valid, mainly due to lack of grasslands.
There is apparently no serious plan to improve the dairy industry in Sri Lanka, although these businessmen want patriotism to help improve milking. Sri Lanka may achieve something in developing the dairy industry, if a new intensive approach is introduced based on “owner collectives” with grasslands, provided the local lean breeds are gradually and quickly substituted with high yielding hybrids. Yet, it should be stressed plain, there can not be any development of a dairy industry in a country that bans slaughter of cattle. Milk and meat go together. If slaughter of cattle is banned today, going by numbers available, five years from now there will be an aged, wholly non productive population of 650,000 cattle to be fed, cleaned and cared for, till they die naturally.
This talk of “Apey Dey Ganna” (Buy our own produce) the business trio championed, is old hat. This is only playing with Sinhala public sentiments for definitely personal advantage. There is some one, or a small coterie backed by this regime wishfully thinking of manipulating the whole powdered milk market. Who ever gets in, there is a necessity to put in place, efficient regulatory mechanisms that would keep out rhetoric and publicity seekers from unnecessarily scaring off the consumer. Systems have to be put in place that any citizen can depend on, to have the right information and the right solution, at the right time, independent of suppliers and marketing agencies, both foreign and local.
Well, am I also blissful in a country where professionals and technocrats go about bluffing , while powers high up is milking for profit and publicity (P&P) ?