To the People

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Thursday, April 13, 2006

Peak Breast Milk?

We've reached it, "experts" are claiming. "Demand for breast milk has hit a 20-year high in the United States," according to the Boston Herald. Thankfully an old solution has re-emerged -- the wet nurse -- though she now often employs (in addition to lactatious nipples) a decidedly free-market approach.

Low supplies and increased demand have encouraged some women to take the time to tirelessly tap their teats, bottling and selling or donating excess milk to parents in need. (I say "parents" where the Herald says "women," since a man can wield a baby bottle just as well as a woman.)

Naturally, some are calling for stronger regulation of breast-milk sales. While there certainly are dangers in feeding one's baby a stranger's white gold -- it may contain viral agents, it may not actually be human breast milk -- it's clear that preventing parents who can't produce enough milk for their child from having access to milk will harm children, since there are known dangers inherent in not feeding a child breast milk. (Not to mention the tremendous danger just in having the kid in the first place.)

If parents decide the danger of buying breast milk online is too great or the price too high, they won't buy. This will in turn encourage others -- like California breast-milk start-up Prolacta Bioscience -- to attempt to meet the need.

As with peak oil, it seems peak breast milk exists only in the minds of those too fearful to leave our future to human ingenuity and innovation. And boobs. As long as there are boobs -- and who wants to live in a world without boobs? -- there will be breast milk.