Salon’s “Milk Money”: media scrutiny of the IBMP-Prolacta partnership

I had posted this as an update to this post, but I thought it deserved a post of its own.

Salon has taken up the story of the murky (until last week) relationship between the Oprah-advertised International Breastmilk Project and Prolacta.

Milk Money

Read the whole thing, but here’s one excerpt:

After May 31, however, IBMP will send 25 percent of all donations received to Africa, and 75 percent will be sold to Prolacta for $1 an ounce. What kind of profit margin does this mean for Prolacta? Potentially a motherlode. If, as Elster told me, the average donation runs around 180 ounces, then that would mean that 135 ounces (75 percent) “sold” to Prolacta would generate around $4,725 (at $35 an ounce) for the company, or about $3,890 after subtracting the expense of donor processing (about $700 per donor) and the cash payment to IBMP.
Is giving 45 ounces of breast milk at a cost of $135 to African babies really a good exchange rate for a commodity that can deliver $3,890 to a for-profit company

Since this relationship between the IBMP and Prolacta first came to light months ago, you could count on the fingers of one hand the number of people who have been asking the difficult questions. We were shot down for being paranoid and mean-spirited. How dare anyone ask question of a charity feeding AIDS orphans in Africa? They’re completely buzzword-compliant! How dare we wonder whether Prolacta’s interest was strictly commercial? Every venture-capitalist-funded enterprise gets involved in AIDS orphan charities strictly out of the goodness of their venture-capitalist-funded corporate hearts of gold! Of course they’re not just interested in securing a dirt-cheap, plentiful supply of free milk from donor mothers who think their milk is feeding orphan babies. Of course they weren’t interested in lining their coffers while reaping all the benefits of free orphan-baby-feeding PR on Oprah!

Finally we have forced this partnership into public transparency, however much they dragged their feet and equivocated and hummed and hawed about it before they realised they were backed into a corner, sputtering and squinting in the spotlight of public questioning.

And that transparency can only be a good thing.

Categories: ethics & philosophy, gender & feminism, health

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