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Editorial : Food for thought on nutrition

27 June 2013 06:46 pm - 3     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}


The crisis over imported milk powder allegedly containing harmful agro-chemicals appears to have been taken away from the boiling pot with highly-publicised claims that there was no contamination. Whether it was a case of crying over spilt milk or the milk of human kindness we do not know, though most people-friendly nutritionists insist that whatever is processed or super-processed loses most of its nutritional value.

Sri Lanka spends hundreds of millions of dollars from our dwindling foreign exchange resources to import processed milk powder, largely because of the sometimes unethical publicity campaigns and the easy-to-buy or easy-to-keep culture of the globalised capitalist market economy. Most nutritionists and even social justice economists agree that the best long-term solution is the revival of our fresh milk industry.

Till the 1970s it was a healthily-thriving industry, but gradually trans-national corporations and their agents here milked it dry through subtle ways. Last week President Mahinda Rajapaksa took a positive first step to revive the dairy milk industry by launching a scheme where fresh milk will be provided to children in schools. The milky way was started at a school in Killinochchi, and the President said it would gradually be introduced to all schools, hopefully also to international schools, where the hamburger trend is popular or promoted. They need to be made aware or educated on the fact that such a trend or addiction to junk foods has resulted in an obesity rate of 40% in the United States.

Instead of being unwillingly made to drink fresh milk, children and others need to be made aware that it will make them much healthier and more resistant to the growing number of ailments despite continuing claims that the imported products are necessary for proper brain development. There is little or no scientific proof or no validity for such claims, and they cannot be made in most western countries. But in Sri Lanka there is little by way of monitoring or regulation, and processed rubbish, imported junk or genetically modified food including the so-called fortified rice can be promoted as high-protein food products.

The revival of the dairy milk industry – though difficult, with results coming not short-term but long-term - will have a multitude of benefits. Millions of children and other people will be healthier and stronger, hundreds of dairy-farmer families will find a better livelyhood, and Sri Lanka could save millions in foreign exchange by substantially reducing the import of powdered milk.

Starting from there, the Government also needs to work out a national policy on food and nutrition whereby the people could get good food and the nutrition they need from our own products rather than being fooled or tempted into going for bag-loads of processed rubbish and imported junk. In doing this the Government needs to work in consultation with people-friendly and properly-qualified nutritionists in a market system where even nutrition societies are known to be sponsored by trans-national food companies.

  Comments - 3

  • Muthu Friday, 28 June 2013 04:29 AM

    Let us no forget that not so long ago dairy farmers poured their milk down the drains and that was due to sheer inefficiency caused by authorities. Let us pray that it will not happen this time.

    sbd Friday, 28 June 2013 07:31 AM

    We do not know whom to beleive, but australian press said NZ dairy products including powdered milk was contaminated with poison dicyanamide & soon there was this claim here by Consumer Affairs Authority. Then very recently reputed overseas journal has proved that SL rice has overload of cadmium leading to CKDU. But suddenly agri minister says no, rice is ok and trade minister says milk powder ok!. Whom are to beleive?

    Gamini Friday, 28 June 2013 05:15 PM

    This is a conspiracy to throw WHO reports on CKD to the
    wastepaper bin. Agri minister is not happy that fertilizer and agrochemicals are incriminated for CKD, Because, he gets a big chunk of commisions for import of all substandard fertilizers and agrochemicals. I wish his close relatives should get CKD TO SELF REALIZE THE TRUTH.

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