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How Corporate Food Monopolies Caused the Baby Formula Scandal

June 20, 2022

The following is an excerpt of an article that was originally published on Struggle-La Lucha.

Click here to read the full article.

The fact that a handful of companies produce the majority of our food means that small disruptions will have big impacts. This time the impacts are borne by American babies.

By Sonali Kolhatkar

It’s a tough time to be the parent of a newborn in the United States today. Not only is child care prohibitively expensive, but the cost of all things including baby products is rising, COVID-19 poses a threat to children too young to be vaccinated—and there has been a months-long shortage of baby formula.

The formula scarcity began when the COVID-19 pandemic led to a disruption of ingredient supply chains and transportation delays. Then, this past February, the Food and Drug Administration found that several leading brands produced by Abbott Laboratories were contaminated with dangerous bacteria leading to a recall and a temporary closure of Abbott’s main Michigan factory where government inspectors found “shocking” conditions. Then, just as the Michigan plant reopened, torrential flooding forced it to shut down again.

There is nothing more important to a parent than providing for their child, especially during the most vulnerable, early years of their child’s life. As a mother who was unable to breastfeed when my children were newborns, I relied on formula and remember once having to drive quite far to a store in a neighboring town because my local store was out of the brand I relied on and that my child was used to. It was a stressful experience, one that is a mild example of what millions of parents are feeling right now as they face store shelves emptied of formula.

The shortage has driven prices up—yay, capitalism! For a variety of systemic reasons that include economics, geography, and health, Black and Latino parents are disproportionately more likely to rely on formula feeding. To add to that, low-income parents of color are also disproportionately impacted by the formula shortage, as they may live in food deserts with fewer options for formula, and they may be unable to drive long distances to search other stores or pay premium prices for online shipping.

There is a simple reason why such a shortage has transpired: global capitalism and the food monopolies it has fostered.

Read more at Struggle-La Lucha.

Sonali Kolhatkar is the founder, host and executive producer of “Rising Up With Sonali,” a television and radio show that airs on Free Speech TV and Pacifica stations. She is a writing fellow for the Economy for All project at the Independent Media Institute.

Chief Correspondent, Writing Fellow for Economy for All

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