Are we poisoning our children with Fonterra Produce?

| by Pearl Thevanayagam

(October 20, 2014, Bradford UK, Sri Lanka Guardian) This is serious and begs the question that the future of our children whose parents are oblivious to the dangers posed by Western interests and mesmerised by advertisements which promote Australia and New Zealand. The government has also ordered 50,000 milch cows to supplement our own dairy needs.

Is it not possible to enhance our local dairy industry rather than import cows fed with dangerous chemicals? Sri Lanka is quite capable of feeding its animals with organic vegetation and if only it could promote indigenous methods of farming then we would not have to cow-tow to conglomerates who dump their chemical-laden products on to our shores.

In September 2012, traces of 2-Cyanoguanidine, a fertiliser commonly referred to as DCD that is used to slow down nitrate leaching, was found in some milk samples from Fonterra Federated Farmers and the Government moved quickly to reassure the public and overseas buyers there was no risk to health. Fonterra has received praise for its handling of the DCD issue. The levels were very low and attempts were made to prevent the test results from being reported in the media.

On the 16th of August 2013 Sri Lankan court banned the sale and advertising of all Fonterra products in Sri Lanka. The health ministry has said tests by Sri Lanka's Industrial Technology Institute found DCD in some Fonterra milk powders and it had ordered their recall.

On 3 August 2013, authorities in New Zealand announced a global recall of up to 1,000 tonnes of dairy products after tests turned up a type of bacteria that could cause botulism. Products included were infant formula, sports drinks, protein drinks and other beverages. The countries affected were New Zealand, China, Australia, Thailand, Malaysia, Vietnam, Sri Lanka and Saudi Arabia.

Fonterra's head of its milk products business, Gary Romano, resigned over the scandal on 14 August 2013.
There is no doubt milk is an essential component in a child’s growth but many a child in Sri Lanka does not get his sufficient quantities due to dearth of this vital part of the nutrient which would nurture them physically and mentally.

Media reported that children would be given free milk in the South. How about the children of lesser God in the rest of the island and how much has the government allocated to feed our children with this essential food. Who are we kidding? Kraft cheese imported from New Zealand is a must during Christmas but how much do we know what it contains. We serve them with cheese-bits but do we realise the chemicals which go into their production could cause irreparable damage.

This is akin to soya products which Canada introduced to developing countries including Sri Lanka as an alternative of animal protein but which contains lead that affect babies causing their mental retardation.

Sri Lanka is second to none in feeding their populace with organic produce but Stassens and like-minded corporate businesses such as Unilevers would spread their tentacles into developing countries dumping their toxic laden chemically saturated foods in the developing world while the West, US and Australia revert to organic produce importing from the same developing countries their quota .

As children we were fed goat’s milk fresh still warm in chembu (copper pot) and cow’s milk sans pasteurisation and we are still alive. When mother bought Blue Band margarine (Lever Brothers product) my father was livid and accused her of poisoning his children and threw it away. My mother only wanted to manage her budget and since she was not eactly literate she did the best she could.

Sri Lanka has plenty of rainfall and vegetation and its traditional farming practices sustained it for over centuries. Starvation was never heard of in this land of aplenty until conglomerates descended on our shores and dumped their produce and took away our organic produce.

It is high time we spurn the West’s overture and put in first place our own national interest over short term profits which only fatten the coffers of conglomerates and local businesses who sell our assets for their selfish motives and profits.

When will we ever learn?

(The writer has been a journalist for 25 years and worked in national newspapers as sub-editor, news reporter and news editor. She was Colombo Correspondent for Times of India and has contributed to Wall Street Journal where she was on work experience from The Graduate School of Journalism, UC Berkeley, California. Currently residing in UK she is also co-founder of EJN (Exiled Journalists Network) UK in 2005 the membership of which is 200 from 40 countries. She can be reached at