Daily Mirror (Sri Lanka) - - EDITORIAL -

As part of the all-in­clu­sive and eco-friendly de­vel­op­ment strat­egy, the Na­tional Gov­ern­ment has also launched a mis­sion for Sri Lanka to pro­duce the nu­tri­tious food we need in our own coun­try. This will be done in­stead of im­port­ing junk foods and pro­cessed rub­bish at a cost of hun­dreds of mil­lions of dol­lars in for­eign ex­change.

One vi­tal area is fresh milk, known to be highly nu­tri­tious and es­sen­tial es­pe­cially for preg­nant moth­ers and chil­dren af­ter at least one and prefer­ably two years of breast feed­ing. Un­for­tu­nately, though some­times for fi­nan­cial rea­sons some moth­ers are vir­tu­ally forced to stop breast­feed­ing af­ter about six months and go back to their jobs, of­ten not aware that the lack of breast milk will af­fect the child phys­i­cally, psy­cho­log­i­cally, men­tally and oth­er­wise.

Un­til the glob­alised, cap­i­tal­ist, mar­ket eco­nomic sys­tem was swal­lowed whole­sale by Sri Lanka in the late 1970s, most Sri Lankans drank fresh milk which was freely and read­ily avail­able through na­tional milk booths at most junc­tions and the milk man or woman who vis­ited homes daily. But a transna­tional pow­dered milk cor­po­ra­tion, de­scribed by nu­tri­tion­ists as an al­leged baby-killer, grad­u­ally though in a sub­tle way, de­stroyed Sri Lanka’s fresh milk in­dus­try.

With the sys­tem pro­mot­ing the easy way, which is of­ten not the best way, most peo­ple to­day pre­fer to buy the im­ported pack­ets of pow­dered milk, which come un­der dif­fer­ent brand names and of­ten make ab­surd if not out­ra­geous claims about their value. One in­stance is a claim that if chil­dren do not take that par­tic­u­lar brand of pow­dered milk, the child’s brain would not de­velop fully and he or she would not be able to study well. Trag­i­cally, pop­u­lar per­son­al­i­ties in­clud­ing stars in the en­ter­tain­ment and sports fields, are used or paid huge sums to pro­mote th­ese brands and there ap­pears to be no con­science prob­lem.

As the Daily Mir­ror has pointed out of­ten, fresh milk is heated to a tem­per­a­ture of more than 500 de­grees Cel­sius to make pow­dered milk. Ob­vi­ously most of the nu­tri­tion value is lost in the process. Then they are known to add flavour-en­hanc­ing sub­stances, ar­ti­fi­cial sweet­en­ers and preser­va­tives, some of which may be harm­ful es­pe­cially to preg­nant moth­ers and chil­dren.

In some coun­tries, which are the big­gest pro­duc­ers of pow­dered milk, their own peo­ple drink only fresh milk but the pack­ets of pow­dered milk are dumped in Third World coun­tries in­clud­ing Sri Lanka. One fam­ily re­cently had an ex­pe­ri­ence which can­not be dis­missed as a cock-and-bull story. The fam­ily nor­mally gave fresh milk to its two cats. One day when the fresh milk stocks ran out they gave pow­dered milk to the cats but the cats did not touch it. Cats are not sent to school but they ap­pear to be wiser than ed­u­cated bulls or don­keys like us.

Hap­pily, the Na­tional Gov­ern­ment is now launch­ing fresh ef­forts to re­vive our fresh-milk in­dus­try. The fresh milk pro­duc­ing com­pa­nies here are also pro­duc­ing good milk and mar­ket­ing it well, we hope the gov­ern­ment and the health min­istry es­pe­cially, will use state tele­vi­sion at prime time to make peo­ple aware of the need to drink fresh milk again though there maybe some dif­fi­cul­ties such as re­frig­er­a­tion.

Sri Lanka could then save hun­dreds of mil­lions of dol­lars in valu­able for­eign ex­change. More im­por­tant, our peo­ple and es­pe­cially the chil­dren and the next gen­er­a­tion will be health­ier, wealth­ier and wiser. The best places to start will be at more than ten thou­sand schools and we hope the plans to pro­vide a glass of fresh milk to all school­child­ren will be car­ried out ef­fec­tively with no TNCS or its agents be­ing al­lowed to un­der­mine or sabotage the mis­sion. In a lit­eral sense this will be our milk of hu­man kind­ness, mainly to the next gen­er­a­tion.

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