Many parents in the United States trust Dr. Alan Greene, which is no surprise considering Greene is perhaps one of the best know pediatricians, a media celebrity and a corporate spokesman with regards to baby care in the U.S. Here at Inhabitots his guides are on our best books for parents reading lists. We’ve asked his advice about breastfeeding and interviewed him about dangerous toxins. Still, is it possible that Greene doesn’t have the best interest of parents and babies in mind? The Cornucopia Institute, a popular industry watchdog group, says maybe he doesn’t. Cornucopia believes that Greene is guilty of unethical conduct and the industry group has expressed that his speech, scheduled to be given this week at the Natural Foods Expo should be canceled. What has Greene done that’s made Cornucopia question his motives? Read on to find out.
The Accusations Against Dr. Greene
According to Cornucopia, Greene took part in a coordinated effort this past December that allegedly misled the USDA’s National Organic Standards Board (NOSB) into approving the use of synthetic nutritional oils in organic foods. The additives Cornucopia is speaking of are are manufactured by Martek Biosciences Corporation, part of the $12 billion Dutch-based multinational firm Royal DSM. Greene, who by all accounts is a breastfeeding advocate, has also, according to Cornucopia, accepted compensation from Mead Johnson, the largest conventional infant formula manufacturer, to promote Martek’s DHA oil in their products. Greene further has his own line of nutritional supplements that include Martek DHA. Lastly, Cornucopia notes that Greene has acted as a public relations agent endorsing Horizon brand organic milk, owned by Dean Foods. If the well-trusted Greene is guilty of what Cornucopia says he is guilty of, it’s a big deal indeed.
The Problem with Supporting Synthetics in Organics
It’s no secret that most baby formulas on the market currently contain DHA, fatty acids found naturally in breast milk that are essential for healthy baby development. However, as we’ve pointed out before, man-made DHA may not be safe or healthy for babies. Research about man-made DHA and ARA is inconclusive and there are some extremely serious arguments against feeding your baby fake DHA. Read Replacing Mother – Infant Formula Report or see the list of adverse reaction reports (pdf) submitted to the FDA regarding fake DHA oils in formula to learn more. If Greene is accepting money to further the synthetic DHA agenda, it’s a conflict of interests, considering he also testified before the government about organic standards in support of synthetic DHA, without disclosing the full extent of his relationships with Martek and Dean Foods, both DHA supporters. On top of which Dean Foods has been accused time and time again of selling unethical organics, yet Greene is a spokesperson for the company. This is questionable behavior on Greene’s part because the decision to accept (or not accept) synthetic DHA as an acceptable ingredient in organic products is a highly and long-debated issue among those in the organic industry. Many organic advocates feel that these synthetics have no place in organics. Greene seems to be for synthetics in organics, even though he also is known as an organic food advocate.
The Problem with Supporting Formula Companies
Others feel that as a breastfeeding advocate, Greene shouldn’t also be receiving financial rewards from formula companies. Marsha Walker, RN, IBCLC Executive Director, National Alliance for Breastfeeding Advocacy notes, “It is completely unacceptable and unethical for a pediatrician who masquerades as a breastfeeding advocate to enter into a financial relationship with Mead Johnson for the promotion of their formula with DHA. The addition of DHA and ARA into their formula resulted in marketing claims that have made it much harder for mothers to understand that infant formula is not equivalent to breastmilk and that their babies will not see better or be smarter if they consume this formula.” Walker’s statement may or may not be perfectly true, although she’s probably closer to right, because keep in mind that breastfeeding rates are abysmal in this country and the U.S. also campaigns hard in favor of formula via media outlets and even health organizations. True family advocates should support breastfeeding, not formula sales.
Rock and a Hard Place
Dr. Greene has helped many parents over the years who unquestionably trust his advice. From what we can tell from our reader’s responses, most of his advice is considered honest and helpful. On the flip side, Cornucopia is a leader in support of ethical, real organics for families, calling out shady companies who try to sell you bunk organics at cost. Cornucopia also supports small family farms who sell organics with integrity. As past supporters of both Greene and Cornucopia, this puts us in a tough position. Especially since Greene has not yet made a statement about the Cornucopia accusations. Cornucopia notes that numerous attempts to contact Greene about these issues have proven unsuccessful. Hopefully Greene will issue a statement soon and we can hear both sides of the story. Stay tuned to Inhabitots for updated information as it’s available.