1) Yup formula is a food. Breastmilk is not really a food. It's a living biological fluid more akin to blood. Its function goes way beyond mere nutrition.
2) Health effects that not breastfeeding and exposure to second-hand smoke both have in common:
increased rate of SIDS
respiratory infections such as asthma, pneumonia, and bronchitis
frequent ear infections
cancer (in childhood AND increased risk of different types into adulthood)
generally depressed immune systemAdditional
health effects caused by not breastfeeding that are not caused by second-hand smoke exposure:
increased type 1 and type 2 diabetes
increased overweight and obesity
21% higher postneonatal mortality rate
increased risk of Crohn's disease, rheumatoid arthritis, and Hodgkin's disease
increased vision defects
increased risk of dental problems including cavities, jaw problems and dental malocclusions
increased risk of osteoporosis
less chance of cardiopulmonary distress when nursing vs. bottle-feeding
poorer serum and secretory responses to oral and parenteral vaccines
increased risk of necrotizing entercolitis
risk of contamination (pathogens, broken glass, production errors which have resulted in various deficiencies)
decreased speech development due to abnormal tongue-thrust
potential future problems from genetically modified ingredients and synthetic growth hormones present in soy or cow's milk
increased multiple sclerosis
increased risk of inguinal hernia
poorer social development
As you all (hopefully) know more is being learned every day about the importance of real human breastmilk. For instance now we know that stem cells are present in breastmilk. What effect NOT getting these cells has is unknown. It might contribute to one of the risks already known, or it might cause further damage that hasn't yet been assessed. This (frightening) document has a lot of the current research...did you know, for example, that there is a potential link still being studied between formula use and psychological problems like schizophrenia? Check out this document...Outcomes of Breastfeeding Versus Formula Feeding
Is the comparison of second-hand smoke and formula use perfect? No. But virtually no comparison is perfect. The point is that children deserve clean air and adequate food that doesn't put them at an unreasonable risk. Second-hand smoke is an unreasonable risk, and children deserve clean air. Formula use is an unreasonable risk (does anyone who read the list above disagree with that??) and children deserve breastmilk. It it in the best interests of the government and society in general to do what it takes to give it to them. I think without the pressures from an extremely powerful formula lobby, combined with cultural ignorance about how important breastfeeding is, this is ENTIRELY possible.
3) I cannot imagine how painful it would be to hear all of this if I had not breastfed for whatever reason. And I almost did quit very early on because I had severe problems in the beginning. But the point that I must make is that criticisms of formula are NOT criticisms of mothers who end up formula feeding. Please refer to the Sticky at the top of this forum. Everyone is asked not to take criticisms of formula personally, and if a woman is understandably in a head-space where this kind of info is hurtful, maybe it's not a good idea to read the Lactivism forum? I utterly reject the idea that things like "formula is not adequate" shouldn't be said, particularly in a forum devoted to this subject.
4)My point has been one thing only-- mothers deserve better help and better alternatives. Surely the massive amounts of formula that are being given out are NOT entirely necessary for medical reasons. We all know that MANY mothers simply choose not to do it, I think largely because they are made unaware by the culture of exactly how harmful it is to not breastfeed. And the mothers who truly cannot, through circumstance or whatever, make enough or any milk-- they deserve donor milk just as they would deserve real donor blood if they needed it.
I will not be replying on this particular thread, but if anyone wants more information or sources (beyond the one posted) for the things I am talking about then start a new thread, this is way off-topic. And also read "Milk, Money, and Madness" for number-crunching and the feasibility of providing every child the normal start enjoyed by all baby mammals of every species except human.