Formula companies sometimes attempt to use the past tense to describe their heavy-handed marketing campaigns at the expense of breastfeeding. "Sure, we used to do wrong," they might say, "but now we promote breastfeeding."
A breastfeeding advocacy website has an interesting series of reports about industry-sponsored websites that promote formula under the guise of simply offering motherly advice. I read at PR Watch, for example, that Mothering Magazine reports that the Moms Feeding Freedom blog is linked to the International Formula Council. The advocacy website banthebags.org reports that the Moms Feeding Freedom blog has started deleting comments critical of formula industry marketing. Fortunately, archived copies of the original comments are available here.
The site reminds me to link to the Washington Post's excellent coverage last month of a formula industry coup, convincing a federal breastfeeding promotion campaign to tone down its most potent print ads.
The original proposed ad graphically emphasized the association between formula feeding and risk of respiratory disease (click for larger image).
The final ad offered a pointlessly bland graphic, and required close reading to understand the same message.
I imagine some readers may find the original proposed ad too blunt. Addressing that question puts me in a bind as a writer. I can write truthfully: "Some women cannot breastfeed, for medical or employment reasons. Formula is a satisfactory replacement, at least in the United States." But my fingers cringe hovering over my keyboard, because those same true sentences are also industry talking points that are used to exaggerate the hardships of breastfeeding and the quality of formula. You have to read those sentences in the same context with this one: "Almost all women can breastfeed, and breastfeeding is best."
Regardless of which ad you prefer, at least two things are clear as day: the formula industry should not have been given the opportunity to sway the choice of ad, and hospitals should stop routinely giving out bags of formula to new mothers.