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Vatican Newspaper Takes on Melinda Gates and Nestle

L'Osservatore Romano, the Holy See’s official daily newspaper, has gone on the offensive against wealthy philanthropic institutions such as the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and Nestle for using their millions to provide third world women with dangerous forms of contraception and breast milk substitutes.

Vatican Insider is reporting that the rare salvo was launched on the front page of the Saturday edition in an editorial by Giulia Galeotti entitled "The Risks of Philanthropy. Galeotti defines Melinda Gates as being "slightly off the mark and confused" as well as "misinformed" in her plans to spend the next eight months, and 450 million Euros, on research into new birth control methods and improved access to contraception. These new ideas will be tested on third world women, primarily those living in Africa.

Speaking about her initiative to CNN, Mrs. Gates confided the difficulty she was facing as a Catholic "believer" in a Church that prohibits the use of artificial contraception. Galeotti's article takes issue with Gates' idea that the Church promotes the death of women and children because of their "misogynous" opposition to contraception, calling the accusation "unfounded and cheap." Instead, she points out that  the Church “agrees with natural birth control methods, that is, with natural methods based on reading the signs and messages sent by the body.”

The article points out that “in some parts of the world” the Billings method “is seen as a double disadvantage because since it is a simple method that is easy to adopt, women, including the illiterate among them, use it independently and consciously, without the need for mediation.”

As Galeotti states: “The unforgivable original sin inherent in this method is that it is a solution that is completely free. This makes it highly unpopular in the pharmaceutical industry which makes huge profits from the administration of chemical contraception. And this will be guaranteed through Mrs. Gates’ philanthropic actions.” 

But that's not the only issue with which the Vatican newspaper addressed. It also rebuked Nestle for its controversial and dangerous breast milk substitute campaign. As L'Osservatore explains: “The multinational company notoriously and in a cunning and improper manner supplied African women with free packs of dried milk for their newborn children. These lasted just enough time for the mothers to lose their natural milk. Mothers were then forced to purchase the dried milk, lured by advertisement campaigns which presented breast feeding as barbaric and the artificial method as the modern and civilised alternative; the campaign was furthered through various forms of psychological pressure exercised by elusive doctors and nurses. A need was therefore created in the name of charity and with profit in mind.”

Nestle, which holds about 50 percent of the world's breast milk substitute market, claims that malnourished mothers are unable to breast feed their infants, even though health organizations say there is no evidence to support these claims.

Babies who are bottle-fed are up to 10 times more likely to develop gastro intestinal infections, but in the Third World, where clean water is hard to find, can make these substitutes much more dangerous and even deadly.

Boycotts have been launched against Nestle, and a petition campaign that acquired nearly 25,000 signatures was organized by the Catholic Family and Human Rights Institute (C-FAM) and presented to Melinda Gates on the opening day of a summit on her birth control initiative that she held in London earlier this month. The petition asked her to be open to other points of view on the matter of world poverty rather than to listen only to those who see artificial contraception as the answer.

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