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Americans Paying 400 Times More For Human Breast Milk Than Crude Oil

By Michael Bastasch

Oil may be black gold, but human breast milk has become white gold and it’s worth way more than crude oil.

The Associated Press reports that human breast milk “could trade for 400 times more than the price of crude oil and 2,000 times more than iron ore.” Not only that, people will pay 150 times more for human breast milk than cow’s milk. Breast milk also sells for 15 times more than coffee.

And more surprisingly, these are prices Americans are willing to pay for human breast milk to feed “premature babies in neonatal intensive care units, which need the milk if a mother has difficulty producing enough or the child has trouble latching,” according to the AP.

“Going for as much as $4 per ounce, human breast milk is a hot commodity that is emerging as a surprisingly cutthroat industry,” the AP reports, “one that states are seeking to regulate amid a battle for control between nonprofit and for-profit banks that supply hospital neonatal units.”

There’s a big debate going on in the medical community about how to best provide human breast milk to premature babies. Currently, there are two for-profit companies and one non-profit group that oversee the country’s 15 milk banks.

Some argue that breast milk should be based on “altruism” and others arguing that mothers and companies should be compensated for selling and distributing milk. For profit companies offer moms between $1 and $2.50 for breast milk.

“I don’t know if you want the market influenced. You want the market served,” said John Honaman, who heads up the nonprofit Human Milk Banking Association of North America, adding he worries for-profit companies will prevent altruism from governing the industry.

“We’re bringing a massive supply to market,” said Glenn Snow, who co-founded an international system of for-profit milk banks. “We’re going to save a lot of babies’ lives.”

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