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Cambodia bans human breast milk exports to US


picture of breast-milk - Baby Bottle Bottle Milk Milk Bottle Young Animal Breast Milk Formula - JPG
Cambodia officially banned selling and exporting locally-pumped human breast milk on Tuesday, after reports exposed how women were turning to the controversial trade to boost meagre incomes in one of Southeast Asia's poorest countries.

The order comes after Cambodia temporarily halted breast milk exports by the Utah-based Ambrosia Labs, which claims to be the first firm to source the product from overseas and distribute it in the United States.

The milk was pumped by poor Cambodian women in the capital Phnom Penh and then shipped to the US, where it was pasteurised and sold for $20 per 5 oz (147 ml) pack.

The company's customers are American mothers who want to supplement their babies' diets or cannot produce enough milk of their own.

On Tuesday, Cambodia's cabinet ordered the health ministry to "take actions to immediately prevent the purchasing and exporting of breast milk from mothers from Cambodia," according to a letter seen by AFP.

"Although Cambodia is poor and (life is) difficult, it is not at the level that it will sell breast milk from mothers," it added.

Ambrosia Labs has defended its business in previous interviews, saying the model encouraged Cambodian women to continue breast feeding, earned them much needed extra income and helped fill milk bank shortages in the US.

But UNICEF — the arm of the UN protecting children — condemned the trade last week as exploitative and said excess breast milk should remain in Cambodia, where many babies lack proper nutrition.  
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