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July 10, 2015

Nonprofit Breast-Milk Banks Fight Emerging Commercial Market

Nonprofit and for-profit breast-milk banks are jostling for dominance of a market poised to grow to meet demand from hospitals and neonatal care facilities, the Associated Press writes.

The increasingly sharp debate centers on whose processes provide the safest milk for premature babies and whether it is more appropriate for nursing mothers to donate or sell surplus milk, which can fetch as much as $4 an ounce, 400 times the price of crude oil.

There are two for-profit U.S. breast-milk firms and a third on the way. The Human Milk Banking Association of North America oversees 18 nonprofit facilities. Several states have instituted or are considering regulation of the banks. Commercial firms say they can massively boost supplies and eliminate shortages, but John Honaman, the association's executive director, raised concerns about bringing the profit motive into milk supplies. "I don't know if you want the market influenced. You want the market served," he said.