News / Health

Legal Battle Slows Nutritional Peanut Butter From Reaching Children in Need

Lisa Bryant

A fortified peanut paste considered a silver bullet in fighting child malnutrition around the world is now the object of a transatlantic legal battle. At issue is whether patent rights for Plumpy'nut are preventing the product from reaching children who need it most.

It's a must-have for many humanitarian organizations around the world - a high-energy peanut paste packed with vitamins and minerals.  Produced by French manufacturer Nutriset, which has a patent on the product, the paste Plumpy'nut was critical in fighting the 2005 famine in Niger and helping street children survive in India.

Now, two American nonprofits have filed a suit in a Washington, D.C. federal court to get the Plumpy'nut patent rescinded. Mike Mellace, executive director of one of the groups - California-based Mama Cares Foundation - says there is nothing unique about Plumpy'nut.

"We understand what it takes to invest in development of new products and R&D. There are a lot of drug companies that spend a lot of money, time and energy to develop new products. But the merits of the patent and what they've patented...essentially it's peanut butter," he said.

Mellace says Nutriset cannot make enough Plumpy'nut to meet the global demand. And he says Nutriset's patent prevents competitors like Mama Cares from producing similar, and possibly cheaper, products. Mellace claims children are literally dying because of this alleged monopoly.

"Nutriset can't possibly expect they would be able to reach every organization around the world and sell to every organization around the world the products that they have," he said.

But Nutriset's Deputy General Manager Adeline Lescanne disputes these claims. She says children aren't getting Pumpy'nut because not enough aid has been earmarked to buy and distribute the product. "We have partners everywhere in the world and our total capacity today is 60,000 metric tons. And the demand last year was less than 30,000 metric tons. Which means there is production capacity," she said.

Nutriset says it tries to work with local farmers and manufacturers around the world to encourage self- sufficiency.  "It is really important to have a long-term view of what is happening. We are not just playing with a patent, but we are fighting to implement local production in Africa where there are needs, we are working in Latin America to develop new programs," she said.

Humanitarian groups like Medecins Sans Frontieres, or Doctors Without Borders, agree Plumpy'nut is a tool in fighting child hunger and malnutrition. MSF complained to Nutriset last year about a Norwegian competitor who was blocked from transporting a similar product to Kenya. The issue was resolved.

What is critical, MSF says, is to ensure Plumpy'nut and similar nutritional products are as widely distributed as possible - at the lowest cost possible - to needy children.

You May Like

Video Miami Cubans Divided on New US Policy

While older, more conservative Cuban Americans have promoted anti-Castro political movement for years, younger generations say economically, it is time for change More

2014 Sees Dramatic Uptick in Boko Haram Abductions

Militants suspected in latest mass kidnapping of over 100 people in Gumsuri, Nigeria on Sunday More

Video Cuba Deal Is Major Victory for Pope

Role of Francis hailed throughout US, Latin America - though some Cuban-American Catholics have mixed feelings More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacksi
X
December 19, 2014 12:45 AM
The school dropout rate is at an all-time high in Sudan's South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during the three-year civil war between the government and SPLA-N rebel forces. Adam Bailes visited Sudan's Nuba Mountains' region and reports many children are simply too scared to go to school
Video

Video Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacks

The school dropout rate is at an all-time high in Sudan's South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during the three-year civil war between the government and SPLA-N rebel forces. Adam Bailes visited Sudan's Nuba Mountains' region and reports many children are simply too scared to go to school
Video

Video VOA Reporter Tours Devastated Peshawar School

Islamist militants wearing military uniforms and strapped with explosives attacked a military run school Tuesday in the northwestern Pakistani city of Peshawar. At least 141 people were killed in the horrific attack, most of them young students. VOA reporter Ayaz Gul visited the devastated school and attended the funeral of the principal who courageously tried to save her students from the deadly attack.
Video

Video Nigerians Fleeing Boko Haram Languish in Camp Near Capital

In its five-year effort to impose Islamic law in northeastern Nigeria, the Boko Haram extremist group has killed thousands of people and forced hundreds of thousands to flee. Some of those who ran for their lives now live in squalor on the edges of the capital, Abuja. Chris Stein reports for VOA.
Video

Video Putin Says Russian Economy Will Emerge Stronger

Russian President Vladimir Putin has said his country's sinking economy will not only recover but also become stronger, despite falling oil prices and Western sanctions over Ukraine. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports.
Video

Video Detained Turkish Journalists Follow Teachings of US-Based Preacher

The Turkish government’s jailing of critical journalists has sparked international condemnation and is being seen as an effort to undermine the followers of an ailing Turkish preacher based in the United States. VOA religion reporter Jerome Socolovsky has more.
Video

Video ‘Anti-Islamization’ Marches Increase Tensions In Germany

Anti-immigrant rallies in Germany have been building in recent weeks, peaking Monday night in the city of Dresden where tens of thousands of people turned out to demonstrate against what they call the ‘Islamization’ of the West. Germany has offered asylum to more Syrian refugees than any other country, and this appears to have set off the protests. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Aceh Rebuilt Decade After Tsunami, But Scars Remain

On December 26, 2004 there was an earthquake in the Indian Ocean so powerful it caused the Earth’s axis to wobble a few centimeters. Onshore on the island of Sumatra, the resulting tsunami was devastating. A decade later, VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Banda Aceh, Indonesia, where although there is little remaining evidence of the physical devastation, the psychological scars among survivors remain.
Video

Video Refugees Living in Kenya Long for Peace in the Home Countries

Kenya is host to numerous refugees seeking safe haven from conflict. Immigrants from Somalia face challenges in their new lives in Kenya. Ahead of International Migrants Day (December 18) Lenny Ruvaga has more for VOA News from the Kenyan capital.

All About America

AppleAndroid