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GMOF says campaign against milk food consumption a farce



The Government Medical Officers’ Forum (GMOF) says the campaign against the milk food industry in Sri Lanka is nothing but absolute eyewash as there has never been a planned and sustained campaign against the trade if such efforts were to be considered genuine.

The milk powder industry has been targeted from time to time in an ad hoc manner and the lack of continuity on this score only points to the possibility of a ‘conspiracy’ against the milk food business in the country, the GMOF President, Dr. Rukshan Bellana said in a statement.

“There were two possible theories behind this campaign. The first was that some medical men who aspired to be politicians were merely orchestrating a spectacle to gain popularity in society. The other was that some players in the industry were behind the campaign to gain a competitive advantage”, it asserted.

One may recall the vociferous campaign against the milk food industry at one time, where the ‘target’ was products imported especially from New Zealand. The question that begs an answer was why a particular imported segment was taken to task if milk powder, as a whole, was described as “harmful for consumption”? Therefore, it was obvious that a ‘conspiracy’ was in place with a certain medical trade union handling the anti-marketing campaign, the statement claimed.

“The anti-milk food campaign is bound to resurface in a few months’ time. We, as a medical organization, suspect that the local milk powder industry, in a bid to increase their market share was probably behind the campaign against a milk powder brand imported from a particular country”, Dr. Bellana claimed.

Was it a case of trying to edge out ‘leaders’ so that ‘followers’ could take their place through sustained campaigning with the support of a trade union? How was it claimed that imported milk powder was ‘unsuitable’ for consumption when there was neither scientific research nor laboratory evidence to prove that milk powder was unhealthy or harmful to the human body?, he asked.

There are, apart from food scientists, academics and research fellows, recognized research institutions in the country but none of them has produced any evidence on so-called ‘harmful effects’ of imported milk powder on the health of the people. In addition, there are also internationally recognized laboratories but there has been no evidence so far to substantiate such a hypothesis, the statement further said.

It is also of interest that not a single professional medical association has commented on the subject. The Health Promotion Bureau of course promotes breast milk for children but that doesn’t mean it has adopted an anti-milk powder stand. It is now clear that the campaign was launched to mislead the public and discourage them from consuming milk food especially products imported from New Zealand, it said.

“As a medical trade union, we believe that funding such misinformation campaigns and thereby misleading the public is against the law. However, there was no action forthcoming on this score”, it outlined.

The GMOF statement added: “We also see a move to popularize drinking so-called ‘Kola Kenda’ through a trade similar to the milk powder industry, where processed ‘Kola Kenda’ packets are being produced under diverse native names. The move appears to be a bid to replace the milk-drinking habit of the population with ‘Kola Kenda’.

“It was like in the early 1970’s before the advent of the milk powder industry when there was a vibrant campaign to popularize drinking fresh milk. This later changed into packeted milk powder. ‘Kola Kenda’ has already come in packeted form. It is not the fresh, home-made healthy ‘Kola Kenda’ we have been used to for generations.

The most risky aspect of this proposition is giving school children packeted ‘Kola Kenda’ with preservatives and other chemicals added to the contents”, the trade union warned.

In terms of international guidelines we can be assured that the manufacturing process of milk food in New Zealand at least adhere to hygiene and highest quality standards, but the quality and safety of the locally manufactured packeted ‘Kola Kenda’ products are questionable, it said.

At this rate, ‘Kola Kenda’ products in packeted form will soon be a multi-million rupee business, the statement added.



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Embassy officer arrested at BIA remanded




The Embassy official who was attached to the Sri Lanka Embassy in Oman who is accused of being involved in a human trafficking racket was arrested by officers of the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) and remanded till the 13th of December when he was produced before the Colombo Chief Magistrate

The official was arrested on his arrival at the Bandaranaike International Airport (BIA) this morning (29 November).

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Easter Sunday terror attack suspect hacked to death



By Norman Palihawadane

A 38-year-old Easter Sunday terror attack suspect was hacked to death yesterday morning (28) in Mattakkuliya.

The victim, Mohamed Badurdeen Mohamed Harnas, was a resident of Safiya Avenue, Mattakkuliya, police said.

A suspect in the Easter Sunday terror attacks, he had been released on bail.

The suspect was rushed to the National Hospital, Colombo, after three individuals, who arrived in a car around 10. 00 am, attacked him.

Two persons attacked the man while the other was keeping the car engine running, according to eyewitnesses. The attackers thereafter fled in the same car.

Harnas was pronounced dead on admission to hospital.

Further investigations in this regard are currently underway.

The victims family members said that Harnas had been taken into custody, following the 2019 Easter Sunday attacks, but later released as there was no evidence of his involvement in terrorist activities.

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Rail service between Mahawa and Jaffna to be suspended for five months



Transport Minister Bandula Gunawardena told Parliament yesterday that the railway services between Mahawa and Jaffna will be suspended for a period of five months in 2023.

The Minister said that operations will be suspended from January 15, 2023.

The Minister said it was to repair work on the railway line.

He said so in response to a question raised by Vanni District MP Selvam Adaikalanathan.

“We are focusing our attention on the request made by you. We have to halt railway operations between Mahawa and Jaffna for five months from January 2023. Train services have been continuously operating to Jaffna, but now we have faced a situation as we have not been able to carry out any repair work thus far,” the Minister said.

Assuring that this issue can be rectified in five months, Minister Gunawardane said that, thereafter, a good railway service can be provided for this route.

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