Plumpy'nut is a wonder-product. A revolutionary humanitarian food product that might save millions of starving children. A blend of peanut-butter, powdered milk, sugar and vegetable oil fortified with vitamins and minerals.Plumpy'nut is not some secret formula - basically it's fortified Nutella
"Before, we had to hospitalise malnourished children - which is a huge drain on resources. With Plumpy'nut, largely because it does not have to be mixed with clean water, the children can stay at home," said Stephane Doyon, nutrition team leader at Medecins Sans Frontieres "In 2002 it took 2,000 staff to treat 10,000 children during a famine in Angola. In Niger we needed just 150 staff for the same number of patients. Thanks to Plumpy'nut, mass treatment is suddenly possible."
Nutriset, the Normandy-based company , own the patent rights to Plumpy'nut which today is the standard "ready-to-use therapeutic food" (RUTF), with Nutriset and its partners providing some 90% of global supply - a near monopoly . A proposed alternative is called Re:vive is being be barred from making something similar .
"...at Nutriset they do all they can to stop people competing. We have had cease-and-desist letters from them, and lots of other companies around the world have too."
26 million children currently suffer from malnutrition yet only between one and two million are receiving Plumpy'nut or equivalents.
Commercial rivals to Nutriset argue RUTFs can only be met if supply is opened up - especially in the US, with its large peanut industry. While Nutriset counter with claims that if the US companies were able to beat the patent, the global volume of RUTFs would of course go up but it would also mean the end for Nutriset's local partners in Africa, who wouldn't be able to compete and that the real problem is there is neither the international funding nor the systems in place to provide RUTFs.
While no doubt hundreds of thousands , if not millions , of dollars is being spent on lawyers and legal challenges , SOYMB simply notes that once again that the capitalist laws of competition and protection of intellectual property rights takes precedence over children's lives .