This is a true crisis that is a long-time coming. Thank the baby formula monopoly, its partner at the Food and Drug Administration, and the Department of Agriculture.
Here's an oversimplified, but likely means through which baby formula can have detectable levels of arsenic: Some formulas are made with a lot of rice. Apparently, rice starch seems to be used as a thickener or means to reduce incidents of babies spitting up, at least according to Enfamil's own product description on Amazon.
Rice tends to have measurable amounts of arsenic based on how and where it's grown. Per one NIH study, rice grown in the South and Central US (old cotton land) has nearly twice the arsenic as Californian rice. Just use your favorite search engine with the terms rice, arsenic, southern US.
Home scale cooking can mitigate arsenic levels by thoroughly washing rice grains and wasting a whole lot of water (this also removes almost all enrichment via factory sprayed on nutrients). Something tells me baby formula makers work to use as little water as possible while preserving as much grain/starch/nutrient content as possible. This would encourage the retention of any arsenic present.
"There are two basic mechanisms that have created a concentrated and brittle market. The first is that regulators.... And the second is that the Federal government...." It seems like virtually all of your articles contain some variation of this to explain why things are such a mess.
I'm boggled about detectable levels of arsenic in baby formula. Is it known how it is introduced to the product?
My wife's a dietitian. Her first job after grad school was at WIC. Part of the subtext to the formula crisis is that _formula has come to be seen as a sign of affluence_ relative to breastfeeding, in particular among poorer communities. There's not just monopoly problems at work here, there's also the wholesale exploitation of families whereby they've been convinced that formula is somehow *better*. Yes, formula is absolutely necessary for a lot of babies. But these firms don't just have market power, they've also made the market much larger by effectively convincing much of the population that they "need" something when that's not really true. Of course, once you've started on formula, then you do need it. I suspect a deeper dive into marketing and advertising would find a lot of problems on that front which have substantially contributed to the crisis at hand.
Relatedly, on the FDA, everyone should read the groundbreaking investigative reporting by of all places, Politico, on how broken the food side of FDA is. I'm not sure how this isn't a fraud on the public, that FDA basically doesn't do, well, much of anything, on the food side. How are people not in jail for just cashing checks and doing, well, nothing? https://www.politico.com/interactives/2022/fda-fails-regulate-food-health-safety-hazards/
And that American N95 manufacturers are at risk of closing down is scandalous as well; I wanted to support a US manufacturer, and bought some masks from United States Mask, and thus I get emails. They recently went to Washington to try to get anyone to care about domestic suppliers getting abandoned: "But free masks for everyone without the opportunity to restock the stockpile threatens our very existence as a company. The problem is retailers, hospitals and industry are still choosing the cheapest N95, usually made overseas. And the government is handpicking who gets to contract right now."
Probably a stupid question: what did babies eat before baby formula was invented?