Year report October 2008 - September 2009

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Baby Milk Action's AGM is on 17 April 2010 at the Centre at St. Paul's, Corner of St Paul's Road and Hills Road, Cambridge, CB2 1JP.

Coffee and Tea at 10:30.

Official business 11:00 - 12:00

Members-only meeting until 15:45.

There are various park and rides that will get you in to the centre of Cambridge - there is no parking at the venue.

Year Report 2008 - 2009



The Nestlé Critics

We launched the Nestlé Critics website in October 2008 at the start ofInternational Nestlé-Free Week. This week is a chance for boycotters to do more to inform friends and colleagues about Nestlé malpractice and for non-boycotters to do something, at least for a week. Nestlé attempted to hi-jack the site just days before its launch, a move we rejected.

The site is a portal for information from different campaign groups targeting Nestlé malpractice, including: child slavery in its cocoa supply chain, trade union busting in Colombia, refusal to negotiate with unions in the Philippines despite court orders to do so, harmful impact on water resources, harmful trading practices impacting on coffee farmers, and so on.

The Nestlé Critics site ensures that the baby milk issue comes to people's attention when they search for information on these other issues - and vice versa. The site allows Baby Milk Action to respond more efficiently when asked about these issues.

In January we were invited by Swiss campaigners to The Other Davos Meeting which took place at the same time as the World Economic Forum. The Swiss group, Attac Switzerland, has taken legal action against Nestlé for running a spying operation that included placing an agent inside their organisation to gather sensitive information on trade unionists in Colombia and other campaigners, including our IBFAN partners. 

We launched a briefing paper examining the bogus arguments on the baby milk issue that Nestlé has used to persuade the actor George Clooney that it is okay to appear in its Nescafé advertisements.

Joint complaint to the UN

In June we launched a joint report: Nestlé UN Global Compact Cover-up - How Nestlé’s Shared Value reports cover up malpractice and bring the UN voluntary initiative for corporate responsibility into disrepute. This documents how Nestlé is responsible for 'egregious violations' of the UN Global Compact principles and uses the initiative as part of its Public Relations strategy to divert criticism. We sent the report to the UN Global Compact Office with a call for Nestlé to be excluded. The failure of this initiative to stop corproate malpractice can be summed up by this comment from the Office in the course of our on-going communications: "Of course, abuses of the 10 Principles do occur; however we believe that such abuses only indicate that it is important for the company to remain in the Compact and learn from its mistakes."

Corporations benefit when misleading reports are published on the Global Compact website and launched at joint events. They also try to link with the UN in many other ways. For example, Peter Brabeck, Chairman of Nestlé, is on the Board of the World Economic Forum (WEF), the Swiss 'not-for-profit' NGO with 1,000 members, most with turnovers of more than US$ 5 billion. WEF is now seeking to influence WHO's health policy-setting process. In the coming period we will be working with the Nestlé Critics and others to show that much more care is needed to minimise conflicts of interest and protect the UN system before it is rendered toothless. There is no doubt that whatever the outcome, public action is essential to hold corporations to account.

For our main areas of work in 2010 - and to let us know your priority - see our 'Make a Mark in 2010' page: 

Cover photo: One of a set of three Baby Milk Action notelets featuring Nestlé adverts that would be commonplace if not for our campaign. This one is from 1929.


Raising Awareness

● Members and supporters were essential in raising awareness of the importance of protecting infant and young child health. Area contacts and staff held stalls and workshops at events in the UK including those organised by the Lactation Consultants GB, Baby Friendly Initiative, Breastfeeding Network, and La Leche League GB. (See the year report pdf below for our list of area contacts, directors and advisors).

● We coordinate the international boycott of Nestlé, the company responsible for more aggressive baby food promotion than any other. We also monitor other companies such as Danone, the world's second largest baby food manufacturer since its takeover of Nutricia. It also markets products aggressively.

● In October we promoted International Nestlé-Free Week. We launched the Nestlé Critics website with links to information on all aspects of Nestlé's unethical business practices.

● We made a joint complaint about Nestlé to the UN Global Compact Office. Its refusal to take any action demonstrates the need to reform or replace this system.

● We were invited by the Swiss group ATTAC to speak in Zurich in January at the Other Davos meeting.

● ATTAC joined us at Nestlé's AGM in April in Lausanne, where we questioned the Nestlé Board about ongoing marketing violations. Our supporters turned out once again for the annual demonstration at Nestlé (UK) HQ in Croydon in May and listened to the alternative Chairman's speech.

● Patti Rundall, our Policy Director, was invited for a speaking tour of California in June, starting with the California Childhood Obesity Conference in Los Angeles. The trip was sponsored by the welfare scheme, Women Infants and Children, the Prevention Institute and other US groups. With Campaign Coordinator, Mike Brady's blogs, this trip helped revive interest in the Boycott in the USA.



● We are the UK member of IBFAN (the International Baby Food Action Network) which has more than 200 groups in over 100 countries. We are responsible for company campaigns and Code advocacy in Europe.

● In February and May we promoted the ONE MILLION CAMPAIGN organised by the IBFAN's Breastfeeding Promotion Network of India (BPNI). In August Patti Rundall was a speaker in the BPNI Conference on Nutrition and Sustainability in Delhi.

● We attended IBFAN's Coordinating Council meeting in Egypt in November and during 2009 promoted the World Breastfeeding Week theme: Breastfeeding A Vital Emergency Response.

● We supported our partners efforts to strengthen legislation in countries such as the Philippines and South Africa.


Monitoring and Reporting

● We produce the Campaign for Ethical Marketing action sheets, exposing marketing malpractice around the world by all baby feeding companies and helping supporters write letters to company executives.

● In July we contacted Nestlé about its new global strategy of promoting formula with the claim that it 'protects'babies - it doesn't, they are more likely to become sick than breastfed babies and, in conditions of poverty, more likely to die. Our public campaign prompted Nestlé to issue a response - but this defends the practice. More pressure is needed.

● Monitoring in the UK continued to be a major focus. We produced several reports for the Baby Feeding Law Group on the strategies used by formula companies in the UK.


Code Advocacy

● Baby Milk Action tries to ensure that breastfeeding and the International Code are safeguarded in UK, EU and United Nations policy setting. For example:

● Our Baby Feeding Law Group (BFLG) work led to Food Standards Agency (FSA) and the Department of Health setting up an Independent Review Panel (IRP) to examine the effectiveness of the Infant Formula and Follow-on Formula Regulations. We submitted reports documenting company marketing practices and are campaigning for a strong response. We raised questions about the IRP, health claims and FSA independence at the FSA Board meetings in February and July.

● We highlighted the importance of breastfeeding and independent monitoring, and the risks of public-private partnerships and industry sponsorship of education at the European Commission's Platform for Action on Diet, Physical Activity and Health and High Level Group meetings with EU Member States. We have called for the Platform, which aims to halt the obesity epidemic by involving all the major food industries and NGOs, to be evaluated.

● The European Ombudsman did not uphold our complaint that the EU Commission failed to protect public health in its handling of the EU Directive. The Commission's failure to recognise the universality of the Code, led to weak formula laws across Europe. We are calling for the Framework Directive which governs the legal process to be replaced by a more transparent and accountable procedure.

● On behalf of the BFLG we have called on the European Food Safety Authority and the EU Commission not to permit health and nutrition claims on baby milks and foods.

● Following 10 years of our input to the UN's Codex Alimentarius Commission, the global food standards on baby foods now refer to the International Code. Sponsored by INFACT Canada, we attended the Codex meeting in Cape Town, South Africa in November, as new work began on baby foods.

● Our calls for Danone to be removed from the Board of the Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition (GAIN) succeeded.

● We have helped strengthen WHO's Recommendations on Marketing of Foods and nonalcoholic Beverages to Children.

● We represented Save the Children at the World Health Assembly in May, supporting IBFAN's call for breastfeeding as a progress indicator for the Millennium Development Goals.

● We attended Party Conferences in September and took part in consultations including Start for Life, the Impact of the Commercial World on Children and the Marmot Review of Health Inequalities.



● We are the Secretariat of the UK Baby Feeding Law Group which includes the Royal Colleges of Midwives, Nursing and Padiatrics, the Community Practitioners, the Health Visitors' Association and UNISON. We are also on the Steering Group of the Breastfeeding Manifesto Coalition leading on one of its seven objectives, Code advocacy and implementation.

● We are a Trustee and member of NGO networks such as Sustain (The Children's Food Bill), the UK Consortium on AIDS, the CASE Privatisation Group, CORE, the Trade Justice Movement and the UK Food Group.

● Sponsored by IBFAN, we attended the World Alliance for Breastfeeding Action (WABA) meeting in Malaysia in October Patti Rundall is now WABA's Advocacy Task Force Coordinator).


Publishing and Marketing

● Members are extremely important as multipliers and over half of our income comes from membership, donations and merchandise sales (see the year report pdf for a financial summary).

● In November we sent our supporters in the UK and 86 countries copies of Update 41 newsletter.

● The website and Campaigns Coordinator's blog continued to be regularly updated and are a source of free information. Our main website received about 550,000 visitors in the course of the year.

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