Following Nestlé's entry into the UK and Irish formula markets in December 2012, when it finalised its takeover of Pfizer Nutrition/Wyeth and the SMA brand, we are starting to see more aggressive baby milk marketing practices, both from Nestlé and its main competitor, Danone.
Danone is second to Nestlé in the global market and both are major sources of violations of the marketing requirements adopted by the World Health Assembly (WHA), particularly in Asia. Marketing standards were never very high in the UK, but they are on the slide as this competition reaches our shores. Successive governments have failed to implement the International Code of Marketing of Breastmilk Substitutes and subsequent, relevant WHA Resolutions in legislation. Therefore, it falls to everyone who cares about infant health and the right of parents, carers and health workers to receive accurate, independent information to join us in saying these minimum requirements should be respected.
The UK Association of Milk Banks (UKAMB) - one of our partners in the Baby Feeding Law Group - is promoting this day in the UK.
Find out more about what is happening on the UK AMB site: http://www.ukamb.org/
For details of the event at Queen Charlotte's & Chelsea Hospital Milk Bank and how to give your support see:
Please sign this petition addressed to the European Union, calling it to accept that access to water is a human right. See: http://www.right2water.eu/
Nestlé Chairman, Peter Brabeck-Letmathé, has rejected this view in an interview. Under his principles, water is a foodstuff to be sold at a price. He claims that by placing a value on water it will be treated with more respect. People who are poor and have difficulty accessing water should be given help, he says. Of course, Nestlé aims to make a buck from this process and is actively and agressively appropriating community water supplies, often in the face of opposition and legal challenges from those communities. It tries to divert criticism of these tactics with its CSV strategy, that is its Creative Storystelling Venture, or what it prefers to call Creating Shared Value.
A new monitoring report commissioned by UNICEF Lao has just become available and looks at marketing from November 2011 to January 2012. The monitoring found sales representatives, principally from Nestlé and Danone, targeting health workers, shop keepers and parents.
Left: Gloria and Miguel at a protest to defend new baby milk marketing regulations in the Philippines in 2007. After Miguel became sick, Gloria realised she had been misled by baby milk promotion and decided to act to stop companies misleading other mothers. The regulations were successfully defended then, but they are under attack again in 2013.
The attack is led by Nestlé, together with Mead Johnson, Abbott and Fonterra. These companies put their own profits before infant health. Through the Department of Trade and Industry they are threatening members of congress by saying that the Philippines will lose US$400 million in investment if their draft law is not passed to remove the protection given by the existing Milk Code.
Please sign the petition on the AVAAZ site calling for legislators in the Philippines to protect mothers and babies from the baby food industry - click here.
According to the Philippines Department of Health 8,400 babies would be saved every year by optimal infant feeding practices. The regulations that came into effect in 2007 regulate the marketing of milks for babies and young children. They require clear warnings on labels about the protective effects of breastfeeding as specified by the Department of Health.
The Department of Health, the World Health Organisation and UNICEF have condemned a new draft law being pushed by the industry in the Congress, saying in a joint statement: "The draft House Bill... aims to support multinational companies while damaging the Filipino society: families, the mothers and children."
Further details below. We will keep updating this page as the situation develops and more information becomes available.
[Unofficial translation - click here for original article in French]
Le Courrier, 26 January 2013, Saturday
[On the top of the front page]
INFILTRATION OF ATTAC
Nestlé and Securitas lose against ATTAC
A spy hired by Securitas had joined the working group drafting the book Attac contre l’Empire Nestlé [Attac against the Nestlé Empire].
The Civil Tribunal of Lausanne has found Nestlé and Securitas guilty of having spied on ATTAC in the Nestlégate case. In 2003, an agent, acting for the Vevey-based firm, had infiltrated the anti-globalization group.
The World Breastfeeding Conference (6 - 9 December 2012) came to an end in Delhi with participants from 86 nations approving a declaration that:
"calls upon all concerned to adopt a human right based approach to the protection, promotion, and support of breastfeeding and infant and young child feeding at international, national, and community levels."
This is a very powerful concept, backed by international law, which campaigners can use in calling on policy makers to act. We can use it to challenge governments that have failed to provide maternity protection or to regulate the marketing of breastmilk substitutes or that invest in the baby milk industry to boost economic growth while failing to protect, promote and support breastfeeding.
But what does it mean to say breastfeeding is a human right? And what about babies who are not breastfed and mothers who do not breastfeed? Here's the way I understand it.
Nestlé Chairman, Peter Brabeck-Letmathé, was using his familiar tactic of diversionary tactics in India last month and will be doing so again tomorrow (4 December 2012) at the European Parliament.
Baby Milk Action has been concerned about the impact of FTSE's decision in 2010 to weaken the breastmilk substitutes criteria of its FTSE4Good ethical investment listing, which led to Nestlé being included without having to bring its marketing practices into line with the International Code of Marketing of Breastmilk Substitutes and subsequent, relevant Resolutions of the World Health Assembly.
The Nestlé Chairman dismissed the Nestlé boycott and concerns about the company's baby milk marketing activities in India by referring to FTSE4Good. He told NDTV:
"There are issues that have been in the history of our company, which we can discuss. We feel that we know today we are complying 100% with the WHO Code. We have been recognised. We wouldn't be part of FTSE4Good if we hand't been recognised. We are being investigated independently from us by those institutions and we get the certificate of good behaviour, which I think corresponds to the way we are behaving."
This is misleading on many levels.
Baby Milk Action has been asked to support a campaign in Ireland against baby food companies sponsoring awards to health workers. The event's main sponsor is Pfizer/Wyeth, which is in the process of being taken over by Nestlé, and it uses the awards to promote its SMA brand of formula by calling them the SMA Know-How Maternity and Infant Awards. Danone, manufacturer of Aptamil and Cow & Gate brands, is also trying to get in on the advertising opportunity by using its formula brands for some of the awards.
Earlier this year (June 2012), members of the public protested to shopping centres in the UK that were going to host Pfizer/Wyeth's SMA Baby Know How roadshow and this was cancelled - see press release.
In September 2012, Pfizer/Wyeth was found to have misled parents in an SMA advertising campaign in a ruling by the UK Advertising Standards Authority - see press release.