An article published at BioMed Central entitled What could infant and young child nutrition learn from sweatshops? concludes: "Lessons from the sweatshops debate could serve as a model to promote cooperation and trust between public and private groups, such that they learn to work together towards their common goal of improving infant and young child nutrition."
The article misses the point that campaigners are in ongoing communication with company executives. The failure of executives to abide by marketing requirements and the way they try to excuse practices and discredit critics demonstrates their focus is not on a 'common goal of improving infant and young child nutrition', but on maximising profits. They can comply with marketing requirements when forced to do so - as in Brazil and India, for example (breastfeeding rates have recovered in the former and the formula market is failing to grow in the latter) - but elsewhere violations are commonplace and it takes public pressure to stop them. There are offers on the table for meeting when companies indicate they are serious about complying with the marketing requirements. Until they do so, methods that have helped to protect the vulnerable in many countries will continue to be pursued.
I have posted the following response as a comment to the article.
We are very grateful to Sally Etheridge for offering to raise funds for Baby Milk Action. She is taking place in 150 km bike ride on 25 June - during UK National Breastfeeding Awareness Week - and is seeking sponsors.
It has been a busy month for Nestlé as it tries to remake the world in its own image. It culminated in Nestlé announcing "The first comprehensive nutrition system for babies", a machine that squirts out milk into feeding bottles for new borns (click here for our press release and quote). How on earth has the human race survived without there being a way to provide nutrition to its young? In Nestlé's world, the past is prelude and the fact that babies were once nurtured by milk produced by their mothers' bodies is to be consigned to our primitive past it seems. Nestlé, Good Grief!.
Nestlé, Good Grief!
This Nestlé, Good Grief! jingle by Nick Rundall can be used as a ringtone or text/email alert on your mobile phone - a fun way to raise the Nestlé boycott! It is also played by the widget you can add to your website or blog.
Baby Milk Action will be joining partners in the International Baby Food Action Network (IBFAN) in Geneva on 12 May to present the latest global report on baby food company marketing practices.
The Breaking the Rules, Stretching the Rules 2010 monitoring report has examples of violations from 46 countries. There are profiles of 11 leading baby food companies, with market leaders Nestlé and Danone responsible for many of the violation examples included.
The most common questions asked by parents and carers who intend to use infant formula are probably, ‘Which formula is the best?’ and ‘How do I make a bottle?’ A new film for health workers developed by Baby Milk Action with Mark-It TV and the Baby Feeding Law Group, aims to equip health workers with the information they need to answer these questions and others. A DVD can be ordered from Baby Milk Action's online Virtual Shop with a public performance licence - click here.
Headlines claiming that scientists have produced 'breastmilk' from Genetically Modified (GM) cows should sound alarm bells for policy makers as they vote this week in the European Parliament on whether to improve measures for approving health claims on formula. Firstly, this story demonstrates once again that existing formulas lack many of the components found in breatmilk, three of which the researchers claim now to be able to produce from different GM cows. Given the existing misleading claims that formula companies put on labels, about how their formula boosts the immune system and supports brain and eye development for example, over a third of parents already believe formula is "very similar or the same" as breastmilk according to a survey by the UK Department of Health. Secondly, the GM cow's are not producing 'human breast milk' (hence the quotes in the reports), but are potentially a source of some of the missing components. Other components, some of which may still need to be discovered, and living substances, are not being produced by the cows and the milk will still require subsequent processing even if it was found to be beneficial and safe (aside from animal welfare and environmental considerations).
Thank you so much to everyone who has contacted their representatives in the European Parliament asking them to vote in favour of a Resolution to protect the rights of parents and carers to accurate information on infant formula. We know it is having an impact because those defending the rights of the baby food industry to put misleading claims onto formula are becoming more active and Mead Johnson has apparently hired an expensive Public Relations firm, to lobby politicians. We need the voices of the public to counter this offensive. Click here if you have not yet sent a message to your representatives in the European Parliament yet or to spread the word if you have. If you want to know the detail of what is taking place, read on.
Get ready for another round of 'Breast not best' headlines in the UK that will echo around the world as a book by Joan Wolf, a political scientist, is launched here. It has the title: "Is Breast Best?: Taking on the Breastfeeding Experts and the New High Stakes of Motherhood" and Joan Wolf is speaking on it at a conference on 21 March.
Well, today we were alerted by a member, Anne Adamson, to a promotion of Nescafe - right outside our office in Cambridge.
We went downstairs with a couple of placards and some leaflets.
As we prepared to take some pictures the group leader kept moving the promotion further and further down the street, threatening to sue us if we showed his face in our picture.