US Girl Scouts have given their names to a Nestlé candy bar marketing campaign in a move that has shocked campaigners against Nestlé's unethical marketing of baby milk around the world. The deal comes as mothers in the Philippines battle to stop Nestlé drastically weakening legislation introduced to reverse the decline in breastfeeding in that country. According to the World Health Organisation (WHO) 16,000 babies die in the Philippines every year due to inappropriate feeding. Nestlé, the global market leader in baby milk, is the target of a boycott as monitoring finds it systematically violates internationally agreed marketing standards and is responsible for more violations than other companies. Campaigners are calling on Girl Scouts to ditch the Nestlé candy bars and send a message of solidarity to women in the Philippines.
Mike Brady, Campaigns and Networking Coordinator at Baby Milk Action said:
"I am shocked to learn that the US Girl Scouts have teamed up with Nestlé, one of the four most boycotted companies on the planet. Nestlé contributes to the unnecessary death and suffering of babies around the world by pushing baby milk in ways that violate internationally agreed marketing standards. Nestlé's baby milk marketing strategies undermines breastfeeding and puts babies who have to be fed on formula at risk. According to UNICEF, improved breastfeeding practices could save some 1.5 million children a year. At the present time, Nestlé is trying to drastically weaken regulations in the Philippines so it can push its formula more aggressively. Rather than giving Nestlé good publicity to divert attention from its corporate malpractice, we hope the US Girl Scouts think again and collectively and individually will speak out in solidarity with mothers in the Philippines and elsewhere."
For further information on the Philippines case see:
To sign a petition of solidarity with the Philippines, see:
The boycott is an integral part of the strategy to protect mothers, babies and their families. It led to the adoption of the International Code of Marketing of Breastmilk Substitutes in 1981, which has now been introduced into legislation in over 60 countries, and to more recent changes, such as forcing Nestlé to change change its policy on marketing of complementary foods from too early an age and its agreement last year to stop claiming its formula is "The new 'gold standard' in infant nutrition" achieved as part of Baby Milk Action's ongoing email Nestlé campaign.
However, as particular marketing strategies are closed down, Nestlé tries new routes to boost sales, at the present time particularly targeting pregnant women and mothers with "baby clubs" and offering training and sponsorship to health workers. India, where the baby food market has been static as regulations prevent marketing strategies common in other countries, the government has confirmed that Nestlé's sponsored events break the law. Nestlé's baby milk factory in Samalkha, India, was raided at the beginning of August by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and products seized. Nestlé claims to comply with the legislation, but according to the Indian Express (5 August 2012) "the FDA will file a complaint against Nestle in the court".
Nestlé is promoting the Girl Scout candy bars with its slogan 'Good Food, Good Life', to which those familiar with its business practices respond: "Nestlé, Good Grief!"
Elizabeth Sterken, Director of Infact Canada, which coordinates the Nestlé boycott in North America, said:
"It is very disturbing to see the Girls Scout's partnering with Nestle, a corporation that must be held accountable for the millions of deaths and the many more millions who suffer from malnutrition because they were not breastfed. Nestle violates the fundamental rights of mothers and children to breastfeed, obstructs countries by refusing to implement the marketing standards for infant formulas and baby foods to protect the health and wellbeing of mothers and children. I urge the Girl Scouts to reconsider this harmful relationship and let Nestle know that it should respect the marketing provisions that protect the health of mothers and their children."