Update readers will know that Baby Milk Action and our partners in the International Baby Food Action Network (IBFAN) have been worried for some time about the rise of Public Private Partnerships (PPPs) and alliances such as the Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition and the Scaling Up Nutrition Initiative called SUN. SUN emerged from a World Bank initiative in 2009 and calls itself a global ‘movement’ that unites governments, civil society and businesses in an effort to end undernutrition.
While IBFAN supports SUN’s call for multi-sectoral action on nutrition and support and protection for breastfeeding, we have many concerns about one of SUN’s aims,which is that governments set up multi-stakeholder ‘platforms at country level. A Sun Business Network was set up in December to increase business involvement on these platforms.
US Secretary of State, Hilary Clinton, and the singer Christina Aguliera watching a presentation of the World Food Programme in partnership with the ‘YUM’ (KFC, Pizza Hut, Taco Bell) brand.
We have long experience on the EU Platform on Diet and Physical Activity and know the risks well.
In November, after much consultation, including with SUN members and leadership, we published a Discussion Paper outlining our concerns and SUN’s lack of adequate safeguards on conflicts of interest, without which conflicted corporations can gain unprecedented opportunities to influence health policies. We believe the SUN approach conflicts with World Health Assembly Resolutions. WHA Res.65.6 specifically calls for safeguards against conflict of interest in policy development and implementation of nutrition programs. Surely businesses should only be involved once policies are decided?
In response to these concerns SUN leaders are now stressing breastfeeding and the need for initiatives to be 'government-led' more. We hope this will signal the need for proceeding with caution rather than confidence. For sure, if children are to be protected they need more than words and they need SUN to pay attention to what GAIN and others do at Codex and at government level. (See page 25.)
Malang Fofana, the head of the Gambian delegation to the Codex Nutrition meeting, 2011, gave the following warning:
"Because of the move to ‘product-based’ solutions, funding is already drying up for most infant and young child feeding support programs and for community-based approaches that teach and promote skills to make nutritious family foods from local indigenous ingredients. I fear that once this runaway train leaves the station there will be no stopping it."
The Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food, Olivier de Schutter, calls on SUN and other initiatives to "begin by regulating the marketing of commercial infant formula and other breastmilk substitutes and not to“overlook the entitlements that have been established under international law for women, children, minorities, refugees and internally displaced persons."
• The Global Social Observatory will do a Consultation Process on Conflict of Interest in the SUN Movement, to be funded by the Gates Foundation, which is also a funder of SUN. Let’s see...