Editorial: Plotting the path to protection for babies and families

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IBFAN’s World Breastfeeding Conference took place in New Delhi in December 2012, organised by our partners the Breastfeeding Protection Network of India.

It was an inspiring event, done with no commercial sponsorship, yet bringing together over 700 people from more than 80 countries, including many famous names from the breastfeeding and campaigning world. (See page 4).

The latest IBFAN World Breastfeeding Trends report was launched, measuring progress in protecting, promoting and supporting breastfeeding in 54 countries. Also launched was a paper costing how to achieve optimal infant and young child feeding. This would improve infant survival, quality of life, reduce health inequalities, and save resources. Surely a worthwhile investment! (See page 9).

Under existing international agreements, it can be argued that mothers and babies have a right to breastfeed and that governments are duty bound to protect and deliver this right,while others should respect it. (See page 13).

In the last year Kenya, South Africa and Vietnam have introduced new legislation implementing the International Code of Marketing of Breastmilk Substitutes and subsequent, relevant Resolutions of the World Health Assembly.

South Africa’s law follows nine years of struggle against intensive industry pressure and covers products marketed for children up to two years of age. There was a struggle too over Kenya’s law that covers products up to three years of age including the unnecessary formulas for older babies - so-called "growing up milks." These products often share the same branding as formulas for young babies but circumvent the restrictions that apply them. Kenya came under particular pressure from GAIN, (the Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition), as it continued to open up markets for its partner companies (including Danone). GAIN is on the lead group of SUN - Scaling Up Nutrition.

In November We published a discussion paper outlining IBFAN’s concerns about how SUN and GAIN are encouraging governments to partner with business. The idea that food corporations can be useful partners in hunger campaigns was taken to a bizarre extreme in Mexico - with the launch of a Crusade Against Hunger in partnership with Pepsi (providing formulas for children and nursing mothers) and Nestlé teaching 15,000 women how to sell desserts and give nutrition advice! (See page 6).

In the Philippines companies, led by Nestlé, threatened to cancel a US$400 million of investment if its regulations are not weakened. Which brings us back to India where Nestlé products were seized for breaking labelling laws. The Indian formula market fails to grow. Meanwhile in the UK, we won cases against misleading advertising and stopped a Baby Know How roadshow planned by Pfizer Nutriton (since taken over by Nestlé). With the poor UK law and Nestlé now entering the market, we are seeing more aggressive practices.


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