Nestlé Free Week combats aggressive industry

Breaking the Rules 2014 (BTR) is a 237-page monitoring report of 813 International Code of Marketing of Breast-Milk Substitutes (Code) violations from 81 countries collected between January 2011 and December 2013. What that amounts to: countless mothers’ and babies’ lives on the line.

Dr. Arun Gupta of the Breastfeeding Promotion Network of India (BPNI) and Manager-Communication & Campaigns IBFAN Asia/BPNI Nupur Bidla point out in an email that Nestlé is the biggest player in the artificial baby milk industry. Nestlé, a constant violator of the Code, aggressively markets baby foods contributing to the death and suffering of infants globally, they go on.

Tomorrow marks the start of Nestlé-Free Week (October 30 to November 5, 2017), a campaign intended to promote the Nestlé boycott. (Read Baby Milk Action’s briefing paper for a history of the campaign as well as Business Insider’s Every Parent Should Know The Scandalous History Of Infant Formula.)

As detailed on the Baby Milk Action webpage, participants are encouraged to take action several ways:

Campaigning works. For example, Nestlé changed its statement of support for breastfeeding in its response to boycotters during Nestlé-Free Week 2015 to bring it into line with WHO recommendations, as stated on Baby Milk Action’s website.

Gupta and Bidla point out other campaign merits. Mike and Patty from Baby Milk Action UK  take part in Nestlé shareholder  meetings and voice dissent. The boycott has stopped Nestlé from promoting complementary foods for children below 6 months of age, a change that took nine years. Campaign pressure led to Nestlé’s public statements on breastfeeding from “4 – 6 months” to  “2  years and beyond” in its 2013 report.

“The boycott holds Nestlé to account and forces it to make changes, while also keeping the issue in the public eye,” Gupta and Bidla reiterate.

Still, they go on, Nestlé indulges in greenwashing activities like hi-jacking World Breastfeeding Week (WBW), and continue to commit atrocious acts like obtaining patient information illegally.

“Observing this campaign becomes even more important,” urge Gupta and Bidla.

The boycott will continue until Nestlé accepts and complies with Baby Milk Action’s four-point plan for saving infant lives.

The plan states:

  1.       Nestlé must state in writing that it accepts that the International Code and the subsequent, relevant World Health Assembly Resolutions are minimum requirements for every country.
  2.       Nestlé must state in writing that it will make the required changes to bring its baby food marketing policy and practice into line with the International Code and Resolutions (i.e. end its strategy of denial and deception).
  3.       Baby Milk Action will take the statements to the International Nestlé Boycott Committee and suggest that representatives meet with Nestlé to discuss its timetable for making the required changes.
  4.       If IBFAN monitoring finds no Nestlé violations for 18 months, the boycott will be called off.

Gupta and Bidla add: Nestlé is also involved in exploitation of water resources (see Council of Canadians boycott call), treatment of dairy and coffee farmers, accusations of child slavery and labour in its cocoa supply chain and other issues (see report to the UN Global Compact office, 2009).

Visit this year’s campaign website here. Happy boycotting!

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