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Baby Milk Action

Email update: 29 June 2014

All this and more on our new-look website, specially designed to display well on smartphones and tablets, as well as desktop computers.

Campaign victory at UN Human Rights Council this week could be a game changer

UN HRC demo

Baby Milk Action and colleagues in the International Baby Food Action Network (IBFAN) are supporting the campaign for a new Treaty to hold corporations accountable for their Human Rights abuses.

There was a potentially ground-breaking victory for the campaign on Thursday: the UN Human Rights Council voted to set up an open-ended working group to draft the Treaty. See the press release from the Treaty Alliance of over 610 NGOs and movements in 95 countries at:

Baby Milk Action has been able to show that non-binding initiatives, such as the UN Global Compact, are worse than useless as we have been pursuing complaints against Nestlé for years, but no action is taken. There needs to be a legally-binding system at international level for when governments fail to stop human rights abuses by corporations.

Baby Milk Action’s Policy Director, Patti Rundall, was in Geneva with IBFAN’s Geneva-based group, GIFA, and other NGOs in the build up to Thursday’s critical vote. She shared our experiences and joined a rally through the Geneva UN district the evening before the vote, which stopped by the headquarters of various transnational corporations with questionable human rights records (see picture above).

Now that work will begin on the Treaty, we will have to ensure it is as strong as necessary. This will not be easy as the US and EU opposed the Treaty proposal – and the UK voted against the Resolution at the Human Rights Council.

If you are in the UK, you can write to your Member of Parliament calling on the government to support the treaty. See our DO ONE THING campaign page. Every week we post one action you can take to protect mothers, babies and their families:

Exposed: Nestlé's strategy 'to gain Healthcare Professionals recommendations' for infant formula

Nestlé entered the UK market in December 2012 when it took over the SMA brand. We are now seeing the aggressive tactics it uses in other countries being used here. It is on the offensive right now, targeting health workers to promote its SMA brand of formula.

Nestlé Infant Nutrition staff are organising events to bypass the restrictions many health facilities have on company representatives meeting with health workers on their premises. We have also had reports of Nestlé staff entering hospital wards without permission.

We organised a protest at a Nestlé health worker event in Leicester on 24 June and have others planned for events scheduled for July.

Nestlé's events violate World Health Assembly marketing standards. Read Mike Brady's Campaign blog for details of those and Nestlé's strategy. See:

The blog exposes a Nestlé document from Canada that states the main responsibility of the company's Maternal and Infant Nutrition staff is to:

'Stimulate retail sales through the promotion of infant formulas and cereals to gain Healthcare Professionals recommendations’.

The blog also exposes how health professionals in the UK are being targeted by a market research company interested in their views on Nestlé's SMA advertising and other issues. The firm won't confirm or deny they are doing this for Nestlé, but it provides an insight into what concerns marketers. There are no questions about whether the advertisement provides the scientific and factual information health workers require about products (not surprising as it does not reference any scientific study). But there are lots of questions about how it makes them 'feel' about the brand.

Read the blog to find out how you can help stop these practices spreading in the UK and elsewhere - and where to find independent, accurate information on infant formula if you are a health worker:

Free download of IBFAN's latest global monitoring report summary

IBFAN's latest global monitoring report, Breaking the Rules, Stretching the Rules 2014, was launched on 16 May 2014 at the Club Suisse de la Presse in Geneva by Annelies Allain, Director of the International Code Documentation Centre (IBFAN Penang, Malaysia), and Mike Brady, Company Campaigns and Networking Coordinator, Baby Milk Action, UK.

You can download the 40-page summary version free of charge from our website. See:

Printed copies are also available.

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