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Pop stars pull out of V2001 music festival promotion because of link to Nestlé

18th January 2001

Pulp, Dodgy and Ian Brown have pulled out of a promotion for the V2001 music festival because it is linked to Nestlé and other bands are considering joining them. Nestlé is the target of a boycott in 19 countries because of its aggressive promotion of breastmilk substitutes. The musicians were invited to be part of a major promotion on 33 million chocolate bars in the run-up to the festival, according to an exclusive published in the New Musical Express (NME - 20th January issue, out now).

Matthew Priest of Dodgy wrote to all bands approached by Nestlé to contribute songs to a giveaway CD. He told NME: "We were approached about using 'Staying Out for the Summer' for a V festival promotion. But then I found out who was behind it."

Mike Brady, Campaigns and Networking Coordinator at Baby Milk Action, said: "Nestlé's aggressive marketing of breastmilk substitutes contributes to the unnecessary death and suffering of infants around the world. The support of these bands will do a lot to publicise the boycott and reach new people. Taking boycott action in the UK has a global impact. Nestlé claims it is an open company and will discuss the concerns, but when the European Parliament held a Public Hearing into the baby food industry last November, Nestlé refused to show, demonstrating its contempt for the democratic process. The company apparently objected to the presence of UNICEF at the hearing."

According to UNICEF, reversing the decline in breastfeeding could save the lives of 1.5 million infants around the world every year. Where water is unsafe a bottle-fed child is up to 25 times more likely to die as a result of diarrhoea than a breastfed child. Nestlé is the target of a boycott because independent monitoring around the world finds it to be responsible for more violations of the marketing requirements adopted by the World Health Assembly than any other company. Nestlé's Managing Director in India faces a prison sentence if convicted in a long-running court case concerning labelling and Nestlé has been fined in other countries. Pressure from the boycott has stopped some violations.

Dr. Charles Sagoe-Moses, of the Ghanaian Infant Nutrition Action Network (a partner of Baby Milk Action) said of the boycott in the UK: "The people there are campaigning because they think they have a voice and they can use their voice to help some people in the developing world who do not have a voice."

For further information contact: Mike Brady, Campaigns and Networking Coordinator, Baby Milk Action, 23 St. Andrew's Street, Cambridge, CB2 3AX. Tel: 01223 464420.

Also see the MediaGuardian reports: Britpop star blasts Nestlé over baby milk marketing and Pop stars shun Nestlé's festival promotion

Notes for editors

  1. For further details and for pictures for publication the "codewatch" and "resources" sections. Update 28, available on the website, includes an interview with Dr. Charles Sagoe-Moses of the Ghanaian IBFAN (International Baby Food Action Network) group.

  2. The International Code of Marketing of Breastmilk Substitutes was adopted by the World Health Assembly in 1981 as a "minimum requirement" to be implemented by Member States "in its entirety." Subsequent Resolutions have addressed questions of interpretation and changes in marketing practices and scientific knowledge.

  3. In May 1999 the Advertising Standards Authority upheld all of Baby Milk Action's complaints against a Nestlé anti-boycott advertisement in which the company claimed to market infant formula "ethically and responsibly." In 1995 Baby Milk Action was called on to defend claims made in a boycott advertisement. The ASA found in favour of Baby Milk Action. The claims were: "Over 4,000 babies die every day in poor countries because they're not breastfed. That's not conjecture, it's UNICEF fact" and "They [Nestlé] aggressively promote their baby milks, breaking a World Health Organisation code of marketing."

  4. The World Health Organisation Executive Board is meeting this week (15 - 23 January - see our Daily Updates). The baby food industry is attempting to block a proposed Resolution which addresses current concerns about infant feeding issues (see British Medical Journal 9th September 2000).

  5. On 22nd November 2000 the European Parliament Development and Cooperation Committee held a Public Hearing into the baby food industry. IBFAN and UNICEF made presentations. MEPs were shocked and outraged when Nestlé refused its invitation to make a presentation on the monitoring process it claims to have put in place to ensure compliance with the marketing requirements. For further information contact Richard Howitt MEP, who arranged the Hearing. Tel: + 32 2 284 5477

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