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Tap Water Awards – Edinburgh Festival 2005
Demonstration against Nestlé

Events 27 and 28 August 2005

Baby Milk Action will be supporting the annual Tap Water Awards at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe on Sunday 28 August 2005 with demonstrations at the Nestlé-owned Perrier Comedy Awards ceremony on Saturday 27 August and at the winners' performances at the Assembly Hall on Sunday 28 (see below for times and addresses).

Last year's events involved celebraties, Members of the Scottish Parliament and a 12-feet high puppet (right).

Click here for a high resolution version for printing. Photo credit: Baby Milk Action

The Tap Water Awards were created 5 years ago when Edinburgh’s Bongo Club (Venue 143) decided not to participate in the Perrier Comedy Awards in protest against Nestlé’s involvement and the increasing commercialisation of the Fringe. Nestlé acquired Perrier in 1992, when the awards, which had started in 1981, were well established. The Nestlé Boycott and the Tap Water awards, which aim to champion innovation across all genres, not just comedy, are supported by many celebrities, including Victoria Wood and Mark Thomas and previous Perrier Award winner Emma Thompson. The awards are run by the Bongo Club and everyone performing at the Fringe is eligible on condition they sign a petition against Nestlé and boycott the Perrier Awards.

In a global internet poll, coinciding with the World Economic Forum in January 2005, Nestlé - the world’s biggest food company with a $67 billion turnover and thousands of brands - was voted the world’s most irresponsible company, receiving 29% of the vote, more than double the second-placed company. National groups have launched boycotts against Nestlé in 20 countries because of its baby food marketing.

Although the primary concern about Nestlé is its continued aggressive promotion of breastmilk substitutes which contributes to 1.5 million infant deaths each year , campaigners also object to many other aspects of this company’s business: its exploitation of farmers, its union busting, its promotion of risky technologies (GM, nano-technology, food irradiation), its illegal extraction of water and impact on the environment, its fraudulent labelling and its promotion of unhealthy foods for children. The destructive environmental impact of Nestlé's Pure Life bottled water business was the subject of BBC Radio 4’s Face the Facts expose on 22nd July.

In 1981 the World Health Assembly adopted the International Code of Marketing of Breastmilk Substitutes in an effort to control marketing and protect infant health. With its partners in the global network IBFAN, Baby Milk Action has been campaigning since then for the adoption of this Code as a minimum standard and legal basis in all countries. Over 70 governments have now introduced legislation implementing it and where these controls are independently monitored and enforced breastfeeding rates are rising. Meanwhile, systematic independent monitoring has shown that Nestlé is responsible for more Code violations than any other company and that it lobbies for unenforceable, voluntary codes, knowing that this will allow business to carry on as normal.

To help persuade Nestlé to stop its irresponsible marketing individuals and organisations are asked to consider the facts, to sign a petition and to boycott Nestlé products, including Perrier, Vittel and San Pelegrino mineral waters.

The Tap Water Awards will be announced on Sunday 28 August at 10pm at The Bongo Club, Venue 143, Holyrood Road (

The Perrier Comedy Awards will be announced on Saturday 27 August (location and time tba). The winning act will play at the Assembly Hall, Venue 35, Mound Place, EH1 2LU on Sunday 28 August at 7:30pm.

Contact in the first instance, Dr Pete Arnold: 07803 553582 or 01480 460912 or: or Patti Rundall on 07786 523493, or the Baby Milk Action office on 01223 464420.

Notes for editors

  1. The Convention on the Rights of the Child recognises the fundamental role that breastfeeding plays in fulfilling the right of every child to the highest attainable standard of health. Breastfeeding could prevent 13% of all under-5 deaths and is far more effective than other preventive interventions such as water sanitation and immunisation. When Nestlé undermines breastfeeding it inevitably violates child rights. According to UNICEF: "Marketing practices that undermine breastfeeding are potentially hazardous wherever they are pursued: in the developing world, WHO estimates that some 1.5 million children die each year because they are not adequately breastfed. These facts are not in dispute."

  2. In 1996, in São Lourenço, Brazil, Nestlé sank (without authorisation) wells 158 metres deep into the aquifer to extract the mineral water. Although this was against federal law, Nestlé demineralised and then re-mineralised according to Nestlé's formula so that it can produce a 'standard' product. The São Lourenço campaigners have fought a protracted legal battle with this over-powerful transnational. The BBC found that the campaigners' allegations that the springs in the water park have been effectively destroyed are supported by its own analysis of the waters (and those of the Brazilian government). For the local people this is a serious issue as the town's tourist industry depends on these springs. But the legal process to challenge Nestlé has been bogged-down in court for four years, while Nestlé continues to exploit and damage this resource and the lives of the local people. Nestlé continues to claim nothing is wrong, that it behaves responsibly and consults closely with local communities. It must be joking!

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