The Other Davos meeting – NGOs expose Nestlé baby food pushing, trade union busting and spying
Baby Milk Action asks George Clooney to reconsider his defence of Nestlé (click here for the post-event press release and new briefing paper launched at the event)
Media briefing 30 January 2009, 18:00 GMT+1, Kongresshaus, Zurich.
While political and business leaders gather in Davos, Switzerland, for the World Economic Forum campaigning Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) are gathering in Zurich to expose malpractice by Swiss food giant, Nestlé.
Patti Rundall OBE, of Baby Milk Action, which promotes the boycott over the company’s aggressive marketing of baby foods, will participate in a public meeting on 30 January at the Kongresshaus in Zurich (www.kongresshaus.ch) at18:00 alongside a speaker concerned about Nestlé trade union busting activities in Colombia and a member of ATTAC Switzerland, which is taking legal action against Nestlé over its infiltration of the group with a spy hired through the private security company, Securitas. The spy included information gathered on the baby milk campaign in reports sent to a former MI6 officer employed by Nestlé to run the operation. Nestlé’s Global Public Affairs Manager has described the company as ‘widely boycotted’.
Patti Rundall OBE, Policy Director of Baby Milk Action, said:
“We have no choice but to continue boycotting Nestle, because the international monitoring we conduct with our partners in the International Baby Food Action Network (IBFAN) continues to shows it to be the worst of the baby food companies. The boycott and our work for legislation has had some success in stopping malpractice, but Nestlé still refuses to make the sweeping changes required to bring its policies and practices into line with the international marketing standards adopted by the World Health Assembly. Instead, Nestlé uses its involvement in the UN Global Compact and ‘partnerships’ in areas related to health and nutrition in an attempt to divert criticism and present an ethical, responsible image. In this way it has recruited celebrities, such as George Clooney who seem unaware of the depths of dishonesty of Nestlé’s claims.”
Baby Milk Action will be releasing an exposé of claims made in a Nestlé briefing provided by George Clooney’s office to those who question why the actor, known for his humanitarian campaigning, is willing to appear in Nestlé Nespresso advertisements. Mr. Clooney expressed irritation when this issue was raised at the Venice Film Festival in 2007. Baby Milk Action is appealing to Mr. Clooney to consider the evidence it has provided to him.
In addition to concerns about trade union busting and spying, there are concerns over Nestlé’s failure to address child slavery in its cocoa supply chain, its treatment of coffee and dairy farmers (and the use of a token Fair Trade coffee brand to try to divert criticism) and its breaking of environmental and other laws in Brazil in its water bottling operations.
Campaigners launched a new Nestlé Critics website serving as a portal for concerns on various aspects of Nestlé malpractice at the start of International Nestlé-Free Week in October 2008. See www.nestlecritics.org
The text of Patti Rundall’s presentation and associated images and briefing papers will be available on the Baby Milk Action website (archive.babymilkaction.org) on 30 January at 18:00 GMT+1.
Patti Rundall: firstname.lastname@example.org Tel: +44 7786 523493 or
Mike Brady: email@example.com Tel: +44 20 3239 9222
Notes for editors
"What do Nike, Coca Cola, McDonald's and Nestlé have in common? Apart from being among the world's most well-known brands, they happen to be the most boycotted brands on the planet. That finding came from this week's global GMIPoll, an online opinion poll that surveyed 15,500 consumers in 17 countries. Nestlé emerges as the most the most boycotted brand in the UK because of what respondents consider its "unethical use and promotion of formula feed for babies in third world countries."
Nestlé won a global internet poll for the world's 'least responsible company' coinciding with the World Economic Forum in Davos in January 2005. Nestlé received 29% of the votes. This was more than twice that of joint second Monsanto and Dow Chemicals (of Bhopal infamy), each on 14% ( click here for details ).
For information on baby food marketing malpractice see the codewatch and boycott sections of this website. The Corporate Watch website has a detailed report on Nestlé.
According to the World Health Organisation, 1.5 million infants die around the world every year because they are not breastfed. See the Your Questions Answered section.
Nestlé is found to be responsible for on-going systematic violations of the World Health Assembly marketing requirements in the report Breaking the Rules, Stretching the Rules 2007.