comedy performers and film stars are calling for up-and-coming acts to
boycott the Nestlé Perrier Award at the current Edinburgh Fringe
Festival. Emma Thompson, Rob Newman, Julie Christie and Victoria Wood are
amongst those calling for the boycott to highlight Nestlé's aggressive
marketing of breastnilk substitutes which contributes to the unnecessary
death and suffering of infants around the world by undermining breastfeeding.
According to UNICEF reversing the decline in breastfeeding could save the
lives of 1.5 million infants around the world every year.
Emma Thompson said: "The Perrier Awards should be boycotted by all
right-thinking people, because Nestle has got to be stopped."
The Perrier Awards started in 1981 and have helped many household names up
the ladder, including Emma Thompson, who was one of the first winners. But
since the company was bought out by the 49 billion Swiss food giant Nestle in
1992, it became just another of the companyÖs 12,000 brands and inevitably
embroiled in global politics. The Boycott of the award started spontaneously
after Rob Newman made the initial call in Scotland on Sunday on 22nd July and
has rapidly gained support and attracted publicity.
Victoria Wood said: "Comedians can manage without the Perrier Award and
the world should be able to manage without Perrier. I support the
Victoria Wood also raised the environmental impact of bottling water:
"The idea that the only way to get clean drinking water
is to pay for some in a bottle is appalling. No-one has the
right to corner the world's drinking supply, that's like something
from science fiction. I very happily drink tap water most
of the time. I'm not comfortable about the waste involved
in producing a plastic bottle just so I can drink something
I can get from a tap."
When Nestlé launched its 'Pure Life' brand
of bottled water in Pakistan its aggressive promotion campaign
was criticised for undermining efforts to provide piped
drinking water for all (see report in Boycott News 25). In the US Perrier is the
target of a boycott because of its environmental impact
(see Save America's Water). WWF has recently launched a report on the environmental
impact of bottled water.
An alterhative 'Tap Water' award has been launched by
the Bongo Club. According to the Sunday Herald (5th August):
"The Bongo Club, a popular Edinburgh venue hosting the Tap
Water Awards, will host 19 music and comedy acts which have
agreed to boycott Perrier. The new prize will be used to
help cash-strapped comics fund shows at Edinburgh. Bongo
coordinator Suzanne Merrall said 'I'm hoping that we can
really establish the Tap Water Awards as an alternative,
and encourage people to use comedy to raise awareness. 'We
are hoping to take it further and make it an award for all
the other comedy festivals around the world . If we can
make it global, we can see that really having an effect
on Perrier and Nestlé?'
Patti Rundall OBE, Policy Director at Baby Milk Action,
"For over 20 years we have been raising awareness of the harm
that nestle's marketing has on infant health, and bringing
in controls to stop them doing harm. I know this new Perrier
Boycott will cause problems for some up and comerdians, but
I hope they will understand that its also a fantastic opportunity
to do something that could make a differnece globally. There
must be room at Edinburgh for a non-corporate event.
"At least now more people are aware of the complications
with nestle Sponsorship - not only with baby foods, but
many of its foods and drinks. By pushing bottled water agressively
as Nestle does, companies can undermine the impetus to provide
cheap safe water to those who need it most.
"I'm glad that there are Comedians who are prepared to
see through this - and take a principled stand."
Nestlé employs a team of staff to counter the international
Nestlé boycott, which has been launched by groups
in 20 countries (most recently in Cameroon by a national
NGO which found Nestlé promoting breastmilk substitutes
at health facilities with film shows).
Nestlé falsely claims that its critics refer to
marketing practices it has now stopped. In reality the evidence
demonstrates Nestlé malpractice continues in a systemtic
and institutionalised manner. An international monitoring
report launched at the World Health Assembly in May 2001
shows Nestlé to be responsible for more violations
of the marketing standards adopted by the Assembly than
any other company (see the IBFAN report Breaking the Rules
Nestlé rejected a Baby Milk Action four-point plan
for saving infant lives and ultimately ending the boycott
in March 2001. (see Boycott News 29).
For more information contact Mike Brady or Patti Rundall at Baby Milk Action, 23
St Andrews Street, Cambridge, CB2 3AX, tel: +44 1223 464420,
fax: +44 1223 464417
Reports on the web (updated 6th August)
Notes for editors:
- For news of other celebrity endorsers see Boycott News 29.
- Baby Milk Action is a non-profit organisation which
aims to save infant lives and to end the avoidable suffering
caused by inappropriate infant feeding. Baby Milk Action
works within the International Baby Food Action Network
(IBFAN) - a coalition
of more than 150 citizen and health worker groups in more
than 90 countries around the world. IBFAN works for better
child health and nutrition through the promotion of breastfeeding
and the elimination of irresponsible marketing of infants
foods, bottles and teats.
- The WHO International
Code of Marketing of Breastmilk Substitutes was adopted
by the World Health Assembly in 1981. Subsequent Resolutions
have clarified interpretation and addressed changes in
marketing practices and scientific knowledge.
- The latest IBFAN report - Breaking the Rules
2001 - was launched in May this year at the World
Health Assembly to coincide with the 20th anniversary
of the adoption of the WHO International Code of Marketing
of Breastmilk Substitutes. The report cites Code violations
by artificial baby milk companies, including promotion
via the Internet. (The report can be purchased from Baby
Milk Action's Virtual Shop).
- Nestlé's assurances about its marketing practices
do not stand up to scrutiny. In May 1999 the UK Advertising
Standards Authority (ASA) upheld all of Baby Milk Action's
complaints about an anti-boycott advertisement in which
Nestlé claimed to market infant formula 'ethically
and responsibly'. The two-year investigation was one of
the longest in the ASA's history (see report in Boycott
- In November 2000 Nestlé was the first company
called to give evidence to the European Parliament Public
Hearings on corporate responsibility. Nestlé refused
to attend (see report in Boycott News 29)