Nestlé-Free Week 2008 starts well despite Nestlé hi-jack attempt
Press release 6 October 2008
Nestlé-Free Week runs 4 - 10 October to raise awareness of Nestlé's aggressive marketing of baby foods and to promote the Nestlé boycott. Nestlé is the target of a boycott as independent monitoring finds it to be responsible for more violations of World Health Assembly marketing requirements for baby foods than any other company. Baby Milk Action has gone ahead with the launch of a new website which serves as a portal to information on this and other concerns about Nestlé's actions, despite a legal challenge by Nestlé.
Nestlé had tried to hi-jack the domain name originally planned for the website and tried to assert copyright over a campaign logo used on the site.
The domain name www.nestlecritics.org is now being used for the site.
Details of the hi-jack attempt can be found on the Nestlé Critics site.
Mike Brady, Campaigns and Networking Coordinator at Baby Milk Action, said:
"International Nestlé-Free Week got off to a great start with there already being more than 10,000 views of the new site that Neslé tried to hi-jack. People have a right to expert analysis of Nestlé Public Relations claims and to information from people monitoring it on the ground. The page examining Nestlé's boast of 'no melamine found' in Nestlé products in China is proving particularly popular as it provides links to official test results, information from the World Health Organisation and other evidence proving that Nestlé's claim was not true and is not true."
The information on the site is objective, comparing the level found in Sanlu formula (a Nestlé competitor), that has led to thousands of infants being hospitalized and four deaths, to that found in a Nestlé whole milk in China. It also examines Nestlé's past failure to recall formula products found with other contaminants and how its marketing strategies have helped to undermine breastfeeding in China.
During International Nestlé-Free Week boycott supporters are encouraged to ask friends and colleagues to avoid Nestlé products for that one week at least. When they find there are alternative products available they may feel more inclined to continue supporting the boycott until Nestlé brings its baby food marketing policies and practices into line with World Health Assembly measures. The boycott has been launched by groups in 20 countries and focuses on the lead Nestlé product, such as Nescafé in the UK and Nesquik in Italy. During Nestlé-Free Week people are encouraged to avoid all Nestlé products if they do not do so already.
Mike Brady said:
"This week is intended to show people it isn't that difficult to give up Nestlé products. Nestlé puts profits before everything except its legal obligations - and even there it pushes the boundaries. The boycott has undoubtedly saved a lot of lives through forcing Nestlé to change some of its practices. Nestlé is the market leader and drives standards down, so any improvements impact on the rest of the industry too. If everyone boycotted Nestlé I am sure Nestlé's Chief Executive, Mr. Paul Bulcke, would drop his opposition to our plan for ending the boycott and would bring practices into line with World Health Assembly measures."
As a parallel strategy to the boycott, Baby Milk Action and its partners in the International Baby Food Action Network (IBFAN) work for independently monitored and enforced legislation implementing the International Code of Marketing of Beastmilk Substitutes and subsequent, relevant World Health Assembly Resolutions. An increasing number of countries have introduced legislation - in the face of industry opposition - and some are seeing breastfeeding rates recover. Mike Brady said: "Where companies are given no choice, they can comply. They are not being asked to do the impossible."
Other concerns raised on the website launched this week include Nestlé's treatment of workers, child slavery in its cocoa supply chain, destruction of water resources etc.
Baby Milk Action refused to hand the original domain name over to Nestlé concerned at the company's record of misleading campaigners to gain sensitive and confidential information. The case of the Nestlé agent, "Sara Meylan", is described on the Nestlé Critics site. She was employed through the security firm, SECURITAS, and infiltrated ATTAC Switzerland, where she joined the editorial board of a book also examining various aspects of Nestlé's business activities and forwarded information about campaigners from around the world to a former MI6 agent employed by Nestlé.
The current boycott of Nestlé was launched on 4 October 1988 in the United States and has now been launched in a total of 20 countries. Nestlé is targeted as monitoring around the world finds it to be responsible for more violations of the International Code of Marketing of Breastmilk Substitutes and subsequent, relevant Resolutions of the World Health Assembly than any other company. 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."
The boycott has forced some changes in Nestlé policy and ended specific cases of malpractice, but violations remain systematic, except in those countries where the campaign’s parallel strategy of bringing in independently monitored and enforced legislation implementing the Code and Resolutions has succeeded. Publicly Nestlé claims that the boycott has little impact, but last year Nestlé's Global Public Affair Manager admitted that Nestlé is "widely boycotted" (see http://archive.babymilkaction.org/press/press6july07.html). GMIPoll found that Nestlé is one of the four most boycotted companies on the planet. The business consultancy ECOFACT recently listed Nestlé as one of the world's most controversial companies for being: "consistently and severely criticized by the world’s media and NGOs".
For further information
Contact Mike Brady on 020 3239 9222 or Patti Rundall on 07786 523493
For concerns about Nestlé business practices see the Nestlé Critics website www.nestlecritics.org - bookmark this page for future reference.
Notes for editors
1. In their bid to close the site, Nestlé's lawyers attempted to argue it was "passing off" as an official Nestlé website and attempted to assert copyright over a boycott image that has been in use for most of the 20 years of the boycott and the colours used on the website, in all their shades.
2. Nestlé demanded the domain name initially publicised for the Nestlé's Action site (nestlesa.org) be transferred to it by 29 September, arguing it was an infringement of the Swiss name of the company, Nestlé S.A. - though Nestlé does not use any domain name containing nestlesa and at least one domain name containing this construction is a page of advertising links (nestlesa.com). Baby Milk Action has refused to hand over the domain name because of Nestlé's past history of duping campaigners into providing sensitive and confidential information. However, as it was never the intention to gain traffic by mistake, the domain name nestlecritics.org is being used for the official launch of the site. It remains to be seen whether Nestlé will continue its demand for the original domain name or challenge the nestlecritics.org name.
3. The World Intellectual Property Organisation has already ruled in favour of campaigners in similar disputes. For example in a complaint brought by Bridgestone the WIPO arbitration panel ruled: “Panel concludes that the exercise of free speech for criticism and commentary also demonstrates a right or legitimate interest in the domain name under Paragraph 4 (c)(iii). The Internet is above all a framework for global communication, and the right to free speech should be one of the foundations of Internet law" and, regarding possible trade mark infringement: "....the Respondent has legitimate fair use and free speech rights and interests in respect of the Domain Name, and the Respondent has not registered and used the Domain Name in bad faith.” .