read the latest newscodewatch: meet the code-breakersread the latest Boycott news, and join the Nestlé boycottjoin Baby Milk Actionvisit the Resource Centresearch our growing databaselinks to breastfeeding resourcescontact Baby Milk Action

International Baby Food Action Network awarded "alternative nobel prize"

(Right Livelihood Award goes to the International Baby Food Action Network)

The Right Livelihood Award Foundation has today announced its 1998 prizes and the International Baby Food Action Network (IBFAN) is one of the four recipients. Baby Milk Action is the UK member of IBFAN and the co-ordinating centre for company campaigns and the international Nestlé boycott. Nestlé received widespread criticism at the Labour Party Conference last week for demanding that a Baby Milk Action poster was removed from the Conference Hall.

The citation from the Right Livelihood Award (RLA) Jury (members listed on page two) is as follows:

"The RLA Jury has honoured IBFAN 'for its committed and effective campaigning over nearly twenty years for the rights of mothers to choose to breastfeed their babies, in the full knowledge of the health benefits of breastmilk, and free from commercial pressure and misinformation with which companies promote breastmilk substitutes'. The RLA calls on governments everywhere to legislate according to the World Health Organisation's International Code of Marketing of Breastmilk Substitutes, and challenges the companies which continue to break and bend the Code to put the health and lives of babies before their profits."

Patti Rundall, the Policy Director of Baby Milk Action, who has been working on the campaign for twenty years said:

"The story of IBFAN demonstrates the importance of long-running campaigns which address the really difficult problems - however impossible this may seem at the outset. After all, the companies that need to be controlled think globally and long-term. They have enough resources to wait, hoping that we will eventually move on to the next subject or give in. IBFAN's determination to remain focused on this vital area, to keep its independence, and to speak out wherever necessary have been major factors in any successes we may have had."

The vast majority of infants can be safely breastfed. Where water is unsafe an artificially fed child is up to 25 times more likely to die as a result of diarrhoea than a breastfed child, according to the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF). The World Health Organisation estimates that reversing the decline in breastfeeding could save the lives of 1.5 million infants around the world every year, yet companies continue to market artificial foods in ways that undermine breastfeeding. IBFAN's latest report Breaking the Rules, Stretching the Rules 1998 exposes company malpractice following monitoring in 31 countries.

Mike Brady, Campaigns and Networking Coordinator at Baby Milk Action said:

"The introduction of the International Code in 1981 should have ended the malpractice, but companies continue to violate it today. An increasing number of governments have introduced legislation implementing the provisions of the International Code and subsequent, relevant Resolutions of the World Health Assembly. Unfortunately these moves to protect infant health are now under threat as the industry exploits concerns about the risk of transmission of HIV through breastfeeding to argue that regulations should be scrapped. It should be remembered that the International Code aims to ensure that all mothers, whether they breastfeed or artificially feed, receive unbiased and adequate information. If the companies succeed in undermining government measures the impact on health could be devastating."

Notes for editors IBFAN consists of over 150 groups in over 90 countries, the majority in the South. The Right Livelihood Award Foundation was established by Jakob von Uexhill in 1980. Joining him on the jury for the 1998 awards were:

  • Marianne Anderson (MP), Sweden
  • Monika Griefahn (MP), former Environment Minister and founder of Greenpeace, Germany
  • Sven Hamrell, Director of the Dag Hammarskjûld Foundation, Sweden
  • Thor Heyerdahl, Author and Explorer
  • Richard Jolly, Architect of the Human Development Report, UNDP, USA
  • Doris Kareva, Secretary General, UNESCO Commission, Estonia
  • Kristina Svensson, Swedish Ambassador to Zambia
  • Thandika Mkandawire, Director UNRISD, Switzerland
  • Vithal Rajan, founder of the Deccan Development Society, India

For further information contact Baby Milk Action head office:
Baby Milk Action, 23 St Andrew's St, Cambridge CB2 3AX, UK.
T: +44 (0)1223 464420


press index