Baby Milk Action delivers messages of support for Philippines stand against aggressive baby food marketing
Emma Thompson joins campaign to support the Philippine Government
Photo opportunity – 11:00 am, 8 December 2006, London.
(click here to download a pdf version of this press release)
US and Swiss baby food companies have taken the Philippines Ministry of Health to the Supreme Court over regulations introduced to implement World Health Assembly standards on the marketing of baby foods. In August the US Chamber of Commerce wrote to President Arroyo saying that investment in the Philippines was under threat and calling for her to interfere in the court case. Four days later the Supreme Court reversed an earlier decision and suspended the regulations.
Emma Thompson, one of the celebrities who has sent a message of support in the card, said:
“I’m appalled to hear about this attack on the Philippine Department of Health’s courageous action. Surely every government has the right to regulate the marketing of baby foods as they see fit. The impact on health of aggressive marketing is well established and is something I’ve been personally concerned about for years. I'm sending my message of support to the people of the Philippines saying people around the world are with you and urge you to stand up to this outrageous pressure.”
In November Baby Milk Action launched an international solidarity campaign (click here for launch press release - including pictures from the Philippines).
People and organisations around the world have sent messages telling the government and campaigners in the Philippines that they have support in protecting their infants. The launch coincided with Baby Milk Action’s Policy Director, Patti Rundall OBE, visiting the Philippines and speaking on television, radio and at Congress.
The international campaign has now generated front-page stories in the Philippines media, which is sometimes reluctant to report critically on transnational corporations, which are major advertisers (click here for media coverage).
According to the World Health Organisation 16,000 infants die before their fifth birthday in the Philippines due to inappropriate feeding. The World Health Assembly introduced the International Code of Marketing of Breastmilk Substitutes in 1981 and subsequent, relevant Resolutions to protect breastfeeding and to ensure breastmilk substitutes are used safely if necessary. WHO has stated that 1.5 million infants die around the world every year because they are not adequately breastfed.
The Philippines Implementing Rules and Regulations (IRR) where signed off by the Secretary of State for Health in May 2006. However, the Regulations were soon challenged in court by the Pharmaceutical and Health Care Association of the Philippines (PHAP) representing three main US formula companies (Abbott Ross, Mead Johnson and Wyeth), Gerber (now owned by Swiss NOVARTIS, but possible transferring to Nestlé) and other international pharmaceutical giants. Nestlé is claiming it is supporting the regulations, but in reality is opposing key provisions.
The messages of support and card will be delivered to Ambassador Edgardo B. Espiritu at 11:00 am on 8 December at the Philippine Embassy, 9-a Palace Green, London, W8 4QE (click here for map).
Patti Rundall will be accompanied by supporters including former Bishop of Coventry, Simon Barrington-Ward (see quote below).
Update: Picture of the Embassy meeting
From r-l: Right Rev. Simon Barrington-Ward (former Bishop of Coventry), Minister Leo Herrera-Lim, Patti Rundall OBE, Peter Greaves (retired Senior Nutritionist, UNICEF) and Embassy official. Click here for hi-resolution version for printing.
Copyright: Baby Milk Action, 2006.
May be used free of charge if copyright is given alongside and a copy of the publication sent to Baby Milk Action.
Oscar winner join Republic of Philippines fight vs milk firms. See Daily Inquirer 9 December 2006: http://newsinfo.inq7.net/inquirerheadlines/nation/
Click here for other news coverage of the campaign in support of the Philippines.
For further information call Patti Rundall on 07786 523493 or
Mike Brady on 020 8816 8210. Email: email@example.com
Endorsements of the campaign
Click here to download a pdf file with endorsements and quotes from individuals and organisations (you can cut and paste from the document use the 'select text' tool in Adobe Reader. A selection are given below.
Former Bishop of Coventry, Simon Barrington-Ward, message of support says:
“I wholeheartedly support the campaign against the disgraceful action of companies and the understandable but utterly regrettable decision of the Philippine Supreme Court which, in the face of the appalling power of these companies, has allowed them to stop the Department of Health’s commendable action. I am utterly opposed to the promotion of breastmilk substitutes and as the Bishop of Coventry, have for years campaigned to raise awareness of the harm this causes with my colleagues in the General Synod of the Church of England. Our focus has been on Nestle which I am sad to see, continues to undermine health. Their cunning halfway position is clearly in opposition to the Department of Health’s stand. The two year ban must go ahead. All strength to you.”
Robin Greenwood, Head of Asia and Middle East Division, Christian Aid, said:
"Christian Aid has supported the campaign to end inappropriate marketing of breastmilk substitutes since the 1980s and sends its support to the Philippine Government in its efforts to tighten up its rules. Breastfeeding is vitally important for child survival and nothing should stand in the way of governments implementing the International Code of Marketing and subsequent relevant WHA Resolutions."
Barbara Stocking, Director of Oxfam GB, sent a message saying:
"Oxfam has supported the campaign for the adoption of the International Code of Marketing of Breastmilk Substitutes for three decades. We consider that the protection and support breastfeeding is one of the most important preventive measures Governments can make for the health and survival of infants. Governments must have the right to legislate to end the commercial promotion of baby foods. We extend our support to the Department of Health in its efforts to regulate that market in order to protect the health of Filipino infants.
"Oxfam is currently working to support the Philippines in the wake of Typhoon Durian, and is aware of how such emergencies exacerbate the risks of artificial feeding."
Belinda Phipps, Executive Director of the National Childbirth Trust, wrote:
"The National Childbirth Trust, the UK’s largest mother-support charity with 70,000 members, is a founder member of Baby Milk Action and has for decades supported IBFAN and governments in the struggle to have the International Code and resolutions adopted as law. We strongly support the efforts by the Philippine Department of Health to protect breastfeeding and believe that the commercial interests should not undermine measures to protect health."
Zöe Wanamaker, actor, wrote:
"Please send my support to the Philippine Government in their efforts to protect breastfeeding. This is a campaign that is extremely important and I hope that the Department of Health will stand firm against the pressure to weaken the controls on marketing."
Glenys Kinnock MEP, Member of European Parliament’s Development and Co-operation Committee. Co-President of the African, Caribbean and Pacific / EU Joint Parliamentary Assembly and Labour Party Spokesperson on International Development in the European Parliament wrote:
"I’m alarmed to hear of this blatant attack on the Philippine Department of Health’s efforts to protect infant health. This is an issue I have been following for a very long time and I have visited the Philippines and seen the devastation that breastmilk substitute promotion can cause. I send my heartfelt support to the Philippine Government at this difficult time. While business interests are important they should not be allowed to take precedence over essential health and consumer protection."
Julie Waters, actor, wrote:
"As strong supporter of the Nestle Boycott I send my support to the Philippine Government as they try to protect breastfeeding. This campaign is vital for child survival and I send you all my best wishes."
Notes for editors
Footage of interviews conducted in the Philippines in 2003 is available on the German Panorama website (click the image to view online).
The International Baby Food Action Network (IBFAN) consists of over 200 groups in more than 100 countries. IBFAN groups work for the implementation of the International Code of Marketing of Breastmilk Substitutes and subsequent, relevant Resolutions and monitor company practices against these. Nestlé is found to be the worst of the companies and so the target of an international consumer boycott.
The campaign to defend the Philippines regulations was initiated by ARUGGAN, the Philippines member of IBFAN. The organisation has been conducting imaginative campaigns such as gathering over 1,000 women with decorated umbrellas in Manila (click here for pictures).
Baby Milk Action is a not-for-profit organisation and the UK member of the International Baby Food Action Network (IBFAN). It is funded by membership fees, merchandise sales and donations, along with grants from development organisations and charitable trusts.
For information on baby food marketing malpractice see the codewatch and boycott sections of this website.
Endorsements for the petition of solidarity have been received from over 350 individuals and organisations from around the world including Australia, Brazil, Canada, France, Greece, Italy, Netherlands, New Zealand, Sweden, United States and United Kingdom.
- Baby Milk Action;
- IBFAN Europe (representing 58 groups in 35 countries, including Baby Milk Action);
- INFACT Canada;
- IBFAN Italy;
- The Italian Nestlé Boycott Network;
- NAFIA, the Nordic Work Group for International Breastfeeding Issues;
- Australian Lactation Consultants Association;
- National Childbirth Trust, UK
- The Breastfeeding Network, UK
- Oxfam GB
- Infant Feeding Association of New Zealand;
- Associazione Culturale Pediatri;
- Italy (Paediatric Cultural Association);
- Peoples Health Movement, USA;
- KASAPI HELLAS (Greek organisation of Filipino migrants);
- Sumisibol (US-Philippines teen cultural exchange organisation);
- Philippine Solidarity Group Netherlands;
- Universidade Federal de Ouro Preto (Federal University of Ouro Preto, Brazil);
- Movimento amigos do circuito das äguas Mineiro (Movement of Friends of the Waters of Minas Gerais, Brazil);
- The University Of Sheffield Union Of Students;
- Churchties Vlaardingen-La Granja/Bacolod, Netherlands.
ARUGAAN mobilises a thousand mothers
ARUGGAN has been conducting imaginative campaigns in defence of the new Regulations. See http://www.unicef.org/philippines/news/060901.html This begins: "More than a thousand breastfeeding mothers together with civic organizations unite to protect breastfeeding through a forum and a colorful public display of a thousand slogan umbrellas at the Risen Garden, Quezon City Hall. The slogans, written in English, Filipino and local dialects, embodied the voice and sentiments of the mothers in light of the Supreme Court's recent decision to temporarily suspend the implementation of the Executive Order 51 or the Philippine Milk Code. The code aims to protect mothers and infants through promoting breastfeeding and regulating advertisements of breastmilk substitutes."
Click for large versions. Photo credit: ARUGAAN (IBFAN Philippines), 2006.