I understand that
you and Hilary spoke to students at the University of East Anglia
recently in an attempt to undermine support for the boycott.
I am reliably informed that you claimed that Baby Milk Action
no longer has any concerns about Nestles policy on the
Code of Marketing of Breastmilk Substitutes in developing
countries and outstanding concerns relate to developed countries.
As you well know this is completely untrue. That you make such
a claim demonstrates both Nestles dishonesty and desperation
as it attempts to counter the boycott.
I have written to
you and Hilary several times in recent years encouraging Nestle
to accept Baby Milk Actions four-point
plan aimed at saving infant lives and ultimately ending
the boycott. As you know the first two points ask Nestlé:
- To accept in
writing the World Health Assembly position that the International
Code of Marketing of Breastmilk Substitutes and subsequent,
relevant Resolutions are minimum requirements for all countries.
- To accept in
writing that Nestles policies and practices are not
in line with the Code and Resolutions and need to be changed.
You have so far failed
to give these undertakings, even when asked to reply with a
simple Yes or No answer to whether you
Our concerns relate
to Nestles practices in developing countries as well as
in industrialised countries. With our partners in the International
Baby Food Action Network (IBFAN)
we have set
out in writing a legal opinion demonstrating how Nestles
own instructions fall far short of the International Code and
has also set out to Nestle in writing some of the areas
where Nestles policies are not in line with the Code and
Resolutions, in developing and industrialised countries.
UNICEF made similar
points at the European
Parliament Public Hearing into Nestle malpractice in November
2000, which Nestle was invited to attend to present its own
policies, but refused to do so, objecting to the presence of
IBFAN and UNICEF at the hearing.
monitoring report, Breaking
the Rules, Stretching the Rules 2004, demonstrates with
reference to Nestles own promotional materials, the systematic
and institutionalised disrespect for the Code and Resolutions
in developing and industrialised countries. Such irresponsible
promotion, which puts company profits before health, contributes
to the unnecessary death and suffering of infants and young
children around the world.
When we have debated
these issues, I have had the opportunity to make these points
clearly myself [click
here for a report on a recent debate]. When you speak without
us being present I request that you do not misrepresent our
position and falsely suggest Baby Milk Action approves of Nestlés
policies in developing countries.
about its baby food marketing practices do not stand up to scrutiny,
which is why you have lost every debate on this topic. However,
we are more than happy to give time to a thorough examination
of the evidence in a way that cannot be achieved in the short
timescale available at debates.
I repeat the invitation
made at past debates that we convene a public tribunal into
Nestles baby food marketing practices where expert witnesses
can present evidence before an independent panel. The purpose
is not to negotiate over interpretation of the Code and Resolutions
(it is the World Health Assembly that provides clarification
on interpretation in subsequent Resolutions and UNICEF which
is mandated under Article
11.1 of the Code to provide support to governments on interpretation,
employing a Legal Officer for this purpose). Nor is it to negotiate
over the boycott. Nestles continued malpractice and strategy
of denials and deception clearly demonstrate to us the importance
of continued boycott action.
The purpose of the
tribunal is solely to ascertain who is telling the truth. Nestle
when it claims to market its products ethically and responsibly
(a claim already discredited before the Advertising Standards
Authority) or Baby Milk Action in claiming Nestle continues
to violate the Code and Resolutions in a systematic and institutionalised
manner, putting its own profits before infant health. If you
believe you can win this argument then I see no obstacle to
Nestle taking part in such a tribunal. It is disappointing that
Nestle has not responded favourably to this suggestion so far
[to send a letter in support of the tribunal proposal, click
I ask you to reconsider
and to give an undertaking not to misrepresent our position
when we are not present to set the record straight.
Campaigns and Networking Coordinator
Baby Milk Action