38: September 2006
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IBFAN 2007 Breastfeeding
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Baby Milk Action, Little Angels and Best Beginnings joined David Kidney MP in May to present a petition of over 7,000 signatures to the Prime Minister, defending a mother's right to feed her child in public.
David Kidney's Parliamentary Bill, Breastfeeding etc, aims to give mothers in England the same protection as those in Scotland. Scottish employers have been sent a leaflet setting out their obligations to ensure mothers on their premises can feed their infants without harassment.
The petition was received by the policeman inside Number 10 and we thought it would be great illustration to get a picture of Stella Onions of Little Angels breastfeeding her son Zac. Sadly another policeman ordered her to stop, saying it it was more than his job's worth to allow a picture of breastfeeding in front of Number 10.
For a hi-resolution version contact Baby Milk Action.
The story was picked up by Good Morning on ITV and in The Daily Mirror (18 May) - in which a columnist later suggested that Stella constituted a security threat. The Metropolitan police said later that Stella was causing an obstruction - a fair point, perhaps, if it were not normal practice for petitioners to take a picture in front of Number 10.
Breastfeeding MPs, including Lynne Jones, Julie Kilbride, Annette Brooke and David Kidney, have been trying to improve UK legislation to support breastfeeding, including strengthening the controls on marketing.
Could your health visitor win the 2006 Julie Crawford Award for Breastfeeding Support? If so, then why not nominate her/him for the fourth Julie Crawford Award for Breastfeeding Support. The award was set up by the Baby Feeding Law Group to honour health visitors who make a significant contribution to the protection of breastfeeding, facilitating universal access to support that is free from commercial influence. Julie was a health visitor and a Director of Baby Milk Action who died in November 2001.
Previous winners: Sharon Breward, Deanna Vearncombe, Gill Rapley.
For criteria and details: www.babyfeedinglawgroup.org.uk
Deadline: 14 October.
On Wednesday 19 July EU Member States gave way to the European Commission, an unelected body, and voted to adopt a revised Directive on the composition and marketing of infant formulae and follow-on formulae. The Directive will be published in the Official Journal in the autumn to be translated into national legislation within one year. The decision saddened and worried UK and European health, development and consumer organisations who fear that the Directive will legitimise aggressive marketing practices and undermine health.
The day before the meeting, the UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food sent an emergency message to the Commission calling for the Directive to be strengthened. His letter recalled government obligations contained in human rights measures relating to the right to food and children’s rights (The Universal Declaration on Human Rights, the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, the Convention on the Rights of the Child as well as General Comment 12 of the Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights).
The UK and several other EU Member States, along with all the European health bodies that had been consulted, criticised the Directive as inadequate. The UK presented convincing evidence of why the controls on health and nutrition claims and follow-on formulae promotion should be toughened up and how marketing is undermining infant health. The Finnish Government had also highlighted the need to control follow-on milk promotion:
"The purpose of Follow-on Formulae is the same as Infant Formulae: to complement or substitute breast milk. Therefore the marketing rules should be the same for both Infant Formulae and Follow-on Formulae...marketing practices should not be allowed which could reduce breastfeeding rates...we suggest that the marketing rules should be expanded to cover the Follow-on Formulae too."
These views were, for the most part, dismissed, as were the labelling recommendations of the Commission's advisory body, the Scientific Committee for Food which, in its report on the composition of infant formula, referred to the need for 'nutrition labelling' on ingredients and deliberately avoided recommending "claims" which are invariably promotiona
The new Directive exposes the faults in the procedures for adopting European legislation for breastmilk substitutes. In the 1980s, the European Parliament had the right to be consulted and rejected the Commission's weak, industry-inspired proposals three times, calling instead for the International Code. The Commission eventually gave way in 1986 and agreed 33 key amendments to its text. But soon after the rules changed and in 1989, a Framework Directive (PARNUTS) was passed which gave the Commission power to adopt legislation on specialised foods (including baby foods) without having to consult the EU Parliament. As a result, the new Directive - with all its faults - was drawn up by the Commission and discussed in closed meetings with 'experts' from Member States - experts who, more often than not, came from Agriculture and Food Standards, rather than Health, departments. The Commission was prepared to make amendments only when a large majority of the 25 EU Member States insisted on a particular change.
The Baby Feeding Law Group will step up pressure to ensure that the UK Government implements the Directive in the strongest possible way. For example, if nutrition and health claims have to be permitted, the law could require them to be small and discreet, at the back of the package above the nutrition panel. See our website for more information: www.babyfeedinglawgroup.org.uk/advocacy.html
WHO organised a series of events to commemorate the 25th Anniversary of the International Code during the 59th World Health Assembly in Geneva in May. A chart showed the progress of government action and a new booklet, Frequently asked Questions was published. A new WHA Resolution (WHA Res 59.21) -- the 12th related to the International Code - was adopted, welcoming the Innocenti Declaration on Infant and Young Child Feeding as a significant step towards achievement of the fourth Millennium Development Goal to reduce child mortality.
|Sheila Thou, Minister of Health of Botswana (on the left) and Dr Joy Phumaphi, Assistant Director General of WHO, at the 25 Year Celebration of the Code in Geneva, May 2006|
We send our warmest sympathy to the family of Dr Lee Jong-Wook, Director General of WHO who died very suddenly on the first day of the World Health Assembly after three years in office. A new Director General will be appointed in October.
The US Government has never implemented the Code and in international fora opposes marketing controls. But evidence is mounting that this is affecting its health goals and resources. In 2004 a study showed that 21% of infant deaths in the US could be averted through breastfeeding (Breastfeeding and the risk of Postneonatal death in the US, Chen and Rogan, Pediatrics, 5 May 04).
In February 2006 a report by the U.S Government Accountability Office (GAO) concluded that $3.6 billion in health care and indirect costs could be saved if breastfeeding rates increased. Rates are particularly low among the nearly half of US-born infants on the welfare scheme for Women and Children (WIC).
|The report concludes that little is known about the impact of marketing, but that commercial promotion, including company use of the WIC trademark (implying WIC endorsement) may be a factor (GAO report: www.gao.gov and search for GAO-06-282 also WIC’S Promotion of Infant Formula in the United States Int. Breastfeeding Journal 2006, 1:8 George Kent).||
Nestlé shelf promotions in US supermarkets imply WIC 'approval'
On the right, a still from a controversial US Health and Social Service Dept. social marketing TV advert. This showed a pregnant woman riding a mechanical bull with the text: "You wouldn't take risks before your baby is born...why start after? Breastfeed for 6 months." To see the adverts go to: www.womenshealth.gov/breastfeeding/
Baby Milk Action continues to represent IBFAN on the European Platform for Action on Diet and Physical Activity - an experiment by the European Commission to see if rising obesity levels can be halted through voluntary actions rather than legislation. Using IBFAN's long experience of monitoring the Code, we have been warning of the risks of reliance on self regulation, the need to protect breastfeeding, the risks of NGO/ industry parnerships and food industry sponsorship of education. Our calls for the independent monitoring of the commitments made by Platform members were included in the Platform's Monitoring Framework until Nestlé's Neils Christiansen, representing the Confederation of Food and Drink Industry (CIAA), complained, saying that independent monitoring had not been agreed at the outset. Following a joint US/EU Platform meeting in May, nine NGOs from the US and the EU produced a joint statement calling for regulatory controls on marketing.
|“Artificially fed infants consume 30,000 more calories than breastfed infants by 8 months of age.” (Equivalent to 120 Mars bars.) Human Lactation 1999|
Together with the Baby Feeding Law Group we have been calling for the UK Health and Education Bills to include references to the WHA Resolutions on infant feeding to guard against conflicts of interest and baby feeding industry involvement in health and education. See www.babyfeedinglawgroup.org.uk/
WHO's global Growth Standards published in April are based on studies of breastfed babies in seven countries worldwide which found their development was remarkably similar. The standards for the first time describe 'how children should grow' and show that sound early nutrition is more influential in child development than are genetics or ethnic origin.
Is this the best way to tackle obesity?
Nestlé sponsors the Inter-Schools Swimming Championship in Borneo with T-shirts and Milo drinks.
Milo is 46% sugar. (May 06 Borneo Bulletin Online)
Click here for papers produced for the Platform including powerpoint presentations summarising the research evidence on breastfeeding and obesity.
The 2006 World Bank Report, Repositioning Nutrition as Central to Development, highlights the promotion of breastfeeding and importance of the International Code: "adequate breastfeeding and complementary feeding could prevent more than twice as many deaths of children under age five than any other intervention.”
Baby food companies still fail to warn parents about intrinsic contamination of powdered baby milk. They give out dangerous preparation instructions and advertise the protective effect of 'prebiotics' and 'probiotics.'
But the Northern Ireland Department of Health and the Welsh Assembly Government have taken action. New guidance booklets specifically state that powdered infant formula is not a sterile product and can contain bacteria such as Enterobacter sakazakii or Salmonella and advise making formula with water that is at least 70 0 C - a decontamination step which, if used consistently, could result in a 10,000-fold risk reduction.
The Codex Working Group discussed the draft Code of Hygienic Practice in May and included WHO recommendations for preparation and label instructions which say: “Powdered infant formula is not a sterile product and may be contaminated with pathogens that can cause serious illness. Correct preparation and handling reduces the risk of illness”
See Baby Milk Action press release 4 January 2006: Hipp endangers infants with misleading information on formula preparation.
On 2 August, after eight years of opposition from the baby fcod industry, IBFANers in Bolivia, IBFAN-AIS-Codedco, celebrated the passing of a strong law to protect breastfeeding which bans all promotion of breastmilk substitutes, including follow-on milks. The new Bolivian Health Minister, Mrs Nila Heredia, made a powerful defence of the law.
In at least two cases involving mothers from Vietnam and Turkey this Spring, immigration officials failed to follow the correct procedures regarding the treatment of families and separated breastfeeding mothers from their babies. The mothers were released following letters from human rights campaigner, Lord Avebury, and Baby Milk Action to the Home Office Minister. In answer to our letters, Liam Byrne, the new Minister, suggested that the Vietnamese case was an isolated incident. "It is clear that the case was not satisfactorily handled. Prechecks had failed to reveal that Mrs N was part of a family unit."
For three consecutive nights in February, Canadian TV (CBC) featured an exposé of Dr Ranjit Chandra, a distinguished Canadian scientist whose reputation first crumbled in 2002 following an investigation into his multi-vitamin research (see UD 35). Dr Chandra's research on infant feeding has been used by Nestlé/Carnation to promote formulas which it launched in the USA in 1989 with 'hypoallergenic (HA)' claims. Several infants suffered anaphylactic shock as a result and nine US authorities took legal action to stop Nestlé making HA claims.
When Dr Chandra failed to produce the raw data on his infant feeding trials when challenged he fled from Canada to Switzerland. The scandal has rocked the scientific community, exposing the inherent problems of corporate-funded research. But the effects will linger on. On the basis on Chandra's work Nestlé has successfully created a market for millions of tins of formula by misleading use of the term “Hypoallergenic.” EU legislation has been altered and parents worldwide have been duped into exposing their children to the risks of formula feeding.
In May 2006 the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) rejected a new attempt by Nestlé to claim that its formulae reduced the risk of allergies. The FDA said there was no credible evidence to support the company’s claims.
|The Baby Feeding Law Group (BFLG) has written to Caroline Flint, the Public Health Minister, calling for the withdrawal from the UK market of formulas containing partially hydrolised proteins and for an investigation of the multi-centre trials being carried out by NUMICO.||
Article about Numico Patch Trial.
The BFLG and health professionals in the UK hospitals where the trials are being carried out have expressed concern about the ethics of the protocol and the NHS duty of care. Two hospitals, Portsmouth and Chichester, have refused to take part in the studies out of concern that the protocol conflicts with Baby Friendly Initiative Best Practice on several counts, including eliciting feeding intention from the mother before she has a chance to breastfeed. In the UK, participants receive six months free suppy of formula. Similar trials are taking place in Germany and other EU countries.
UNICEF's statement on research: www.babyfriendly.org.uk/press.asp#20060403
Clinical Postnatal Care Guidelines published by the UK National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) list the implementation of UNICEF's Baby Friendly Initiative as one of six key recommendations to improve health care. NICE conducted extensive analyses of the available evidence and consulted infant feeding experts, practitioners and service users including Baby Milk Action.
A study from Ghana, funded by the Department for International Development (DFID), on10,947 babies showed that 22% of neonatal deaths could be saved if all infants were breastfed within the first hour. The risk of death increases each day the start of breastfeeding is delayed.
A comprehensive investigation on the risks of soya by Felicity Lawrence included the risks of soy infant formula. The Guardian July 27, 2006.
Soy Protein Infant Formulae and Follow-On Formulae: ESPGHAN 42:352Y361 April 2006.
This study examines the impact of sponsorship on breastfeeding support. Relationships between paediatricians and infant formula milk companies. C M Wright, A J R Waterston, 2006;91;383-385 Arch. Dis. Child.
Researchers from the Karolinska Institute in Sweden found that anxiety levels following a family breakup were significantly less in breastfed children than in those who were bottle-fed. Breastfeeding and resilience against psychosocial stress. Montgomery et al, Arch Dis Child. Aug 2006.
This study looks at the influence of magazines on breastfeeding trends and provides some evidence that marketing does affect women’s decisions. Infant feeding and the media: The relationship between “Parents’ Magazine” content and breastfeeding1972-2000 Int. Breastfeeding Journ.l 06, 1:10
A British Columbia radio show, Deconstructing Dinner, on July 28th, ran a very informative programme focusing on Nestlé’s baby food and water marketing malpractice. http://www.cjly.net/deconstructingdinner/072706.htm
"Nestlé wants to raise its German market share in baby foods to 40% from 27%...This could mean intense competition for the company in that key territory."
Click here to download this great logo donated to us by graphic designer, Rebecca Clark.
What is CSR?
"Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) is a concept whereby companies integrate social and environmental concerns in their business operations and in their interactions with their stakeholders on a voluntary basis"
EU Multi-Stakeholder Forum on CSR, 2004
Nestlé invests heavily in CSR initiatives, but its activities undermine its own credibility and bring the concept into disrepute.
Reports in the past year include: 'Nestlé Commitment to Africa', 'Nestlé, the Community and the Millenium Development Goals' and 'Nestlé and Corporate Social Responsibility as practised in Latin America' which was launched at a CSR and Profitability event hosted by the Prince of Wales International Business Leaders Forum.
Baby Milk Action attended and raised concerns about Nestlé’s activities, including:
We called for binding regulation rather than voluntary measures.
Nestlé auditors, Bureau Veritas, admitted that Nestlé required them to use its discredited interpretation of the marketing requirements instead of the World Health Assembly Resolutions. The latest book features Nestlé’s Partners’ Blend coffee, its one and only Fairtrade-marked product (click here).
The UK Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) has rejected our complaints against Nestlé’s recent Fairtrade coffee mass advertising campaign. The ASA stated: “[Nestlé] told us the number of farmers involved with Nescafé Partners Blend and also the total number of farmers Nescafé was involved in globally.”
The ASA refused to include the figures in its ruling despite the fact that they are in the public domain and highly significant: 200 farmers in El Salvador and 3,000 in Ethiopia supply the Fairtrade coffee, but over 3 million Nestlé suppliers are outside the scheme.
Nestlé did change its advertisements following our complaint so they focus on the coffee, rather than the crisis farmers are facing as the oligarchy of processors, including Nestlé, force down prices.
In March Baby Milk Action organised a seminar with ActionAid, Christian Aid, War on Want, World Development Movement and the Citizens Movement for the Water of Minas Gerais which exposed the impact of Nestlé’s water pumping operation in São Lourenço, Brazil.
Nestlé wrote to the directors of our partner organisations claiming auditors had cleared it of any illegalities. However, the auditors Bureau Veritas told Baby Milk Action: “our work did not constitute a legal audit as such, nor did it include a review of the on-going civil action.”
The Civil Public Action is a case brought by the Public Prosecutor after an investigation prompted by a citizens’ petition. Nestlé settled the case shortly after the seminar by agreeing to stop pumping - as previously ordered by the government - and to compensate the town.
Nestlé used a letter from the Mayor of São Lourenço in a failed attempt to discredit Franklin Fredrick from the Citizens’ Movement, claiming he had no right to speak as he was not born in the town, nor lived there. After the letter was brought to the attention of the town council it moved to make Franklin an Honorary Citizen!
A Declaration that water be protected as a human right and a public good was launched at the seminar, a call also made by the World Council of Churches and taken forward to the World Water Forum a few weeks later.
In June we trained groups in Hungary on company campaigning at the invitation of the Association of Conscientious Shoppers (Tudatos Vásárlók Egyesülete, TVE). Campaigners and environmental groups had seen Nestlé's aggressive baby food marketing practices in Hungary and shared concerns about Nestlé's water bottling operations: Nestlé has greatly increased pumping in the Balaton National Park.
In its July 2006 issue the British Journal of Midwifery ran an article by a group of health workers who had taken an all-expenses-paid trip to Nestlé HQ in Vevey, Switzerland. The article “The Nestlé issue from an evidence based midwifery perspective” has many errors, distorts the history of the boycott and ignores evidence of on-going malpractice. It suggests that midwives should bring Nestlé infant feeding materials into the health care system.
Click here for our detailed response.
June 1976 the judgement was issued in Nestlé's case against campaigners in Switzerland who translated and published the War on Want booklet The Baby Killer as Nestlé Kills Babies. Shortly before the judgement Nestlé withdrew its charge that the following allegations were libellous:
“that the activitiy of Nestlé and other companies was unethical and immoral;”
“that by its selling practices Nestlé was responsible for the death of or the permanent mental and physical injury to thousands of infants;”
“that the baby food sales personnel in developing countries were camouflaged as nurses.”
The judgement stated:
“the need ensues for the Nestlé company fundamentally to rethink its advertising practices in developing countries as concerns bottle feeding, for its advertising practice up to now can tranform a life-saving product into one that is dangerous and life-destroying.”
Nestlé won on its only remaining claim, against the title “Nestlé kills babies” as, in the opinion of the Judge an “unbiased hearer or reader... will give a narrow interpretation to the charge of the killing in the sense of a premeditated act.”
The defendants were fined a token 300 Swiss Francs each.
In June Nestlé announced it was killing the Perrier Award for Comedy at the Edinburgh Fringe, which Perrier had sponsored for 25 years and which Nestlé acquired when it bought Perrier in 1992. Organisers have found a new backer. Since 2001, when the corporate-free Tap Water Awards were started, the event attracted demonstrations each year which drew attention to the company's baby food marketing malpractice - not something that sits well with a comedy event.
The campaign received prominent media coverage with backing from Rob Newman, Steve Coogan, Emma Thompson, Victoria Wood, Stuart Lee and others. Mark Thomas, who investigated Nestlé for his Channel 4 TV programme said: "I believe that the work of the Tap Water Awards and Baby Milk Action has played a significant part in Perrier/Nestlé’s decision. Well done to them!”
The Tap Water Awards continue: www.tapwaterawards.org
In March Dame Anita Roddick announced she was selling the Body Shop to L'Oreal (click here for our press release).
She claimed that Body Shop's ethical values would be protected from a company she had criticised for its policy on animal testing and portrayal of women. She was less forthcoming on the link with Nestlé, which owns 28.8% of L'Oreal and whose CEO, Peter Brabeck, is also Vice Chairman of L'Oreal. Body Shop is now on our list as a company from which Nestlé profits. In an on-line survey, 99% of 500 respondents said they would include Body Shop in their personal boycott.
Eventually Dame Anita admitted: "I object to the way Nestlé behaves. I am all too aware of their track record on baby milk, GMOs and Ethiopia, you have to have been living in space to not know their reputation." She added: “So if you have to bloody boycott – then boycott. Boycott all the products that Nestlé own 100 per cent."
Special leaflets are available for distributing outside Body Shop to highlight Nestlé malpractice. We organised a national day of action on 20 May, coinciding with the annual demonstration at Nestlé (UK) HQ.
Body Shop owned 14% of Day Chocolate maker of Fairtrade chocolate brands Divine and Co-op own-brand. Initially the shareholding was included in the sale of Body Shop to Nestlé/L'Oreal, something Baby Milk Action raised with Day and Dame Anita Roddick. We are pleased to report that the Body Shop shareholding has now been transferred not to Nestlé, but to Kuapa Kokoo, the Ghanaian farmers cooperative that part-owned Day. This gives the farmers a 47% holding.
In a full page business feature in The Times (29 July 06) Nestlé CEO, Peter Brabeck, explains why Nestlé, independently found to be one of the most boycotted companies on the planet, has such a hard time with its bad reputation in Britain:
"I can only justify it by your colonial history. I think you have a collective bad feeling about the way you have been treating people in the developing world and therefore you are a little more sensitive about it."
Nestlé was discussed at the Methodist Conference in Edinburgh on 26 June. Replies to memorials (motions) adopted 'overwhelmingly' by Conference noted: “the substantial concerns regarding the promotion of breast milk substitutes” and “the continuing concern with regard to some aspects of Nestlé’s interpretation of the International Code, the implementation of company guidelines and the transparency of the procedures for monitoring compliance” and stated: “These concerns may cause some through conscience to maintain a consumer boycott of Nestlé products.”
At the same time it accepted: “there is scope to influence change through engagement” and that “Many would consider that these two strategies [the boycott and engagement] have complementary objectives.”
Conference learned a meeting had already taken place between Church officers and the Nestlé Chairman and Chief Executive and that: “The meeting impressed on the Chairman the concern of the Methodist Church.”
Click here for the full texts adopted by the Conference.
A report from the Joint Advisory Committee on Ethics in Investment (JACEI) was 'received' which suggested that “there were no compelling reasons to impose an exclusion policy on Nestlé at this time.” Nestlé has falsely claimed the Conference agreed with this view. The Methodist Church Communications Office has confirmed to Baby Milk Action: “To receive a report does not imply that the Conference is either accepting or rejecting the report and its contents. A report is received in order that it may be discussed, either by the Conference itself or by the wider Church."
Click here for analysis of the JACEI report.
Let us know if you see Nestlé making statements about the Methodist Church in its attempts to undermine support for the campaign.
Libby's Juices no longer have to pay a royalty to Nestlé for use of the name in the UK and Ireland. Libby's remains a Nestlé brand in the US where Nestlé recently acquired the Jenny Craig diet firm in its efforts to transform itself into a "nutrition, health and wellness" company.