Nestlé Kills Babies

BOTTLE BABY DISEASE, THE ILLNESS CAUSED BY INAPPROPRIATE ARTIFICIAL FEEDING, IS ESTIMATED BY UNICEF TO KILL ONE MILLION BABIES PER YEAR WORLDWIDE. THE FOLLOWING ARTICLE SHOWS THE CONNECTIONS BETWEEN NESTLE, THE WORLD'S LARGEST FOOD MULTINATIONAL, AND THE CAUSE OF BOTTLE BABY DISEASE. ALTHOUGH THE ORIGINAL BOYCOTT OF NESTLE, LAUNCHED BACK IN 1977 WAS PROVISIONALLY ONE OF THE MOST SUCCESSFUL CONSUMER CAMPAIGNS, ENDING AFTER SEVEN YEARS, THE COMPANY HAS SINCE TURNED THEIR BACKS ON THEIR PROMISES RESULTING IN A FURTHER BOYCOTT CAMPAIGN BEING RELAUNCHED. THE FOLLOWING ARTICLE SHOWS WHY THE ORIGINAL BOYCOTT WAS CALLED FOR AND WHY THIS HAS BEEN RENEWED MORE RECENTLY. IT IS ALSO A GOOD EXAMPLE SHOWING TGE LENGTHS MULTINATIONAL COMPANIES WILL STRETCH TO IN ORDER TO SELL THEIR PRODUCTS.

BABY MILK VS. BREASTMILK?
Given the right help and support, 99% of mothers can breastfeed. Breast milk is the perfect food for human babies. It contains the correct nutrients for the baby and it changes in content and quantity according to the baby's needs. It is always clean, fresh and free. Providing vital antibodies which protect against infection.

In contrast, artificial milk contains no antibodies,and when made up with unsafe water, is an inevitable carrier of infections such as diarrhea which is the biggest killer of children worldwide.

In poor countries, artificial-baby milk often costs more than half the entire household income. Even a doctors weekly salary is not enough to buy the two tins of formula needed to feed a baby for one week. Poor mothers trying to make the milk go further may overdilute the powder resulting in a vicious circle of malnutrition and infection.

The companies used every method possible to persuade mothers to use their products, especially by using the media to their advantage- radio jingles, TV/newspaper advertising and "milk nurses" (who were Nestle employees dressed as nurses, manipulating mothers into consuming their products).

Nestle were proud of their innovative marking skills,"Their
strategy was formed around the idea that mothers had better things to do than nurse their babies...the idea that if you nursed your baby you might suffer from "bosom sag"..(quoted from a former marketing expert for Nestle).

No real changes were made until consumer activists eventually got involved. A consumer boycott was called in the USA in 1977 eventually spreading to several other countries.The demands of the boycott were that Nestle should halt all promotion of Baby milk. This meant no free samples, direct advertising or company reps dressed as milk nurses.

NESTLE'S PREVIOUS ACTIONS AND THE ORIGINAL BOYCOTT
The commercial production of artificial baby milks grew at the turn of the century, when the manufacturer's selling techniques began to deliberately undermine women's confidence in the traditional method of feeding their children - breastfeeding. Infant mortality rates rose in the USA and the UK as bottle feeding spread Incorrect Western medical practices, such as separating mothers and babies and strict feeding routines, combined with commercial and social pressures have led to a dramatic fall in breastfeeding which spread all over the world.

After World War II, aggressive promotion increased to such an extent that doctors, confronted with the devastating effects of bottle baby disease, appealed to the companies for ethical restraint.

Towards the end of the 70's the activists formed a loose
coalition called IBFAN - the International Baby Food Action Network. IBFAN members were not only involved in the boycott, but were also involved in educating health workers and lobbying governments to take effective action to solve the problem.

IBFAN members were influential in the formation of a new code of practice, the WHO/UNICEF International Code of Marketing of Breast- milk Substitutes, that was drawn up. This code was designed to protect and promote breastfeeding and to be a code of conduct for the baby milk and bottle manufacturers. 118 countries voted for this Code to be adopted as a minimum requirement for all countries at the 1981 World Health Assembly.

The baby food manufacturers involved in the codes formation did all they could to undermine its effectiveness. Nevertheless, the Code provided a good basis for change and became the focus of the campaigners demands.

Nestle issued an ambiguous statement of support for the aims and principles of the code stating that they would consult with individual governments on specific measures. This tried to pass the responsibility for code implementation to governments, even though the code states the companies have a duty to comply regardless of individual government action.

The consumer boycott grew in strength. Nestle responded by issuing inadequate guidelines for their employees and presenting to the public the image of a company that was doing everything possible to control the problem. They claimed that the problem lay with governments who were slow to implement the code. Nestle had stopped their most blatant promotion - mass media advertising of infant
formula and the milk nurses, but the code called for an end to all tactics.

Nestle were reluctant to give up these and instead, tried to discredit the boycotters. They also led a new "low-profile" strategy using the conservative business press to discredit the boycott and accusing activists of being "Marxists marching under the banner of Christ!"

By 1984, the boycott was spreading across Europe, Nestlé's most lucrative market. Nestle gave in to the pressure and eventually signed and agreement with the International Nestle Boycott Committee in which they promised to abide by the Code. The Boycott was ended when worldwide monitoring indicated that Nestle had indeed cleaned up their act.

WHY THE MORE RECENT BOYCOTT?
In a 1988 monitoring survey, in Asia, shocked the campaigners and caused them to renew their focus on Nestle. Film and documentary evidence showed that Nestle had broken their 1984 promises and had shifted their promotional emphasis to much more devious methods of marketing. Firstly, they were now using a most effective strategy, giving free supplies to maternity hospitals. This has the advantage to the company, of appearing to be an act of charity. It is fact a
highly effective way of getting babies hooked on the bottle. Nestlé and other companies are currently giving maternity hospitals in more than 45 developing countries enough artificial baby milk to feed all the newborns.

Health workers, trained from Western handbooks (with damaging breastfeeding advice), in hospitals built to Western design (which separate mothers and babies), assume that routine bottle feeding is the Western "norm" and may even give excess supplies to mothers as take-home samples. Mothers leave hospital with their breast milk unstimulated, their babies accustomed to a bottle, and with a product apparently endorsed by the medical system. Once mother and baby leave hospital, ironically the milk is no longer free and deprived of the antibodies in breastmilk, the baby is vulnerable to infection and death from bottle baby disease.

Free supplies are allowed under the International code only for those babies, such as orphans, who must be fed on  breastmilk substitutes and only for as long as the baby needs them. The code clearly states that free samples should not be used for promotion. A World Health Assembly Resolution, adopted in 1986, banned this
practice urging that all milk needed for those rare babies who cannot get breast milk should be paid for in the same way as any other hospital item. Even though they had agreed to accept the WHO/UNICEF clarifications, Nestle have ignored this resolution.

Because of the intense competition, companies are prepared to give huge amounts of free or low-cost supplies to health-care facilities,  knowing that up to 95% of mothers keep their babies on the brand they are given in hospital. Winning the support and confidence of
health professionals is crucial: as one salesman admitted, "If I sell my product to a mother I get six months of sales. If I convince a health worker, I get forty years of recommendation to mothers." Companies who donate nurseries, or have a hand in the design of new hospitals, are helping to ensure that bottle feeding is built into the infrastructure of the health care facility.

When the Filipino government introduced a bill in 1989 to ensure that all newborns were kept in or next to their mothers beds, a policy which is known to encourage breastfeeding, Nestle and it's competitors responded with the fabricated claim that this would increase infection. In fact, scientific evidence proves the opposite.

An even more insidious practice is that of appearing to promote breastfeeding and in doing so, to sabotage it. Much breastfeeding literature produced by baby milk companies gives incorrect or leading advice. Many pamphlets advise mothers that to breastfeed successfully, they must eat a diet completely beyond their means.
This is not only untrue, but women in poor societies who do not have access to such food may be convinced that they are unable to breastfeed. Even undernourished mothers can produce enough milk for their babies. Companies also give incorrect advise on nipple care, and worst of all, teach women to position their babies incorrectly on the breast. If a baby is not correctly positioned, it will not get enough milk. Furthermore, it will be painful for the mother, who may then turn to the bottle.

By providing equipment and health information, companies ensure that governments and health professionals remain dependent on them. In this way the companies escape criticism and manipulate the health care systems to their advantage. They also influence the decision makers in governments so that weak laws and recommendations are passed that will do nothing to stop the expansion of the baby food market.

In October 1988 the second Nestle Boycott was launched. Experience has shown that a boycott is more likely to succeed if a single brand name is targeted, so the current boycott focuses on Nescafe, Nestlé's best-known, highest profile and most heavily advertised product. However an increasing number of supporters have chosen to boycott all the company's brand names.

The campaign is growing. Some individuals in the Nestle company now admit they are a problem - which is obviously a sign that the boycott is taking effect. If more people joined the boycott now and cut out all Nestle products, the company will be forced to put their words into actions.

Dr Cicely Williams in a speech entitled "Milk and murder" declared, 'If your lives were embittered as mine by seeing day after day this massacre of the innocents by unsuitable feeding, then I believe you would feel as I do - that misguided propaganda on infant feeding should be punished as the most criminal form of sedition, and that those deaths should be regarded as murder..."


 
 








This picture tells the tragic story of the often fatal consequences of bottle feeding. The babies are twins: the child with a bottle is a girl - she died the next day - but her brother was breastfed and is thriving. The mother was told that she would not have enough milk for both children, and so should bottle feed the girl. But she would almost certainly have been able to feed both babies, because the more a baby suckles, the more milk is produced. "Use my picture if it will help" said this mother.