Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Critics of not the Nestlé boycott

One of the things that takes more time than I would like is having to respond to attacks on the boycott campaign strategy which misrepresent or misunderstand what the strategy is all about.

Here's an example in the long, long discussion about 'ethical consumerism' prompted by an article on the Guardian website yesterday.

My response to a ill-informed, would-be expert:

[Someone said] "If you think it was the boycott that caused the scandal of US pressure on Nestle to come to light in the Philippines you are living in cloud cuckoo land. What caused it to come to light was persistent lobbying by those opposed to formula; many of those might also have supported the boycott but that was coincidental. As for those who claim consumer pressure will cause Nestle to give up selling formula, do the math."

As I said, see the range of strategies we used to achieve victory in the Philippines at:

It is a fact that the support of boycotters put the story on the front page there. Here's an example, not from cloud cuckoo land, but from the Philippines biggest-selling broadsheet:

The campaign succeeded in drawing attention to the industry attack on the law in the Philippines because the boycott keeps this issue in the spotlight. You are proving the fact.

You say: "As for those who claim consumer pressure will cause Nestle to give up selling formula, do the math."

Which is not what the boycott is aimed at doing at all. If you wish to criticise the campaign, please at least check what it is about before doing so.

The demand on Nestlé is straightforward: to bring its baby food marketing policies and practices into line with the International Code of Marketing of Breastmilk Substitutes and subsequent, relevant Resolutions of the World Health Assembly.

Article 11.3 calls on companies to abide by these measures independently of government measures. As I said above, they can comply when given no choice by independently monitored and enforced legislation. The campaign works for legislation. Baby Milk Action and its partners in the International Baby Food Action Network (IBFAN) train policy makers around the world.

The companies are not being asked to do anything unreasonable - they were even involved in the discussions that let to the International Code and most now claim to abide by it. Monitoring shows they do not, with Nestlé being the worst of the companies, hence it being targeted by the boycott.

A four-point plan has been put to Nestle aimed at saving infant lives and ultimately ending the boycott. Nestle has rejected it out of hand.

Other companies are targeted by exposés and letter writing campaigns. A bottle and teat company has been cooperating with campaigners as it wishes to be 'code compliant' and is making the necessary changes. Another company recently announced a 'root and branch' review of its policies and practices after taking over one of Nestle's leading competitors and we are in discussion with it over what it will change. Continued monitoring will show whether it can be declared 'code compliant'.

Please look at the boycott section of the Baby Milk Action website for further information on what the boycott is really about:

For examples of Nestle policies and practices that have changed as a direct result of being targeted by the boycott campaign, see the site and this blog.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Oh for your patience, Mike.