Friday, January 30, 2009

How Nestlé misled - and recruited - George Clooney

Today Baby Milk Action joined other campaigning organisations in Zurich, Switzerland, at 'The Other Davos meeting'. While business and political leaders were together at the World Economic Forum, the organisations were shining the spotlight on aspects of Nestlé's malpractice, such as trade union busting activities in Colombia, spying on campaigners in Switzerland and aggressive marketing of baby foods.

You can find out more about the event here:

One of the things we raised, is the way Nestlé has misled George Clooney about its baby food marketing activities and recruited the actor, known for his humanitarian work, to defend the company using Nestlé's dishonest claims. You can download a new report on this from the link given above.

In a Nestlé briefing that Mr. Clooney's office has provided to those questioning his appearing in Nestlé Nespresso advertisements, there are various claims, which we expose in a new briefing, launched today. We have appealed to Mr. Clooney to reconsider his defence of Nestlé and review the information we have already sent to him.

One example shows the depths of Nestlé's dishonesty. In the briefing Mr. Clooney has been persuaded to distribute, it claims:

---Extract from Nestlé's George Clooney briefing

In June 2006 the Joint Advisory Committee on the Ethics of Investment (JACEI) of the Methodist Church stated that there is “no compelling justifi cation” against investment in Nestlé on the basis of its involvement with breast milk substitutes. Further, the Annual Report of the Central Finance Board of the Methodist Church stated that it had become a shareholder (of Nestlé) in the past year.
---extract ends

The Methodist Church Central Finance Board statement on Nestlé explains why it invested:

---Extract from Church statement

JACEI [the Joint Advisory Committee on the Ethics in Investment] acknowledges and respects the work of organisations such as Baby Milk Action in highlighting the scandal of inappropriate marketing of breast milk substitutes. The way in which the CFB responds to such activities is to engage with company managements and seek change from within. These approaches should be seen as complementary strategies working to achieve a common aim.
---extract ends

Prior to the investment, the 2006 Methodist Conference adopted texts that suggested ‘engagement’ and the ‘boycott’ go hand in hand:

---Extract from Conference text

JACEI acknowledges 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. These concerns may cause some through conscience to maintain a consumer boycott of Nestlé products.
---extract ends

You can find the full story and source documents at:

So George Clooney was misled by Nestlé. Church investment is intended to press the company to stop malpractice. It is not, as Nestlé wants people to believe, a reward for good behaviour. Indeed, the Methodist Church Conference stated that it sees ‘engagement’ and the ‘boycott’ as complementary strategies.

Nestlé relies on people not looking too closely at its activities. It relies on the fact that people find it difficult to believe that a household name should be so calculatingly dishonest in how it presents information.

Our challeng to bring the evidence to people's attention so that can see they have been misled and act accordingly.

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