Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Demos against Nestlé and calls for leaders to act against baby milk pushers

It was a busy week last week with the World Health Assembly. We have had:

  • New charts downgrading European countries for failing to act to stop aggressive marketing of breastmilk substitutes;
  • The presentation of a petition calling for leaders around the world to act to protect their people;
  • In the lead up to the Assembly, Baby Milk Action's Policy Director standing up at the Nestlé shareholder meeting, calling for Nestlé to change its ways, and a demonstration on the doorstep of Nestlé (UK).
Our partners from the International Code Documentation Centre launched a new State of the Code Chart by Country at the Assembly. This shows the action taken by governments to implement the World Health Assembly marketing requirements for breastmilk substitutes. Many have taken effective action, action which is helping to protect infant health. However, others have not done so. Indeed, most of the countries of the European Union have failed in their responsibilities to such an extent that they have been downgraded on the chart following the introduced of a new Directive in 2006. Only two countries, Luxembourg and Norway, put the well-being of their people first by going beyond the Directive. Read a press release from ICDC at:

The Chart can be ordered through the Baby Milk Action online Virtual Shop at:

The ONE MILLION CAMPAIGN presented a petition with over 40,000 signatures calling for leaders to do more to protect, promote and support breastfeeding - thank you to everyone who has signed. If you have not done so, please do so. If you have, then please keep encouraging others to add their names as the petition will be used nationally and internationally in the future. See the ONE MILLION CAMPAIGN press release at:

Nestlé is found to be the worst of the baby food companies. Patti Rundall OBE, Policy Director of Baby Milk Action, raised concerns at the shareholder meeting in April. These were dismissed by executives, but then the problems come from the very top: in the adjoining hall examples of Nestlé formula tins were on proud display with labels claiming it would 'protect' babies. In reality, formula-fed babies are more likely to become sick in the short and long term and, in conditions of poverty, more likely to die.

Images from this and the annual demonstration at Nestlé (UK) HQ on 16 May can be found at:

Many thanks to everyone who came to the demo, organised things locally or participated in the virtual demonstration on facebook: over 700 people signed up, prompting a reaction from the police Intelligence Unit. Find out more on the newswire report at:

Monday, May 25, 2009

World Health Assembly President receives ONE MILLION CAMPAIGN petition

Congratulations to the ONE MILLION CAMPAIGN, to everyone who has signed the petition and everyone who has been encouraging others to sign. Don't stop! The growing petition will continue to be used nationally and internationally.

Press release from the ONE MILLION CAMPAIGN:

Voices of 45000 People Reach World Health Assembly with a Call to Save Newborn Lives

This week, IBFAN, the International Baby Food Action Network, made a clear call when it launched its ‘One Million Campaign: Support Women to Breastfeed’ ( at World Health Assembly. The IBFAN team submitted a petition to the President of World Health Assembly, Mr. NS de Silva, signed by more than 45000 people from 161 countries.

Mr. de Silva said as he received the petition: “…In Sri Lanka we have very specific indicators……with our campaign for promoting (exclusive)breastfeeding, it has come to 78% , we are happy about it, and we want the Asia region, and whole world should promote this concept !”

The petition demands concrete support systems for breastfeeding women to increase the coverage of early and exclusive breastfeeding. This would help save more than one million newborn and infant lives annually, as well improve the health of their mothers. Needless to say, it will also set a path for healthy adult life.

Dr. Arun Gupta, the regional coordinator of IBFAN Asia, went on to present the demands of the petition to the World Health Assembly, urging the Assembly to adopt a resolution in 2010 to deal with 4 key issues. First, to prepare a specific plan of action on infant feeding which is budgeted and coordinated in the same way as action plans for immunisation. Second, to ensure the end of promotion of baby milks and foods intended for children under 2 years in a time-bound manner, that is by 2015. Third, to end partnerships in the area of infant and young child feeding and nutrition with commercial sector corporations that present conflicts of interests. And fourth, to create support and maternity entitlements for women both in the formal and informal sectors, so that mothers and babies can stay close to each other for six months at least.

Today, the World Health Organisation recognised the importance for infants to be exclusively breastfed: at the launch of the World Health Statistics Report 2009, for the first time, this key indicator was included in the statistics. While including an indicator on exclusive breastfeeding is good step forward, says Alison Linnecar, of IBFAN, "Early and exclusive breastfeeding should be monitored in the process of tracking progress of Millennium Development Goal (MDG) 4 goal of child survival, both nationally and globally".

The report reveals that about only 48 million of 135 million babies born are able to benefit from exclusive breastfeeding, due to reasons such as aggressive promotion of baby milks and baby foods and lack of supportive health systems.

Many countries have still to enact national legislation to end this promotion in compliance with the International Code of Marketing of Breastmilk Substitutes that was adopted by the World Health Assembly in 1981. Says Annelies Allain of IBFAN “Action must be accelerated on this crucial intervention”.

According to Dr Gupta, "There is an increasing trend towards mobilising public private partnerships in these areas, which is not healthy. These are a way for corporations to increase their profits….It is business for corporations meeting their basic objectives. Commercial interference on parents’ infant feeding decisions should end."


Arun Gupta, IBFAN Asia
Phone: +91119899676306

Thursday, May 21, 2009

ONE MILLION CAMPAIGN launched in Bangladesh

The ONE MILLION CAMPAIGN is presenting a petition at the World Health Assembly this week, calling for leaders at the meeting of the world's highest health policy setting body to do more to protect, promote and support breastfeeding. Signatures will continue to be collected. You can sign at:

An official launch of the campaign took place in Bangaldesh this week, with speakers from the International Baby Food Action Network (IBFAN), WHO, UNICEF and a government Minister and other officials.

There is a report in the Daily Star at:

Thursday, May 14, 2009

"Nestlegate' spying scandal returns to the courts - will be raised at Nestlé demonstration Saturday

At the Nestlé shareholder meeting on 23 April, ACTARES, a group of campaigning shareholders, raised the case of Nestlé employing a spy to infiltrate the group ATTAC Switzerland.

Nestlé Chairman, Peter Brabeck-Letmathé, apparently stated that he did not believe they did anything wrong, and if it it was found to be, such as practice was contrary to Nestlé policies and would result in disciplinary action.

Strange then, that in the court case brought by ATTAC Switzerland documents apparently reveal that the spy, employed through SECURITAS, reported to a former MI6 officer, John Hedley, Nestlé's head of security. Details have been posted on the Nestlé Critics site at:

Now, Nestlé is fighting the case in the courts and did succeed in having it thrown out. Today, however, it is reported that an appeal court has overturned this decision. ATTAC Switzerland had complained that the investigation had not been through enough. See:

So perhaps the courts will yet tell Mr. Brabeck that spying on campaingers is wrong and next meeting he will have to report on the disciplinary action taken against those (including himself?) who thought it was acceptable.

In light of the fact that the Chairman's speech to shareholders misses much out about the companies practices, I will be making an alternative Chairman's speech on his behalf on the doorstep of Nestlé (UK) HQ on Saturday as part of the annual demonstration. Check back here for the text and film of the event. There is an early report on this and the virtual event on facebook on Community Newswire at:

For reports on the spying case in the Swiss press this week in French see:

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Message from the ONE MILLION CAMPAIGN: Add your name in time for the World Health Assembly

Just a Few days to go to submit the petition to World leaders ! Sign it NOW !

About 10 million of the world's children die every year before they reach their fifth birthday. That is, over 27,000 per day, or over 1100 per hour. Of these 1100, over a third - more than 450 - are less than a month old. Evidence tells us that good breastfeeding practices can save thousands of these babies. Unfortunately, not even half the women of the world can carry out adequate breastfeeding. 135 Million, babies are born every year. Only 64 million women can initiate timely breastfeeding. Only 48 million women can practise exclusive breastfeeding for six months. They cannot carry out adequate breastfeeding of their babies because they lack support.

IN JUST 5 DAYS we will make the first petition presentation to policy makers at the World Health Assembly in Geneva to demand this support to women for being successful in breastfeeding and stop unethical marketing of baby foods/formula. More than 40,000 people have already joined. Add your voice to strengthen the petition.

So Hurry Up, and Sign It Now and use Tell Your Friends option to ask as many people as you can to sign before then.

Thanks !

Team ONE MILLION CAMPAIGN- Support Women to Breastfeed

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Association of Breastfeeding Mothers conference 20 June 2009

The Association of Breastfeeding Mothers will be holding their Annual General Meeting on 20 June at DeMontfort University, Leicester.

You can find additional details at:

Speakers include Gay Palmer, whose updated book The Politics of Breastfeeding has just arrived from the publishers and is available at:

Further details on the ABM site.

ABM has been working for 30 years to bring mothers together to improve protection, promotion and support for breastfeeding. Long may it continue to thrive!

Monday, May 11, 2009

NBAW, PoB and Demo

I've sent out the following email alert. You can subscribe to receive alerts at:


This email contains news on:

1. A talk for UK National Breastfeeding Awarness Week (11 May 2009)

2. The Politics of Breastfeeding NOW AVAILABLE - including limited number of signed copies

3. Reminder of demonstration at Nestle (UK) HQ Crodyon 16 May, 11:00 - 12:00.

[Information on how to unsubscribe - we won't spam you!!]

1. A talk for UK National Breastfeeding Awarness Week (11 May 2009)

UK National Breastfeeding Awareness Week begins on 11 May 2009. Baby Milk Action has prepared a presentation for this with information from the UK monitoring project we coordinate on behalf the Baby Feeding Law Group, a coalition of UK health professional and mother support organisations. The talk can be viewed at:

And at:

Reports prepared as a result of the project have been submitted to enforcement authorities. Trading Standards have raised our concerns with the companies, which are resistant to change. However, Heinz is removing its non-compliant 'prebiotics' claim from labels. Wyeth is removing its 'new improved protein balance' claim and has improved its instructions to bring these closer to UK Department of Health guidance for parents (indicating using water above 70 deg. C to reconstitute powdered formula and then allowing this to cool - however, it does not explain this is because powdered formula is not sterile and may contain harmful bacteria). Nestlé has been warned it cannot distribute a video to health workers as it has not obtained the required permission from the Department of Health.

However, overall the responses from the authorities show that the UK regulations issued in 2008 are having little effect in curbing aggressive marketing and that associated Guidance Notes are unenforceable. These responses have been submitted with the final report sent to a government review panel investigating the effectiveness of the law. The panel will issue its recommendations shortly. Our report can be downloaded at:

Reports were also submitted to the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, which called on the Government to fully implement the International Code of Marketing of Breastmilk Substitutes in its report on the UK in October 2008.

Monitoring continues and we are seeking further donations to enable this work to continue. You can make a donation at:

Please do continue to report cases of malpractice via the site:

2. The Politics of Breastfeeding NOW AVAILABLE

At last this in-depth, fascinating examination of cultural influences on breastfeeding is available once again, completely updated.

Subtitled 'When breasts are bad for business' and written by Gabrielle Palmer, a founder of Baby Milk Action, it provides insight into the strategies used by the baby food industry since its inception and how the campaign to hold it to account has turned the tide.

A limited number of signed copies are available:

3. Reminder of demonstration at Nestle (UK) HQ Crodyon, UK, 16 May, 11:00 - 12:00.

If you can't make it to Croydon, why not hold a demonstration at another site linked to Nestle, such as a factory, a Body Shop outlet (part-owned by Nestle) or shops selling Nestle goods?

If you are coming to Croydon, please let us know (if you have not done so already) at:

You can use the same page to order leaflets for a local event.

Also see the boycott section of our online Virtual Shop for useful materials:

You can also support the online virtual demonstration, by signing up on Facebook at:

Friday, May 08, 2009

A talk for UK National Breastfeeding Awareness Week

National Breastfeeding Awareness Week begins next week and I've prepared a youtube talk to mark it.

This is a good time to remember that companies continue to undermine breastfeeding and put formula-fed babies at risk with their practices. Governments in many countries are failing to stop them, including here in the UK.

Our colleagues in India launched the ONE MILLION CAMPAIGN to gather signatures on a petition calling for our leaders to act. I've prepared a powerpoint presentation and talk about this, which anyone is welcome to adapt for their own use. Just contact me.

It is available on youtube with me giving the voice over. Take a look and if you find it useful, pass it on. Whatever, please sign up to the ONE MILLION CAMPAIGN at:

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Did you unfortunately object to the EU feeding bottle image?

There is a way of apologising that is no apology at all.

Here's an example: "It is unfortunate that you interpreted my suggestion that you go and jump off a cliff as an insult. That was never my intention."

Further discussion can be forestalled by adding: "It was a off-hand comment which I have no intention of repeating."

So the person who complained was at fault for their interpretation and would be small minded if they continue to make an issue of it.

This is similar to the approach taken by the European Parliament when people have raised its use of a feeding bottle in a promotional campaign for the forthcoming European Election. This was used to highlight parenthood and work-life balance. See below and my blog at:

Here is the response:

---Email from the European Parliament

Dear ****,

I refer to your recent message about the use of a picture of a baby's feeding bottle in the EP's publicity campaign to raise awareness of the 2009 elections.

I understand that the poster campaign was for a limited period and has now ended. I would point out that the purpose of the campaign is to remind voters that, throughout our lives, we are required to take decisions and that it is for each of us to exercise our responsibilities in this respect. In the present case, we should participate in the democratic process.

The different images all point to choices with which we are faced but they do not prejudge the answers and most certainly do not indicate a right or wrong course of action. On the particular issue of breastfeeding and its desirability, the European Parliament is not contesting this - quite the reverse since the Parliament has on many occasions supported breastfeeding in all possible circumstances. I can assure you that your views have been noted and that it is unfortunate that this image has been interpreted by some as encouraging bottle- feeding. This was never the intention.

Thank you for your message and your interest in the European Parliament.




European Parliament

Directorate General for Communication

Correspondence with Citizens Unit

Well, yes, it is unfortunate that this poster is interpreted as encouraging bottle feeding. But it is more unfortunate that more thought was not put into the use of images.

And more unfortunate still that the response shows nothing has been learned by the Directorate General for Communication.