Monday, October 05, 2009

Please read before saying the boycott is pointless

In the Nestle Twitter PR disaster, some people have commented that they do not support the boycott because it has been running for over 30 years and, they suggest, hasn't achieved anything.

I posted the following as a comment on one such blog in response:

It really is necessary to click on the links. I am encouraging the bloggers and everyone else who attended this event to do some research if they intend to write about it. There is a wealth of material and I don't have the time to post it all in comments on various blogs and I don't want to overwhelm people with information here. People are also welcome to leave comments on my blog about the event:

There is a history page on our site. The Your Questions Answered may also prove useful:

This blog post may also prove useful, looking back on the 30th anniversary of the boycott launch:

Also take a look at this report, which gives a good overview and examines what has happened in seven countries over the past decades:

A few potted things the boycott and campaign has achieved: The International Code of Marketing of Breastmilk Substitutes (despite what Nestlé told you, it opposed the Code - scans of documents from the time are on our site), the Code's implementation in 70 countries to greater or lesser degrees, breastfeeding rates in countries taking action to stop malpractice increasing (Brazil from median duration 3 months in the 1980s to 10 months), Nestlé changing its policy on milk nurses and baby pictures on formula, stopping specific cases of malpractice such as Nestlé promoting formula in Botswana as preventing diarrhoea etc. etc. Take a look on the site.

Sometimes success is measured in terms of things not getting worse. For example, we have had to campaign several times to stop Brazil's exemplary legislation from being weakened. And 2 years ago helped to stop the regulations in the Philippines being struck down (I have written about this in more detail on my blog about the #nestlefamily event as Nestle USA, which organised it, was involved in attacking WHO and UNICEF in that case).

Nestlé is always bringing in new strategies. Health claims are a recent strategy. In the Philippines it labeled its formula as containing 'brain building blocks' and made demonstrably untrue claims about ingredients aiding 'brain and eye development' (you can see these on our site). The new regulations should stop this. Watch the UNICEF film from the Philippines to see the impact of such promotion and why these regulations are so necessary:

If you want to see how the campaign can force a change on an immediate issue, I would suggest writing to Nestlé over its strategy of telling mothers its formula 'protects' their babies.

If you can write a blog encouraging others to do the same, even better. You don't have to support the boycott to do so and if you think that your new contacts at Nestlé are listening to concerns that you put to it, then feel free to try asking directly - I did post this request on #nestlefamily so it could be raised while the CEO was there taking questions, but I have not heard that anyone took it up and Scott Remy did not reply when I addressed it to him. You are welcome to take up other issues, for example encouraging Nestlé to accept the four-point plan for saving infant lives and ultimately ending the boycott. Again, details on our site.

With a little pressure we will get those 'protect' logos removed from labels. I have written to Nestlé about them and its reply ignores the issue entirely, hence the campaign. When the public write in large numbers, it often does bring about a response.

Nestlé's claims may boost sales, but they are the height of irresponsibility. Nestlé knows that babies fed on formula are at greater risk of illness than breastfed children and in poor settings, more likely to die.


K Turner said...

I think that's a ridiculous argument against boycotting.

Although I hope that boycotting Nestle will 'achieve something' that isn't why I boycott their products. I boycott them because I don't want to support them and every time you give them a penny, you condone, support and enable their business practices.

I boycott Nestle because I don't want to send the message that it suits me to feed my precious baby Nestle products at the same time shutting my eyes to the suffering caused to other babies by Nestle's practices. Are those babies not precious to their mothers?

I boycott Nestle because we work hard for our money and I will not have a penny of it going to fund Nestle's aims. Whether or not it 'makes a difference' is not the point - buying Nestle products sends a clear message that you ACTIVELY SUPPORT and PROMOTE their activities. There is no fence.

Julie Harrison said...

Can you please let me know if a list of alternative products to Nestle exists? For ex, if you don't want to purchase a Nestle chocolate bar, what products/companies are okay if you want to support the boycott?