Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Good and bad news from Brazil

Thanks to campaign supporters we achieved the objectives of a recent campaign to protect Brazil's baby food marketing law - but unfortunately that is not the end of the story.

Partners in Brazil asked for help after congress voted to weaken warnings on whole milks. This was driven by the so-called 'rural platform' members of congress, which is linked to the dairy industry. 19 of them submitted identical amendments to a law that has nothing to do with
baby foods or infant health, but is aiming to promote economic growth in the country. Having clear warnings about the health risks of using whole milks for infant feeding is clearly an obstacle to sales. As previously explained, poor mothers often use unsuitable whole milks and we have campaigned against Nestlé promoting whole milk in the infant feeding sections of pharmacies and supermarkets. See:

Our partners in Brazil asked other members of the International Baby Food Action Network (IBFAN) to send messages to the Brazilian Senate encouraging Senators to oppose the changes introduced by Congress. We launched an action in our Campaign for Ethical Marketing. See the April 2007 action sheet:

This worked! The Senate rejected the proposed changes to the warnings and sent the law back to the Congress. So thank you to everyone who sent messages of support for the regulations.

Unfortunately, the Congress promptly but the changes back into the law.

That is not the end of the story, however. One political party that opposed sneaking the change in on the back of the economic growth law has entered a case into the Supreme Court challenging the decision. You can read more in Portuguese at:

This is a reminder, yet again, that campaigning does not take place in a vacuum. Powerful vested interests are workng to undermine or reverse every gain we make. It should also be a lesson to those who believe companies will change voluntarily if they sit down together and have a nice chat. The companies fight without tiring to protect their profits, regardless of the impact on infant health and mothers' rights. It is the daily reality we face. We know of what we speak.

We will continue to follow the case and do what we can to support our partners and mothers and infants in Brazil.

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