Thursday, February 11, 2010

Baby Killer

Every day, 4000 babies die from unsafe bottle feeding. Aggressive, and illegal, advertising is the root cause of this. Companies are supposed to stick to the International Baby Food Action Network (IBFAN) code for infant feeding (this includes baby purees and other baby foods advertised as suitable from anytime before six months, breast milk substitutes) so that breastfeeding is not undermined, especially to vulnerable women in poor communities, where bottle feeding can be, and often is, deadly. As part of my BfN training, I saw a television advertisement that was (possibly still is? I shudder to think) shown in a developing country, showing a gifted child playing a violin solo to a crowded concert hall, and then that same child drinking the brand's formula milk from a glass. It implies, to a culture where many people get much of their information about the wider world from shared televisions, that drinking formula milks makes children gifted. Even without TV, companies bombard health workers with bribes and freebies to promote their brand, with midwives asking new mothers not "Are you bottle feeding?" but "Which brand do you use? Oh, no, you must buy this, more expensive milk!". The companies provide a few free samples to mother in hospitals, getting them "hooked", compromising their milk supply and by the time they leave hospital, all the artificial milk is gone, and the breast milk may well be gone too, and the women have no idea how to re-lactate. Imagine then, a family spending almost all their wage on artificial milks because it is "best for baby". Imagine an even poorer family, who travel many miles daily for water. Not just to make up a feed, but to boil to sterilise (expensive) bottles and teats, to wash their hands before making and giving each feed. Using up precious fuel to boil precious water 6-8 times daily (and we all know babies who like to feed more often). Without English as a first language, deciphering labels instructions on how to prepare feeds. At night, preparing feeds by candlelight. Is it any wonder babies end up malnourished from "weak" formula, stretched to make it to payday? Die of diarrhoea because their mother's hands are not clean enough and the equipment was not properly sterilised? Not got a TV nearby? Don't worry, you're sure to see a billboard, portraying a smiling Western child, and the west is best, or so people believe. These companies prey on babies whose very survival is dependant on the life-giving infection-fighting breast milk their mothers make all by themselves. All for a profit. These companies, albeit indirectly, kill babies.

Even in the USA, where bottle feeding is considered safe, 750 babies under 12 months die every year due to not being breastfed.
According to UNICEF: "Improved breastfeeding practices and reduction of artificial feeding could save an estimated 1.5 million children a year." Yet baby food companies continue to market artificial foods in ways that undermine breastfeeding. The people responsible have names and addresses - call on them to market products ethically.

The main offender is Nestle. Nestle is among the most boycotted companies on the planet, and is top in the UK. I'm asking you to join me in my boycott of them. Stop buying all Nestle products in support of the boycott. What they are doing is not OK. They are responsible for baby deaths. Show your support, please. Ask your family and friends. Nestle make all kinds of products, please read labels carefully. Nescafe is the main one (many coffee machines are Nestle), along with chocolate, cereals, but less obvious products such as bottled water, pet foods and cosmetics. For an extensive list, please see the Baby Milk Action website.
I'm sure you and your families will be buying lots of eggs this Easter, please remember to choose alternative brands. I'm going as far as to say to family and friends that we will not be able to accept any Nestle eggs. Some of you may have seen that Nestle has a fair trade kitkat out at the moment. Please do not be fooled by this PR move. The kitkat contains 1% of the chocolate the company makes. Only this is fair trade. The other 99%, Nestle uses questionable methods, even child labour, to obtain. Nestle has not changed.
This is not a new issue, the boycott has been around for years. I'm a newcomer to the issue and wanted to share it with you all. It's not about this awful "breast verses bottle" thing that has been going round, I am not naive, I know some babies do need to be bottle fed. But those babies deserve for the milk that they receive to be safe. Please take part in the boycott.
Because this is such an important issue, no matter how you feed your child (every child has the right to basic health and safety), I'm making this post into a tagging post! Boycotting Nestle will be great for your waistline :-)

So here are the rules:

1.) Go to the Baby Milk Action website and find out more & start boycotting.

2.) Sign up to receive the boycott brief, and if you can afford to, sign up to be a member or purchase some merchandise. A mug or magnet would make a great gift for a new mum or mum to be.

3.) Tell Nestle what you think of them. Here is a sample letter. Post it via snail mail or email as you wish!

4.) Tell family and friends. Link to this post, or the Baby Milk Action website, in an email or via facebook or similar.

5.) Tag 15 bloggers to do the same, and write you own post, or copy and paste this one, on the issue.

Here are my 15, please take part guys, it's such an important issue. Nestle is causing millions of baby deaths. You can do something to help.

1. Susanna at a modern mother

2. Josie at Sleep is for the Weak

3. Cave Mother
6. Crafty Creative at From Rat Racer to Positive Parent
9. Sandy at Baby Baby
10. Zooarchaeologist at Being a Mummy

12. Stickhead at Slightly South of Sanity

13. Kat at Slugs on the Refrigerator

14. Tasha at Wahm-Bam

15. JK at West of the Pennines

Breastmilk is a life saver to all children. Babies under 6 months who are not breastfed are five times more likely to die from pneumonia and seven times more from diarrhoea. When reserachers looked at all the possible means of preventing infant and young child death they found that improving breastfeeding practices could prevent more deaths than any other single strategy; even more than such key benefits as the provision of safe water, sanitation, immunisation and medical servies. (Taken from Palmer's "The Politics of Breastfeeding"). Nestle are partly responsible to a decline in breastfeeding. It's almost as if human development is taking a step backwards, all for money!


At 9:14 pm , Blogger Adventures In Babywearing said...

I know this is a huge issue, I even mentioned while speaking at Blissdom my refusal to be involved in a blogger outreach done by Nestle a few months ago.

Annie from PHDinparenting has done a great job discussing this topic, too.



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