Say NO to Nestlé

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Around three years ago, during your standard Wikipedia trawl, I stumbled across the term ‘Nestlé Boycott’. This wasn’t something that I knew much about so I did a wee bit of research, encouraged by an old friend who had personally boycotted Nestlé the previous year. After hours of research and article reading, I came to the resolute conclusion that I would never give a penny of my money to Nestlé again. Now I am attempting to boycott them on behalf of Southampton Univeristy: I will be taking my motion to Union Council on January 17th and I hope you will stand with me.

Nestlé own a third of the entire world’s market for formula milk, the alternative to breast feeding. This is the sort of thing that we in the west are wary of; we have all been brought up hearing our mothers chime “breast is best” and so we take for granted that the right way to nurture your child (excluding any rare instances) is to breastfeed them. This, however, is not the case in many developing countries, like areas of Africa or India. Due to a lack of education, women are ignorant to the invaluable protection and nutrition provided for their babies by breastfeeding. They are unaware that 4000 babies die each day because they have not been equipped with the immunity to disease that breastfeeding would have kindly provided them with (UNICEF). They are unaware that Nestlé make billions in profit from their manipulation. They are unaware that by welcoming Nestlé formula milk into their homes, they are putting their babies at a great risk: such a risk, that they are in fact 25% less likely to survive than if the formula milk had been rejected.

Nestlé know that they could not manipulate us like they can manipulate desperate, impoverished, uneducated mothers elsewhere. Nestlé give away free samples of their formula milk to hospitals so that when mothers give birth, their babies are instantly latched onto this substitute under the illusion that it is encouraging growth and helping with survival. The hospitals cannot afford to not accept Nestlé’s help, as they are heavily reliant on them financially, through sponsorship deals that Nestlé strike up in return of the hospital’s promotion of their product. When the babies leave the hospital, the problems start to occur. Firstly, parents cannot afford the formula milk, which means they use less than the recommended measurements per each bottle to make it stretch further. This means that babies are being given insufficient levels of nutrition. Secondly, the water that they mix it with is at risk of being contaminated and unlike in a hospital, most people do not have the capacity to reduce this risk by boiling the water, as they lack gas or electricity. Thirdly, because the babies have been introduced to this milk, it has severely damaged levels of lactation in the mother during that vital period, meaning that the families have no choice but to continue using the formula milk, which they cannot afford.

By relentlessly promoting their product, Nestlé actively and directly discourage breastfeeding which leads to 1.5 million unnecessary deaths a year. Breastfeeding provides levels of immunity from diarrhoea, meningitis, ear infections and many other infections that kill babies if unprotected. Breastfeeding is also a natural method of birth control: the hormones that are involved in breastfeeding can assist in staggering pregnancies, something which developing countries are in desperate need of. They also use the language barrier to their advantage: by labelling their formula in English, not only can the majority of people not read them, but they appear to hold authority, as if the product being from the UK or USA means that they couldn’t possibly be bad… Could they? Nestlé are perfectly aware of all this: they have been boycotted all over the world since 1977 (73 instances of boycotting can be found from British Student Unions, including Oxford, Cambridge, Sheffield, Edinburgh, Warwick, Durham, Exeter…) and are constantly faced with tirades by charities such as UNICEF, International Baby Food Action Network, World Alliance of Breastfeeding Action and Save the Children.

Every day we buy Nestlé products, unaware of what our money is funding. This needs to stop. Would you find Nescafé so tasty if you knew that every time you provided that company with money, it was responsible for a thousand deaths? There are so many alternatives, we must stop and think about what it is we are consuming and condoning. By boycotting Nestlé, you send out a clear message: not only to Nestlé but to the millions of others who stand in unison, that you do not accept Nestlé’s sadistic and money-hungry manipulation of the vulnerable. If this was going on in Britain, there would be outrage. But because it’s miles away in a country that a lot of people have never been to, the majority of people turn their backs in ignorant bliss. The unnecessary deaths of millions of babies is unfathomable and we must stand as a group, 20,000 people strong, and say NO to Nestlé.

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Discussion135 Comments

  1. avatar

    Boycott campaign has been going since 1977. I’m sure if you delve into the history of SUSU you could probably find a similar motion from early 1980’s.

    Nestle actually promote “Breastfeeding is best” http://www.babymilk.nestle.com/Pages/home.aspx

    Anyway fact remains a 34 year campaign of boycott and Nestle are still here… I love Quality Street at Christmas and will continue to purchase my rolo’s in the Union shop.

    Chloe Green
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    Mr Blair,

    Nestle promote breastfeeding being best on their internet page, not their actual product – if people in developing countries don’t have clean water, the likelihood of them having access to a computer with internet is pretty slim. Don’t you think?

    If the motion goes through (which it fully deserves to) I’m afraid you will have to buy your rolos elsewhere, good sir.

    Samuel Gilonis
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    Actually that is a misconception. In ‘Geldof in Africa’, Bob talks about how, in some ways, impoverished areas of Africa lead the world in internet and mobile technology as things like mobile phone credit serve as a far more stable currency than their own and they provide valuable forms of communication in times of crisis. I can’t find the book but here is an excerpt of an article written by Paul Vallely who travelled with him:

    “Of course, some apparent paradoxes are really just our Western prejudices in disguise. Nowadays even the smallest and dustiest African village seems to have an internet café powered by a noisy old generator and a satellite phone. “And why not,” said Geldof. “We so often unthinkingly suppose that there is a linear progression from tradition to modernity. We see progress as the rest of the world ‘catching up’ with the West. Yet part of the genius of Africa is its ability to take what it sees as good, but to hang on to what it sees as better.””

    Taken from here:

    http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/africa/geldof-returns-493572.html

    Samuel Gilonis
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    I forgot to mention that I completely agree with you about Nestle, they are a despicable organisation. They also widely use palm oil in their products which has pretty devastating environmental consequences (as do Tesco).

    Why the thumbs down on my above comment? I was pointing out a small, and to article insignificant, error!

    Love quad vods
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    Great so let me guess…… You want them to sell breast milk with a note on it saying that it is better to breast feed ? What a joke !!!!
    I am from Africa and can tell you that in rural parts if people still breast feed mostly and choose to over any formulas. Nestle make products, if people want to buy them, then let them, you can’t stop that! Get a life and stop being one of those stupid students that likes to fight for a cause that you know nothing about at ecery opportunity!!!

    Jonny Vaughan
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    Putting that many exclamation marks at the end of any sentence makes you a pretty stupid student in my opinion.

  2. avatar

    Having a break from uni work and (instead of a Kit-Kat) eating an Aero, obviously I was intrigued to see ‘Say NO to Nestlé’ running across my screen. I was completely ignorant of Nestlé’s involvement in the formula milk market let alone how they’re exploiting it.
    I can’t understand how they could be getting away with this?!
    I suppose, like you said, problems – even massive problems like this – happening thousands of miles away are easily ignored.

    Have previous boycotts raised awareness considerably/ provoked any response from Nestlé? It would be interesting to know what they have to say for themselves…

    Name
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    Aero’s are Nestle. Fail…

  3. avatar

    Not only that, but their chocolate tastes like shit in comparison to Cadburys and Mars.

    Vincent
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    Pretty much all the chocolate you’ll find in the UK taste like shit since regulations banning the use of palm oil instead of cocoa butter have been removed…

    Name
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    Did they not try and make the Brits call it ‘vegelate’ at one point due to the lack of coco and excess of vegetables oils?

  4. avatar

    In retaliation to Mr Above, http://www.babymilkaction.org/resources/briefings/debate1104.html has newer light, showing Nestle are starting to take this seriously, along with their rebuttal to the boycott.

    With the power of the Internet, I would quite like to see this snowball; it just needs to attract the right sort of media now.

    Chloe might I suggest you try and get some sort of Nestle debate organised with a similar vein to the article?

    Chloe Green
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    Sasha, I’m game – Key Debate?

    …Though I’m not sure how anybody could realistically argue that boycotting Nestle is a bad idea? I’m not saying I’m an amazing debater (I get flustered and shouty), but I literally don’t see how there could be opposition based on something more sturdy than “it won’t make any difference”/”Nestle make yummy chocolate”, which are both utterly ignorant responses.

    Standing up for Nestle
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    I would love to have a debate with you Chloe. The two possible responses you mention are not the only responses. There is a big case that could be argued for Nestle ! Why do you not arrange a debate one afternoon in an empty lecture room ? Is it possible for us to attend your event on the 17th where u want SUSU to go along with you on this ?

  5. avatar

    I think trying to raise money for the education of new mothers in poorly developed countries would be much more worthwhile cause than simply boycotting all nestle products. Like all large corporate companies, nestle make a lot of money, which many people find upsetting but remember, they are simply doing their jobs and doing it very well, hence why they make so much money. Boycotting a massive company like this will have such a small effect on the revenue of them. I should also point out I was brought up on formula milk because my mother was too ill to look after me properly during the first few months of my life and it certainly hasn’t done me any harm. I’m perfectly healthy and I’ve never had a serious illness yet… touch wood.
    Also Nestle is originally a French based company and I have had nestle cereal whilst over in France that has been translated into French. There are a lot of French speaking colonies in Africa, where I’m sure Nestle would market their products in French.
    Quite frankly I see this as a very misinformed, one-sided attempt at a protest, that apparently has gone on for years to little effect. I find this quote “Would you find Nescafé so tasty if you knew that every time you provided that company with money, it was responsible for a thousand deaths?” very offensive and completely lacking any validation or perspective. If you want to help out, join UNICEF and help promote education among first time mothers in developing countries. Don’t do the easy, in affective option of not buying Nestle, instead do the slightly harder thing and give money to charities that help these women.

    Chloe Green
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    Catherine
    1. I donate money every month to UNICEF, who help to protect the health of children in developing countries, so I am being more active than just writing an article.
    2. The comment about thousands of deaths is harsh, but ultimately true. I am not claiming that YOU personally are responsible, but that we are feeding this company with the funds that equip them to carry out such manipulation.
    3. Boycotting Nestle is not an attempt to hit Nestle hard in terms of their income. I am perfectly aware that one student union not selling a few KitKats will, financially, not make a huge difference. But that is not the point. It is idle and detestable to continue to do something once you know how terrible it is, we should not be condoning this behaviour. It is about standing with all the other people over the world who cannot condone this behaviour, and on mass, it makes a difference. Who knows, if this boycott snowballs, maybe more media will get involved, leading to the possibility of bigger companies pulling out of Nestle. It’s a small step but this is how a motion gains momentum, it has to start somewhere.
    4. I said there are rare exceptions to breast being best and in a country where our water is clean and our health care is easily accessible and free, not being breastfed is a viable option. That is not the case, in say Africa, where babies are not protected by medicine or high immunity – no baby in Britain would be left to die of diarrhoea, it would be hugely preventable. That is not how it is in developing countries.

    John Jones
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    I’m sure your donation to UNICEF is well received, feel free to continue donating, but please don’t force your agenda on the rest of us. Some of us choose to donate to charity, others don’t. The whole point of charity is that it is voluntary.

    There is no such thing as consumer activism. All it does it make a lot of nice middle class, liberal folk such as yourself feel a lot better about themselves.

    In the meantime, the majority of us are trying to get by and worry about bread and butter issues such as “how am I going to get by now that VAT is 20%” or “will my school be able to offer the same level of study it does now that it’s facing 90% cuts”. I’m sorry if that doesn’t fit your global justice agenda, but that’s the simple fact of the matter.

    Chloe
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    John Jones, I don’t think it’s for you to comment on my background – I heckled David Cameron about opportunities for working class students (like myself) when he stopped into the uni in March so don’t assume that because I am “liberal” and donate to charity, I must be comfortable in my finances. This is not the case. I also worry about the rise in VAT and my school of study – with the humanities and arts being hit hardest, this is of great concern to me, studying English Literature and all. This isn’t really in any way related to boycotting Nestle.

    John Jones
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    It isn’t related to boycotting Nestle, you’re quite correct. But it is relevant when there is a moralising attitude being taken by certain students within the union. The point I’m trying to make is, this is, for the majority of people, a non-issue. Devoting time and energy to a boycott is misplaced and stinks of identity politicing.

    Nick Clegg
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    “I heckled David Cameron about opportunities for working class students (like myself)”

    So working class that you received £300 worth of Christmas presents….
    http://endsleighstudentbloggers.co.uk/chloegreen/?p=48

    Back in my Day I was lucky if I got an Orange and a lump of coal!

    Chloe
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    Again, not really for you to comment upon as it is entirely irrelevant to the Nestle debate and it is exceptionally rude to be making reference to my financial background, but other members of my family are well off. I get lucky at Christmas. And what?

    Nick Clegg
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    Sorry Chloe but it is related.

    Consumer activism is possible for those who can afford to make choices.

    Often goods produced, by multinationals, on a mass scale are sold at a cheaper price. More often than this leads to some form of exploitation and transnational corporations attempt to lower costs.

    Fortunately you are able to choose not to purchase “unethical” products. My argument is that this “choice2 is not available to many people who are unable to afford more “ethical” and mostly more expensive alternatives.

    You then go on to say that you are “not comfortable in my finances”. I argue that by receiving £300 worth of Christmas presents you are.

    Furthermore If you are “working class” and are from a low income family then you would be in receipt of a full student grant, the full student loan and as you study English I’m sure there are plenty of opportunities to take up part-time work.

    You can afford to boycott, to suggest otherwise is disingenuous, naive and patronising.

    I am defending John Jones point with which I agree – your background is relevant when you are taking such a blatant hyperbolic moralising attitude towards this issue.

    “Devoting time and energy to a boycott is misplaced and stinks of identity politicing” John Jones, 2011

    Ellie
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    “You can afford to boycott, to suggest otherwise is disingenuous, naive and patronizing”

    Since when does boycotting Nestle require a financial sacrifice?! Nestle products are far from being the cheapest/best value for money on the market. This isn’t a matter of finances- we could all afford to boycott. Hell, it would probably even save money, Nestle products are hardly the bare essentials of life anyway.

    Regardless of personal background, everyone who gets a student loan has enough to live comfortably at University. I’m not suggesting that we all have huge amounts of excess money, but clearly, for the most part we have money left over once we’ve paid for bills, rent, food and other essentials. What we do with it, or how much of it there is, is entirely irrelevant to this discussion. Those with student loans, can all (unless there are extreme circumstances, although I don’t know how serious they could be that it would mean that we HAD to buy Nestle chocolate etc. to save money!) afford to boycott Nestle, and probably donate a little to charity too, if that’s the point under discussion. Whether we do or not is entirely our own choice: nobody is forcing you to, even if they’re pointing out that they do in response to an aggressive claim made against them.

    Think of all the money we spend on going out for example- that COULD go to charity and we’d all still be living relatively comfortably- I’m not suggesting that it should- that would indeed be naive and patronising- but to suggest that people who do donate a small proportion of money that they don’t absolutely NEED to charity are disingenuous, is ridiculous. I’m sure all the people in need of help across the world will be really grateful when people in wealthy countries don’t contribute (and attack other people who are doing so) for fear of looking self-righteous.

    Back to the original quotation -yes, Chloe can afford to donate to charity and she does, she’s not suggesting that she doesn’t have the money. (As pointed out, most of us do, if we want to). Neither is she saying that everyone should donate to UNICEF because she does. I don’t, but like most students, along with worrying about rent, VAT etc, I could probably find a few £ every now and then without any massive personal discomfort that would mean a lot more to someone in a developing country than they would to me, and I really admire Chloe for doing so. Suggesting that we can’t afford to do the same is pretty close minded and sounds far more disingenous than giving money to charity does. Even if you’ve got less money than Chloe for some reason, and you don’t give to charity, it’s still hardly a bad thing that she does, and if she had more money than you did, it would hardly be her fault.

    B. Obama
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    You heckled David Cameron when he was have a mature and straight forward conversation.

    Reallllll Mature

    Pete
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    As a consumer class, some would say that a boycott is now our only effective means of meaningful political protest. The only way to hurt a corporation is in their pocket.
    Also, if you buy their produce you are a part of the corporations power. You are an absolute hypocrite if you decry what nestle do whilst simultaneously funding it through kit kats, coffee and cereal. Whether it stops them or not, if you don’t like what they do, stop buying their products. Allowing Nestle to cause the problems, then sending charity aid to prevent it seems ridiculously long winded. Why not just try and stop nestle doing it?
    However, if you are still in the frame of mind where you think countries in Africa are European colonies, then these arguments won’t mean much to you.
    More generally, I think there are a lot of companies worth boycotting. Coke, for draining drinking water in India and murdering unionist in Columbia, Nike for their use of sweatshop labour, Shell for their actions in Nigeria… In fact if you stop and think about it, almost every purchase we make involves some kind of exploitation; of the environment, of workers, of people in the third world. The ethical way to shop, in my opinion, is to by as little as you possibly can and to buy it locally. But companies like Nestle are a good place to start. Good luck with the motion.

    Chloe Green
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    Pete, an entirely articulate and well reasoned response, thank you. I need people to help me do this, I get passionate and angry and start to lose grip of vocabulary.

    John Jones
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    Pete, there is no such thing as consumer activism. There can only be solidarity and support for producer activism. Some of us can’t afford to “buy locally” or go organic or buy FairTrade because it costs too much and we’re too busy scraping a living. Please spare a thought for the proles as you muse about saving the world via your motion.

    Pete
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    I think you would struggle to find someone who can’t afford to buy less John

    John Jones
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    The assumption you’ve made is incorrect. FairTrade and locally produced products are generally more expensive than the mass produced stuff you find in a supermarket. It’s easy to decry people who shop in Walmart or Primark or who buy Nestle goods rather than more expensive FairTrade brands. I apologise if I am unable to find common ground with this identity politics BS, but I prefer the idea of implementing real change, rather than pushing through a pointless motion that makes me feel warm and fuzzy inside.

    Lu
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    Intrigued about how blindly giving away money to organisations could possibly be the hard solution.

    Lu
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    Also, food is exempt from the increase in VAT John. There are an awful lot of morons commenting on this article. Unfortunately, as a student taking modules in globalisation and international relations whose heard some total idiots putting forward blinkered arguments during seminar discussions, this hardly suprises me.

    Dave
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    Chocolate covered biscuits (Kit-Kats anyone?) are classified as a luxury and therefore subject to VAT.

    Lu
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    How are ‘chocolate covered biscuits’ a ‘bread and butter issue’?

    Dave
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    They’re not, just pointing out that VAT is applicable to Kit-Kats.

    John Jones
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    Lu, whilst I would normally bow to your superior intellect permeating down through the vast catacombs of knowledge from your handful of “modules in globalisation and international relations”, I feel to backhandedly accuse me of being a moron totally misses what I was saying, and whilst I don’t feel compelled to respond to an entirely off topic critique of what I wrote, I shall anyway for the sake of argument.

    Increasing VAT pushes up the CPI, which pushes up inflation, which pushes up prices. That affects food, children’s clothing and other VAT exempt goods.

    But anyway, it is wildly off topic. As I have responded to Chloe, I am to put forward the view, however unpopular it is here, that this attempted boycott of Nestle is unnecessary on two counts. Firstly, that it devotes unnecessary time and attention to an issue that many are too busy to put at the forefront of their mind, because they have these things called lives. I have previously apologised to those who wish that wasn’t the case, but unfortunately, it is. Secondly, that it involves a restraint on ones ability to purchase the products one chooses with little consultation and debate with the actual student body (no, I’m not talking about Union Council).

    You don’t have to go to a globalisation and international relations seminar (although, I have had many, given I am a PAIR student) to find total idiots putting forward blinkered views.

    Lu
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    I didn’t at any point claim to have superior intellect (nor an in-depth knowledge of this particular plight, in fact). It is for that reason that I distanced myself from expressing an opinion surrounding the Nestle issue.
    My criticism (the moron comment) was largely aimed at the idea that giving money to charity is more difficult than starting a campaign or taking measures towards real change. I would suggest that blind donations are the lazy option, so Catherine’s comment erked me. However, there is undoubtedly an alarming amount of badly constructed and naive arguments on this long thread of comments aside from hers.
    As far as the Nestle debate goes, I would like to say that I will boycott the company because it is undoubtedly exploitative and undemocratic, but perhaps I would be setting double-standards by doing that, since almost every aspect of my life as a consumer is corporate controlled so I would need to boycott an awful lot in order to satisfy my moral ego.
    I think that the issue needs to be expanded beyond Nestle: we need to challenge the policies which allow for the continued exploitation of people.
    As far as VAT goes, I am shit at economics so the ins and outs are alien to me. I only meant to point out that since food is exempt from the increase, you shouldn’t struggle with your weekly shop anymore than you did before Christmas. However, I am (as you can see) unaware of the knock-on effects of the recent changes.

    Catherine
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    I don’t think the donations are blind. I also don’t see how it is any better than simply avoiding buying nestle products. I also don’t appreciate my comments being called naive. The problem is this is obviously a very passionate issue for many people so the numerous websites and articles I have looked at are divided very sharply into the for and against categories. I am struggling to find anywhere that argues both sides of this argument fairly and with statistics from reliable sources. I am doing a science degree so tracing every statistic and the sources of sources have become second nature to me, and I’m finding it very hard to do all the back tracing work on this topic.
    I was merely expressing my opinion, but I am starting to regret doing so, with the amount of people who have been criticising both me and my intelligence.
    I am all for helping others, but I just think the snowball effect of this campaign just isn’t going to happen – not for a boycott that has been running since the 70’s. It either needs a new angle or it simply isn’t going to happen. That is the reason why I thought donating money to charity would be the better option here, because charities can help provide education for these mothers, if they don’t know the effects formula milk can have on their children.

    Lauren
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    Attitudes like yours are exactly why nothing is going to change in this country.

    If everybody thinks that boycotting will have no effect, nobody will boycott. This is similar to politics, where the majority of people vote for the three main parties as they think that their vote will be wasted if they dare to vote for any other.

    Furthermore, it is a personal and moral decision. Whether the thousands decide to follow is ultimately irrelevant. It is about doing what you believe is fair and right.

    Jonny Vaughan
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    Dear Catherine,

    It is with deepest regret that inform you of my inability to take you seriously following your use of the phrase “hence why” in an argument.

    Warm regards,
    Jonny Vaughan

    Catherine
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    My apologies for my apparent mistake in grammar. If you have anything to contribute to this debate then please do. If not, I would appreciate it if you didn’t patronise me over something as trivial as the phrase ‘hence why’. This is supposed to be a reasoned debate, and i have been intrigued listening to both sides of this argument and bringing up something as trivial as a phrase isn’t contributing anything to the argument. It only serves to patronise me which I find very offensive.

    Jonny Vaughan
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    Apology accepted.
    I’ll also excuse you for the severe failure in your sense of humour 🙂

    I think it’s safe to say that I have read, understood and taken an interest in the topic at hand if I could be bothered to read the article then scroll all the way through the comments below it and read them well enough to find one that allowed me to make a tongue-in-cheek response to it.

    Catherine
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    I was reading all the comments as an attack on me, when looking at it a bit more calmly I see you probably where just being amusing (I hope). I’ve never been that good at catching sarcasm when it is spoken, let alone written down. Because I don’t know you, and because I was starting to think no one had a sense of humour on this page, I want to apologise (again) for misinterpreting your comment and biting you head off for it.
    I somewhat regret getting into this debate overall. People obviously have a much stronger opinion than me on this topic. I just got annoyed that people are trying to dictate what I can and cannot have in the SU shop. I don’t even like chocolate that much anyway…

    Jonny Vaughan
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    Don’t worry about it, I’d be a colossal hypocrite to claim I never make grammatical mistakes in the comments sections on the internet.

  6. avatar
    Rhiannon Frame-Jones

    Behind you all the way, Chloe Green.

    Boycotting Nestle is just ONE of the many things people can do personally to make a difference globally. As consumers we have a lot of clout: what we buy (or don’t buy) speaks volumes.

  7. avatar

    @Rebecca Hughes try using google/wikipedia five minutes on the internet and you can learn enough to make an informed decision about the Nestle boycott.

    Personally I agree with Catherine, maternal education, improved health care and improved infrastructure are a much more effective way of helping cure infant mortality in Developing Countries.

    Donate to charity, join a political organisation, volunteer but don’t kid yourself that a boycott that has been spouting the same rhetoric since 1977 will make a blind bit of difference.

    Consequently if this motion does pass I look forward to the next one which I suggest should be

    “say NO to killer Coca-Cola”!
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Criticism_of_Coca-Cola

    At this rate we ma not be able to buy anything without the fear of killing a thousand babies, farmers, union workers in South America, promoting the slave trade….

  8. avatar

    You argue very strongly and very passionately. In relation to the way this article is written, constructively I’d say you stated you read pages and pages of articles, so please put these up for the reader to be encouraged to look more broadly at this issue. It’s great to see a passion in your writing, but with on-going issues such as this it’s definitely worth having research to support your argument. International development by globalised corporations is a massive issue under so much debate, and there are different things to look at in terms of how third world countries are reacting to development and to interference by different organisations apart from nestle, so offer these up for the reader to debate in order to get onboard with you. Just consider this, but do not stop what you’re doing.

    Chloe Green
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    (…), you are quite right. Thanks.

    Here we are – read away

    http://www.babymilkaction.org/pages/boycott.html
    http://www.breastfeeding.com/advocacy/advocacy_boycott.html
    http://www.thirdworldtraveler.com/Boycotts/Nestleboycott_cont.html
    http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/entertainment/2010324.stm

    These two article relate to The Perrier awards, an example of what can be achieved by campaigning and boycotting:
    http://thescotsman.scotsman.com/news/Lager-tops-as-39Perrier39-awards.6319362.jp
    http://www.tapwaterawards.org

  9. avatar

    I don’t understand how people can oppose this on the grounds that the boycott makes no difference.

    Okay, the financial impact may be marginal on Nestle’s pocket, we should take a stance based upon principle. We shouldn’t be condoning this kind of behaviour.

    The argument that we shouldn’t bother because it won’t make a blind bit of difference is ridiculous. Since when did that line of reasoning *ever* work? By that logic, we never would have abolished slavery, given women the vote, etc etc.

    We shouldn’t blindly continue to give Nestle money based on these practices, and the argument that we should because it won’t change anything is ridiculous.

    Aaron Bali
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    Furthermore, the snowball argument that you propose, Tony Blair, regarding Coca-Cola is silly. If that’s an issue, maybe we need to address it too.

    You say ‘At this rate we ma not be able to buy anything without the fear of killing a thousand babies, farmers, union workers in South America, promoting the slave trade….’ as if it’s so offhand. Actually, this is a big deal. These are people’s lives we’re dealing with.

    We can make a change. Yes, people could join a charity or do some volunteering, but the sad truth is, most people won’t. By boycotting Nestle, we can help them to do that without requiring a significant investment of their time. How is this in any way a bad thing?

    Chloe Green
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    Aaron Bali, bloody well said.

    DW
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    Buying Kit Kats is not blindly giving Nestlé money – it’s paying a market rate for an item that consumers perceive to have value.

    Again, semantics.

    John Jones
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    How about you let students decide whether or not they want to “give Nestle money”?

    Lucy Hughes
    avatar

    Surely that would be the whole point in a referendum? And in order to allow people to make such decisions, surely they need to be sufficiently informed? Chloe has certainly detailed facts and figures and has put forward useful sources for further independent research. If there is a pro-nestle writer who wishes to put forward their argument in such a detailed and persuasive article as this one, I’m sure the student body would be happy to read it.

    Dave
    avatar

    There isn’t a referendum. If it was decided in a referendum I doubt many people would take as much of an issue with this. The issue of contention here is that there has been no consultation of the student body at all and one student is seeking to enforce their political beliefs on the rest of the union, which I hope Council will see fit to reject.

    If, and I hope this is the case, the motion doesn’t pass, everyone that doesn’t want to buy Nestle products can still not buy them, but the people who DO want to still have that choice.

  10. avatar

    The problem of exploitation of people in Developing Countries by Transnational Conglomerates is widespread – Mr Blair very correctly pointed out wrongdoings by the Coca Cola corporation, and the inhumane practices of the medical industry is a saw oft repeated.

    It’s not just our sugar-laden goodies which come coated in blood (to indulge in hysterical hyperbole) – where do you think the Buzz Lightyear dolls our little siblings cooed over this Christmas as we did ages ago were made? And under what conditions?

    As so often, Banksy has the answer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DX1iplQQJTo

    Rather than quite arbitrarily single out the Nestlé Corporation thus, I would rather SUSU committed itself to the cause of supporting improvement of Western business practice in Developing Countries. Let’s leave no stone unturned.

    Chloe Green
    avatar

    Alexis, I agree entirely.

    But rather than bombard students with horrifying facts that reflect the practise of hundreds of companies, we must start somewhere. Boycotting Nestle is a small but important step in the right direction. As someone hugely concerned with the rights of females, mothers, children, the Nestle debate for me is what I can personally relate to and the issue I find most pressing. This is why I have chosen to boycott Nestle and would like the support of SUSU. That is not to say that the others aren’t just as important, but that Nestle is the cause that I have chosen to fight most passionately.

    If we as a union can successfully boycott Nestle, there is nothing stopping us boycotting other unethical corporations. We could become a wonderfully ethical and considerate university, paving the way for others to do the same, which could potentially lead to national change.

    But for now, this Nestle boycott is the point of the article and it is no good trying to tackle my argument on the grounds that I should be doing this with all unethical corporations. Look at the backlash I have had for suggesting we stop eating Nestle alone!

    If you want to leave no stone unturned, I am completely behind you. But you have to help me, not criticise me.

  11. avatar

    Where I stand on whether we a boycott of Nestle is a good or bad thing I have not decided. What I am 100% sure of is that it is the individual’s decision and that we should allow them to make the choice rather than impose our own moral view on the student body, if students really do want to boycott Nestle they will stop buying the products. If that is the case then Nestle products will no longer be financially viable for SUSU to order in and then we will stop selling them.

    Dave
    avatar

    Furthermore is there any evidence, from the sales of Nestle products by SUSU, that the students want this or are they, as I suspect, selling absolutely fine, suggesting that students are happy to by Nestle products and do not indeed want a boycott.

    Chloe Green
    avatar

    I think the issue is, Dave, not enough people know about the Nestle boycott – this is why I have written this article: to accompany my motion so that when I go into Union Council, hopefully people will be aware of the facts and will have been able to research it and come to some sort of opinion on it. If everybody knew the Nestle corruption, perhaps people wouldn’t be buying it, but without the necessary publicity people are remaining unaware.

    Dave
    avatar

    Either way it should still be an individual decision. Assuming I agree with you and believe we should be boycotting Nestle (which again I have still not decided on) my boycott means nothing if I don’t actually have the option to by in the first place.

    Moreover SUSU exists primarily to protect the interests of students and to represent them. This is not a direct student issue, and there is no significant student movement presenting itself within SUSU to suggest that this is an issue that SUSU as a whole cares strongly about this issue. If the motion passes it will probably provide mild annoyance a great many students who want a kit-kat while working in the library. While I concede this is nothing compared to the alleged suffering caused by Nestle, SUSU is not the representative body for African mothers but of Southampton Students. If the students do care enough they’ll boycott it themselves and we won’t buy any kit-kats as it won’t be profitable to do so, and if they don’t know enough about the issue then it’s your job if you feel so strongly to get out there and make everyone aware of what you believe, and that requires far more than writing on article for the Wessex Scene.

    LB27
    avatar

    Yes, people may not know enough about the issue of Nestle and their activities involving baby formula, but I think raising awareness amongst the student body rather imposing a SUSU-wide boycott. We are after all adults, and deserve to be given the choice as to what we purchase. If enough people care then sales of Nestle products should surely drop making it uneconomical for SUSU to stock them. I have known about the issue since being at school and have, as a result, tried to refrain from buying Nestle products.

    Chloe, you said many of the hospitals couldn’t afford not to accept Nestle’s help, if therefore, an en mass boycott did have an impact on their promotion of formula, what other funding options will the hospitals have besides a company running a similar deal for sponsorship? I’m not at all condoning Nestle’s activities, there just needs to be some understanding of the difficult position hospitals are in.

    Education is obviously the most important factor mothers and families and promoting this education and helping to fund it would, perhaps, be a better way of dealing with the issue (on the larger scale). The mothers deserve to be able to make an informed, unpressured (from any side) decision as to whether they want to use formula or breast feed their child.

    Most of the goods that we purchase will involve some sort exploitation in their production or transportation, of both people and the environment. It is our job as an educated population of consumers to choose what we buy to conform to our ideals and beliefs without hypocrisy.

  12. avatar

    My point is not that Nestle is good on the contrary the negative externalities of nearly all multinationals are despicable.

    I just make the point again that students have been trying to “boycott” Nestle since 1977, and to what success? Next you will be telling me that the boycott of South African oranges brought down the fall of Apartheid….

    My point is rather there are more effective ways to tackle this issue… rather than trying to reinvent the wheel every time a conscientious student reads some online propaganda.

    Engaging in politics in a meaningful way is the way in which I choose to make a difference, it may not be the coolest thing, it may be that to some I am a sell out, but the real opportunity to make a difference is not made in the unbelievably long queue in the SU shop, but through progressive politics.

    Alexis Forss
    avatar

    I agree that progressive politics is (are? I don’t know anymore) the way forward. Nestlé’s malpractice is a sympton – not the malaise itself. We need greater regulation on Western corporations operating in the Third World, and that regulation needs to originate from the countries in which they’re based.

    Dhanesh Patel
    avatar

    Tony Blair is not right. No one said boycotting was the ONLY thing that should be done about this. Stop validating his sub-par reading comprehension.

    Aaron Bali
    avatar

    Good point, well made. We’ve got to tackle this issue in as many ways as we possibly can if we’re serious about it, there’s no reason a boycott can’t be one of them.

    Chloe Green
    avatar

    But what harm would it do to stop purchasing Nestle products? Yes, there are more things we can do. Yes, there are other methods of opposition. But if enough people vote for the motion to pass, that will mean that the university, as represented by sabbs, officers, etc, have chosen to not indulge in such a corrupt company. Surely this can only be seen as a positive step? Other than this inane argument of “more could be done” or “it won’t make a difference”, how can boycotting Nestle possibly be deemed a negative thing?

  13. avatar

    Can’t help to think that this argument is a little one sided. I read up on this campaign over a year ago and there appears to have been no development. With no reference to the effect breastfeeding has on already malnuritished mothers as well as on the spread of HIV, this campaign seems to be trying to penalise a capatalist company that has already tried to improve their standards (They previously used a campaign that stated formula was better than breastmilk, which was retracted AND they fund hospitals) I think to support such a campaign SUSU as well as individual students need alot more information about both the pros and the cons of this company.

    Alexis Forss
    avatar

    Fi raises an important point: it would be wrong to act rashly on the matter of Nestlé. Which leads us to the bigger problem: by some accident of perception, the specific controversies surrounding one Conglomerate (one of the biggest, granted, but still one of many) is obscuring the larger issue.

    It seems to me that boycotting Nestlé, while as admirable as refusing to buy fur or using public transportation as often as possible, is as empty a gesture was wearing a ‘Free Tibet’ t-shirt in Soho – it’s a tree falling in the woods. It’s the slacktivist politics of gesture, rather than the slower, more tedious, less sensational politics of deliberation which are required to deliver reforms in legislation and regulation necessary to correct not just Nesté’s malpractice, but exploitation by all globalised corporations.

    If we want SUSU to put its weight behind humane business practice, then we should direct its efforts towards writing letters to politicians, supporting anti-globalisation campaigns, and, yes, boycotting products by all corporations whose profit is based on exploitation and unfair dealing.

    Chloe Green
    avatar

    Alexis, this is the same point as you make above and my reply there is an apt response here too.

    I am a “slacktivist”? If you feel as strongly as it seems, why don’t you help me and do something about it too. An article on the Wessex Scene and a union boycott are relatively small but these things must gain support and momentum before being taking further and further.

    Alexis Forss
    avatar

    I don’t think you’re a slacktivist, Chloe. I just think that while your intentions are to be commended your efforts are misdirected in the present instance. I care deeply about these issues, and will be meeting soon with Aaron Bali, Environment & Ethics Officer, for a chat about what can feasibly be done in terms the Union’s policy towards corporate malpractice in the Third World. In the meantime, I think imposing a Union-wide ban is neither a step in the right direction nor the wrong direction, it’s just a step in not any direction in particular, and raises the chimera of precedence – the inevitable question will be one of “Why Nestlé in particular?” and the Union will seem guilty of something worse than moral apathy, and that is moral arbitrariness.

    Lucy Hughes
    avatar

    Before I start, this is a ramble and I don’t imagine it all makes sense, so I apologise in advance.
    The issue is that corporate globalisation is encouraged and nutured by the policies of neoliberal institutions (and the fact is we as a western nation have been made quite comfortable by the benefits we’ve received from neoliberal globalisation).
    Multinational corporations have been granted an all-access pass to the global market, with devastating effects. As one example, the American company BECHTEL bought Bolivia’s water supply in 1999 and increased the rates by 200%, leaving people without the most basic of human rights. Is it right that corporations are allowed control of essential resources such as food and water through privatisation?
    It is true that Nestle fund hospitals in the region, and many corporations use such funding schemes to bolster their public image, but at what cost for human development? McDonald’s funds a number of US schools, which gives the company the power to advertise its products in so-called “educational videos”. And we wonder why America’s young generation is obese?
    There are a worrying number of globalised corporations with an alarming amount of control over basic human rights. They are stunting human development in vulnerable countries, all because we have resigned ourselves to the idea that we have no control. While I do often feel completely powerless as a result of this sense of inevitability, I refuse to settle for being a product of the global economy. There are some essential changes in lifestyle which need to be addressed in order for positive development to be made, but I question how feasible this is given how much powerful states gain financially from the exploitation of the majority. Policy reform that offers true “fairness” is not a financially attractive option for any of the world’s leading governments.
    Despite the apparent lack of control we have, I will be boycotting Nestle, and I am very eager that the student body be made aware of all of the facts and figures (both for and against) so that they too can make independent decisions. I am in support of much (okay, pretty much all) of what Alexis has to say, and I am very keen to help the SU to make changes in its attitude towards coporate malpractice, but it is a fight which seems almost impossible to me while neoliberal policies continue to give corporations free reign of the global economy.
    I feel it is worth mentioning that there are a lot of key figures who hold chairman positions both in institutions such as the World Bank or the IMF AND in corporations such as Goldman Sachs. You’d have to be a real moron to think that those people don’t have vested interests in the exploitation of third world countries.

    Chloe Green
    avatar

    Fiona, they fund hospitals in return for their support with publicising their formula milk. It is a two sided deal.
    I agree that in some cases, it is not possible for women to breastfeed. I am not against the formula milk itself, as it is undeniably necessary for some women. But when healthy mothers and healthy babies are being given free samples of formula milk, by doctors in hospitals, which have been labelled in what is to them an unintelligible language, there is no element of fairness involved. They are unaware that this is not the best option for their child and that without their own breast milk their baby will not be immune from infections as common as diarrhoea, which cause up to 4000 deaths every single day.

    And Nestle are perfectly aware of all this – I wish I could point you somewhere else, but look under the ‘history of the boycott’ section of the wikipedia page. This information is freely available elsewhere but this site condenses it and consolidates it quite well
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nestl%C3%A9_boycott

    Fiona McDonnell
    avatar

    Everything, unfortunately is a two sided deal, but they do provide funding! Let say for example that these boycott suceeds, which is surely its aim, and Nestle go bankrupt, what happens to these hospitals?

    I also believe this campaign massively overlooks the role of education and of doctors. The UNICEF campaign to spread awareness about breastfeeding has been extremely successful. Doctors, despite having to promote the formula for funding, surely explain the risks to individual patients

    I believe SUSU time would be much better spent on fundraising and spreading information about the issue, instead of labouring over an old and frankly, slightly dated argument.

  14. avatar

    Ok Ok boycott

    But can someone please tackle the issue of why if this campaign has been going on since 1977 are there still babies dying in developing countries thanks to Nestle….

    Give me an accomplishment!

    Aaron Bali
    avatar

    Because not enough people are boycotting?

    Because not enough people know about it?

    Because not enough people are donating their time, money and effort to other related humanitarian causes to help mothers and babies in new countries?

    It doesn’t matter why babies are still dying. What does matter is what we do about it. We can make a difference through this, so why not? If it generates publicity and debate, maybe people will be spurred to take further action and help deal with this problem.

  15. avatar

    This argument leaves a bitter taste in the mouth at the moment because there seems to be one side arguing for the boycott of nestle (which is a relevant focus to the article) while the other is looking outside of the article at the bigger picture of assisting international development, yet there seems a personal conflict of pride between the two. It is true that saying this boycott campaign started in 1977 suggests this could be a very dated argument, and it is also true that there are economic, political, rural, domestic and nutritional issues caused by and assisted by interference from other organisations. I don’t think there’s a reason to have these two stand-points in confliction, the thing is to weigh up whether this nestle nutrition issue is still relevant in this time of globalised business as development progresses for societies throughout third world countries.

    That’s my view from this comfortable fence.

  16. avatar

    Just thought I would point out that formula breast milk provided in India and Africa stops the transmission of HIV for millions annually.

    Furthermore, whether liking Nestle or not, (I do not)…boycotting them is a personal matter, I would be thoroughly disappointed if the motion was passed in council due to your and a majority of council members views.

    Why not pass a motion for SUSU to review and advertise the responsibility of the companies it trades with?

    anon
    avatar

    ” I would be thoroughly disappointed if the motion was passed in council due to your and a majority of council members views.”

    You would be disappointed if a representative student body passed a motion? What is it that you want?

    Matt Quinn
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    I don’t think council should say which company I can spend my money on. Unless that is, that the company has in some way abused our union.

    Aaron Bali
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    If this were passed though, you would still be able to continue purchasing and supporting Nestle elsewhere (i.e., nearby Burgess Road, Portswood, etc)? The boycott would only apply in SUSU shops and outlets.

    Or is that too much? (That’s not a hypothetical question as a literary device, it’s a genuine question).

    Matt Quinn
    avatar

    You’re right, but would SUSU be acting in my interest or the interest of the majority of students? Should SUSU have the power to tell me what I can and can not buy?

    Pete
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    No, but we have the power to tell SUSU what it can and can’t buy

    Dan Jeffery
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    To be fair, Union Council is about as representative as an afternoon luncheon at the Royal Southern Yachting Club. ie, not at all.

    Chloe
    avatar

    Matt, interesting point. I will still be aiming to pass the motion to see Nestle boycotted but this would be a viable route to go down if the motion does not pass, thanks.

    Samuel Gilonis
    avatar

    The WHO still recommends that HIV infected mothers in low income countries (presumably including India) breastfeed as the risk of transmission is outweighed by the risks of not breastfeeding.

    http://www.avert.org/hiv-breastfeeding.htm

    Matt Quinn
    avatar

    Its a little trickier than that Sam.

    Samuel Gilonis
    avatar

    Of course but it is not as simple as formula stopping millions of deaths annually either. And how much trickier than that is it really? HIV infected mothers are advised by the WHO to breastfeed for the first 6 months, advise to the contrary would be damaging.

    Matt Quinn
    avatar

    You have to factor in ARV courses, their availability, their understanding and their regimen.

    Samuel Gilonis
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    Yes but the case remains that in general, in low income countries, the global authority on health advises HIV+ women to breastfeed rather than use formula. There are obviously exceptions and factors that invalidate this advice but the WHO’s stance is that breast is best.

  17. avatar
    Devil's Advocate

    Should SUSU boycott Catholicism? The Pope actively discourages the use of condoms in Africa which contributes massively to the increase in the spread of HIV, killing lots of people.

    Matt Quinn
    avatar

    The reasoning of the argument massively questionable.

    Samuel Gilonis
    avatar

    There are several other factors, I know that in Kenya the use of a condom is considered emasculating but religion does also play a tangible and devastating role that is hardly ‘massively questionable’.

    King of the Cathos in Mozambique:
    http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/7014335.stm

    Samuel Gilonis
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    Are you not already boycotting it by not being a Catho (presumably)?

    Matt Quinn
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    I was referring to the Pope/Condoms/HIV argument

    Samuel Gilonis
    avatar

    There are several other factors, I know that in Kenya the use of a condom is considered emasculating but religion does also play a tangible and devastating role.

    King of the Cathos in Mozambique:
    http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/7014335.stm

    Samuel Gilonis
    avatar

    Sorry about the duplicate comment, something strange happened.

    Matt Quinn
    avatar

    So, under strict following of catholic guidelines by not using a condom you can give HIV to your spouse.

    With no sex before marriage and no adultery, it’s interesting that by simply infecting your spouse can give the acceleration to HIV which has made it a global pandemic.

    Devil's Advocate
    avatar

    Shocking development:

    The HIV/Condoms/Pope thing was not serious. It was there deliberately as a ridiculous argument and I’m hoping the thumbs up are from people getting the joke rather than agreeing with me.

    Samuel Gilonis
    avatar

    Yes I think everyone realised you were not seriously advocating SUSU’s boycott of Catholicism…

    Matt: The Church does not simply preach against condoms as they are immoral, they make claims that they are ineffective at preventing HIV transmission and, as you can see from the link I left you, the head honcho of Catholics in Mozambique even claimed that condoms were infected with HIV (a ludicrous claim since the HIV virus essentially cannot live outside of a body). These are falsehoods and the dissemination of them is a heinous and destructive crime.

    The grammar of your last claim was a little fuzzy but I believed your claim was that if anybody was to adhere to Catholicism’s rules they would have to go along with no sex before or outside of marriage as well as no condoms and then you could only be infected by an adulterous spouse. Well yes but you could still be infected by the way mentioned above and Catholics do have a tendency to pick and choose when it comes to papal decree. No condoms is probably more popular a notion than no sex outside of marriage.

    Regardless, the Catholic Church is still an institution that lies about the efficacy of condoms. Ratzinger has repeatedly said that condoms are ineffective at combating AIDS despite concrete evidence to the contrary. Precisely why you should never take advice on contraception from a bunch of elderly male virgins in dresses.

  18. avatar

    I personally will not be buying Nestlé products but the job of the Student Union is not to impose morality on to students. This is a personal decision, though one I hope all take.

    Tony Blair’s Snow Ball argument may also not be as silly as it seems. While of course we all want to move towards a way of life that does not rest upon exploitation, our society is currently completely founded and dependent on it! If we are going to look at Nestlé we should look at Coca Cola, and then we should look at all of the different coffee and tea companies sold in all of the cafeterias. Then we should look at all of the different juices sold. If we did all of that we would still have only covered drinks! The next move would be food then clothing then electronics then who knows what else is being made by some poor slop working their fingers bloody for no money… Unfortunately this is a more widespread problem than Rolos and needs to be treated as such.

    It is also an extremely valid point that a boycott is completely ineffective, as well demonstrated by this particular one’s 1977 inception! A boycott of this nature should be done by individuals as a matter of principle not as a matter of policy in the vain hope of results. Yes serious action should be taken to stop our dependence on exploitative goods.

    Perhaps a better measure to take would be the installation of more fair trade lines in the shop. Fairtrade as we know it was established in the 1960s and has grown by 22% year to year (http://www.fairtrade.net/facts_and_figures.html) and is now affiliated with 1.2 million farmers and is involved with the ethical sales of $4bn worth of products a year. Though I concede that Fairtrade has 17 years on the Nestlé boycott, the efficacy of one demonstrates the mass growing in peoples desire to not support companies like Nestlé and shows that there is an alternative and if it increases to grow as it has done people may at some point not need to buy any products associated with exploitative labour or manipulation of the third world. The efficacy of the other is sadly nil, but if it is allowed to remain personal choice, still shows the principles of those who choose to do so.

  19. avatar

    Whilst I agree with the boycott on personal grounds, we cant autocratically bar Nestle products, unless Nestle had done something directly toward SUSU. As a result, I’ve proposed a society be set up and established, much like Stop Aids, Amnesty International and Students for Sensible Drug Policy have done, and use SUSU as a basis to campaign and organise protests – perhaps look at setting up similar affiliations at other Universities, before initiating a national group. This would raise awareness, give a sure-hold footing for a protest to take place, as well as still giving students the freedom to decide for themselves.

    Matt Quinn
    avatar

    Loving the reference to Stop AIDS Sasha!

  20. avatar

    Hi Chloe!
    I think this article is fantastic and passionate – well done! In response to the discussion below, surely the heart of the matter is that if hospitals were in a financial situation where they did not have to do deals with multinationals such as Nestle, this whole issue would be helped? Mothers could been given information about the benefits of breast feeding and continue to do so without the temptations of an apparently better alternative. Advertising plays a large part here to, as every mother is going to want to do what is best for her baby, and large scale propaganda will play a large part in this decision. Having said this, I was not breastfeed, not through my mother’s choice but because she could not do so, and I am very healthy; but it can’t be forgotten that my baby milk was always mixed with clean, safe water, and the necessary amount given each day.
    At Sussex University, there is a Union boycott of Coca Cola products, because of their record of over-extracting water in India, and their treatment of unions in Columbia, and also a boycott of Israeli goods. Whilst I believe in the freedom to buy whatever you chose to, a boycott by the university at large makes a much bigger statement than individual boycotts, and people can still chose to go to non-Unions run shops to buy Coca Cola products!
    I am so supportive of what you are doing at Southampton, good luck and I really hope the students there understand the irresponsible actions of Nestle and vote for a boycott!

    http://www.ussu.info/files/USSUpr_cola.pdf
    http://www.thebadgeronline.co.uk/news/sussex-boycotts-israeli-goods/

  21. avatar
    The resident curmudgeon

    As a former Nestle boycotter, I found your article very interesting. While raising awareness which is certainly a valuable currency, the baby-milk issue is just the beginning of the enormous web of corporations abusing their products and their advertising.
    Nestle have become a sort of flagship for band hatred for several reasons, primarily that their atrocity is high profile, and involves children. That the Coca-Cola corporation is responsible for the pollution of vast areas of Indian groundwater to sustain their bottling plants and the destruction of reams of farmland with wastewater dumping or that Bacardi financially supported violence in Cuba and attempted to prolong the US/Cuba trade embargo are less high profile, but arguably as damaging.
    I am not trying to say that Nestle are justified, or that your anger at the company is not, but merely to illustrate that boycotting Nestle is just a drop in the ocean of corporate corruption. After more than 30 years of rallying, Nestle formula is still on the market, and while a worthy outcry, a university boycott will not have any impact upon their profit. Those who want Nestle will buy elsewhere. While perhaps a university ban on all products with questionable ethical backgrounds would be a beacon of hope, we would all also starve (or at least become depressed), as Kraft and Mars also have skeletons in their closets.
    I guess what I’m trying to say is that rather than persuading the university to spend money on admin hours and alternate suppliers that a boycott would entail, why not lobby for partnership with a community, where rather than just denying ourselves luxuries, we actually contribute some clean water which could save some formula milk babies. It’s easy to jump on the Nestle hating bandwagon, hell its even worthwhile, but I would suggest that you take your anger and skill with words, plus all the below support, and try for something bigger.

  22. avatar

    As a black man who grew up in africa, I can tell you none of this true. No one believes that formula milk is better than Breast milk. Secondly nestle products were not readily available, thirdly my father was an advisor to UNICEF and said the big problem in Africa is not nestle but actually the influx of gap year students that crowd out low skilled labour, only for them to return after a year. Whether or not the work was of good nature, locals cannot compete with employees paying to WORK!

    So to sum up, I think the author has trodden a little out of her depth and her big words are going to end her with a libel case. Also id like to think in this democratic society that my freedom to enjoy various brands of confectionery will be uphold in my local supermarket or student union shop.

    Ps I forwarded this article to nestle media relations and I expect you will receive a cease and desist letter in a few days.

    Chloe
    avatar

    William, obviously I have never been to Africa so your word absolutely holds authority there. However, there are so many charities that have been founded in order to stop this and so many boycotts for so many years, they must be finding this information to fuel the battle from somewhere. It’s not as if this is all entirely founded on lies: there is truth here, otherwise this wouldn’t be a global movement which has been going on for 30 years.

    I don’t think it’s particularly necessary to forward the article on to Nestle themselves as I’m sure they have bigger fish to fry than a few British students, but if that’s what you’ve chosen to do, then that’s your choice.

    anon
    avatar

    In this democratic society, her freedom of expression should be upheld despite threats of a cease and desist letter. Honestly.

    Standing up for Nestle
    avatar

    As a fellow african all I can say is well said. All Chloe seems to do is come up in her mind with what she belives the situation to be like in the WHOLE of Africa ! I take she watches ads on tv and thinks all of Africa is like that.

  23. avatar

    It is said that “Every day we buy Nestlé products, unaware of what our money is funding,” but surely the breast-milk division of the company is self-sufficient or they would not be making such profits; whether or not we buy Kit Kats does not mean that there is more or less money for Nestlé to use to further this programme.

    Semantics, I know.

    Jamie
    avatar

    My only argument would be, as someone has said on a relevant Soton Tab article mentioning this one, that this article is *clearly* labeled as a feature, which in my opinion is not true.

    I read this article from a link promoted on facebook, and on arriving at the page nothing stands out as pointing this to a feature article, instead I would say this article looks too much like news, thus is where a lot of the disagreement is coming from. All there is is the highlighted navigation at the top of the page, but this clearly is not enough to diffrentiate wessex scene *news* from *feature*. As we all know, feature articles are usually better for the added opinion and debate afterwards, and I believe most of the conflict with this article stems from the fact it is not clearly differentiated from news articles.

    This sort of article is perfectly acceptable as a feature/column, in my eyes. Yet I feel the online team of the wessex scene should be doing a lot more than is current to seperate news and features. Even a quick look at BBC News online shows how easy this is to do.

    Good luck to Chloe with furthering her campiagn, and good luck to Wesseex Scene in handling future hot topics.

  24. avatar

    This is absolutely ridiculous. Yes, if what you have written is true, then this is terrible but in no way should a union boycott should take place. This is a personal matter which you are obviously entitled to raise opinion about, but you are wrong in the head if you think it’s something you should get a union to vote on! I’ll be stocking up at the uni shop tomorrow morning just in case as usual not that many people turn up for a union council vote and this silly motion is forced upon us.

  25. avatar

    Good stuff – only criticism is the description of African mothers as “ignorant” – it’s natural for mothers to breastfeed – not doing so is not due to an ignorance on their part but to heavy and powerful propaganda from Nestle and the West which states that formula is better – even here adverts for formula claim the same. It’s a small drop in the ocean and I doubt SUSU, with all their liberal bullshit of being “independent” and having to look at both sides will take much from this – but hey – good luck with it

  26. avatar

    I think that this article highlights a trend in how students are trying to become actively involved against transnational corporations in the wrong manner. Within this article there are some valid points which do highlight ethical issues that Nestle should address. However we must realise that most products within the western world are tainted in some way and boycotting all of them would either (a) lead to personal bankruptcy or (b) you would have to live naked in a cave somewhere. As a student body we should not be focusing on passing motions such as this, but instead focus on how we can directly help those who are affected by TNC’s ( e.g the mothers in the case of Nestle)We have seen programmes such as Panorama and personalities such as Michael Moore try to expose the ethical issues of TNC’s , but in the long run, achieve little.

    The Society such as stop AIDS is a better example of what we can do. In my personal opinion, this university has a population of 30,000 young intelligent individuals who could really have a positive effect on peoples lives in our local community and worldwide communities, so why are we not doing more?

    I respect your personal opinion Chloe, but what must be considered carefully is whether this should remain a personal issue, or be taken to the union council. In my personal opinion , there are more productive ( not positive , which is the wrong word to use) motions that could be passed.

  27. avatar
    Rabid Masculinist

    I think we should pass a motion to ban something else.

    Think of all the energy we have used writing on the article. That amounts to a ridiculous amount of carbon dioxide released into the world.

    Ahhhhh Global warming Ahhhhh dying Polar Bears

    Devil's Advocate
    avatar

    I refer you to my earlier comment regarding Catholicism.

    Rabid Masculinist
    avatar

    The whole pope – HIV cannot be taken seriously

  28. avatar

    Reading your article, I noticed you did not refer to a single source, other than a singular (UNICEF) indication. Where did you get these ridiculous figures of ‘millions of dead babies’, ‘billions in profits’? Misleading the public through the media is common practice in the newspaper hegemony’s, but a student publication is meant to be truthful and unbiased. From what you have explained, I came to the conclusion that Nestle actuvely spends money, cutting their profits, to kill African babies. Do you not think that misleading people to join a 33 year boycott is a waste of the wessex scene’s resources? Jumping on a bandwagon from the publicly-edited wikipedia is not a good representation of a justifiable boycott. It is not that I am accusing you of lying, its just,
    I don’t believe you.

    Rabid Masculinist
    avatar

    Still bitter that Chloe was rude to you?

  29. avatar

    Raising awareness among students about the implications of their buying of a product is to be encouraged, as is getting them to do their own independent research.
    However, I don’t think that SUSU should be able to make my descision for me. Students should not be forced into boycotting a company because it is not available to them. If you wish to boycot Nestle go ahead, don’t buy the brand, but at least let others have a choice in it.

    Emily
    avatar

    That’s a convincing point Rob. I’m sure other people should hear it, you should get involved in the next union council when this is being debated on

  30. avatar

    It’s really good to see an article with at least some kind of factual basis. I study issues such as this as part of my degree and this is just one of many examples of people at the top making decisions about those at the bottom. This is part of a wider development statagy that disenfranchises whole sections of society. The problem is not about just one corporation, as they playing to the rules given to them by economics and the and the framework in place for governing development. Boycotts are the first step taken at the level of real people in all societies. By saying no, we will begin to shape the ideology behind development in the future to one where full empowerment of all people is a basic human right. When this is achieved, those at the very bottom will be able to make decisions like this for themselves. So I agree with the boycott, though some may argue that it is trivial and will ask what possible effect can we have? But I believe we can set the ball rolling for bigger things by expanding the issue beyond nestle onto a movement of conscience that encompasses the driving forces behind poverty and inequality.

  31. avatar

    I’d personally love to see SUSU attach itself to the Boycott Israeli Goods campaign, talk about life and death and all.

    Dhanesh Patel
    avatar

    To be fair if you want to boycott Nestle go ahead. Even write articles like this and raise awareness. But don’t force others to fall in line with your own convictions. No one is being forced to buy Nestle products, but I’d like to have the option.

    Matt Quinn
    avatar

    Now I 200000% support that cause. However under SUSU constitution I think this would be too political and needs a society set up for it.

    Passing a motion is pretty straight forward, Setting up a society, lobbying and achieving “real change” is the hard part.

  32. avatar
    the great ignored

    I think a small elite which the majority of people haven’t heard of should stop enforcing their moral agenda on other people without asking them first but that’s just me

    Emily
    avatar

    The union is always encouraging people to get involved and keep up with union activity. If you have an opinion and would like to get involved then do so. Granted, it isn’t perfect but if you have ideas on how the union can practically reach out to more students then tell them. It’s easy to criticise from the outside without taking part, I recommend doing something about it.

  33. avatar

    Surely the best way to tackle this issue is to provide better education to these new mothers? Nestle cannot be directly held responsible for the problems, they only encourage them indirectly. If Nestle stopped providing them their formula milk, what would stop another brand from filling the marketing gap?

    If the mothers were instructed properly upon the benefits of breast milk and the improvement their milk could make to their children’s health, then surely that would have more of an impact than boycotting Nestle as a brand? The best response to this issue would be to actively fund and attempt to support improved health education to the vulnerable new mothers.

  34. avatar

    It’s great to see The Wessex Scene prompting such lively debate!

    Keep your eyes peeled for the next issue of The Wessex Scene out later this month, for a round up of some of the best (and possibly, worst) comments…

  35. avatar

    Brilliant article, thanks. I’m glad to see that Exeter Student Union boycotted Nestlé and I wonder if they still do. When I was younger we were never allowed to buy Nestlé products, and would always have to choose a different brand of sweets, but I didn’t really understand the full story until I looked into it when I was older. It’s also quite scary that this boycott has been going on for so long and yet Nestlé seems unharmed by it and seems not to have changed. Perhaps it’s time to reignite the boycotts and get people campaigning and protesting about it again.

  36. avatar

    You dumbnuts just make me (And Nestlé) laugh. Ever thought that maybe the African women can’t even give breastfeeding, because their bodies don’t even have enough energy to maintain their own?

    And exactly how much does Nestlé make on those Africans? Because we all know, African people all have millions to spend on non-important stuff, like TV’s, mobile phones, etc. So Nestlé is bound to ask just about as much as they will ask for products that come in the supermarket here.

    By the way, every child that lives through those first years, will only suffer longer.

    Sam Gray
    avatar

    @realtruth You raise some interesting points- but you are a real asshole about it and dead brave to do it annonymously- you wouldn’t know real truth if it slapped you in the face

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