I have recently returned from overseas to another mailbag of new subscribers, which is great. I am sorry for the delay in replying to those people and hope you will understand.
This month's Just Shoppers Guide is slightly different. Trade Aid Christchurch sent me this excellent sheet on the Banana Industry and it made sense to reproduce it in full rather than try to summarise it.
I also thought you would all be interested in some feedback on a couple of issues because it shows how sensitive companies are to consumer pressure. It is encouraging to know that people are following up on the Guides, I really appreciate being kept informed on what you are doing.
I had a letter from a Just Shopper who had rung Nestle Consumer Services about the information in the first Just Shoppers Guide. They sent her a letter, a pamphlet, an article and 1994 brochure from Nestle UK. She has forwarded all these to me so I am passing the information in them on to you.
The letter claims "Nestle has always made it clear that its policy is to apply the WHO code in its entirety in developing countries". This is definitely questionable. Even the Director General of Save the Children UK has gone on record as saying "Nestle have undermined the principles and the aim of the International Code". Save the Children has made these concerns known to Nestle and is pressing for a satisfactory response. (NI Jan, 1996).
The pamphlet relates to marketing in Australia. It is obviously
designed to counter the boycott and details a timetable of Nestle's
co-operation with the Australian government, since 1991, to bring
about an end to free and low-cost supplies of infant formula.
This shows that Nestle did not end free supplies of infant formula
to hospitals until 1995, and to early childhood centres until
June 30, 1996. Clearly policy and practice are two different things.
The article is on Infant Feeding, and is from The Children's Hospital,
Camperdown. It is by Sue Thompson, Head of Dept. of Nutrition
and Dietetics. This of course stresses the value of breastfeeding
but recommends commercial formula rather than cow's milk if the
infant is to be bottle fed. No-one questions the high standard
of Nestle formula, what is in question is their marketing methods.
The brochure is again designed to counter the boycott.(It has
obviously been very effective) It argues the case for using infant
formula in developing countries where mothers are poorly nourished
or have to leave their babies while they are working. It points
out mothers often supplement their breastfeeding with unsuitable
products such as cow's milk and traditional substitutes. The brochure
lists Nestle's compliance with the WHO code - no advertising of
infant formula to the public, (nursing staff?) no sales incentives
to staff on infant formula, no free samples to mothers (to hospitals?),
no personal gifts to healthcare professionals except low cost
items of practical professional use (?). Nestle set up an independent
commission In 1982 to examine complaints. Nestle claim that the
commission found that the claims made by boycott activists were
inaccurate although it admits that in the early days a significant
number of shortcomings were reported and Nestle took corrective
action. There is now an ombudsman operating across the industry.
The last page gives 5 reasons why Nestle does not end free supplies
unilaterally in developing countries but then says Nestle has
agreed to work toward ending free and lowcost supplies to maternity
units, in co-operation with other Infant Food Manufacturers. By
1994 free supplies of Nestle were given in only 5 small developing
countries where the government has yet to agree to change.
Whatever Nestle may claim I am convinced that these changes have
mainly been brought about through consumer boycotts and lobbying,
You may feel it is time to lift the boycott, but Nestle's
claim to have been wrongfully treated in the past does not carry
Another Just Shopper wrote to Watties, Sealord, John West and the Prime Minister about the longline fishing and albatross. She sent me all the replies. It seems clear that long-liners are used typically for large-sized species of tuna. These fish are very valuable in the Japanese market and would not be used for canning. Watties and John West wrote very full replies which state that tuna for canning is caught either by Pole and Line or by Purseiner nets which do not damage marine mammals or birds. Sealord do use long line vessels usually for ling. Their brief letter says they are installing equipment which conceals the lines from the birds which will be used at all times. The Prime Minister wrote a very full and factual three page letter. It deals in depth with the issue of by-catch both of marine mammals and birds. A new Fisheries Bill is being prepared which sets annual maximum allowable levels of accidental capture. For threatened species the number accidentally caught must not prevent the recovery of the species to a non-threatened status within 20 years. [This seems very arbitrary, each species has different population size and structure and different rates of breeding.]
Other measures in the new Bill are the extension of the Wildlife Act's protection for sea birds from the current 12-mile limit to the 200-mile limit of the EEZ. [This is what was suggested in the Shopper's Guide on Tuna.] The Bill sounds very good but who knows where it will be in the new government's timetable. There is also no doubt the fishing industry will lobby hard against It at the select committee stage, they are very opposed to protection of marine mammals.
Both these issues reveal the need to be ever vigilant. Many thanks
to the two people who sent me this material and to all those who
send me information.
General ideas on ethical shopping, some of the
decisions required when trying to shop ethically
can be found on the next page.
Shoppers Guide is a guide to ethical shopping. For further information contact:
The electronic version of Shoppers Guide has been taken directly from the paper version, with the permission of Pat Scott. For further information on the electronic version contact Stuart Sontier