Undermining implementation of the International Code
Member States of the World Health Assembly are called on to implement the International Code and Resolutions in national measures. For case studies from 7 countries showing how companies have opposed
this process see the 2004 report Checks and balances in the global economy: Using international tools
to stop corporate malpractice - does it work?
While many countries have introduced legislation and other measures (see State of the Code charts), it has consistently been in the face of industry pressure. And once legislation is introduced it needs to be defended. Here are some examples:
- Philippines - 1989. Several manufacturers lobby the government to oppose the adoption of a bill
which would encourage mothers to breastfeed and sleep with their babies - The Rooming-in Bill.
- Pakistan - 1992 and 1997/8. Nestlé lobbied for babymilks and baby foods to be removed from the Government drug list in 1992, so that sales are not restricted to pharmacies, but can be sold in any grocery or market. In 1997 Nestlé opposed many provisions of Pakistans draft law. Details.
- India - 1995. After Nestlé is taken to court it files a Writ Petition against the Indian Government challenging the provisions of the Infant Milk Substitutes Act under which it is being prosecuted.
- Guatemala - 1995. The US Government puts pressure on Guatemala to allow Gerber to use baby pictures on its packaging.
- Russia - 1996. Nestlé offers to translate the weak UK infant formula and follow-on formula regulations as the basis for legislation instead of the International Code and Resolutions.
- South Africa - 1997. Baby food companies in South Africa form the "Freedom of Commercial Speech Trust" to campaign against regulation of advertising.
- Sri Lanka - 1997. Nestlé opposes a revision of the Sri Lanka Code which would bring it into line
with the 1996 WHA Resolution. Details.
- Zimbabwe - 1998. Nestlé threatens to disinvest if Zimbabwe does not revoke its strong law. Details.
- Urguguay - 1998. Nestlé Uruguay General Manager lobbies the Director of Health to ignore
subsequent Resolutions of the WHA and implement the Code as "published by WHO in 1981". Details.
- Georgia - 1999. Hipp lobbies against implementation of the Code and Resolutions. Its representative publishes a newspaper article on 22nd July attacking the draft law which is passing through the Georgian Parliament. Details.
- European Union - 2000. Nestles refuses to attend a hearing by the European Parliament Development and Cooperation Committee into its baby food marketing activities, demonstrating "utter contempt for a properly constituted public hearing" according to the hearing organiser. There is a focus on Pakistan and
a call for the European Commission to review why its export regulations are proving ineffective. Details.
- Indonesia - 2001. A lobbying firm called Harvest International, working for an anonymous client, pressures the government to allow the advertising of follow-on formulas. Details.
World Health Assembly - 2001. While it is nothing new to find the industry lobbying against marketing measures being adopted in further Resolutions at the World Health Assembly, in 2001 a document leak to the British Medical Journal showed how the International Association of Infant Food Manufacturers (IFM) was coordinating the opposition. Details.
South Africa - 2003. In November 2003, the baby food companies in South Africa formed the Infant Feeding Association, which claimed introducing regulations "would infringe on the manufacturers right to freedom of speech and mothers rights to information." Details.
- Europe and the UN - ongoing. The industry attempts to stop the International Code and Resolutions from being used as the basis for international trading standards.