The People’s Health Movement’s People’s Dispatch has an interview with myself and David McCoy about the relevance of World Breastfeeding Week. David summarised the findings of the 2023 Lancet series that showed how increased sales have translated into increased power of the baby feeding companies and how the claim that this industry brings economic benefit to countries is greatly exaggerated. The profits are mostly consumed by rich inshareholders in the North while the costs (ill health, environmental damage etc) are externalised to the people and public sectors in the poorest countries, with women carrying a disproportionate burden. IBFAN Mexicowill focus on the informal sector. “More than thirteen million women working outside the home are in the informal sector and produce half of the 22 per cent of GDP1 that the informal economy contributes. Working women perform more than three quarters of domestic work, which, if properly accounted, would be equivalent to an additional quarter of the national GDP. 11,474,983 women are heads of household2 and are therefore also the main breadwinners for thei familiess.”
This Congress was a first for WHO since the Code’s adoption in 1981. For three days, over 400 delegates from 130 countries, worked in Plenary and in regional groups, focusing on how to bring in strong legislation and Conflict of Interest safeguards that could help end predatory marketing.
In an important acknowledgment of the role that citizens’ actions and campaigns such as the Nestlé Boycott played in the adoption of the Code and the 20 subsequent WHA Resolutions, the 8-minute IBFAN film, made for the 40th Anniversary of the Code, was screened along with the Nestlé whistleblower movie Tigers.
Much to the annoyance of ISDI (the International Special Dietary Foods Industries) commercial companies were excluded. However, some choice sections of ISDI’s Statement calling for a ‘multi-stakeholder approach’ were read out: “…To examine the effectiveness of the implementation of the WHO Code, a holistic, multi-stakeholder approach is required to create an all-inclusive, supportive ecosystem to encourage breastfeeding and to improve nutritional outcomes for mothers, infants and young children…”
A host of new and important briefings and tools are now available – HERE andHERE.
More reading on the risks of Ultra processing and the resurgence of Corporate Social Responsibility.
Ultra-Processed Foods in the Diet of infants and Young children
. This excellent report from First Steps Nutrition Trust (FSNT) follows on from Chris van Tulleken’s best seller, Ultra-Processed People, and is yet more essential reading for those who want to understand the health implications of ultra-processing for our youngest citizens. FSNT makes seven recommendations to the UK Government. Food Active podcast: Ultra processed diets in the early years – unpacking the concerns. The FSNT website has a host of excellent materials for parents, policy makers and health professionals and its newsletters are essential reading for UK news. The FSNT also hosts the secretariat of the Baby Feeding Law Group, that we set up in 1997 to bring UK and EU law into line with the Code.
Packaged Food, Packaged Life: Corporate Food in Metro Manila Slums by Heriberto Ruiz Tafoya draws on his own urban poor experience in Mexico and his fieldwork in the Philippines. He argues that consumption of processed corporate brands – what we flippantly refer to as ‘junk’ – by those living in marginalised communities, is not an individual’s lifestyle ‘choice’ but the result of historical circumstances that preclude good living conditions. Available here
Don’t touch the Milk Code! Meanwhile Nestlé and other baby food companies using a new Corporate Social Responsibility Bill to undermine the Law in the Philippines._______________________________________
The ultra-processed food industry in Africa, Kruger et al. Nature Food. “The partnership between Nestlé and the Green Revolution (AGRA) on the Africa Food Prize, announced last November, is framed as intending to “help accelerate the transformation of food systems in Africa, as a way of strengthening the continent’s food security and building greater climate change resilience…” Thankfully the authors show the implications and hollowness of these claims and call on policy makers to protect the integrity of food systems governance and policymaking institutions from corporate influence. In high income countries (typically with high UPF consumption) UPFs accounted for 36-45% of total diet-related bio-diversity loss, up to one third of total diet-related greenhouse gas emissions, land use and food waste, and up to one-quarter of total diet-related water use.
_______________________________________ Ultra-Processed foods make you over-eat. by Arun Gupta, New Indian Express
The Shrinking Brain by Michael A Crawford and David E Marsh
“The rise in brain capacity from the 340cc when we left the chimpanzees to the size of early H, sapiens of 1,600cc or more could only have been powered by wild foods. That would have included the relevant nutrient supply to the mothers and the infant who likely was breastfed for two years or more. It does not take a rocket scientist to realize that the processed foods of today bear little resemblance. With the brain shrinking, mental ill-health escalation and the measure of intelligence falling the most likely reason for the increasing brain disorders, loss of IQ and declining brain capacity is the new reliance on processed foods and the like. “ Long time Baby Milk Action members will remember Prof’s Crawford’s analysis of Follow-on Formulas when we were campaigning against them in the early 1980s – he found they were more like Rhinoceros milk than human milk.
IBFAN statements for the 76th World Health Assembly on Emergencies, NCDs, Nutrition HERE
The Codex meeting in Canada in May, discussed Sustainability and digital Labelling and a proposal to exempt companies from labelling requirements in emergencies. All three were thankfully sent back to the drawing board. We continue to push for mandatory warnings, privacy and independent monitoring for all these Ultra Processed wasteful products. HERE
IBFAN materials for sharing on Social Media: Breastfeeding and Immunity, the Abbott Contamination Scandal and how Medela Disguises Conflicts of Interest in Science and Charity. Use the QR codes to access the Briefings. CLICK HERE for many other materials that can be freely downloaded