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Published in Brighton by Justice? - Brighton's Direct Action collective

Issue 227, Friday 10th September 1999


“A bottle fed child is 25 times more likely to die from diarrhoea than a breast fed child where water is unsafe.”

“Over 4,000 babies die every day in poor countries because they’re not breastfed. That’s not conjecture, it’s UNICEF fact.”
- Baby Milk Action.

"Many people now believe in modern superstitions, these include the use of bottle milk; these are superstitions no less pernicious than the unhealthy folk traditions. But while the wrong traditional ways are superstitions borne out of ignorance, the wrong ‘modern’ ways are superstitions borne out of greed. And we all know that greed has strong powerful interests. "
- A former Philippine Health Secretary.

SchNEWS has an old chestnut for you this week. Corporate giants, Nestle would have us believe they’re overflowing with ‘the milk of human kindness’ these days; a response to Baby Milk Action’s long-term campaign exposing dodgy dealings in developing countries.

A few months back the company got their wrists slapped and advert banned by the Advertising Standards Authority after claiming they marketed their babymilk “ ethically and responsibly ”. So they turned to advertising gurus Saatchi and Snaatchi who suggested Nestle “ go on the offensive by using advertising showing the benefits of Nestle financial contributions to charities ”. Nestle general manager, Arthur Furer stated, “ It is clear that we have an urgent need to develop an effective counter-propaganda operation ”.

With an annual promotion budget of nearly $8 billion Nestle has a slight advantage over mothers who produce breastmilk naturally and do not have a fortune to spend promoting the advantages of their ‘product’ Their new tactic has been to advertise through publications who are respected for their discerning views (such as the Big Issue) and to make self-promoting donations to childrens’ charities and the church. The first, presumably to counteract the mental image that the word Nestle conjures up of third world babies dying in their millions after converting from breast to bottle; the latter to persuade the church to chill out on their Nestle boycotting campaign. Nestle have now launched a new range of baby food on the European market. Reliable sources indicate that in the remaining 4 months of this year Nestle’s promotion budget of £2 million for their new range exceeds the equivalent expenditure of the two rival brands for the whole year. Plenty of scope for ‘nestleing’ up to the public.

Just to remind you of the facts, the World Health Organisation (WHO) estimate that more than a million babies die every year as a result of diarrhoea picked up from unhygienic bottle feeding. That’s one baby every 30 seconds. Nestle control about 40% of the world baby milk market, aggressively promoting their babymilk products in developing countries, and discouraging breastfeeding. Of course, after a short period of bottle feeding a mother’s breastmilk dries up and another consumer is born. They give ‘sweeteners’ to healthworkers encouraging them to promote their products. They are still ‘donating’ freebies to health facilities in Gabon, Africa, to encourage the use of their product, despite the Gabon government asking them to stop. In the Philippines, the company have been exposed for hiring graduate nurses as ‘health educators’ to visit mothers at home and try to convince them to use their products. Ignoring WHO recommendations that complimentary foods only be introduced from 6 months, Nestle market teas labelled for feeding 2 week old infants. They do not always provide clear information and in some cases the labels are in a language that mothers can’t understand.

Sickeningly, Nestle have been getting away with this for longer than you would believe possible. As early as 1873, Nestle was exporting its ‘milk food’ to the colonised world. It’s a measure of their power that 126 years on they still see themselves as above the law, and they’re ‘milking it’ for all it’s worth. Currently in court in India over their baby food labels, Nestle’s reaction is to use their clout to have key sections of the Indian baby food marketing law scrapped. Back in ’39 they were exporting condensed milk to Singapore and Malaysia as “ideal for delicate infants”, though it was banned in Britain for causing rickets and blindness. In a speech that would sadly be as relevant 60 years later, Dr Cecily Williams said “misguided propaganda on infant feeding should be punished as the most miserable form of sedition; these deaths should be regarded as murder.”



  • Breastfeeding declined rapidly between 1960-70 as the formula milk market expanded. In Mexico from 100% to 40%, in Chile from 90% to 5% and in Singapore from 80% to 5%
    - UK Food Group.

  • In the 50’s & 60’s, doctors working in the ‘developing’ world observed that diarrhoea, infections and malnutrition were increasing in babies. This is rare amongst breastfed babies.

  • Breastfeeding is vital not only because of the nutrients but because the anti-infective properties protect against disease.

  • In developing countries, extra food for the mother can cost as little as one tenth of the cost of artificial food for the baby.

  • Poor people often over-dilute baby milk powder with unsafe water to make it last longer resulting in malnourishment.

  • Recent research by the British Medical Council found that cow’s milk at 26p a pint is just as good for six month old babies as formula milk which costs around £5 for 10 pints.



  • Nescafe, Gold Blend, Rowntree, After Eights, Quality Street, Sarsons seasonings, Perrier, Buxton, Findus, Buitoni, Crosse and Blackwell, Maggi, Branston pickle , Sun-Pat, Shredded Wheat, L’Oreal and Lancome cosmetics, Winalot, Felix and Choosy pet foods and many, more...For a comprehensive list contact Baby Milk Action , 23 St Andrews St., Cambridge CB2 3AX Tel: 01223 464420 http://www.gn.apc.org/babymilk/

  • Nestle is the worlds largest food manufacturer, with factories in more than 80 countries and a turnover of $52 billion, taking over £1000 a second. They are also the focus of the worlds longest running consumer boycott (22 years). “ Breaking the boycott is like crossing the world’s longest running picket line ” said a pissed off hack. As a final accolade, when the European Parliament start holding public hearings on multinational responsibility and corporate abuses later this year, Nestle are the first company they intend to put in the hotseat.



For sitting on a sofa!

Early this year Tooker Gomberg and his partner Angela were strolling along the streets of Montreal when they spotted a couch waiting to be scrapped . “We looked at it, looked at each other, moved it to the edge of the road and sat down”, much to the amusement of passers-by. “Sitting in the street we observed how the hordes of pedestrians were herded onto the narrow sidewalks, while the vast majority of the space was hogged by two-ton tin cans speeding, honking and dangerously pushing their weight around.” After a couple of hours, the cops arrived and nicked them for the heinous crime of ‘blocking a parking space’, and fined them both $135. “Over the decades we have lost our cities to smog, noise, speed and asphalt little by little: a road widening here, a parking lot there. We can restore cities to people in a similar fashion. A couch here, a rug there, a street party. A loaf of bread, a jug of wine and now – let’s take back the streets bit by bit.” Stolen from Carbusters magazine, 44 rue Burdeau 69001 Lyon, France http://www.antenna.nl/eyfa/cb/



The Colombian people and workers have won, but if the government doesn’t do it’s part, you can expect more action from the Colombian people .”
- Union leader and very brave man Tarcisio Mora

Seeing as 80% of all trade unionist murdered are Colombian (72 of ‘em last year), to call a general strike seems pretty suicidal. Nevertheless, with unemployment at 20%, the economy shagged, and the IMF pushing its beloved ‘austerity measures’ (ie starvation policy) on the govt, those plucky unionists got together with groups representing indigenous peoples, peasants and debtors, and got 20 million people out on strike last week. The austerity plan contains all the usual neo-liberal shit – cutting wages and worker protection, raising the retirement age, privatisation etc – which the IMF demands in exchange for a $3bn loan, which of course will go on servicing Colombia’s $35bn debt.

Demanding all sorts of lefty bollocks like respect for human rights, decent wages and an end to the privatisation programme, the strikers were clearly asking for it. So, naturally, the army and the paramilitary responded in their usual style, planting bombs at human rights organisations’ offices, trying to assassinate unionist Domingo Tobar, and shooting a ten year old girl in the head. Unfortunately this didn’t stop the strikers bringing the country to a standstill, with massive disruption in all major cities and pitched battles with security forces. With far more style than their paramilitary rivals, the Marxist revolutionary army FARC occupied a hydro plant in support of the strikers, and demanded cheaper leccy for Colombia’s poor. After two days, costing $130m each, the govt gave in and promised to meet the unions’ demands. Whether they actually will, or just let their paramilitary chums shoot anyone who tries to join the negotiations remains to be seen...

Already a candidate for the most fucked up country in the world, Colombia’s been having a particularly tough time of late, with the good ol’ US of A wading in with a load of guns and dollars. What with two main Marxist revolutionary armies, armed cocaine cartels, untold far-right paramilitary groups, and a savage national army turning most of the country into a war zone, the obvious thing to do was spend millions of bucks on ‘military aid’, and prepare for a full scale US invasion under the cover of the War on Drugs. Last year Uncle Sam gave the Colombian govt $289 million in ‘security assistance’; gave training in counter-insurgency techniques to the army, which has the worst human rights record in the Americas; and started to build military bases in Colombia and neighbouring countries. It won’t be long before arming psychopaths and spraying toxic chemicals on peasants ain’t enough, and the defenders of the free world invade, thereby making Colombia safe for democracy, oh, and getting their grubby little mitts on those tasty oil reserve.



On Monday people tee’d off with the House Builders Federation (HBF) obsession with covering the countryside in small boxes, disrupted their annual golf tournament in Chepstow. Members of URGENT and the Land Is Ours erected a low-impact eco-dwelling at the 18th hole A spokesperson commented “It is clear that the HBF and their friends are determined to profit from rapid private development of vast tracts of land whatever the social and environmental costs. The sort of homes we should be building for the future need to be affordable, well-designed and sustainable - not the sort of executive homes for commuters and their cars that are being built all over the countryside.”The HBF is the house building lobby group. Their new Chief Executive is Stuart Hill, who rather conveniently the moved from his former post of Chief Executive at the HM Land Registry to take on the job. URGENT, Box HN, 111 Magdalen Rd., Oxford, OX4 1RQ 01865 794800 http://www.urgent.org.uk/



  • Nice one to Exodus Collective for putting on the best and biggest free festival of the year again. SchNEWS crew had a wicked time. Respect!

  • Congrat’s to Mike Schwarz (of Bindman’s solicitors) and his partner, who recently gave birth to twins. Hope you’re not too busy to keep us all out of prison tho’

  • After yet more villages were illegally flooded by the Narmada dam , youths from the Rewa ke Yuva group got their own back by flooding the offices of the Narmada Valley Development Authority with buckets of water and ‘slush.’

  • 22 of those charged with conspiracy to cause criminal damage after the Smash Genetic Engineering action in July have had their charges dropped. The rest have had conspiracy charges reduced to aggravated trespass.

  • The Greenham Common Women’s Collective (the 3 remaining activists in a caravan, who recently put off Vodaphone from using the former military base as a site of operations) celebrated the 18th anniversary of the Peace Camp this week. The Collective, who organise actions at nuclear sites nation-wide, are planning a sculpture based on the four elements to commemorate the inspiring actions at the Peace Camp. Tel 01635 269109 or email: greenhamwpc@hotmail.com

  • Naturewise are organising an introductory weekend on permaculture in London this month 18th-19th., Call 0171 281 3765

  • For all you millennium bug enthusiasts out there, check out a one day conference on the Y2K- Nuclear threat. It’s at Conway Hall, London, Sat.18th Red Lion Square, London WC1 (Holborn tube) Cost is £10/5 conc.. More details from Paul Swann, Y2K CAN, 14 Beacon Hill, London N7 9LY Tel:0171-609 7764 email: pswann@easynet.co.uk And now SchNEWS begins the Y2K gumpf column – please send us your favourites: Like rock ‘n roll, y2k is also here to stay. I like rock better”

  • The Arts Factory , a community owned business in South Wales, is showing top box office films free until Christmas. They promise “No charge no catch!” Info 01443 757954

  • Support Simon Jones family in their latest step to get justice for Simon - killed by casualisation. The Crown Prosecution Service will be in court defending their decision not to prosecute Euromin or its dodgy manager James Martell for the killing of casual worker Simon Jones in their Shoreham dock last April - Come and hear their interesting arguments. next Friday (17th) High Court, the Strand. 10.30am, http://www.simonjones.org.uk/



The largest ever media merger was announced this week when CBS, which owns 15 American TV stations, joined forces with Viacom, who own amongst other things MTV and the Paramount film studios. The new company will be worth more than $66 billion and combined will have 34 TV stations, a film studio, cable TV and radio networks and book publishing companies. The new chief executive commented “Our future is without limit.”

SchNEWS meanwhile comes from a rent-free office near the sea, has no paid staff, relies on subscriptions, donations and the odd benefit to keep going and reaches well over 30,000 people a week. No adverts means we don’t have corporations breathing down our neck, so we can print a view of the world you don’t find in the mainstream press. So if you think SchNEWS is worthwhile why not come to our next training day on Wednesday 15th September 12 noon. We always need new writers, researchers, mail-out crew, tea makers...so book your place now.



We need a couple of reliable, technically competent people who can come into the office every Friday to put SchNEWS on the Web.

Read about what's involved at http://www.schnews.org.uk/hotstuff/help/

And for just a few hours in the afternoon yer bit of easy-peasy mail-out helps loads to keep the free info’ flowing freely.

P.S. anyone got a spare laser printer for us?



With significant court cases coming up and our confidence increasing all the time the campaign is on a roll.
- David Mackenzie campaign member.

At 1.50am on 29th Aug while you lot were asleep (says who?), two women members of the Trident Ploughshares campaign, Sylvia Boyes & Anne Scholz, were arrested after spending two hours in the water trying to swim into the Trident submarine docks in. Their plan was to lock on to a sub and use a household hammer to disarm it. All this in water where hypothermia sets in after just 15 minutes exposure, and that’s just in the summer. This is the fourth attempt by activists to swim in to the docks in just 11 days and follows a Ploughshares summer camp with 102 arrests being made for disarmament actions against Coulport and Faslane nuclear weapon bases. One woman was arrested for cutting the razor wire but because she was up a ladder the cops couldn’t drag her down (oh yeah!) only stand and support the ladder. nice one!

Angie Zelter, Ulla Roder and Ellen Moxley “The Loch Goil Three” appear before Greenock Sheriff Court on 27th September. After spending years lobbying parliament, holding public meetings campaigning that the trident system is ethically unjustified as well as being unlawful in international law they boarded a Trident support laboratory in Loch Goil and caused £100,000 worth of damage clumsily throwing computers, printers and fax machines all into the drink, oops. Support is needed for these swimming activists with their case starting 10am at Greenock Sheriff Court. Trident Ploughshares 2000, 41-48 Bethel St, Norwich, Norfolk, NR2 1NR. Tel 01603-611953 http://www.gn.apc.org/tp2000/



If you receive any unsolicited emails from wide-eyed activist females, don’t count yourself so popular; it could be our mates at the Sunday Times with another lesson in the value of media liaison. While journalist Mark Macaskill came across reasonably enough, emailing activists with an approach to interview them, his colleague took a different tack. So, it must now be our turn to take the piss out of super-sleuth journo John Ungoed-Thomas, who sent out a few emails under false names, in the hope of getting back some juicy info for an article.

This is not a personal ad: ‘Jo’ is just one ‘ committed environmental and anti corporation activist ’ apparently now flocking to the ranks of our burgeoning movement, if an email recently received by Friends of the Earth is anything to go by. She wants to know how to get more involved in direct action, having ‘ really enjoyed ’ June 18. Likewise, ‘Laura’ who eco-columnist George Monbiot of the Guardian was privileged to hear from, describes herself as a ‘ committed anti-corporationist ’ and is eager to help in any way she can. Any ideas?

Perhaps Laura and Jo might benefit from a few words of advice from someone more canny in covering their tracks, for both sent emails from addresses leading back to Clouseau-esque Ungoed-Thomas, the master of disguise himself. Hardly for us to take the piss now; he’s practically giving it away. Fellow hack Macaskill gets annoyed when even his up-front approaches are snubbed, declaring it ‘ time people in your movement started taking responsibility for their actions ’. Not when it involves talking to people like you, Mark. But, in keeping with his paper’s coverage in the aftermath of June 18, if anyone is sufficiently well-educated, coming from a suitably wealthy background, and feels they may have funded a drug-fuelled orgy of violence or acted as a ring leader – don’t keep quiet, but contact that man of many masks at Jonathan.Ungoed-Thomas@sundaytimes.co.uk



SchNEWS warns all readers, it’s not hard cheese if multinationals lick their lips at the creaming of profits. It’s no use bottling it all up, if it this sort of behaviour gets on yer tits then do an exciting action that the media will lap up. Then you’ll feel like the cat who got the cream. Honest.


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Last updated 18 September 1999
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