Saturday, March 3, 2012

The Tyranny of Formula-Feeding, second verse

"Shares in Nestle were up 1 per cent to 55 francs at the start of Zurich trading Thursday (February 16, 2012)"
--"Nestle Profit Up But Tough Year Ahead"--ninemsn website in Finance

According to this article, "the 2011 net profits for Nestle rose by 8% to 9.5 billion Swiss francs."  

Meanwhile in India in January 2011 the India Resource Center writes about, "Nestle in Secret Pact with Public Universities on Nutrition."  The article states, "Four public-funded national universities have entered into a 'confidential' pact with Nestle, one of the biggest baby food and commercial food companies, for nutrition awareness programmes for adolescent school-going girls in government-run village schools."

In February of 2011,  "Nestle helps University of York students to be a 'class' act."  According to the article by the University of York, "The company [Nestle] has been associated with York Students in Schools, which places nearly 600 students a year in 60 schools, since it started in 1994."  The program has York University students volunteering as classroom assistants in schools in the city of York, UK. 

In 2007 Indiana University Kelly School of Business in the USA, received $750,000 gift from Nestle.  It was a "Gift to endow faculty chair, fellowship and support school's Center for Brand Leadership.  "The Nestle gift is a recipe for future success in both the corporation and for the Kelley School.  Alford [a Kelly alumni and in 2006 CEO and chairman of Nestle, USA] says that Nestle knows that the benefit of investing in the school is, ultimately, creating graduates who will be promising recruits." 

At the IMD, a business school Nestle offers a scholarship for women to help women obtain their MBA.  The American Academy of Pediatrics pre-conference Symposium in October of 2011, was entitled, "Ending Childhood Obesity Within a Generation-Innovations in Practice," was supported by Nestle Nutrition Institute, Aetna Foundation, and Sanford Help Group.  In October 2010, Nestle presented its "landmark" data on "Feeding Infants and Toddlers Study (FITS) to the American Academy of Pediatrics Annual Conference.  In a Gerber (now owned by Nestle) News Release they discuss the HALF Project, which is an AAP initiative.   The funding and the research support is provided by Nestle.  "The project was created after a comprehensive needs assessment of AAP members found the need for pediatric-focused tools and resources to successfully support pediatricians in communicating family-centered obesity prevention and care."

In the USA, Nestle has partnered with Reading is Fundamental, a nonprofit children's literacy organization.  It's Nestle's ongoing commitment to education.  Nestle will donate up to $250,000 to Reading is Fundamental when consumers collect the promotion codes from candy (Wonka, Nestle Crunch, Butterfinger, Babe Ruth, etc...all trademarked products from Nestle)  This promotion ran from June of 2010-December 2011.  Rather ironical wouldn't you say?  Nestle being on this stop obesity in kids and at the same time enticing kids and adults to eat more candy to support a reading program?  I guess we can call it, corporate world benevolence.  

One of the more interesting stories of Nestle and academia is the one of Dr. Jose Saavedra, who is the medical and scientific director of Nestle Nutrition Division.  He also is a professor in the department of pediatrics, Division of Gastroenterology and Nutrition at John Hopkins University.  Dr.  Saavedra has had his research published in various medical journals regarding the positive effects of beneficial bacteria, probiotics.  Of course one of the ironies of irony, is that the company he works for markets a product that competes with a substance that naturally contains beneficial bacteria, breastfeeding.  Oh yes, I forgot, infant formula companies are now putting probiotics in their infant formulas.  I haven't yet figured out how one puts live beneficial bacteria into a substance that needs to be sterile for the safety of infants, but heck I'm not a scientist.  I guess genetic engineering can do about anything, particularly when funding comes from some very wealthy corporations.  I find it hard to understand how this academic merging with corporations is beneficial to students at the university level.  Do Saavedra's students know his relationship to Nestle?  Obviously John Hopkins doesn't care about this merging of interests.   But I think one must question the independence of thought regarding nutrition at John Hopkins, when such relationships are supported.

The tyranny in our society is one in which the infant formula industry has enormous influence in academics as well as in medical/pediatric societies.  It isn't just Nestle who is using their profits to influence academics.  Our society has been and is being "candied" into believing that breastfeeding is only a lifestyle choice.  Academia is forever grateful in a tanked economy to accept the funding that infant formula companies provide.  That gratefulness results in knowledge about the risks of infant formula being kept from consumers.  
Copyright 2012 Valerie W. McClain  

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