Nestlé Children's Book Prize winner refuses Nestlé money - Sean Taylor rejects cheque.
That's the headline of a press release we have issued today. Sean Taylor received a Gold Medal for his book 'When a Monster is Born' illustrated by Nick Sharratt (Orchard Books). Concerned about Nestlé marketing of baby foods, Mr. Taylor refused the prize money from the award sponsor. See:
Mr. Taylor's public letter is given below in its entirety:
Being on the short list for the 2007 Nestlé Children’s book Prize is a significant honour for me, especially since so many children around the country have been involved in choosing the winning books. And I am delighted to accept the award offered to me.
However, because of questions surrounding Nestlé’s marketing of breast-milk substitutes, I do not feel able to accept the prize money.
This has not been a decision I have taken lightly. It has involved conversations with Baby Milk Action (a campaign group against Nestlé), Nestlé themselves, and an authoritative third party with experience in the field (who wishes to remain nameless).
In the light of these conversations, it is apparent to me that many of Nestlé’s controversial activities took place in the past and that the company has taken steps to improve its practice.
Nevertheless, it is my view that their interpretation of the International Code of Marketing of Breast-milk Substitutes sets up the risk that profit is put before infant health. And, in addition, it seems that the actions of some of their employees on the ground are inconsistent with company policy as set out in the Head Office.
For these reasons I do not feel that Nestlé are the most appropriate sponsors for this major children’s book prize.
When I spoke with Mr. Taylor, the most recent global monitoring report was Breaking the Rules, Stretching the Rules 2004.
Since then the latest report was launched earlier this month. This shows continued systematic and widespread violations by Nestlé. While tactics have changed - thanks to the boycott closing down practices such as promoting complementary foods from too early an age in many countries - the strategy of undermining breastfeeding to increase formula sales continues. See:
Breaking the Rules, Stretching the Rules 2007.
Not only do violations continue, these are defended at the highest level of the company. Just yesterday Nestlé defended branding babies from birth in China. See:
Earlier in the year I wrote about Nestlé's attempt to justify targeting mothers in Bangladesh with promotional fliers. See:
As I say in our press release, Nestlé will once again appreciate that opening its cheque book will not buy it a good image. It has to stop breaking the rules.