02 January 2009

Nestle: Child Slavery & Water Wars

There is a side to Nestle Corporation that isn't so sweet. The corporation is primarily accused of human rights violations like child labor, environmental violations involving natural water supplies, and aggressive baby formula advertisements in third world countries. Nestle is the largest corporation in the United States and controls one-third of the entire U.S. market. It therefore uniquely represents the United States-style capitalism (corporatocracy), exposing inherent tendencies and value systems which run contrary to human welfare.
Nestle is another corp, like Coca-Cola, which owns almost innumerable other companies and outlets, so it is difficult to discuss all of the violations in a single entry. Like the Coca-Cola entry below, the purpose here is to highlight just a few of the more obvious violations in order to illuminate the general mode of operation of this magacorporation.
One of the most obvious cases of Nestle's human rights violations in conjunction with so-called "Free Trade" is that of child labor:

"The problem of illegal and forced child labor is rampant in the chocolate industry, because more than 40% of the world's cocoa supply comes from the Ivory Coast, a country that the US State Department estimates had approximately 109,000 child laborers working in hazardous conditions on cocoa farms. In 2001, Save the Children Canada reported that 15,000 children between 9 and 12 years old, many from impoverished Mali, had been tricked or sold into slavery on West African cocoa farms, many for just $30 each.

Nestle, the third largest buyer of cocoa from the Ivory Coast, is well aware of the tragically unjust labor practices taking place on the farms with which it continues to do business. Nestle and other chocolate manufacturers agreed to end the use of abusive and forced child labor on cocoa farms by July 1, 2005, but they failed to do so." (International Labor Rights Forum, The 14 Worst Corporate Evildoers)

Since so much of the chocolate consumed in the world comes from the Ivory Coast, and since the governments along that area of Africa permit child slavery, and since so-called "free trade" allows corps like Nestle to deal directly with those governments, American profiteers are able to take advantage of human slavery around the world. Video: Blood Chocolate. The only way to stop a corporation from doing this is to stop purchasing anything that they make and to make their actions widely known.

Nestle Waters is also accused of extracting water from communities around the world and inside the United States. These communities include Fryeburge, ME, McCloud, CA, and Mecosta County, MI in the US and Aberfoyle, Ontario to name a few. Accusations involving Nestle Waters include:
"Because Nestle’s predatory tactics in rural communities divide small towns and pit residents against each other.

Because Nestle reaps huge profits from the water they extract from rural communities - which are left to deal with the damage to watersheds, increases in pollution and the loss of their quiet rural lifestyle

Because Nestle has a pattern of bludgeoning small communities and opponents with lawsuits and interfering in local elections to gain control of local water supplies.

Because the environmental consequences of bottled water on our atmosphere, watersheds and landfills are simply too big to ignore.

Because no international corporation should have the right to pilfer the public’s water for profit." (
Stop Nestle Waters)
Nestle Purina sold thousands of pounds of contaminated animal feed in Venezuela. The corporation broke local law by selling genetically-modified organisms (GMOs) in Nesquik in China and Nestle is one of the largest international advocates for GMOs. International Labor Unions around the world have accused Nestle of various worker's rights violations. Nestle stands accused of outsourcing and price-fixing.

Perhaps most outrageous, however, is the Nestle corp's shameless and misleading advertisement of baby formula in third world countries. It has been proven that Nestle made the claims in numerous, aggressive advertisement campaigns that their baby formula was healthier than breast milk, though this is known to be untrue:
"Risks stem from the intrinsic problems of use of a non human substance as a food for the human infant, the risks of contamination of the product itself with chemical contaminants or pathogenic bacteria or the risks of incorrect or unsafe making up or storage and use of formula in bottles. The risks of formula are much greater when used in the developing world with about 1.5 million deaths a year attributable to lack of breastfeeding. However deaths also occur in the developed world especially among premature infants who are at increased risk of nectrotising enterocholitis when fed with formula." (Marketing of Formula)
Nestle appears to have only one interest: profits at the cost of all other human considerations. It is only possible to touch on some of the evidence against Nestle, though any degree of further investigation will reveal just how far American capitalism in general, and Nestle in particular, is willing to go. It is imperative that not only Nestle, but all of the other products and companies owned by this megacorporation are boycotted by every human being interested in the well being of other human beings around the world.

Further reading:
article: Slave Chocolate? (Organic Consumer's Association)
article: Pet Food And Pet Care Products in Venezuela (Euromonitor International)
article: Milking It (The Guardian)

The violations and brands owned by Nestle are too far-reaching to specifically focus on alternatives. Print out the above list of Nestle brands and keep it with you, along with your other boycott lists, when you shop.

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