Depending on where you get your data, Chaffee County public opposition to Nestle’s 2009 acquisition of valley water ranged from 98-99%. People raised hell. Chaffee County commissioners were apparently the last people on earth to hear about Nestle’s reputation in other communities or via social media commentary about Nestle’s own online sabotage. We were sold out by our County Commissioners. In my lengthy conversation with former commissioner, and generally upstanding citizen Tim Glenn at Citizen HQ, I was struck by his myopic view of the sellout. I appreciated his, and the other commissioner’s strong values, but sadly their idealism and trusting nature about Nestle’s promises felt juvenile and more than a little naive.
With a little homework it was clear that Nestle was laughing all the way to the bank. In the end, after realizing that the commissioners were ignoring public comment entirely, locals had the opportunity to negotiate for millions in a trust ..they chose to settle for pennies. I cannot speak to the details in the letter below, but when Nestle first came to the valley, I was stunned by the first hand comments I heard from other communities where Nestle was allowed in. The general consensus was: “don’t let them in, but if you cannot fight them off, watch them very closely.”
I am posting a letter that we just received, and the links above for all of new folks to the valley who may have missed the “Nestle hearings” a couple years ago. -bd*
BUT FIRST, THIS LOVELY OVERVIEW FROM CORPORATE WATCH:
The most obvious damage to Nestlé’s reputation has been its unethical marketing of artificial baby milk, particularly in the global south. This started to become a major issue in the 1970s when War on Want published a report called “The Baby Killer”, which was translated into German by the Berne Third World Action Group who were subsequently sued for libel, having named their version “Nestlé Kills Babies.”
However, as McDonalds were later to find out, suing critics tends to have a rather galvanising effect, and the publicity which came out of the case hurt Nestlé much more than the activists. In 1977 a boycott was launched, which continued until 1984, when Nestlé agreed to abide by the World Health Organization’s International Code of Marketing of Breast-Milk Substitutes. However, the fact did not match up to the promises and the boycott was re-launched in 1988, continuing vigorously today.
There is, of course, much more to Nestlé than the baby milk issue. The company has attracted criticism for its use of genetically modified ingredients, and for its cocoa and coffee-buying policies, including purchasing cocoa from Ivory Coast, which has recently received heavy press coverage due to the existence of child slavery on cocoa plantations. The company has also been implicated in lobbying against vaccination of livestock during the British Foot and Mouth Disease outbreak in 2001. From environmental destruction in Brazil to the intimidation of trade unionists in Colombia, from demanding millions in compensation from hunger-stricken Ethiopia to bolstering its image through proposing donations to breast cancer charities – Nestlé is easily one of the world’s most hated companies.
LETTER TO THE CITIZEN:
Submitted by Kristin Urquiza
In the name of greed, Nestlé has: struck backroom deals with politicians to control local water supplies without community consent; pumped billions of gallons of water, threatening wildlife and pristine wilderness areas; and aggressively marketed bottled water to low-income communities to convince them to spend their hard-earned money on something we all already get from the tap.
If that wasn’t enough, Nestlé is now working directly with the World Bank to put public water in private hands country-by-country. Your support today will help expose and challenge this Nestlé-led partnership. You can help by giving today to prevent this Nestlé-led global corporate water grab. In 2011, Corporate Accountability International helped North Florida residents put the kibosh on Nestlé’s plans to make their cherished Wacissa River a bottling hub. In 2012, the organization will again stand with such communities, whether in North America or in developing countries the bottling giant is now targeting for expansion.
You can help guarantee water as a human right, not a commodity to be bought and sold. Please fund this work as generously as you can. Thank you in advance for your support toward realizing a world where this most basic human need is available to all people.
Think Outside the Bottle Campaign Director
Corporate Accountability International
Corporate Accountability International is working toward a world where decisions affecting people and the environment are based on public interest, not maximizing corporate profits. Learn more about Corporate Accountability International’s campaigns here.
*Since its inception, I have used The Citizen as a tool to take a personal stand on a few issues: One was Nestle, another was to help pass the bond for our new high school, whose construction is coming along wonderfully. Lastly, I am a huge fan of high school mountain bike race team. Call me biased, but with hundreds of thousands of pageviews, free global distribution and as long as we are living in a relatively free society we should all be using The Citizen to exercise our voice. I try my best to hide in the background and leave the rest of the Citizen as a forum for the community. Thanks for caring about the valley and supporting this little social experiment.