|IBFAN's efforts to protect breastfeeding through the implementation of the International Code is constantly facing new challenges.
|Globalization, a euphemism for global corporate
domination, has taught us that it aims to eliminate measures that impede
their perceived right to markets. The infant foods industry is no exception,
as it embraces the World Trade Organization to rid itself of trade barriers
such as the International Code of Marketing of Breast-Milk Substitutes. The
Codex Alimentarius is where the revision of standards of both infant formula
and cereal based complementary foods are under consideration. This global
body jointly administered by WHO and FAO can be seen as a one giant
structure to deregulate to the lowest common denominator, food commodities
and products and facilitate access to global markets. Corporate food giants:
Kraft, Nestlé, General Foods, Unilever, Heinz, Gerber, Mead Johnson, are the
major players. Corporate rights to trade and market infant feeding products
across national borders will be settled by the standards set by means of the
Global disparity in Codex participation
Traditionally Codex has been the domain of industrialized countries, serving the needs of the processed foods industries, while those providing the commodities, primarily from developing countries, remain on the side lines. Part of IBFAN's work at Codex has been to lessen this disparity. Funds have been raised to increase participation by developing countries. This has served not only to decrease the skewed representation but also to change the level of discussions from trade priorities to human health. IBFAN has to date hosted a number of training programmes to facilitate such participation -- for Africa, South East Asia, and Latin America.
Pretoria, South Africa, IBFAN Codex training, June 1999. From left to right Thabisile Hlatshwayo-Moleah, Elisabeth Sterken, Paluline Kisanga, Trudy van Ommeren.
IBFAN's achievements at Codex
Participation in the mix of government bureaucrats, corporate representatives and their consultants has been a major focus of IBFAN's Codex work over the past five years. Our work is centred on the revision of two infant food standards -- infant formulas and cereal-based foods for infants and young children. And our efforts are making headway in strengthening the text.
At the recent meeting of the Codex Committee on Nutrition and Foods for Special Dietary Uses (CCNFSDU), held in Berlin June, 2000, keeping the International Code and relevant WHA resolutions in the Scope of the document was one of the major objectives.
Did we achieve our objectives?
1. Proposed Draft Standard for Infant Formula
2. Proposed Draft Revised Standard for Processed Cereal-Based Foods for Infants and Young Children