Every night I hear
Babies cry for nourishment
Formula won’t give
In light of the recent boycotts of infant formula I decided to research about the Nestle formula case. To give some background about the case, during the 1970’s, parties accused Nestle of encouraging mothers in developing countries to use baby formula. Even at this time breast milk was known to be nutritiously superior, and even less costly than infant formula. Poor women in Asia, Africa, and Latina America transitioned to using infant formula in efforts to “westernize” as they moved from rural to urban environments. Furthermore, these mothers in the Third World over-diluted formula in order to make it last longer, heightening malnutrition problems.
As I look to Paper 2 and the White Paper I will explore the the Nestle case from a virtue ethics perspective. I will analyze the Nestle’s intent and the context to the ethical issue. Virtue ethics will give a nuanced perspective on components of the case. To provide one example, formula companies hired “sales girls in nurses’ uniforms” to sell door to door and encourage formula use, specifying that undernourished mothers hurt their infants. Formula companies also sponsored hospitals, and in turn hospitals gave out formula pamphlets and free samples.
Baby formula marketing campaigns cased the retarded growth, malnutrition, death of millions of babies. Fortunately, by 1981 the World Health Assembly created the International Code of Marketing Breast-Milk Substitutes. This code explains how companies can market formula to consumers. Activists argue that Nestle, amongst other companies, fail to uphold these conduct codes. Formula companies like to create customers from a child’s birth, consequently they include free samples given to new mothers at hospitals. Recently, the nation’s top hospitals are doing away with this practice because it makes adopting formula feeding extremely easy.