The Multinational Monitor


G L O B A L   N E W S W A T C H

Brazilian Consumers Campaign Against Multinational Abuses

Nestle, Seagrams, Heublein, and several other firms were accused of price-fixing in the Brazilian market on November 13 by a local consumers' association, the Association of Consumers of Rio Grande do Sul state. According to a complaint filed by the association's president, Renato Motula, with the Brazilian national anti-trust agency (CADE), the firms dictated consumer prices for their products, refusing to supply supermarkets and stores which diverged from the "recommended" prices. Motula said that this caused overcharges of as much as 30%.

According to a Heublein representative, the practice of recommending prices is "legal and common" in Brazil. "We're just trying to help the retailers," the spokesperson said. "You know, Brazil has three-digit inflation. The retailers cannot re-mark thousands of items [as often as necessary]. All of this [the price list] is a service that we offer to the retailers and they may or may not follow it."

In another consumer case, the health secretary of Brasilia (Brazil's capital) has ordered the local impoundment of baby pacifiers manufactured by Kendall do Brasil, a subsidiary of Colgate-Palmolive, and marketed under the brand name "Curity gel." The pacifiers were found to be contaminated with pseudomona, a bacteria which causes serious kidney infections.

Consumer and environmental activists in Brazil are engaged' in a publicity campaign against many products which are freely sold there but which have been banned or restricted by the U.S. government for use in the U.S.. Among them: -the pesticides DDT (manufactured by Montrose Chemical), 2,4,5-T (Dow Chemical), BHC (Matarazzo, a Brazilian conglomerate) and -the pharmaceuticals clioquinol (Ciba-Geigy), Winstrol (Sterling), Novalgina (Hoechst), and Albamycin-T (Upjohn).

- Renato Tucunduva, Jr.

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