The Multinational Monitor



The Other Baby Killer
Published by the Consumers
Association of Penang, Malaysia
Foreword by Prof. Wong Hock Boon
64 pages, $4.00

Much attention has been drawn to the dangers of multinational corporations' marketing of infant formula to Third World mothers.

The Other Baby Killer discusses "the deadlier menace posed by the use of sweetened condensed milk for babies in the developing countries." According to the Protein-Calorie Advisory Group of the United Nations, "Under no circumstances should sweetened condensed milk be used for very young children because of its high sugar content."

Despite this warning, some milk companies in Southeast Asia continue to market Sweetened Condensed Milk as an infant food. A Consumers Association of Penang survey shows this practice to be widespread in villages and estates in rural areas, and in lower-income sections of urban ones.

The book provides chilling descriptions of the health hazards associated with sweetened condensed milk. Babies fed the product may contract kwashiorkor: "The child then suffers from a combination of malnutrition and increased susceptibility to all forms of infection, especially pneumonia and diarrhoea. The abdomen of the affected child becomes bloated. If the diet of such a child is not corrected promptly, death can result from a variety of causes. Even if the child survives he may be left with permanent disability such as mental retardation or paralysis as a result of diarrhoea and severe dehydration. "

Additional health risks include keratomalacia, which affects the child's eyesight, beriberi, which can cause instant death from Vitamin B1 deficiency, marasmus, (severe protein-calorie malnutrition), and anaemia.

The Other Baby Killer contains an exhaustive study of unethical tactics used to market Sweetened Condensed Milk. Nestle Corp., the multinational notorious for its aggressive marketing of infant formula, produces the most widely used (and advertised) brand, MILKMAID. Its advertising, while not explicitly promoting the product as an infant food, uses jingles such as "Grow up speedily, my little one. . . Drink MILKMAID Milk." Other multinationals listed as recommending their brand of Sweetened Condensed Milk for infants are Wilts United Dairies Ltd., Friesland, Beatrice Foods, Australian Dairy Corporation, and Carnation Company.

The book concludes with the Consumers Association of Penang's recommendations for dealing with the problem, including suggestions for national governments to regulate the advertising of Sweetened Condensed Milk, campaigns to promote breastfeeding, and for international organizations, including the U.N. World Health Organization, to adopt codes against the advertising of sweetened condensed milk.

- Scott Harrop

Pills, Pesticides & Profits: The International
Trade in Toxic Substances

edited by Ruth Norris with contributions from
A. Karim Ahmed, S. Jacob Scherr & Robert Richter
North River Press, 1982. 182 pages. $10.95.

(A paperbound student edition with resource guide is available to educational programs from the Council on International and Public Affairs, 777 United Nations Plaza, New York, for $6.95.)

This brief, straightforward book documents the growth of international trade in banned and restricted pesticides and drugs. The authors detail numerous examples of problems resulting from this "dumping," and build a strong case for increased regulation.

The misuse of pesticides creates health problems, including deaths from poisoning, and environmental damage through the killing of wildlife, plants, and the creation of pesticide-resistant pests, the book claims. These troubles may increasingly "boomerang" on the developed nations as contaminated crops enter the first world markets, warn the authors.

Hazardous drugs are sold without instructions, over-the-counter in many parts of the third world, as the book notes. Rather than curing disease, drugs may actually cause disease. Above all, the authors argue that Third World health problems call more for preventative care - e.g. improved nutrition and hygiene - than for drugs.

A "concerned and organized citizenry" is needed to limit dangers of hazardous pills and pesticides, the authors say, adding that a full solution would require the cooperation of multinational corporations and First and Third World governments.

The useful appendix contains a transcript of the informative PBS television show "Pesticides and Pills - for Export Only" by Robert Richter, tables on the largest pharmaceutical companies, and summaries of double standard cases around the world.

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