While the local media obsesses over one of its drinks, the dark side of food and beverage giant Nestle is ignored.

IF YOU ARE PRONE TO DESPAIR at the banality of the corporate media, chances are you might of sunk into the slough of despondency yesterday, as you watched the media slurp vigorously on the great Milo controversy.

The fact that a few thousand people don't like the taste of the new malty Milo and have expressed their views on Facebook, has been sufficient to warrant blanket media coverage.

On Paul Henry's breakfast show on TV3 yesterday they did a taste test and Hilary Barry expressed the dissident view that the new Milo actually tasted nice.

Over twelve hours later, on TV3's new late night attempt at a news show, Samantha Hayes and Andrew Farrier were asking a somewhat surprised Neil Finn for his views on the new Milo. That conversation went nowhere with Finn explaining  that he didn't like the stuff.

Actually Newsworthy missed a great opportunity to show a depressed Milo drinker sobbing into their empty, Milo-free mug while 'Don't Dream It's Over' played softly in the background. It would of been a tender moment which we could have all shared as a nation - well, as much of the nation that was watching TV3 at 10.30pm on Monday night.

There is the tendency to snigger at the lunacy of it all and chalk it down to another just another typical day in the life of the corporate media, but there's a serious side to all of this.

While he corporate media has been banging on about Milo no one has thought to question why we are drinking something produced by one the most reviled multinationals around.

Nestle may be the biggest food and beverage company in the world, but it is also a multinational that has been involved in what can be loosely described as unethical behaviour including using child labour, price fixing, exploiting young mothers in underdeveloped countries, and misleading labelling, including not listing genetically modified ingredients. Nestle is a serial offender on a whole range of issues.

In  just the past week the Indian government announced that it had found 'unsafe levels of lead' in Nestle's Maggi noodles, which are also sold in New Zealand. The government has filed for damages against Nestle, accusing it of unfair trading practices - a charge the Swiss multinational giant is not unfamiliar with.

In the United States activists are fighting Nestle and its reckless and environmentally damaging bottled water activities.

In California, which is currently suffering its most severe drought ever recorded, Nestle has continued to greedily bottle the water for its own financial gain. In April activists from Crunch Nestlé Alliance forcibly closed down Nestle's bottling plant in Sacramento

Said the activists: “The water needs to be used for the local community. If there is not enough water for the local community, the Nestlé corporation should not be making a profit out of it."

Nestle owns over seventy of the world's bottled brands with the United States being, by far, its biggest market.

In 2013 former Nestle CEO Peter Brabeck CEO claimed water was not a human right and should be privatised and controlled.

"The one opinion, which I think is extreme, is represented by the NGOs, who bang on about declaring water a public right. That means as a human being you should have a right to water. That’s an extreme solution." said Braebeck.

Last year Nestle was voted the voted the least ethical company of the last 25 years by readers of Ethical Consumer, beating out companies like Monsanto and Exxon Oil.

While the local corporate media have speculated on a consumer boycott against Milo, it has failed to mention that Nestle is no stranger to boycotts - on issues far more serious than the taste of a drink.

 Nestlé is currently subject to the longest ever running consumer boycott. For over 20 years Baby Milk Action has called a boycott of the company for its irresponsible marketing of baby milk formula, which infringes the International Code of Marketing of Breast-milk Substitutes.

So while the local media, for its own amusement, plays up a consumer backlash against Nestle and one of its brands, it is worth thinking about what it isn't reporting about Nestle and its activities around the globe. Perhaps that's because the multinational giant throws an awful lot of advertising cash at  the media. Money talks.


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