Thursday, 2 February 2012

That was a different Dick

Now that my tongue feels like 10,000 sunburns, I'm not doing a lot of eating. Even swallowing water is excruciating and painful.

So that means everything is going into a feeding tube in my stomach. I'll skip the details, except to say that it's as enjoyable as it sounds. And for some reason it makes me feel like Dick Cheney (the Evil Vice-President in the last Bush Administration). Why Dick Cheney?

Because the nutritive goo I drip into my stomach is manufactured by Nestlé. And I remember in the 1970s we hated Nestlé because of something to do with African mothers, breastfeeding, Nestlé baby formula mixed with the infested local water and babies getting sick. I forget how it all came together but I do remember that Dick Nixon was President.

And there was fervent protest. There were petitions. There were boycotts. Health food stores wouldn't stock Nestlé products. The result? In 1981 the 34th World Health Assembly (WHA) adopted Resolution WHA34.22 which includes the International Code of Marketing of Breast-milk Substitutes. And Nestlé signed it and agreed to stop being unscrupulous.

We, privileged white college students with great careers ahead of us, with every reason to buy into the system, took collective action and made the world a better place. At least for African babies under Resolution WHA34.22

So today Nestlé makes a nutritive goo that keeps old men alive. And given the evil history of Nestlé, and the 2 terms of Dick Cheney as “Dr Evil” in the White House, whilst I drip feed I muse that here's what's changed in thirty years:

People no longer launch Global protests. Yeah crackheads will camp out in parks and call themselves “Occupy”, and White Anglo loners call themselves "Un Black Bloc", but no one is actually going after the multinationals. Other than to wish they worked for one. If Nestlé went to, say, Hamilton tomorrow and said “We'd like to build a factory employing 1,000 people to make baby-killing formula”, Hamilton would say “Yes please! And here's a tax break!”

And the most interesting part if this – after one century of these practices, no wonder we're all reaching middle age and dying off of cancer. There's only so many open-air nuclear bomb tests, phosphate river outflows, sulphur dioxide emissions, & cetra, that one man can take before he up and mutates.

Post scriptum – Do you remember where you were when Resolution WHA34.22 was passed? I do. There was a cat named “Sartre”, a bottle of plonk red wine, a mattress on the floor, a beeswax candle, and what we would now call a “hippy chick”. At the time I called her Moonsong.