A network of anti-globalization groups last week awarded the Japanese tire group Bridgestone and Swiss pharmaceutical giant Novartis its annual prize for the most irresponsible companies. Bridgestone, which was nominated by a group of U.S. environmentalists, received the Public Eye on Davos' global award for "conditions approaching slavery" in its rubber plantation in Liberia, the group said in a statement. "Child labor and severe environmental damage are the order of the day," it added.
Novartis received the Swiss "Public Eye Award" for taking legal action in India challenging local patent laws, after being nominated by the Indian Cancer Patients Aid Association. The Public Eye said the pharmaceutical group's action could limit access to cheaper generic medicines to treat diseases such as cancer in India and developing countries.
The alliance also made its first ever positive award to a company. The Swiss supermarket chain Coop was praised for launching an environmentally-friendly food brand that had helped to expand organic farming in Switzerland.
The Public Eye Awards are announced in Davos every year to coincide with the World Economic Forum gathering top business and political leaders. The two Swiss groups coordinating the Public Eye, environmental NGO Pro Natura and developing world lobby group the Berne Declaration, called for legally-binding international regulations for corporate responsibility.
Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2007