A shocking report has revealed that in a clear intervention in favor of infant formula manufacturers, the United States government of Donald Trump threatened Ecuador over a breastfeeding resolution at the United Nations saying that it will levy trade sanctions against the South American country if it did not drop it.
Mr. Trump said the country "strongly supports" breastfeeding, but the issue the USA representatives had was with denying access to formula. The recommendation called on governments to "protect, promote and support breastfeeding", and also recommended limiting the promotion of "food products" - aka baby formula - to families with young children.
According to a now-viral report from The New York Times, American delegates took issue with a number of clauses in the breastfeeding recommendations, and threatened to impose trade measures and withdraw military aid if Ecuador refused to eliminate certain passages from the resolution. When that largely failed, the USA turned to threats-demanding that Ecuador's delegation refrain from introducing the bill as planned or be targeted with trade measures and cuts to military aid, the Times reports. The WHO has long said that breastfeeding is the optimal feeding method for infants and recommends exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months of a child's life and continued feeding with introduction of other foods up to two years of age.
Even in case of orphaned babies, Arts says it is better to encourage wet nursing before resorting to formula.
The hundreds of delegates in attendance expected an effortless approval of the resolution by the World Health Assembly, which is the decision-making body of WHO. They found no impact, except under one condition: In communities that lack clean water, access to formula raised infant mortality by 9.4 per 1000 births-essentially, the availability of formula "led to more bad water getting to infants", he said. They also imply in their advertising that breastfeeding is what poor women do who don't know better. "We recognize not all women are able to breast-feed for a variety of reasons". Many of them, however, asked to remain anonymous because they fear US retaliation. Millions of infants have safely consumed formula for decades. In a booklet published by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services in 2008, and still available online, government officials listed multiple benefits for employers that support breastfeeding mothers and their partners.
In opposing the resolution, the US was said to align with the corporate interests of formula manufacturers. The Ecuadorian delegates acquiesced, and health advocates struggled to find another sponsor for the resolution.
The $70-billion baby formula industry is dominated by a handful of American and European companies and has seen sales decrease in recent years, as more women embrace breastfeeding, according to the article.
The U.S. delegation doesn't agree with a public health policy of keeping information away from women who are feeding their children. The U.S. also unsuccessful lobbied to stop a World Health Organization initiative to give life-saving medicine to poor countries, siding with the pharmaceutical industry's intellectual property concerns.