Trump blasts 'fake' NYT story on United States opposition to breastfeeding measure

Ric Francis via ZUMA

"What happened was tantamount to blackmail, with the US holding the world hostage and trying to overturn almost 40 years of consensus on best way to protect infant and young child health", The New York Times quoted her as saying. Anderson was inspired to write the letter after the United States pushed to weaken the language of a WHO resolution that called on world governments to "protect, promote, and support breastfeeding", a move that some believe is connected to protecting the interests of the U.S. dairy industry.

According to the report, the delegation fought against elements in the resolution that would have demanded member states "protect, promote and support breast-feeding" and restrict potentially unsafe infant foods.

The New York Times reports USA delegates even threatened the Ecuadorean government with punishing trade measures, convincing them to drop the resolution.

The resolution was passed when it was introduced by Russian Federation, but the USA did successfully strike out language calling for World Health Organization support to nations trying to prevent "inappropriate promotion of foods for infants and young children", and added the phrase "evidence based" to certain provisions. It touted the benefits of breastfeeding in its response, saying that it estimates that about 820,000 child lives would be saved every year if all infants under the age of six months were breastfed.

The measure was expected to be introduced by Ecuador.

The Americans were blunt: If Ecuador refused to drop the resolution, Washington would unleash punishing trade measures and withdraw crucial military aid.

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At the same World Health Assembly meeting, according to the Times, U.S. officials also removed suggestions of introducing a soda tax from a document advising countries on fighting high rates of obesity. The Ecuadorean government quickly acquiesced.

Then the United States delegation, embracing the interests of infant formula manufacturers, upended the deliberations.

"The issues being debated were not about whether one supports breastfeeding", Caitlin Oakley, national spokesperson for the Department of Health and Human Services, said in a statement. Women's health advocates, she said, have long promoted breastfeeding-and also supported women to choose the "option to do the best for them and their babies". A recent report found more than 800 violations of the World Health Organization's guidelines for marketing breastmilk substitutes in 79 countries between 2014 and 2017. "We don't want other leaders and other countries laughing at us anymore".

But baby formula represents a huge global market - worth $47 billion in 2015, according to Euromonitor International - dominated by a handful of groups, several of them American, with emerging markets accounting for most current growth. According to the Times, the saga shows how the Trump administration backs corporations over the public good and how the Trump administration is disrupting the rules-based order.

The U.S. stance on the health issue was enough to draw heated reaction from a number of progressive-leaning websites.

Many countries, including USA now, abide by the International Code on Marketing of Breast-Milk Substitutes.

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