Trump Administration Bullied Countries To Make Them Reject The Science On Breastfeeding

Leroy Wright
July 11, 2018

He said his report is based on interviews with more than a dozen participants in the talks, and "many of whom requested anonymity because they feared retaliation from the United States".

Then, when those attempts failed, the USA delegation reportedly intimidated the country, Ecuador, initially sponsoring the resolution with trade threats, resulting in Ecuador dropping out.

The Times said that in the end, the Russian delegation stepped in as the resolution's sponsor. In fact, the WHO Code is primarily concerned with the misleading marketing of such products in ways that explicitly discourage breastfeeding as a choice, especially within poor communities, as The Guardian observed: "Formula promotion is a particular issue in poorer countries because there is a higher risk of pneumonia and diarrhoea for babies, and with a lack of access to healthcare mothers are less informed about the benefits of breastfeeding".

Trump hit out at the Times article, while saying the United States was committed to ensuring women are not "denied" formula. "The U.S. strongly supports breastfeeding but we don't believe women should be denied access to formula", Trump posted on Twitter Monday afternoon. "Many women need this option because of malnutrition and poverty", Trump said.

Health experts said the president's stance suggested a lack of knowledge about the issues.

According to the New York Times, the pressure was piled on this spring in Geneva, as states gathered for the World Health Organization's World Health Assembly.

In 1981-the height of a massive controversy over Nestlé's aggressive marketing of formula to mothers in poor countries-the "availability of formula" resulted in approximately 66,000 infant deaths in areas with bad water, they found.

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"The resolution as originally drafted placed unnecessary hurdles for mothers seeking to provide nutrition to their children", the spokesperson said.

The WHO said its resolution was aimed, in part, at reducing these barriers and putting more support systems in place to allow for successful breastfeeding - along with ensuring that formula can not be advertised in deceiving ways. What is at stake: breastfeeding saves women and children's lives.

Globally, just five companies-Nestle, Groupe Danone, Abbott Nutrition, Mead Johnson Nutrition, and Kraft Heinz-own 60 percent of the infant-food market, according to the market-tracking firm Future Market Insights.

They frantically tried to find other countries who would sponsor the resolution, but these nations - mostly from Latin America and Africa - were frightened off by the specter of American threats.

Breastfeeding has always been touted as the preferred source of food for infants, with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention agreeing that babies who are breastfed have reduced risks of asthma, obesity, Type 2 diabetes, ear and respiratory infections, and sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS).

The intensity of the administration's opposition to the breastfeeding resolution stunned public health officials and foreign diplomats, who described it as a marked contrast to the Obama administration, which largely supported WHO's long-standing policy of encouraging breastfeeding.

The New York Times report mirrored sweeping and unattributed claims from activist groups. 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. While the sales of baby formula have been flat in the West over the last few years, they were on the rise in developing countries.

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