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

Modesto Morganelli
Luglio 12, 2018

- After critics charged that United States delegates threatened Ecuador to prevent a World Health Organization resolution supporting breastfeeding, President Trump and administration officials say the USA supports breastfeeding. 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 USA dairy industry.

The U.S. threatened to withdraw military aid and engage in punitive trade tactics with Ecuador after it introduced the breastfeeding resolution at the World Health Assembly, the Times reported.

Russians eventually were the ones to introduce the legislation. Additional research suggests breastfeeding offers some protection to women against breast and ovarian cancer, and osteoporosis later in life. In war zones and during humanitarian crises, infant formula makes sense, said Gayle Tzemach Lemmon, an author and senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations, in this piece.

An HHS spokesperson added that the "resolution as originally drafted placed unnecessary hurdles for mothers seeking to provide nutrition to their children".

"Ecuador always endorsed all resolutions on breastfeeding that have been adopted in the past in the framework of the World Health Organization (WHO), the last, last month of May, was approved by consensus and had the support of the delegation Ecuadorian meeting". Ecuador quickly dropped its support for the resolution.

For their part, the U.S. delegates have said that it wasn't corporations' best interests they had in mind, but that they were instead trying to fight against "stigmatizing" women who choose to formula feed.

'These women should have the choice and access to alternatives for the health of their babies, and not be stigmatized for the ways in which they are able to do so'.

"We were talking to all the other countries and could see that they were backing off and very frightened that they would be sort-of got at by the United States government if they went forward", she said, noting that a lot of countries -particularly poorer ones- take money from the USA in some form of aid so it is "a big deal for them to actually lose that money".

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.

But it's not the first time the Trump administration has gone head-to-head with WHO.

The Department of Health and Human Services, which was the lead agency for the these negotiations, did not speak directly to the accusation of threats. Of course, it is in line with the general attitude of the United States, which has earlier opposed taxes on sugared drinks and attacked changes in licensing law proposed to deliver life-saving medicines in poor countries. This is why the Infant Nutrition Council of America supports the final World Health Assembly resolution, which acknowledges the need for a sound science and evidence-based approach to infant and young child nutrition, and clearly supports and promotes the benefits of breastfeeding.

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