President Donald Trump’s administration has sided with the baby formula industry and against a resolution that encourages breastfeeding.
According to The New York Times, a United Nations-backed World Health Assembly resolution about breastfeeding was expected to be approved “quickly and easily” until the Trump administration opposed it based on “interests of infant formula manufacturers.”
American officials sought to water down the resolution by removing language that called on governments to “protect, promote and support breast-feeding” and another passage that called on policymakers to restrict the promotion of food products that many experts say can have deleterious effects on young children.
When that failed, they turned to threats, according to diplomats and government officials who took part in the discussions. Ecuador, which had planned to introduce the measure, was the first to find itself in the cross hairs.
The Americans were blunt: If Ecuador refused to drop the resolution, Washington would unleash punishing trade measures and withdraw crucial military aid. The Ecuadorean government quickly acquiesced.
“We were astonished, appalled and also saddened,” Baby Milk Action policy director Patti Rundall told the Times. “What happened was tantamount to blackmail, with the U.S. holding the world hostage and trying to overturn nearly 40 years of consensus on best way to protect infant and young child health.”
The paper noted that the Trump administration was “mostly unsuccessful” at opposing the breastfeeding resolution.
“It was the Russians who ultimately stepped in to introduce the measure — and the Americans did not threaten them,” the report said.