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U.S. threatened nations over breastfeeding resolution

10 July 2018

Limiting inaccurate infant formula marketing is most necessary in some of the poorest parts of the world, according to a Guardian investigation published earlier this year in partnership with the worldwide nongovernmental organization Save the Children.

According to the Times report on Sunday based on interviews with dozens of meeting participants, United States negotiations in Geneva objected to the resolution encouraging breastfeeding around the world and allegedly resorted to intimidation tactics to bully other countries into dropping it.

Brooke Singman is a Politics Reporter for Fox News.

But U.S. officials tried to remove language from the resolution that called on governments to "protect, promote and support breastfeeding", according to reporter Andrew Jacobs. When that failed, they turned to threats....

The resolution presented in May at the World Health Assembly was based on decades of scientific research, according to the Times.

Ecuador had planned to introduce the bill, but according to the newspaper, backed out after they were threatened with punishing trade measures and the withdrawal of USA military aid.

An Ecuadorian official said that his government did not anticipate the harshness of America's response.

In an email to the Times, the Department of Health and Human Services, which led the charge to make the modifications, said the original resolution "placed unnecessary hurdles for mothers seeking to provide nutrition to their children".

"We recognize not all women are able to breastfeed for a variety of reasons. These women should have the choice and access to alternatives for the health of their babies, and not be stigmatised for the ways in which they are able to do so".

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The baby formula industry, which is dominated by US and European companies, has seen stagnant sales in wealthy countries in recent years as breastfeeding becomes more common. It said breastmilk is healthiest for children and that countries should prevent false or misleading marketing of substitutes.

In third world countries, there is an added danger to babies from using infant formulas, which require water added, because 'levels of infectious disease are high and access to safe water is poor, ' a 2015 report from UNICEF found.

The worldwide infant formula industry, worth $70 billion, is dominated by US and European countries and has faced plateauing revenue in the developed world in recent years as awareness about the benefits of breast-feeding spreads. The editors then again accused the Trump administration of siding with "corporate interests".

USA officials fought to remove phrases calling for governments to "protect, promote and support breastfeeding" and a section calling on lawmakers to tighten regulations on the promotion of products that experts say have harmful effects on children. "At what point do they start laughing at us as a country?"

The U.S. representatives were also unsuccessful affecting any real changes to statements on breast milk substitutes.

However, the USA stopped short of going after Russian Federation, which in the end stepped in to introduce the resolution.

In the end, the US's effort to dash the World Health Organization resolution encouraging breastfeeding was largely unsuccessful.

The Times says baby food industry lobbyists attended the meetings but health advocates said they saw no direct evidence that they influenced the Americans' threats.

U.S. threatened nations over breastfeeding resolution