U.S. Delegates Opposed an International Resolution That Supported Breastfeeding


President Donald Trump's administration put the interests of corporations over efforts to protect children's nutrition earlier this year when officials opposed a breastfeeding resolution that was widely considered noncontroversial, The New York Times reported Sunday.

Ecuador was the country that initially planned to introduce the resolution - until it suddenly backed out.

A New York Times report claimed USA officials fought against language that all governments should "protect, promote and support breastfeeding". 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.

Even though everything seems up for sale in the Trump era, including public health, the administration's attempt to ignite a trade war with Ecuador - over the simple act of breastfeeding, in favor of Big Baby Formula - seems unusually crass.

"The issues being debated, were not about whether one supports breastfeeding". The companies denied any wrongdoing.

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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.

Somehow things escalated from there into the US threatening Ecuador--the nation that was introducing the resolution--with "punishing trade measures". In defense of formula and its makers, the U.S. also reportedly threatened Ecuador with trade sanctions in retaliation for advancing the resolution.

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

Although the USA and many other countries promote a "breast is best" policy, many mothers are unable to breastfeed for a variety of reasons like medical challenges, insufficient maternity leave, or inability to afford time away from work often required for exclusive breastfeeding.

"The United States believed the resolution as originally drafted called on states to erect hurdles for mothers seeking to provide nutrition to their children", said a State Department official.

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Health and Human Services spokeswoman Caitlin Oakley also described as "patently false" attempts to portray the US position as anti-breastfeeding.

The final resolution largely reflected the original wording.

The New York Times says the United States threatened Ecuador and other small countries with trade and military repercussions, but it provides no evidence to support the claim outside of anonymous sources. "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", the spokesperson added. 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 main concern isn't whether breastfeeding should be supplemented with formula, but what happens when formula becomes a substitute for breast milk entirely.

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