Trump denies U.S. opposition to World Health Organization breastfeeding resolution

Geneva Stokes
July 11, 2018

Proponents of the resolutions then struggled to find a new sponsor, as more than a dozen countries feared retaliation.

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.

The Ecuadorian delegation, for instance, was expected to introduce the resolution but was weaned off the idea after the U.S. threatened to impose harmful trade measures and withdraw military assistance-which the United States is providing in the northern part of the country to help address violence spilling over the border from Colombia.

'We were astonished, appalled and also saddened, ' said Patti Rundall, policy director of Baby Milk Action, a pro-breastfeeding advocacy group.

The State Department would not answer the Times' questions.

"The failing NY Times Fake News story today about breastfeeding must be called out".

On Twitter, Mr Trump "called out" the Times and said the "US strongly supports breastfeeding".

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News of the combative approach within the World Health Assembly mirrored the Trump administration's posture toward other key global bodies. "Many women are not able to breastfeed for a variety of reasons, these women should not be stigmatized; they should be equally supported with information and access to alternatives for the health of themselves and their babies".

Ecuador's Health Minister Veronica Espinosa said her country had fought for passage of the resolution and "did not give in to private or commercial interests, or any other form of pressure".

World Health Organization has long supported breastfeeding, and years of research has found breast milk to be healthier than other substitutes. But a sustainable future will require certain industries - not just tobacco and fossil fuels, air travel and automobiles, even baby formula - to become much much smaller to sustain a population of nine billion human beings. "What happened was tantamount to blackmail, with the USA holding the world hostage and trying to overturn almost 40 years of consensus on best way to protect infant and young child health".

After this period of confusion, Russian Federation actually ended up introducing a resolution about breastfeeding.

"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 USA government if they went forward", she said, noting that a lot of countries -particularly poorer ones- take money from the United States in some form of aid so it is "a big deal for them to actually lose that money". With more first world mothers opting for Mother Nature's way, most of the industry's modest growth comes from developing countries. Women's health advocates, she said, have long promoted breastfeeding-and also supported women to choose the "option to do the best for them and their babies".

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. The report said the United States delegation was also unsuccessful at defeating a different measure on access to medicines.

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