World Health Organization got Trumped over breastfeeding resolution

Bloomberg via Getty Images

This spring at the World Health Organization's World Health Assembly, the USA delegation opposed Ecuador's resolution to encourage breastfeeding and limit marketing claims about breast milk replacements, the New York Times reported Sunday. Its many health benefits matter both for newborn and mom.

The resolution was aimed at limiting "inaccurate or misleading marketing of formula", and encouraging breastfeeding support in all countries.

A broad scientific consensus backs those assertions. In addition, universal breastfeeding could save $300 billion in reduced health care costs and improved economic prospects for children. These are situations during which it has been common to solicit formula donations for the affected countries, says Maaike Arts, an early childhood nutrition specialist with UNICEF. Since the 1980s, governments, non-governmental organizations, and corporations have been limited from marketing formula for infants six months of age and younger. "Neither is the availability of infant formula", said Sullivan. "The formula [served] as a vector for bad water".

"We all started talking about it at the conference", said Dr. Mitchell. He said that plenty of other research suggests breast feeding is healthier for kids and mothers alike.

In the course of one week in July, baby formula monopolies exposed that the drive for capitalist profits kills infants, and the Trump gang showed how an imperialist regime serves these monopolies - or tries to - whatever ruthless means it takes.

Patti Rundall, the policy director of the British advocacy group Baby Milk Action, told The Times that what occurred 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".

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The couple told the news station they fork out up to $15,000 out of pocket each year. Even with health insurance, the family spends $15,000 per year out of pocket.

The worldwide infant formula industry, worth $70 billion, is dominated by USA and European countries and has faced plateauing revenue in the developed world in recent years as awareness about the benefits of breast-feeding spreads. Over all, global sales are expected to rise by 4 percent in 2018, according to Euromonitor, with most of that growth occurring in developing nations. Infant formula is the most highly regulated food and the only recommended nourishment if breast milk is not available.

Here in the United States, the industry is even more tightly concentrated.

The New York Times reported using anonymous sources that the USA had even threatened some countries that supported the resolution with punitive actions if they didn't withdraw support. Abbott, Mead Johnson, and Nestlé all have robust Washington, DC. lobbying operations. In 2016, a proposal was discussed that would extend bans on marketing formulas and other supplemental nutrition.

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

Officials at the assembly this spring were shocked by the Trump administration's reaction to the resolution and support for infant formula manufacturers, but perhaps they shouldn't have been. "Even though I've argued with USA politicians and they say it didn't happen, it definitely happened", she said.

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