A World Health Assembly meeting that had been expected to easily pass a resolution promoting breastfeeding turned ugly when the Trump administration got involved, reports the New York Times, citing "more than a dozen participants from several countries." The sources say that the American delegation to the United Nations-affiliated meeting in Geneva this spring fought hard for the interests of baby formula manufacturers and demanded that a resolution urging governments to "protect, promote, and support breastfeeding" as the healthiest option for babies be watered down. Ecuador, which introduced the resolution, was told that it would lose American military aid and trade deals, the sources say.
The American delegation also strongly opposed language in the resolution warning parents to watch out for inaccurate marketing from formula companies, the Guardian reports. Smaller countries backed away from the resolution under US pressure, but it eventually passed with most of its original language intact after Russia supported it. A Russian source tells the Times they decided to introduce the resolution because smaller nations were being bullied. Advocates called the US moves "appalling" in light of countless studies showing that breastfeeding offers clear health benefits. "What happened was tantamount to blackmail, with the US holding the world hostage and trying to overturn nearly 40 years of consensus on the best way to protect infant and young child health,” says Patti Rundall of the Baby Milk Action campaign. (Read more breastfeeding stories.)