Trump administration threatened tiny nation over breastfeeding

10 July, 2018, 15:58 | Author: Clarence Schmidt
  • Trump administration threatened Ecuador over its support of breastfeeding resolution

The threats reportedly occurred in May at the United Nations -affiliated World Health Assembly in Geneva. Other countries appeared hesitant to back the resolution after seeing the US threaten Ecuador.

'The failing NY Times Fake News story today about breast feeding must be called out. "The U.S. strongly supports breast feeding but we don't believe women should be denied access to formula. Many women need this option because of malnutrition and poverty", Trump tweeted Monday.

A weekend report in The New York Times stated that U.S. delegates to a recent World Health Organization meeting sought to delete from a resolution on infant nutrition language that urged member states to "protect, promote and support" breastfeeding.

The U.S. threatened to withdraw military aid and engage in punitive trade tactics with Ecuador after it introduced the breastfeeding resolution at the World Health Assembly, the Times reported.

Eventually, it was Russian Federation that chose to introduce the measure.

"The resolution as originally drafted placed unnecessary hurdles for mothers seeking to provide nutrition to their children", an HHS spokesperson told the Times. It added that "not all women are able to breastfeed", and they "should have the choice and access to alternatives".


World Health Organization representatives when those initiatives were first introduced by a delegation from Ecuador, the New York Times reported on 8 July 2018. The Ecuadorean government quickly acquiesced.

The US State Department has refused to comment on the report.

"And now the U.S. Gov is against breastfeeding in favor of formula companies", a DailyKos story blared. The editors then again accused the Trump administration of siding with "corporate interests". Of course, it is in line with the general attitude of the United States, which has earlier opposed taxes on sugared drinks and attacked changes in licensing law proposed to deliver life-saving medicines in poor countries.

American officials allegedly sought to remove the language pushing for global government support of breastfeeding practices and attacked countries that were in favour of it.

Hundreds of government delegates at the assembly expected the resolution to be approved swiftly. Nevertheless, the USA delegation sought to wear down the other participants through procedural maneuvers in a series of meetings that stretched on for two days, an unexpectedly long period.

The Times notes a 2016 series in the Lancet in which researchers estimated that universal breastfeeding could spare the lives of 823,000 children each year and save $302 billion in economic losses. So when United States representatives launched their surprise attack, the world could only read it as open support for the $70 billion formula industry, whose sales have been tapering off. Among the myriad issues discussed at these annual meetings are policies and initiatives related to infant nutrition, breastfeeding, and breast milk substitutes, topics that gained prominence in the Assembly in the 1980s.

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