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article imageU.S. uses threat of sanctions to kill breastfeeding resolution

By Karen Graham     Jul 8, 2018 in Politics
Geneva - The Trump administration threatened Ecuador with withholding military aid and "punishing trade measures" — all because the country backed a resolution promoting breastfeeding at the World Health Assembly.
International delegates at the United Nations-affiliated World Health Assembly in May were utterly astounded when U.S. officials opposed a widely popular resolution to promote breastfeeding, according to a report from Andrew Jacobs at the New York Times on Sunday.
The resolution Ecuador was going to introduce holds that breastfeeding is the healthiest option for young children, and pushes countries to limit the spread of inaccurate information about breast milk substitutes, according to The Hill.
However, the U.S. delegation told the country that if they went through with introducing the resolution, the U.S. would cut military aid and implement punitive trade measures. Fearing retaliation from the U.S., several other countries backed away from supporting the resolution.
Gerber Good Start Soy
Gerber Good Start Soy
Tucson Police Department
Specifically, the U.S. wanted the language asking governments to “protect, promote, and support breastfeeding," and a passage that called for policymakers to "restrict the promotion of food products that may harm children" removed from the resolution.
Believe it or not, the resolution was passed, but only because Russia took it upon themselves to introduce it, and it passed as it was written — with one little exception. The U.S. insisted language calling on the World Health Organization to offer technical support to officials trying to stop “inappropriate promotion of foods for infants and young children,” be removed, according to the Times.
Patti Randall, the policy director of the British advocacy group Baby Milk Action attended the assembly, and according to USA Today, she said the group was "astonished," "appalled" and "saddened" by the behavior of the U.S. delegates.
"What happened was tantamount to blackmail, with the U.S. holding the world hostage and trying to overturn nearly 40 years of consensus on [the] best way to protect infant and your child health," Randall said.
Why did Russia step in and get the resolution passed? “We feel that it is wrong when a big country tries to push around some very small countries, especially on an issue that is really important for the rest of the world,” a Russian delegate told the Times.
Untitled
CFIA
Siding with corporate interests
The New York Times points out that the $70-billion infant formula industry is dominated by the U.S. and Europe, and it appears the Trump administration is siding with corporate interests over the health and well-being of the children of the world.
But this wasn't the only thing the U.S. tried to change at the Geneva meeting. The delegates were successful in getting statements supporting soda taxes removed from an obesity document. The U.S. also tried to kill an effort by WHO to help poor countries get access to medicines, but that effort failed.
The cover of Time Magazine  relating to an article on attachment parenting
The cover of Time Magazine, relating to an article on attachment parenting
From Time
The reported efforts of the Geneva delegation are in line with the Trump administration's broader efforts to use pressure and threats to get countries in line with the Trump agenda. People will remember that last year when Trump insisted the U.S. Embassy in Israel be moved to Jerusalem, U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Nikki Haley warned that Washington would be "taking names" of the countries who voted against the measure.
The U.S. also withheld funding from the U.N. agency charged with providing assistance to Palestinian refugees. But the bottom line is this — Trump has expressed his revulsion to the act of breastfeeding, calling it “disgusting.” And, according to VOX, he also called a 2012 TIME Magazine cover showing a mother breastfeeding her toddler “disgusting.”
More about world health assembly, Breastfeeding, Ecuador, trade sanctions, Military aid