Saturday, 22 September, 2018

Trump blasts 'failing NY Times' over report on 'opposition' to breastfeeding measure

Melinda Barton | 10 July, 2018, 00:05

This spring at the World Health Assembly, the United States fought a resolution to encourage breast-feeding, according to a new report by the New York Times.

US officials sought to remove language that called on governments to "protect, promote and support breastfeeding" as well as a separate section that called for governments to restrict the promotion of products that experts agree could cause harm to children.

Trump argues his administration supports breastfeeding but also wants women to have access to formula.

The Times reported that the US delegation threatened other nations, by suggesting that the USA would implement trade measures with the goal of punishing them, citing more than a dozen participants from several of the countries present.

Trump wrote on Monday: "The US 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".

At first, the USA delegation tried to just water down the language in the resolution, but when that didn't work, they began to threaten and bully countries who were supporting the resolution.

"We were astonished, appalled and also saddened", Patti Rundall, the policy director of the British advocacy group Baby Milk Action told The Times of the United States' actions.

Caitlin Oakley, a spokesperson for the Department of Health and Human Services, said it's "patently false" to portray the US position as "anti-breastfeeding".

An Ecuadorian official said that his government did not anticipate the harshness of America's response.

Ecuador's support for an worldwide resolution backing breastfeeding has triggered U.S. threats of punitive trade measures and the axing of military aid.

The State Department declined to comment to the Times, saying it could not remark on private diplomatic discussions.

The final resolution retained much of the original wording, despite American efforts. What is at stake: breastfeeding saves women and children's lives. Overall, global sales are expected to rise by 4 per cent in 2018, according to Euromonitor, with most of that growth occurring in developing nations.

On social media, some pointed to the report as the latest evidence of the Trump administration's top priority-serving corporate interests, even at the expense of public health.

In talks to renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement, the Americans have been pushing for language that would limit the ability of Canada, Mexico and the United States to put warning labels on junk food and sugary beverages, according to a draft of the proposal reviewed by The New York Times.

Though high quality, safely prepared substitutes can provide adequate nutrition for infants, emphasis on breastfeeding stretches back through decades of concern from health experts and officials that milk-substitute makers were causing harm with their marketing strategies.

The resolution was passed when it was introduced by Russian Federation, but the U.S. did successfully strike out language calling for World Health Organization support to nations trying to prevent "inappropriate promotion of foods for infants and young children", and added the phrase "evidence based" to certain provisions.