U.S. Stuns World Using ‘Blackmail’ to Oppose International Breastfeeding Resolution

The U.S. government reportedly threatened representatives of other governments at a recent World Health Organization assembly in a bid to alter a resolution on breastfeeding to appease infant formula manufacturers. Citing several government officials and diplomats who attended the World Health Assembly in Geneva, The New York Times reports that the U.S. delegation wanted to remove a section of the resolution urging governments to “protect, promote, and support breastfeeding” and another section calling for restrictions on the promotion of other food products that are believed to have harmful effects on children. U.S. officials threatened Ecuador when it opposed the attempt to water down the language, vowing to withdraw military aid and impose strict new trade measures, according to the report. Several other nations also reportedly backed off after threats of retaliation. “What happened was tantamount to blackmail, with the U.S. holding the world hostage and trying to overturn nearly 40 years of consensus on best way to protect infant and young child health,” Patti Rundall, the policy director of the British advocacy group Baby Milk Action, told the Times. U.S. officials were ultimately unsuccessful in changing the resolution—but only because of an apparent unwillingness to threaten Russia, which had introduced the measure.