At a recent meeting of the United Nations-affiliated World Health Assembly in Geneva, Ecuador sponsored a resolution to encourage breastfeeding, which seems like a good thing, right? Everyone assumed the resolution would pass with no problem, right up until the Trump administration’s delegation killed it in the most d*kish way possible for the most dickish reason.
According to the New York Times,
Based on decades of research, the resolution says that mother’s milk is healthiest for children and countries should strive to limit the inaccurate or misleading marketing of breast milk substitutes.
Then the United States delegation, embracing the interests of infant formula manufacturers, upended the deliberations.
According to reports, the U.S. delegation tried to weaken or remove the resolution’s statements against synthetic infant formula and when their efforts were unsuccessful they (actually “we,” because this is being done in our names) THREATENED ECUADOR. That’s right, the U.S. delegation was so pro-infant formula companies they actually told Ecuador, a poor developing country, that we would yank military aid to the country. Trump administrative representatives even threatened to cut their funding to the World Health Organization.
And it almost worked! Ecuador pulled the resolution and, fearing retaliation, no other country would sponsor a new one. That is until one country stepped up to the plate—Russia. You can probably already guess that the U.S. delegation refused to threaten Russia with any meaningful reprise.
“We were astonished, appalled and also saddened,” said Patti Rundall, who works as the policy director of the UK group Baby Milk Action. “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 young child health,” she told The New York Times.
In response to questions, the Trump administration issued a weak statement:
According to The Times,
“The resolution as originally drafted placed unnecessary hurdles for mothers seeking to provide nutrition to their children,” an H.H.S. spokesman said in an email. “We recognize not all women are able to breastfeed for a variety of reasons. These women should have the choice and access to alternatives for the health of their babies, and not be stigmatized for the ways in which they are able to do so.” The spokesman asked to remain anonymous in order to speak more freely.
So not only are they thwarting any attempts to encourage breastfeeding and discourage synthetic formula, the HHS officials are too cowardly to even put their name on the statement justifying it.
But that’s not all, the Trump administration also killed language supportive of soda taxes in another resolution, measures nations with rising obesity rates were pushing for and the soda industry is firmly against. And the Trump administration also went to bat for the pharmaceutical industry and attempted to stop an effort to help provided poor countries with access to lifesaving medicine. Luckily, they failed.
For those keeping score at home, the Trump administration pissed off our allies, weakened our standing in the world, inadvertently (one hopes) strengthened Russia’s influence, and all for a failed attempt to curry favor with… infant formula manufacturers. Ah, the art of the deal!
h/t: New York Times