Jul 23, 2018
Early in July, the U.S. Government, with a strong arm-bending attitude, aimed to block the United Nations-affiliated World Health Assembly from issuing a resolution that says that mother's milk is healthiest for children, and that countries should strive to limit the inaccurate or misleading marketing of breast milk substitutes, according to the New York Times. This was unprecedented.
The resolution that promotes breast-feeding was expected to be approved quickly and easily by the hundreds of government delegates who gathered in Geneva. After all, more than 40 years of research has demonstrated that mother's milk is the best way to protect her infant's and young child's health. Consensus was that the breast milk provides essential nutrients, hormones and antibodies that protect newborns against diseases, infectious or otherwise. A 2016 scientific study found that breast-feeding would prevent 800,000 child deaths a year worldwide and save $300 billion by reducing health care costs.
Nobody was disagreeing with this consensus, except the U.S. Government. First, the U.S. officials sought to water down the resolution by changing its language. When that failed, they resorted to threats. These officials blackmailed dozens of countries with trade sanctions. Such bullying attempts failed and the resolution was passed.
The baby-food and formula industry is huge, worth $70 billion worldwide. A handful of American and European companies, like Heinz and Nestle, dominate this lucrative business. But, sales of baby food have not been increasing in wealthy countries as fast as these companies were expecting. Less wealthy and poor countries could be targets of these companies' marketing efforts to increase their sales.
Apparently this resolution advocating the use of breast milk to replace baby food was going against the money making interests of these companies. In Geneva, the U.S. Government was acting as a henchman for these companies in promoting their profits over babies’ health.