President Donald Trump tweeted Monday criticizing The New York Times story that said his administration pressured less wealthy countries not to propose a resolution encouraging breastfeeding.
According to The New York Times, the American delegation to the World Health Assembly in Geneva tried to threaten and bully poorer countries in Africa and Latin America not to introduce the resolution, which was based on decades of widely accepted research that says mother's milk is healthiest for children and nations should try to limit misleading marketing of breast milk substitutes.
The American move was apparently an attempt to protect the interests of infant formula manufacturers. Sales in the industry have been flat in wealthy countries in recent years, as more women embrace breastfeeding, although global sales are expected to rise by four percent in 2018.
The resolution was eventually passed, but only after the Russian government reintroduced the measure.
Critics slammed back at Trump, the UK's Independent reported.
Lucy Sullivan, executive director of 1,000 Days, a group seeking to improve nutrition for babies, said the threats amounted to "public health versus private profit. What is at stake: breastfeeding saves women and children's lives. It is also bad for the multibillion-dollar global infant formula (and dairy) business."
Moms Rising, a group trying to achieve economic security for mothers in the US, called the American government's move "stunning and shameful," adding "We must do everything we can to advocate for public policies that support and empower breastfeeding moms."
Patti Rundall, policy director for Baby Milk Action, told the Times: "We were astonished, appalled and also saddened. 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."
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