Of the many issues the United Nations is currently faced with, one topic that the U.S. delegation chose to stand firm in is breastfeeding. A resolution to support the breastfeeding of infants was vigorously challenged by the U.S. representatives in Geneva for the World Health Assembly, a move that went to the extent of issuing threats, according to reports.
The body of research work supporting the idea that a mother's milk is still the best choice for babies span decades, as the New York Times pointed out. While the debate is more or less firmly settled on this aspect, the part of the resolution calling for countries to limit the "misleading" marketing of breast milk substitutes met with opposition from the U.S. members of the delegation.
According to diplomats and government officials who oversaw the debate, American members sought changes for the part of the World Health resolution that called on its member nations to "protect, promote and support breast-feeding."
The part where the resolution called for controls on the promotion of alternative food products, in particular, met with opposition from the U.S. delegation. The move is seen to be their way of acting in behalf of infant formula manufacturers, according to the Times.
The US delegation reportedly threatened Ecuador that if it did not drop the resolution in its current form, Washington would retaliate by pulling out vital military aid, on top of slapping on heavy trade measures, according to CNN.
Ecuador would quickly drop sponsorship of the resolution, faced with the threats, along with at least a dozen other countries who avoided getting involved now that the U.S. members have threatened sanctions.
With Russia eventually re-introducing the resolution, however, the U.S. was limited to blunting the language used in the passage calling for a stop of "inappropriate promotion of foods for infants and young children," by adding the qualifier "evidence-based" to parts of the resolution.