Donald Trump defends US position on baby formula

Bloomberg via Getty Images

Bloomberg via Getty Images

The Department of Health and Human Services, which tried to change the wording of the resolution, denies that it was involved in making threats against Ecuador.

The resolution simply put forth that mother's milk is the healthiest option for infants and that countries should work to limit any misleading or inaccurate advertising by makers of breast-milk substitutes.

"The resolution as originally drafted placed unnecessary hurdles for mothers seeking to provide nutrition to their children", an HHS spokesman said in an email. The Ecuadorean government quickly acquiesced.

American officials allegedly sought to remove the language pushing for global government support of breastfeeding practices and attacked countries that were in favour of it. The newspaper said that "the Americans did not threaten them".

According to the Times report on Sunday based on interviews with dozens of meeting participants, U.S. negotiations in Geneva objected to the resolution encouraging breastfeeding around the world and allegedly resorted to intimidation tactics to bully other countries into dropping it. Their sales have increased, however, in developing countries.

Vanity Fair said the USA delegation's move was proof that it values "profits over health and bulls*** over facts", defining our representatives as "thugs".

Officials also reportedly threatened to cut U.S. aid to the World Health Organization - over $118m (£89m) this year, which amounts to roughly 15% of the organisation's annual budget.

However, as the New York Times' resident Trump Whisperer Maggie Haberman highlighted, while "calling out" the report, Trump actually confirmed its contents.

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The Times characterized the dispute at the World Health Assembly as "the latest example of the Trump administration siding with corporate interests on numerous public health and environmental issues".

Fearing retaliation, several other countries backed away from the measure as well, according to the report.

Health officials who had advocated for the resolution in favor of breast milk were shocked, they said.

The resolution ultimately passed in a compromised form, removing language that called on the World Health Organization to support countries trying to stop "inappropriate promotion of foods for infants and young children".

Elisabeth Sterken, director of the Infant Feeding Action Coalition in Canada, said four decades of research have established the importance of breast milk, which provides essential nutrients as well as hormones and antibodies that protect newborns against infectious disease.

A common argument promoted by the breast milk substitute industry frames the issue as one of access and choice.

Abbott Laboratories, the Chicago-based company that is one of the biggest players in the US$70 billion baby food market, declined to comment.

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