Global Resolution to Encourage Breastfeeding Met With Intense Opposition by U.S. Delegation by Jessica Acree
Breastmilk is best. It's a researched fact that is hard to refute. It is not a statement meant to exclude, shame or disrespect a mother who is physically unable to breastfeed or those who make a conscious choice to not do it.
Decades of evidence shows impressive, lifelong health benefits for both the child and mother. According to the federal Office of Women's Health, "the cells, hormones, and antibodies in breastmilk help protect babies from illness. This protection is unique and changes every day to meet your baby’s growing needs."
Maternal benefits include a lower risk of breast and ovarian cancers and expedited healing after childbirth. There are simple facts to consider, too. It is free. It is always ready. It is always the right temperature. It contains a balanced mix of fat, sugar, water and protein to help your baby grow. The list goes on.
So, why did the U.S. delegation at the United Nations-affiliated World Health Assembly recently turn to bullying in an attempt to strike down a resolution aimed at encouraging breastfeeding? Some say it's because the resolution says countries should strive to limit the inaccurate or misleading marketing of breastmilk substitutes, like infant formula. According to the New York Times, the $70 billion baby food industry has seen sales flatten in wealthy countries in recent years.
Americans at the assembly reportedly went so far as to threaten trade and military funding relationships with Ecuador, the country who introduced the resolution that most thought would pass easily. Ultimately, Russia stepped in to sponsor the modification and the intensity of challenging it faded quickly.
“We were astonished, appalled and also saddened,” said Patti Rundall, the policy director of the British advocacy 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.”
What do you think about the exchange? Share your thoughts below.