National WIC Association

Press Release: The National WIC Association Condemns U.S. Opposition to Breastfeeding Resolution

July 11, 2018

The National WIC Association Condemns U.S. Opposition to Breastfeeding Resolution

Press Contact: Natalie Mulloy

WASHINGTON – The New York Times revealed over the weekend that Trump Administration officials sought to defeat a resolution promoting breastfeeding at the United Nations (UN)-affiliated World Health Assembly that took place in May of this year. The resolution, initially proposed by Ecuador, called for nations to “protect, promote, and support breastfeeding.” US negotiators advocated for the removal of the language by threatening Ecuador with trade sanctions and the withdrawal of military aid. The resolution only passed when Russia stepped in as an alternate sponsor.

The public health and scientific communities have expressed outrage over the US’s behavior at this meeting, which flies in the face of decades of public health research demonstrating that breastfeeding is the optimal infant feeding choice. While the administration claims that the World Health Assembly resolution would “place unnecessary hurdles on mothers,” the true reason that the administration attempted to stop this resolution was to advance the interests of the infant formula industry, in yet another demonstration of the increased power of corporations under the Trump Administration.

Rev. Douglas Greenaway, President and CEO of the National WIC Association (NWA), issued the following statement in response to the administration’s recent actions:

“The National WIC Association stands with our public health and breastfeeding support partners in strong opposition to the Trump Administration’s actions. The administration is once again placing the interests of large corporations over the interests babies, mothers, and the public’s health. Instead of bullying other nations at the behest of corporate infant formula lobbyists, the administration should focus on supporting breastfeeding mothers and their babies by promoting secure safe, hygienic, and private spaces for mothers to breastfeed.

“The US’s actions on this issue have implications for the health of millions of babies and their mothers that could be disastrous if the Trump Administration continues to pursue its current path. We must prevent the US from undermining the efforts of WHO and FAO at the nutrition committee meeting this November, and push US and global policy makers to heed science rather than the almighty dollar.”

This is not the first time the administration has attempted to undermine breastfeeding in favor of infant formula interests. At a meeting last December convened by the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), the US advocated strongly for “follow-up formulas” (baby formula marketed for children over six months of age) to be subject to much weaker marketing regulations compared to formulas made for babies in the first six months of life. Conversely, the World Health Organization and World Health Assembly have made clear that follow-up formula is a breastmilk substitute and should be regulated as such.

The same group convened last December and will be meeting again this November to further discuss the regulation of follow-up formulas. Health advocates expect the Trump Administration officials at the November meeting to use the same bullying tactics employed last May to pressure countries into relaxing regulations on the infant formula industry.


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