"U.S. Opposition to Breast-Feeding Resolution Stuns World Health Officials", blared the article's headline. At least a dozen countries in Africa and Latin America reportedly declined to support the measure over fears of retaliation.
"The failing NY Times Fake News story today about breast feeding must be called out", Trump tweeted. The resolution was expected to pass easily, but US delegates aimed to remove language that encouraged countries to "protect, promote and support breast-feeding" in an alleged alignment with baby formula manufacturers. "Many women need this option because of malnutrition and poverty", Trump tweeted Monday.
At first, the US delegation tried to just water down the language in the resolution, but when that didn't work, they began to threaten and bully countries who were supporting the resolution.
Media are reporting on how the USA threatened Ecuador with trade sanctions if it did not back off a resolution meant to promote breastfeeding around the world at a Geneva convention this spring for the United Nations' World Health Assembly.
Threats to end vital United States military aid and punishing trade measures forced the Ecuador delegates to drop out.
Caitlin Oakley, a spokeswoman for the Department of Health and Human Services, said it's "patently false" to portray the USA position as "anti-breastfeeding".
"We recognise not all women are able to breastfeed for a variety of reasons". It added that "not all women are able to breastfeed", and they "should have the choice and access to alternatives". Ecuador quickly dropped its support for the resolution.
Russian Federation ultimately sponsored the resolution and the American delegation did not issue any threats to the country.
The US State Department has refused to comment on the report.
The confrontation was the latest example of the Trump administration siding with corporate interests on numerous public health and environmental issues.
Between 21 and 26 May 2018, the World Health Organization (WHO) held their 71st World Health Assembly, which is attended by delegates from all WHO member state and serves as that organization's primary decision-making body. Critics of the breast milk substitute industry contend that those companies use aggressive and potentially illegal marketing tactics that encourage mothers to abandon breastfeeding in favor of commercial products.
'We're not trying to be a hero here, but we feel that it is wrong when a big country tries to push around some very small countries, especially on an issue that is really important for the rest of the world, ' the diplomat said.
The 2016 discussion was about extending the ban of marketing food supplements to children as old as three years of age. So when U.S. representatives launched their surprise attack, the world could only read it as open support for the $70 billion formula industry, whose sales have been tapering off. Four decades of research have shown that breast milk is more beneficial for infants that formula.