Canadian breastfeeding advocates say they're stunned by an especially aggressive USA attempt to water down breastfeeding protections at a spring United Nations meeting.
Details of the standoff were revealed in a New York Times report that said the USA forced Ecuador, the resolution's sponsor, to drop the proposal.
"The failing NY Times Fake News story today about breast feeding must be called out".
US officials sought to remove language that called on governments to "protect, promote and support breastfeeding" as well as a separate section that called for governments to restrict the promotion of products that experts agree could cause harm to children.
"What happened was tantamount to blackmail, with the U.S. holding the world hostage and trying to overturn almost 40 years of consensus on the best way to protect infant and young child health", Patti Rundall, a breastfeeding advocate who attended the assembly, told the Times. The specific part of the resolution with which Americans officials reportedly took issue was the language that called on governments to "protect, promote and support breastfeeding", as well a passage that asked policymakers to no longer promote food that could have detrimental effects on the health of young children.
The American delegation was fighting to include the interests of formula manufacturers, even going so far as to threaten normal trade with countries like Ecuador.
A spokesman from the US Department of Health and Human Services told the Times that the original resolution "placed unnecessary hurdles for mothers seeking to provide nutrition to their children".
'These women should have the choice and access to alternatives for the health of their babies, and not be stigmatized for the ways in which they are able to do so'.
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The Times said more than a dozen participants from different countries at the assembly confirmed the "showdown over the issue".
The State Department declined the Times' request to comment and said it could not discuss private diplomatic conversations.
The $70 billion industry, which is dominated by a handful of American and European companies, has seen sales flatten in wealthy countries in recent years, as more women embrace breast-feeding.
An Ecuadorian official said that his government did not anticipate the harshness of America's response.
Health advocates had trouble finding another sponsor who did not fear US "retaliation".
Limiting inaccurate infant formula marketing is most necessary in some of the poorest parts of the world, according to a Guardian investigation published earlier this year in partnership with the global nongovernmental organization Save the Children.