Tuesday, July 10, 2018

The American Bully

The Donald Trump government are not adverse to bullying small countries – ready to use strong-arm tactics to have their way. Unashamedly shameless.

A resolution to encourage breast-feeding was tabled and then expected to be approved promptly by the hundreds of government delegates who gathered for the United Nations-affiliated World Health Assembly in Geneva, Switzerland. 

We all know that mother’s milk is healthiest for children and countries should strive to limit the inaccurate or misleading marketing of breast milk substitutes. And decades of research support this stance. 

Then shockingly, the United States delegation, presumably embracing the interests of infant formula manufacturers, upended the deliberations – according to The New York TImes on Sunday. 

We were told that American officials sought to blunt the resolution by deleting language that called on governments to “protect, promote and support breast-feeding” and another passage that called on policymakers to restrict the promotion of food products that many experts say can have deleterious effects on young children. 

When that failed, they turned to threats, according to diplomats and government officials who took part in the discussions. 

Ecuador, which had planned to introduce the measure, was the first to find themselves targeted. 

The Americans were blunt: If Ecuador refused to drop the resolution, Washington would unleash punishing trade measures and withdraw crucial military aid. 

The Ecuadorean government quickly acquiesced. 

The showdown over the issue was recounted by more than a dozen participants from a couple of countries, many of whom had requested anonymity because they feared retaliation from Big Brother. 

Health advocates scrambled to find another sponsor for the resolution – but at least a dozen countries, most of them from Africa and Latin America, backed off – intimidated by threats of reprisals. 

The above is tantamount to blackmail – the sole global superpower holding the world hostage and trying to overturn nearly 40 years of consensus on the best way to protect infant and young child health. 

Fortunately, the Americans’ efforts failed to gain traction. 

The Russians came to the rescue – they ultimately stepped in to introduce the measure. The US delegation shut up and did not threaten them. 

The confrontation was not the only example of the Trump administration siding with corporate interests on public health and environmental issues. 

During the same Geneva meeting where the breast-feeding resolution was debated, they succeeded in removing statements supporting soda taxes from a document that advises countries grappling with soaring rates of obesity. 

The Americans also sought, unsuccessfully, to thwart a WHO effort aimed at helping poor countries obtain access to lifesaving medicines. Washington, supporting the pharmaceutical industry, has long resisted calls to modify patent laws as a way of increasing drug availability in the developing world – but health advocates say the Americans have ratcheted up their opposition to these efforts. 

Even in talks to renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement, the Americans have been pushing for language that would limit the ability of member countries to put warning labels on junk food and sugary beverages, according to a draft of the proposal reviewed by The New York Times. 

Donald Trump is a danger to the world.

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