"What happened was tantamount to blackmail, with the USA holding the world hostage and trying to overturn almost 40 years of consensus on best way to protect infant and young child health", Patti Rundall, the policy director of the advocacy group Baby Milk Action, told the New York Times.
"The US strongly supports breastfeeding but we don't believe women should be denied access to formula".
USA 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.
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.
The US delegation worked hard, but largely unsuccessfully, to water down a resolution recognizing the importance of breastfeeding for infants and working against misleading attempts to sell substitutes for a mother's milk, the Times reported, citing more than a dozen participants from various countries, many of whom requested anonymity for fear of US retaliation.
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that babies be breastfed for at least six months, but also noted that those younger than that "get everything they need from breast milk or formula".
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 worldwide nongovernmental organization Save the Children.
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The measure was expected to be introduced by Ecuador.
And then the administration that has raised bullying to an art form didn't disappoint, threatening Ecuador, which planned to introduce the measure, with a debilitating trade war and withdrawal of military aid.
"Although lobbyists from the baby food industry attended the meetings in Geneva, health advocates said they saw no direct evidence that they played a role in Washington's strong-arm tactics", The Times reports. The Ecuadorean government quickly acquiesced.
When contacted for a comment, the Department of Health and Human Services said the US stance was in support of mothers who can not breast-feed for various reasons. They found no impact, except under one condition: In communities that lack clean water, access to formula raised infant mortality by 9.4 per 1000 births-essentially, the availability of formula "led to more bad water getting to infants", he said. These are situations during which it has been common to solicit formula donations for the affected countries, says Maaike Arts, an early childhood nutrition specialist with UNICEF.
The $70-billion baby formula industry is dominated by a handful of American and European companies and has seen sales decrease in recent years, as more women embrace breastfeeding, according to the article.
"They also had co-sponsored the original resolution so they were very supportive of the breastfeeding protection mechanisms in the resolution so we really have to commend them for that".
They also sought to hinder World Health Organization efforts to provide lifesaving medications to undeveloped countries.