The United States is now, more clearly than ever, under the control of corporations who value profit over health.
At the Geneva World Health Assembly, nations were flummoxed by the United State’s blocking of a “common sense” breastfeeding initiative.
Backed by science that shows that children raised on breast milk are happier, healthier, and have stronger bonds with their mothers, the initiative sought to “promote, protect and support breastfeeding.”
These key portions of the document’s language are what the U.S. sought to remove, likely due in large part to the $70 billion baby-food industry, which is controlled by a few domineering companies mainly based in America and Europe.
When the U.S. backed advances to change this language fell through, the bully-on-the-block sought to target the country who had first planned to introduce the measure. Ecuador, a country wherein 77% of indigenous mothers practice breastfeeding, was threatened by the North American giant: if Ecuador did not acquiesce to American demands, Washington would withdraw critical military support for the country, as well as including the small Latin-American country in its swathe recent trade wars–something their economy (with oil accounting for greater than 40% of export earnings) could not suffer from the same grace as a state like China.
The breastfeeding initiative was only one of several World Health Organization topics the U.S. attempted to thwart, or succeeded in blocking, either due to internal economic pressures, or sheer refusal to accept sound science.
The snack-food extremists from a country with obesity rates of 32.2% and 35.5% for men and women, respectively, also found it within their interests to remove statements that supported so-called “soda-taxes,” ironically targeting a resolution that would greatly benefit over a third of their nation.
To understand this move, one has to merely look at the consumption rates of Americans, and the profit they represent.
According to a 2012 Gallup poll, 48% of surveyed Americans drink soda not only daily, but along the lines of 2-1/2 glasses a day, averaging to an enormous 42 gallons a year, per person.
As soda is the largest source of sugar in diets of children and adolescents, it comes as no surprise that the American Beverage Association (ABA) would throw money at preventing a sugar tax. It’s something they’ve done frequently in the past.
In 2010, when a soda tax was considered in New York, the ABA spent $11 million on lobbying in that state alone over the first six months of the year.
In Washington, when a soda tax of two cents per 12 ounces was passed in 2010, the ABA spent $1 million collecting 400,000 signatures to reverse the decision.
In Richmond, CA, Berkeley, CA, the ABA spent a combined $5 Million over 2012-2014.
In San Francisco, the ABA spent $9.2 Million.
One can only imagine the dollar amounts that the ABA spent lobbying for the blocking of the aforementioned international health recommendation that would have endorsed soda taxes as a way to combat obesity.
So, when we look back on the most recent World Health Assembly and wonder why we see increasing obesity rates, babies with fewer antibodies and lower risk of asthma, we must only look to the United States based companies of Coca-Cola, Pepsico, Dr. Pepper Snapple Group, National Beverage (Shasta and affiliates), and Gerber.
But at the end of the day, it is surely wiser to prioritize the baby-food industry than the 800,000 child deaths per year that universal breastfeeding would promote, or infinitely more reasonable than combating obesity–which now kills more people worldwide than car-crashes. Right?