Izzy Snoutstein and Rachel Gutterberg, president and vice president of the Washington Effective Legislative Action (WELA) are celebrating in their K Street NW office in the nation’s capital. They can’t tire of high-fiving each other.
WELA represents infant formula-milk manufacturers and marketers. Client anonymity refrains them from naming their clients. The $70 billion infant formula industry can’t afford to lose.
It was their lobbying that made the United States threaten nations in an effort to blunt a resolution supporting breastfeeding this spring at the 71st meeting of the World Health Assembly, the decision-making body of the World Health Organization in May.
The U.S., the New York Times said July 9, threatened retribution on trade and military aid to Ecuador to get it to drop the resolution and at least a dozen countries also avoided the resolution out of fear of the U.S. The U.S. delegation also reportedly suggested cutting U.S. funding for the World Health Organization.
“Phew, Izzy, we got it through. This resolution was calling on governments to protect, promote and support breast-feeding in order to void enriching formula manufacturers,” beamed Gutterberg.
“I know that eventually, Russia introduced the resolution, and we were unable to blunt the measure, but our delegation successfully struck language calling for the international health body to provide technical support for nations seeking to stop ‘inappropriate promotion of foods for infants and young children,’ and added the phrase ‘evidence based’ to certain provisions.
“This is good news.
“You know what we did to that anti-Semitic UN Human Rights Council. Now this World Health Assembly’s days are numbered.
“Rachel, you really put it very strongly that if this resolution was adopted women would be denied access to formula milk. Here the Times says that spokesperson from the our Department of Health and Human Services told them that the original resolution placed unnecessary hurdles for mothers seeking to provide nutrition to their children.
“The spiel on women being denied access to formula was a winner.
“And yes, the resolution also talked against misleading attempts to sell substitutes for a mother’s milk. It was awful.
“And what about our clients getting all that formula milk business with immigrant children separated from their mothers and put in internment camps. Whoa!
“We can’t stop here because there are studies like that breast milk provides antibodies to babies that helps prevent deadly infections, and also that babies who breast feed have lower incidences of obesity, diabetes, and asthma later in life.
“We have to go into science and get a few studies going that formula milk is better than human milk.
“We have an excellent example when the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse (NIAAA) and Alcoholism, one of the 27 institutes and centers that comprise the National Institutes of Health (NIH) of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services issued the U.S. guidelines that say men can safely drink twice as much as women. The threshold for low-risk drinking, the researchers, they said, found, is about seven beers a week for men and women alike. The best of all NIAAA courted the alcohol industry to finance the 10-year $100 million study that could change the American diet, a huge clinical trial that might have well delivered all the medical evidence needed to recommend a daily alcoholic drink as part of a healthy lifestyle.
“Why can’t we! We got to set pronto on preparing a brief for our clients about courting NIH hosting a study paid for by us on the positives of formula milk.
“I am told that a study came out of Florida Atlantic University that pregnancy escalates oxytocin levels and that breastfeeding releases oxytocin, which have anti-depressive effects. Fine, but we have all kinds of antidepressants … Zoloft … Prozac, and you name it,” declared Snoutsetin raising both hands to signal a touchdown.
“Izzy, what a remarkable observation. We can get the pharma industry on this too. Of course there are many of them in the milk producing too … you have Nestlé, Abbott, Mead Johnson and Wyeth, and more. The industries are intertwined and we have a government that walked more than a mile for us. Our pharmaceuticals generate $446 billion. We can do a study that works for us.
“We could spread, Izzy. You read what Macron of France told the BBC in Nigeria a few days that it is overpopulation that causes the refugee crisis. So, we have another positive in our favor that encouraging universal breast-feeding would prevent 800,000 child deaths a year. I am sure they are talking about Third or Fourth world babies, not Americans! Do we need another 800,000 refugees?
“We can get all enviros on our side because dairy cow flatulence is increasingly being targeted in the fight against global warming. We can get studies to show how little of bovine products go into formula milk. And why not adults too drinking an adult version of formula milk, which results in reducing use of bovine milk!
“We got to get that NIH study on and now to instill the fear of human milk. Fear is the word!
“Our salvation lies in formula milk,” beamed Rachel Gutterberg triumphantly like a child finding the tooth fairy’s largesse under her pillow.