Elizabeth Amador feeds her 9-month-old daughter at a public clinic on May 12 in West Valley City, Utah.Rick Bowmer (AP)
The President of the United States, Joe Biden, has ordered this Wednesday the Administration several urgent measures to solve the shortage of infant formula, such as invoking the Defense of Production Act to guarantee the necessary ingredients to producers and establishing an airlift to import infant formula from abroad.
These are additional initiatives, although much more specific, to those proposed last week, when the White House directly addressed the issue.
Through this intervention, the Democratic Administration intends to fill the empty shelves of supermarkets and pharmacies and, at the same time, prevent unfair practices and abusive prices that had favored shortages.
Invoking the exceptional federal law of 1950, enacted at the beginning of the Korean War and which constitutes the main resource in the hands of a president to expedite the supply of basic materials and services, Biden seeks to ensure that manufacturers have the ingredients necessary to make a safe and healthy infant formula in the US Through this law, the president requires suppliers to direct the necessary resources to manufacturers of infant formula before any other customer.
In short, prioritize and allocate the production of key inputs to increase production and accelerate the transmission of distribution chains.
In a letter to those responsible for Agriculture and Health, as well as the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the president asks them to "promptly identify each and every one of the ways to accelerate the importation of safe infant formula to the United States.
Biden also urges them to work “with the Department of Defense to charter planes” that bring infant formula to the United States “that meets the health and safety standards of our Government.”
“This will ensure that we are using all the tools available to American families to have faster access to the infant formula they need,” underlines the Democrat.
The shortage of formula for infants has caused two serious cases in recent weeks, of two separate babies with specific nutritional needs who, given the non-existence of the prescribed brands, were fed with other alternative products.
Both had to be hospitalized, although one has already been discharged.
Both cases have occurred in the State of Tennessee, one of the most affected by the deficit, which reaches almost 50% of the stocks in the country.
As Biden points out in the letter, baby formula imports will serve as a bridgehead to accelerate production.
The shortage, caused directly but not only by the closure of an Abbott laboratory factory due to contamination -with 48% of the national market share, in the hands of four firms-, has caused serious headaches for hundreds of thousands of parents, thrown on the road in search of the formula that their babies take or some alternative.
It has also forced major retail chains to ration.
Regarding the airlift, the White House urges the departments involved to rely on Defense, and to use its contracts with commercial air cargo lines, as was done during the first months of the pandemic to quickly import medical supplies ( then-President Donald Trump also used the 1950 law).
Bypassing regular air freight routes will speed the importation and distribution of formula and serve as immediate support as manufacturers continue to ramp up production.
Biden was about to resort to this national security law, key to guaranteeing the activity of critical sectors, last year, when bottlenecks in supply chains began to manifest themselves, which in many cases temporarily paralyzed key economic sectors such as the the automotive
Also when he put the ports to work 24 hours a day, to avoid those bottlenecks that ultimately influenced inflation.
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