On a global scale, the world faces impending food scarcity due to rapid population growth and the deleterious impact of climate breakdown on food production. In the absence of radical change, the most vulnerable and detrimentally affected could be the 2 billion additional inhabitants expected in the developing nations between now and 2050. A root cause of this future scenario is decreasing breastfeeding rates. As the Sustainable Development Goal of Zero Poverty brings the poor in these regions into the middle-classes, there will be an assimilation of Western dietary patterns such as formula feeding and increased intake of livestock and their by-products. Infant formula, the most common alternative to breastmilk, consequently emerges as a formidable driver in the compromise of global food, energy, and water systems. The enormous, intensive water consumption, extensive use of materials for packaging, high-demand use of energy resources in manufacturing, greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from food miles transportation, and widespread generation of household waste make infant formula production a major environmental concern and a leading contributor to global heating. Exacerbated by population growth, using infant formula to replace breastfeeding irreparably harms societies, economies, and the environment around the world. There is an urgency in addressing the global sustainability impact of using infant formula to replace breastfeeding. It is the purpose of this commentary to demonstrate the social, economic, and environmental costs of using infant formula to replace breastfeeding and provide sufficient evidence to promote breastfeeding as the universal foundation of healthy sustainable diets.
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