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There is wide agreement that policy should be based on evidence. Indeed, a useful trick in any policy negotiation is to demand solid evidence in support of your opponents’ positions. This has created a growth industry for academics as well as generating a range of spurious methodologies. Sometimes though, the tactic can backfire. So spare a thought for the US health policy negotiators at the recent UN World Health Assembly (WHA). They always have a tough time with a health community that naively puts the public good ahead of details like industrial profitability and national trade balances. And, this year, they had to deal with emotive proposals to place new global curbs on the marketing of baby foods. This issue has a history. When it comes to feeding young babies, there is consensus that "breast is best". Despite this, it has long been alleged that the world’s food companies have tried to encourage new mothers to do otherwise. As a result, a global campaign was launched in the 197...

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