NEW YORK: Faced with a public outcry about newborn food shortages and an election coming up in less than five months, US President Joe Biden has taken the unprecedented step of invoking a law designed to ensure national security needs to address the situation.
Using the Defense Production Act, Biden instructed ingredient suppliers to prioritise makers of infant formula and authorised the use of Defense Department planes to transport it from abroad on Wednesday.
Infant formula is a powder or concentrated liquid that is used to make a milk-like liquid for babies under the age of one. Some of them are designed specifically for allergic newborns.
"Disruption affects the continuous functioning of the national infant formula supply chain, undermining critical infrastructure that is essential to the national defence, particularly to national public health and safety," Biden said in a statement. Biden, who has been widely chastised for the infant food shortages, invoked the Defense Production Act while attending a UN meeting on global food shortages held by Secretary of State Antony Blinken.
During the Korean War in 1950, the law was passed to safeguard defence supplies.
Former President Donald Trump also used it to help expand medical equipment and supplies production in response to the Covid epidemic.