CREW filed three expedited requests for records containing communications between State Department, Office of the US Trade Representative (USTR) and US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) officials, and various infant formula manufacturers.
The New York Times reported that during a meeting this spring of the World Health Assembly, the US delegation attempted to weaken a resolution encouraging breastfeeding in a radical departure from past support, which “stunned public health officials and foreign delegates[.]” In an effort to advance the business interests of infant formula manufacturers, the American officials reportedly went so far as to threaten Ecuador with retaliatory trade measures and withdrawal of military aid if the country did not drop their planned introduction of the resolution encouraging breastfeeding. HHS was identified as “the lead agency in the effort[.]” The American delegation ultimately backed down on its effort to weaken the resolution when it was introduced by the Russian delegation.
President Trump labeled the New York Times story about the U.S. delegation’s pressure on Ecuador “Fake News” in a recent tweet.
The requested records would shed light on the extent to which the opposition of the U.S. to the resolution resulted from lobbying efforts of infant formula manufacturers to advance their corporate interests. The requested records are also likely to reveal whether President Trump’s claim is correct that the story is “fake news,” or whether the New York Times article accurately describes the actions and position of the US delegation. Read the requests below: