The Center for Consumer Freedom sent letters today to the nation’s 75 largest school boards, warning about a radical animal rights group that is posing as a health organization. Yesterday the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM) wrote school foodservice directors all across the U.S., urging them to serve exclusively vegetarian meals as a response to recent news about mad cow disease.

Most school boards will be surprised to learn that PCRM has been exposed as a front organization for People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), and has been formally censured in the past by the American Medical Association for “misrepresenting medical science.” PCRM has accepted more than $1.3 million in funding from PETA and other animal rights organizations. The group’s president co-chairs the PETA Foundation with PETA president Ingrid Newkirk.

“Despite its name, the ‘Physicians Committee’ is not a health charity. Less than five percent of PCRM’s members have medical degrees,” Richard Berman, Executive Director of Center for Consumer Freedom, warned in his letter to school board members. “The rest are virulent animal rights activists, intent on abusing Americans’ good will toward doctors in the pursuit of ‘animal liberation.’ PCRM’s constant demands for a vegetarian America are rooted in an animal-rights philosophy.”

Berman also assured school board members that the risk of mad cow disease is minimal. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that Americans’ real risk is on the order of one in 10 billion—about the same as winning the lottery and being struck by lightning on the same day. He noted that PCRM has adopted PETA’s tactic of manipulating the nation’s school system in order to indoctrinate impressionable children into an animal-rights-friendly vegetarian lifestyle.

“PCRM’s goal is the same as PETA’s,” Berman wrote: “to remove beef, pork, chicken, eggs, milk, and cheese from school lunches, regardless of scientific risk assessments or the likely impact on children’s health. The food served in America’s schools has a tremendous impact on the development of our nation’s children. When school boards, superintendents, and foodservice directors make choices about what to serve, the stakes are high. So when you receive unorthodox demands from groups with benign-sounding names, it may be useful to consider the source.”

The Center for Consumer Freedom response letter follows.

The Center for Consumer Freedom is a nonprofit coalition supported by restaurants, food companies, and consumers working together to promote personal responsibility and protect consumer choices.

The Center for Consumer Freedom’s response letter

February 11, 2004

Dear School Board Member,

Today a Washington, DC organization called the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM) sent a letter to officials in your school district, asking them to “replace beef and other meaty items” with vegetarian meals as a response to the recent news about mad cow disease.

In media reports and Congressional testimony, PCRM has been exposed as an affiliate of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA). The well-known radical animal-rights group has contributed nearly $1 million to PCRM; the groups also share office space, board members, and staff.

When PETA declares that serving meat and dairy foods to middle-schoolers is “a form of child abuse,” it’s clear that the group is motivated not by human health, but by a desire to see farm animals elevated to the status enjoyed by people. But sometimes, when the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine uses similar rhetoric, it’s more difficult to see past the white lab coats to the extreme agenda hiding in the shadows.

Despite its name, the “Physicians Committee” is not a health charity. Less than five percent of PCRM’s members have medical degrees. The rest are virulent animal rights activists, intent on abusing Americans’ good will toward doctors in the pursuit of “animal liberation.” PCRM’s constant demands for a vegetarian America are rooted in an animal-rights philosophy.

The American Medical Association (AMA) has formally censured PCRM in the past, calling its recommendations “irresponsible” and “potentially dangerous to the health and welfare of Americans.” The AMA has also called PCRM a “fringe organization” that uses “unethical tactics” and is “interested in perverting medical science.”

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that Americans’ real risk of mad-cow infection is on the order of 1 in 10 billion—about the same as winning the lottery and being struck by lightning on the same day. Given this reality, any suggestion that beef should be banished from school cafeterias is needlessly cynical.

And with respect to kids, PCRM’s goal is the same as PETA’s: to remove beef, pork, chicken, eggs, milk, and cheese from school lunches, regardless of scientific risk assessments or the likely impact on children’s health.

The food served in America’s schools has a tremendous impact on the development of our nation’s children. When school boards, superintendents, and foodservice directors make choices about what to serve, the stakes are high. So when you receive unorthodox demands from groups with benign-sounding names, it may be useful to consider the source.

If I can be of any assistance as you consider the political forces weighing on your school district’s meal-planning decisions, I hope you won’t hesitate to contact me. A complete backgrounder on the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine can be found online at www.ActivistCash.com.

Sincerely,

Richard Berman

Executive Director
The Center for Consumer Freedom