In August the hypocritical moralizing of the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) was on full display when it condemned the federal government’s Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee simply because some of its members had received funding from industry groups — while at the same time recommending scientists who also received industry funding, but happened to share CSPI’s agenda. Now CSPI’s glass house has been shattered by a devastating open letter to its grand high inquisitor of dietary virtue, Michael Jacobson.
Writing in Nutrition Close-Up, a publication of the Egg Nutrition Center, Dr. Donald J. McNamara savages Jacobson for the “character assassination” involved in his “self-aggrandizing” attack on the Dietary Guidelines scientists. This, McNamara writes, is an example “of the intolerant attitude and irrational knee-jerk judgementalism expected from CSPI.”
CSPI nonchalantly disparaged these scientists’ reputations, McNamara continues, not because “they fail to be in the top tier of research scientists, educators, mentors, and leaders” but because “they are open minded and associate with CORPORATIONS!” McNamara concludes with this heartfelt denunciation aimed squarely at Jacobson:
I’ve had grants from anyone who’d fund me (meat, milk, eggs, NIH, USDA, AHA, foundations, and family — if they had offered) as long as they honored my professionalism. I served on advisory panels for everything from eggs to avocados. But the studies were mine, the data were mine, the analysis and interpretation of the data were mine, and the writing was mine. No one told me what to think or say or do. I’ve trained 10 PhD and 3 MS students, published 92 peer-reviewed papers, 26 book chapters, 13 symposium proceedings, and served on a variety of panels and committees. Today I am proud to be funded by the egg industry using science and facts to correct the damage done by you and your paternalistic colleagues who would ban eggs along with almost everything else.
So tell me, Mike, what new knowledge have you generated from original research? Who of the next generation of scientists have you mentored? How many students have you taught? How much service and leadership have you provided to your profession? You try to negate the honor and character of those you don’t even know. They are just media fodder for the CSPI donation machine. They are “biased” because they do not fall into lock-step with your dogmatic beliefs, they do not succumb to your media-hyped scare tactics, and they do not suffer fools who unashamedly proclaim, “CSPI is proud about finding something wrong with practically everything.” (Washingtonian magazine, February 1994). [Reminds me of the TV ad, “Give it to Mikey, he hates everything.”] Well, you clearly did the best members of the scientific community a disservice raising bogus concerns and questions with media-hyped charges of bias and conflict of interest directed at those who really are serving their profession and the public. But then again, those of us who take science and truth seriously understand why you do what you do. To paraphrase an old saying “Those who can, do. Those who can’t, bitch about those who can.”