Filed Under: Food Police

Hypocritical Food Cops Preach ‘Integrity’, Part I

An expert panel from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) has spoken, and it's bad news for the self-described "food cops" at the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI). One year after CSPI filed an error-riddled petition with the FDA claiming that "dietary Acrylamide causes an estimated 8,900 cancers per year," the NIH panel concluded that people don't eat nearly enough acrylamide to cause concern. In other words, you can't get cancer from eating French fries, as CSPI had claimed. The NIH panel included Clark University professor Dale Hattis; CSPI quoted him in a 2002 press release, warning that "acrylamide causes several thousand cancers per year in Americans." But now even Hattis is siding with scientists instead of CSPI. (See page 3 of the committee's report for the full list of signatories). This rebuke by top health officials comes as CSPI readies for its second conference on "Integrity in Science." CSPI's "Integrity in Science" project is ostensibly concerned with the potential conflict of interest that researchers might have when their funding comes from business groups. But many of CSPI's own campaigns — including those heavily reliant on junk science — are susceptible to CSPI's own conflict of interest charges. For example, CSPI had a $65,000 incentive to bash the fat substitute Olestra, and it accepted over $100,000 from the Park Foundation to work on its anti-food-additives project. In 2001, the reliably anti-alcohol Robert Wood Johnson Foundation gave CSPI $749,999 for an anti-alcohol jihad. You can expect this year's "Integrity in Science" conference to be another orgy of anti-business whining, even though CSPI seems not to mind corporate cash going to its own favorite researchers. While calling on the federal government's Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee to "replace the most industry-funded members," CSPI recommended one researcher who received funding from pharmaceutical companies on more than 20 occasions. CSPI's war on the foods we love relies heavily upon questionable obesity statistics. Where do those figures come from? They are generated by some of the very same scientists whom CSPI includes in its "Integrity in Science" database for receiving funding from businesses. As a former editor-in-chief of the New England Journal of Medicine told the Center for Consumer Freedom:

Physicians have been extensively involved with the pharmaceutical industry, especially opinion leaders and those in the high ranks of academia. The involvement was in many instances quite deep. It involved consulting, service on speaker's bureaus, and service on advisory boards. And at the same time some of these financially conflicted individuals were producing obesity materials, lectures, and obesity articles in major journals. [emphasis added]

CSPI's own "Integrity in Science" website reveals the extent to which drug companies heap money on obesity researchers — the same researchers CSPI cites to keep obesity hysteria alive. In tomorrow's Daily Headline, we'll tell you who some of those researchers are.

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