Trial lawyer ringleader John “Sue the Bastards” Banzhaf was there. So were Kelly “Big Brother” Brownell and top food cop Michael Jacobson. As usual, Marion Nestle — infamous for saying America has too much food — was also among the nutritional nags who played starring roles in a Los Angeles Times feature on obesity warriors yesterday. And, of course, CCF was there, too, offering an oasis of sanity in a storm of obesity hysteria. But most notable was the inclusion of Neal Barnard, described simply as “an advocate of low-fat eating.” The Times reveals next to nothing about Barnard and his Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM), so we thought it might be useful to offer a PCRM primer. What follows are seven things you should take into account when you hear about this so-called doctors organization.
PCRM is an animal rights group disguised as a health organization.
Its primary goal is to remove meat and dairy foods from our diet by demonizing them as “unhealthy.” People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals has already steered more than $1.3 million to PCRM. Animal People News wrote in 2002 that PETA and PCRM are so closely connected that they should be considered “a single fundraising unit.”
The American Medical Association (AMA) has formally censured PCRM for misrepresenting medical science.
Despite the overwhelming scientific consensus to the contrary, PCRM continues to insist (along with other animal rights groups) that animals are not needed for clinical research that might cure AIDS or cancer. At least one official AMA policy statement condemning PCRM for this position is still in force.
A PCRM spokesman called for political assassinations.
PCRM representatives frequently appear as featured speakers at animal-rights events. When Dr. Jerry Vlasak addressed the “Animal Rights 2003” convention as a PCRM spokesperson, he openly advocated murdering doctors whose research requires the use of animals. “I don’t think you’d have to kill — assassinate — too many,” Vlasak told the assembled activists. “I think for 5 lives, 10 lives, 15 human lives, we could save a million, 2 million, 10 million non-human lives.”
Barnard co-signed a series of threatening letters in 2001 with Kevin Jonas, the recently indicted leader of a violent animal rights campaign called SHAC (“Stop Huntingdon Animal Cruelty”).
SHAC is described by the U.S. Department of Justice as a “domestic terrorism threat.” The co-signed letters advised companies in 32 states and 8 foreign countries to pull their business from a biomedical research laboratory (targeted by SHAC) which uses animals in a small portion of its work.
Barnard is not a nutritionist, a registered dietician or an endocrinologist.
PCRM is 95-percent medically untrained.
PCRM boasts that its membership includes 5,000 doctors and 100,000 laypersons — an admission that more than 95 percent of the “Physicians Committee” never went to medical school. But PCRM offers a free “membership” and magazine subscription to anyone claiming to be a doctor, so the “5,000” number may be artificially inflated by medical professionals who sign up for the free waiting-room literature.
Charity starts anywhere but with PCRM.
PCRM discourages Americans from making donations to health charities like the American Heart Association, the American Cancer Society, St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, the American Foundation for AIDS Research, the Christopher Reeve Paralysis Foundation, and the American Red Cross — solely because they support disease research that requires animals.