1999: The Year in Review
The year brought a continuing firestorm of controversy over massive animal testing programs promoted by Vice President Al Gore and the Environmental Protection Agency. The first, called the High Production Volume Challenge, aims to use hundreds of thousands of animals to test industrial chemicals that are produced in large quantity. On June 17, PCRM president Neal D. Barnard, M.D., testified before the House Committee on Energy and the Environment that many of these chemicals had, in fact, already been tested. After an intensive campaign that united physicians, animal protection groups, and concerned people nationwide, Gore and the EPA agreed to incorporate more nonanimal tests and reduce animal use. Efforts to kill the program are ongoing.
The second Gore/EPA program, the "Child Health Testing Program," is designed to use animal tests to see how much of various chemicals children should be expected to tolerate. PCRM's Murry Cohen, M.D., Andrew Breslin, and Mindy Kursban presented a more sensible proposal to the EPA. The PCRM approach uses no animals at all and instead identifies chemicals that are in food, air, and water, and aims to reduce these exposures to zero or as close to it as possible. The PCRM plan has won the enthusiastic support of environmentalists, child health advocates, and animal protection groups.
More Medical Schools Drop Animal Labs: PCRM's program to replace animal labs in medical schools with nonanimal teaching methods came closer to its goal as more schools made the switch. Robert Wood Johnson Medical School in New Brunswick, N.J., Virginia Commonwealth University School of Medicine, the University of Missouri at Columbia, and Technion University in Haifa, Israel, dropped all animal laboratories from their medical teaching curricula, after considerable encouragement from PCRM's Murry Cohen, M.D., Jennifer Drone, and Steven Ragland.
PCRM's Advances in Medical Education, filmed in cooperation with Harvard University, won the bronze award at the Houston International Film Festival. The program profiles Harvard Medical School's unique teaching program that brings students into the human operating room, replacing the school's dog labs.
Military animal experiments were again scrutinized as PCRM doctors assisted the General Accounting Office (GAO) with its ongoing investigation. After PCRM testified at hearings in 1992 and 1994, Congress insisted that the military disclose details of its animal experiments. The new GAO report found that, as of 1999, it was still hard to tell just what is going on in military labs. The Department of Defense again agreed to clean up its reporting.
© 2000, PHOTODISC
Gruesome animal experiments funded by the March of Dimes and the tobacco industry were exposed by PCRM's Murry Cohen, M.D., Andrew Breslin, and Steven Ragland. The March of Dimes had supported Duke University nicotine experimenter Ed Levin, who studied the effects of nicotine on pregnant rats and their offspring. Levin, who turned out to be also heavily financed by the tobacco industry, ended up promoting nicotine's "benefits." Meanwhile, activists in more than 100 cities, coordinated by Andrew Breslin, distributed 60,000 fliers at March of Dimes fund-raising walks while airplanes in six cities flew banners asking the charity to stop its gruesome experiments.
PCRM reached hundreds of physicians and students at the American College of Surgeons, the American Medical Student Association, the International Trauma Anesthesia and Critical Care Society, and the American Medical Women's Association conferences. Thanks to Ray Greek, M.D., Christine Dehlendorf, Jennifer Rupert, Peggy Hilden, Lisa Lynch, Laurel Kadish, and Jennifer Drone.
More and more members are supporting PCRM's efforts through planned gifts, annuities, and bequest provisions that benefit PCRM's programs and donors as well. Development director Peggy Hilden helps members understand these wonderful options. PCRM's development, member services, campaign mailings, and tireless outreach efforts were coordinated by Peggy Hilden, Rod Weaver, Lisa Lynch, Laurel Kadish, Deniz Corcoran, Sossena Dagne, Nabila Abdulwahab, and Godfrey Fernando.
PCRM championed healthy eating habits in creative, scientifically well-founded campaigns.
PCRM's hard-hitting ad ran in the Washington, D.C., metro system as the federal Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee convened in the nation's capital, showing the surprising findings of the Harvard Nurses' Health Study that those women getting the most calcium from dairy products had nearly double the hip fracture rate, compared to women who got little or no dairy calcium. The ad also ran in newspapers across the country.
Reforming Federal Food Policy:PCRM's Milton Mills, M.D., and PCRM president Neal Barnard, M.D., testified before the federal Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee in March, pointing out that current food guides favoring meat and dairy products risk the health of all Americans, and especially so for population groups most affected by hypertension, heart disease, diabetes, obesity, and other diet-related diseases. The PCRM doctors presented letters of endorsement from Martin Luther King, III; Jesse Jackson, Jr.; the Congressional Black Caucus; former Surgeon General Joycelyn Elders, M.D.; the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP); Muhammad Ali; and many others.
Also in March, a PCRM press conference pointed out that the inability to digest the milk sugar lactose is both normal and very common among people of African, Asian, Native American, Hispanic, or Mediterranean heritage. PCRM's Milton Mills, M.D., and Deborah Bernal, M.D., were joined by Ramkishan Rao, Ph.D., and called on the federal government to make milk strictly optional in school lunches and other federal food programs.
"Tonight, Make It Vegetarian—Do It for Someone You Love." PCRM's powerful new television and magazine ad campaign encouraged people to include more vegetarian meals in their routines, for both their own health and that of their loved ones. Featuring actor Keenen Ivory Wayans, St. Louis Cardinals' manager Tony LaRussa, Baywatch's Alexandra Paul, musician Ziggy Marley, and champion skateboarders Ed Templeton and Jamie Thomas, the popular ads have run more than 2,500 times on television and more than 400 times in print, thanks to the promotion and distribution efforts of Adaora Lathan.
PCRM registered a federal complaint regarding the "milk mustache" ads. Several of the ads imply that milk protects against bone breaks despite a lack of scientific evidence that this is true for men and African Americans and strong evidence to the contrary in older women. ABC World News Tonight ran the story on Memorial Day, and it was picked up in two New York Times features, the Boston Globe, and many other newspapers. PCRM's work with the press was coordinated by Simon Chaitowitz, Michael Murphy, and John Flanagan.
In December, PCRM filed suit against the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Department of Health and Human Services for their roles in perpetuating unhealthy biases in federal diet guidelines. The lawsuit pointed out that more than half the members of the Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee have financial ties to the meat, egg, or dairy industries. PCRM's legal counsel Mindy Kursban and public policy liaison Tracye McQuirter led the charge.
PCRM physicians and nurses checked blood pressures and handed out free vegetarian foods in Atlanta, Ga.; Milford, Conn.; Philadelphia, Pa.; Pittsburgh, Pa.; and Washington, D.C., to show that healthy eating brings down blood pressure. The events were coordinated by Stephanie Sarkis. Special thanks to Ron Burmeister, M.D.; Malcolm Stuart-Morris, M.D.; Jessica Fielden, M.D.; Rai Casey, M.D.; Rich McLellan, M.D.; Rhoda Ruttenberg, M.D.; Russell Bunai, M.D.; Ana Negron, M.D.; Brigitte Meney, R.N.; and Elaine Dynako, R.N. A very special thank you to Jennifer Marin, Heather Yeckes, and the University of Miami medical school students.
PCRM's diabetes research study,published in Preventive Medicine in August, showed that a low-fat, vegan diet causes a dramatic drop in fasting blood sugars, allowing patients to reduce or eliminate medication use. The regimen also led to an average weight loss of 16 pounds in 12 weeks, without exercise. Principal investigators were PCRM's Andrew Nicholson, M.D., and Mark Sklar, M.D., of Georgetown University. An expanded follow-up study is planned.
The Journal of the National Medical Association published a detailed two-part review of the racial biases in federal diet guidelines drafted by PCRM's Patricia Bertron, R.D., Neal Barnard, M.D., and Milton Mills, M.D.
A study showing the ability of a low-fat, vegetarian diet to improve hormone balance and reduce menstrual pain and PMS was accepted by Obstetrics & Gynecology for publication in the new year. The profound cholesterol reduction demonstrated during the study will be reported in the American Journal of Cardiology. Principal investigators were PCRM's Neal Barnard, M.D., and Georgetown University professor Anthony Scialli, M.D.
The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition published Dr. Barnard's detailed critique of an article on milk consumption, and the Archives of Internal Medicine will run his critique of the "red meat lowers cholesterol" article that hit news headlines last summer.
A human clinical trial of the health effects of cow's milk was begun by PCRM president Neal Barnard, M.D., Georgetown University professor Anthony Scialli, M.D., and research coordinator Matthew Fritts, as part of PCRM's Cancer Project. Prior research indicates that milk-drinking increases the amount of insulin-like growth factor (IGF-I) in the blood, which in turn may be linked to higher risk of breast and prostate cancer. Volunteers drank one quart of either cow's milk or soymilk daily, and the effects on IGF-I, cholesterol, and body weight are being compared. Results are now being analyzed.
PCRM also finalized plans for a major study by Dr. Barnard, Dr. Scialli, and Matthew Fritts on the weight loss caused by a low-fat, vegan diet, to begin in the new year, and launched an additional study investigating metabolism in obesity, in cooperation with George Washington University's Wayne Miller, Ph.D.
PCRM's third Cancer Awareness Survey showed that Americans continue to confuse cancer screening (designed to find cancer) with cancer prevention. While Americans are generally aware of the role of mammograms and doctors' examinations, few are aware of the role of diet and lifestyle in preventing cancer.
The Cancer Project website, CancerProject.org, provides the latest on PCRM's Cancer Project studies, news from research around the world, editorials, and healthful recipes.
PCRM's Cancer Project published a new series of informational brochures for people aiming to prevent cancer or to improve survival, under the direction of Patricia Bertron, R.D., and Lauri Chonko, R.D.
The Cancer Project is sponsoring research into the role of cow's milk in causing changes in the bloodstream that may be linked to cancer, as detailed above, and other studies on nutrition and cancer are now awaiting funding.
PCRM's new merchandise line includes a great new t-shirt, an eye-catching sweatshirt, and a functional yet stylish apron. In what may prove to be our most popular items ever, PCRM's multilingual sweatshirt and apron say "Go Vegan" in 11 languages, and a new t-shirt admonishes "Go Veg B4 It's 2L8!"
Good Medicine and PCRM's Web site,www.pcrm.org, provide lifesaving information, the latest on medical controversies, and updates on PCRM's unique programs, under the direction of director of publications Doug Hall and production coordinator Miyun Park.
Billy Leonard and David Wildey responded to countless telephone calls, letters, and e-mails requesting books and other educational materials.
A.R. Hogan and the PCRM Writers Group published innumerable op-eds and letters to the editor in newspapers across the U.S. and abroad. Special thanks to Murry Cohen, M.D.; Milton Mills, M.D.; Ryckman Caplan, M.D.; Jules Oaklander, D.O.; Richard Gartner, M.D.; Patrice Green, M.D.; Ray Greek, M.D.; Beverly Greenwold, M.D.; Warner Soelling, M.D.; Lawrence Hansen, M.D.; Nancy Harrison, M.D.; and Marjorie Cramer, M.D.