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The Physicians Committee

NEWS RELEASE February 12, 2002

Doctors Speak Out Against Anti-Health Hate Campaign

WASHINGTON—The Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM) today responded to an anti-health "hate campaign" launched by a tobacco, liquor, and food industry lobbyist, and is calling on Congress to renew its commitment to better health habits for Americans.

PCRM's action responds to industry lobbyist Rick Berman, who vented his hatred of health and welfare organizations before the House Subcommittee on Forests & Forest Health. Berman's "Guest Choice Network" was started with tobacco industry funding and was recently renamed the "Center for Consumer Freedom." Berman's group has dedicated itself to criticizing Mothers Against Drunk Driving, Greenpeace, CBS News, the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, the Centers for Disease Control, a variety of animal protection organizations, and Robert Kennedy, Jr., among many others.

Working with industry, Berman's group—apparently because it cannot legitimately challenge the health message—has aimed to "kill the messenger." Berman's main argument is that health, environmental, and animal protection organizations are working together to "terrorize" Americans into healthier diets.

The latest skirmish began in 2000, when PCRM petitioned the federal government to look into inappropriate health claims used in "Milk Mustache" and "got milk?" ads. A U.S. Department of Agriculture expert panel reported in 2001 that it agreed with PCRM's contention that drinking milk can contribute to heart disease and prostate cancer. The panel recommended that ads promoting whole milk consumption among men carry warnings about these risks, and also recommended other health-related disclosures.

As media outlets reported the links between cow's milk consumption and a variety of health problems, including prostate cancer, Berman's group began its "kill the messenger" campaign.

"It is unfortunate that the tobacco, meat, and dairy industries have launched a hate campaign against health and humane advocates," said Neal D. Barnard, M.D., PCRM president. "Now that an average American's cancer risk has reached one in three, the tobacco, meat, and dairy interests are trying to obscure their roles in this disease."

Given Berman's and his group's attacks on PCRM, here are the facts:

  • PCRM was established in 1985 to promote preventive medicine, especially good nutrition. PCRM also conducts nutrition research and promotes higher standards in human and animal research and in medical practice. Among PCRM's recent advances are a major legal victory over the influence of the dairy, meat, and egg industries on federal dietary guidelines, a surprising new report on the controversial use of estrogens to suppress growth in tall girls, and new innovations in alternatives to animal use in research.
  • PCRM president Neal D. Barnard, M.D., has encouraged cooperation between a wide variety of health, environmental, and animal protection organizations, and promotes higher humane standards in laboratories, farms, and elsewhere through the Foundation to Support Animal Protection (FSAP).

"We hope that Americans will recognize that the burger, fried chicken, and dairy industries are not just bad for animals, but also pose serious health risks, as well as a surprising degree of environmental damage," Dr. Barnard said. "Only by working together will we solve these difficult problems."

Founded in 1985, the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine is a nonprofit health organization that promotes preventive medicine, conducts clinical research, and encourages higher standards for ethics and effectiveness in research.

Media Contact:
Jeanne S. McVey

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