The public puts a lot of stock into what physicians have to say about health and nutrition, and for the last few years the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine has grown in stature and visibility. The general media in particular have embraced the group as a legitimate representative of human health advice. PCRM representatives have made frequent appearances on the morning news shows
That may soon change, at least if the nonprofit Center for Consumer Freedom gets its way. CCF has its sights set on PCRM, exposing it as an animal-rights group claiming to be a medical charity. CCF has called on PCRM and its leader, Neal Barnard, to come clean about the group’s ties to radical animal rights activists, including the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals.
An example of PCRM’s recent tactics—the group threatened legal action against doctors who prescribe high- protein, meat-oriented "Atkins" diets, and ran advertisements calling school lunches that include meat and milk "weapons of mass destruction."
“As with PCRM's many other pronouncements, these were animal-rights judgments masquerading as legitimate medical advice,” a CCF statement points out.
The American Medical Association has come forward, calling PCRM's recommendations "irresponsible" and "dangerous to the health and welfare of Americans."
"Yet the group's news releases have fooled television producers, newspaper editors and even medical-industry insiders," says David Martosko, CCF’s research director, "because it cloaks its animal rights agenda in medical terms."
Less than 5 percent of PCRM's members are doctors, and PCRM has never made a list of physician-members available to the public, adds Martosko. In fact, PCRM’s leader is not a nutritionist, but a non-practicing psychiatrist.
PCRM’s ties with PETA run long and deep. In 1999, PETA set up a private slush fund called the Foundation to Support Animal Protection (co-chaired by Barnard and PETA director, Ingrid Newkirk) to funnel more than $595,000 to PCRM. To date, PETA and other animal-rights groups have contributed more than $1.3 million to PCRM.
"A vegetarian diet is a perfectly acceptable consumer choice," adds Martosko, "but any doctor who says that you absolutely must 'go veg' to be healthy, probably has a hidden agenda. In the PCRM’s case, it's all about animal-rights extremism. Would you take medical advice from PETA?"
Center for Consumer Freedom, Prnewswire.com