PCRM and Center for Consumer Freedom Get in Food Fight

The Miami Sun-Sentinel reported on an amusing war of words between the Physician Committee for Responsible Medicine’s Neal Barnard and Center for Consumer Freedom’s David Martosko.

The dispute started when PCRM issued a report rating the healthiest airport food, and singled out Miami international Airport has having the healthiest food of any of the top airports in the Untied States.

CCF responded with a press release noting that PCRM is made up of “anti-meat, pro-vegetarian nutrition zealots.” CCF also pointed out that PCRM is simply an extension of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animal, signified in this case by the fact that one of the nutritionists listed as compiling the report on airport food — Trulie Ankerberg-Nobis — spends much of her free time stripping as a publicity stunt for People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals.

Barnard replied that it is simply not true that PCRM is simply a front for PETA. You remember that group, Foundation to Support Animal Protection? Just to refresh your memory, Barnard heads up the group. PETA donates money to FSAP and then FSAP turns around and donates money to PCRM. Front group? Nope, just a coincidence according to Barnard.

Barnard complained that CCF are “stalkers,” telling the Sun-Sentinel,

Whenever any health organization does any kind of initiative, we hear from them with these absurd press releases.

. . .

The poor man [Martosko] needs to lose weight.

Martosko is quoted by the Sun-Sentinel a suggesting that Barnard “seek anger management therapy.”

In fact, CCF does seem to be getting under the skin of PETA and PCRM lately. Kind of funny to watch.

Presumably the reason PETA and PCRM can’t stand the CCF press releases is that they are used to surrounding themselves with people like Gary Yourofsky and Jerry Vlasak who outright advocate the murder of those they disagree with. So you just have to see it from their point of view — advocating murder or arson is one thing, but actually issuing a press release is something of a much bigger magnitude. Someone’s feelings might get hurt, after all, from a press release, but if you kill a researcher, well, they’re just dead.

That’s the problem with us anti-animal rights folks — we just don’t have this higher level of compassion and understanding that the animal rights people possess.


Praise for healthy meals at Miami airport turns into food fight. Noaki Schwartz, Miami Sun-Sentinel, November 18, 2004.

Center for Consumer Freedom: Treat PETA Like Other Charities Who Support Terrorism

The Center for Consumer Freedom issued a press release on August 4 urging the government to treat People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals the same as other charities which have been accused of funneling money to terrorist organizations.

According to its press release,

As the frightening images of a massive August 2nd arson are seared into the minds of San Diego residents, many are left to wonder just who the Earth Liberation Front (ELF) is and who pays its bills. As law enforcement begins to look for answers, members of the public should know that the shadowy ELF enjoys financial backing from at least one tax-exempt, above-ground group — the activists at People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA).

. . .

“Federal law enforcement has already shut down several American nonprofits because of their financial ties with overseas terrorists,” said David Martosko, Director of Research at the Center for Consumer Freedom. “Terrorism is terrorism, whether it’s international or domestic. PETA is funneling money to terrorists, and they shouldn’t be treated any differently.”


PETA Bankrolling Terrorist Group ELF. PRN Newsire, August 4, 2003.

War of Press Releases Between CCF and PCRM

The Center for Consumer Freedom has been going after the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine lately as the animal rights group continues to try to reposition itself away from issues of medical research and instead concentrates on dietary and nutrition issues.

Neal Barnard is trying to insert himself into the ongoing national debate over whether obesity should be treated as a public health problem. Barnard has written a book claiming that certain foods are “addictive” and apparently is giving depositions as an expert in nutrition as part of ongoing lawsuits against fast food companies.

On June 4, the following CCF press release was posted to PNNOnline, a web site devoted to news about nonprofits,

‘Food Addiction Experts’ Censured by American Medical Association

Misnamed Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine

An animal-rights front group claiming to be a medical charity is promoting a dubious new book suggesting that certain foods are “physically addictive.” Before policymakers and judges give a second thought to the recommendations of author Neal Barnard and his misnamed Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM), they should know more about them, says the Center for Consumer Freedom.

PCRM has received over $1.3 million in funding from extremist animal rights organizations, including People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), to promote research designed to influence or scare consumers into its strict vegetarian lifestyle. The opinion of the respected American Medical Association is unequivocal, saying that “the recommendations of PCRM [are] irresponsible and potentially dangerous to the health and welfare of Americans.” In a separate public censure, the AMA “continues to marvel at how effectively a fringe organization of questionable repute continues to hoodwink the media with a series of questionable research that fails to enhance public health.”

Surprisingly, PCRM President Neal Barnard has given depositions as a nutritional expert in the latest in a series of lawsuits against restaurants and the food industry by trial lawyers seeking to cash in on hysteria over the nation’s “obesity epidemic.” Not surprisingly, the only foods that are not labeled as addictive in Barnard’s book of “ammunition” against food companies are those that conform to a strict vegan diet offered in the book’s recipes.

“Barnard’s lawsuit ‘ammunition’ for the trial lawyers is a dud,” Richard Berman, Executive Director of The Center for Consumer Freedom, said. “When it comes to information on nutrition and health, consumers are better served by advice from the AMA than someone that fronts for PETA.”

The Center for Consumer Freedom is a non-profit coalition supported by restaurant operators, food and beverage companies, and concerned individuals, working together to promote personal responsibility and protect consumer choices.

A few days later, the site published a response from PCRM Communications Director Simon Chaitowitz (emphasis added),

We’d like to set the record straight regarding inflammatory and misleading comments made about our organization in a news release recently posted to your Web site and newsletter.

First, readers should realize that news release was written and distributed by the so-called “Center for Consumer Freedom,” a junk-food lobby group. Run by Rick Berman, a tobacco, alcohol, and fast-food lobbyist, Consumer Freedom was originally founded with more than three million dollars of Philip Morris money.

Over the past few years, the group has tried to discredit the work of many highly respected public health organizations including the Centers for Disease Control, Mothers Against Drunk Driving, and Center for Science in the Public Interest. In a 1999 interview with Chain Leader magazine, a restaurant industry trade publication, Berman admitted that his strategy in attacking nutrition authorities was to “shoot the messenger” by trying to damage their credibility. His employees clearly cannot defend their positions with scientific arguments.

Berman’s group routinely antagonizes any nutrition advocates who dare to point out the health risks associated with the alcohol, meat, and junk food products they represent. They have even fought against school officials who are trying to keep soda machines out of elementary schools.

As to Consumer Freedom’s charges against PCRM, here’s the truth. PCRM is indeed a bonafide 501(c)(3) health charity, one that fully meets the guidelines of the Council of Better Business Bureaus. We both conduct clinical nutrition research and help educate the public about preventive medicine, especially the multitude of health benefits possible with a vegetarian diet. We also tackle controversies in both human and animal research.

Our physicians, dietitians, and scientists are leaders in their field. They publish their work in peer-reviewed academic journals, present their findings before scientific conferences, and sit on prestigious government panels. Regularly featured in major media outlets, from Newsweek to the Today Show, they are an influential force in the field of human health. Our president Neal D. Barnard, M.D., the popular author and nutrition researcher, has been called a “brilliant visionary” by renowned diet expert Dean Ornish for his work educating people about nutrition. His newest book, Breaking the Food Seduction, explains the science behind food cravings and takes a provocative look at the how the food industry — aided by the USDA — purposefully manipulates these cravings for their own financial gain.

Yes, we have had past disagreements with the American Medical Association, particularly over AMA’s links with industry and its promotion of animal testing, but no, AMA’s censure process has never been applied to PCRM. And PCRM works with organizations promoting human rights and protection for animals, as well as with major universities, environmental organizations, consumer groups, and others on various campaign and research projects.

We invite your readers to visit our Web site to learn more about PCRM or to call our office at 202-686-2210, ext. 309. And anyone who would like the unsavory details about Consumer Freedom might want to visit the PR watchdog Web site.

From psychologist to “popular author and nutrition researcher”, eh? (I suspect here that Chaitowitz is using very loose definitions of “popular” and “researcher.”)

CCF fired of the latest round in late July with a press release criticizing PCRM’s latest anti-meat campaign,

Anti Atkins ‘Physicians’ Group Is A Front For Animal Rights

Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine Censured by the American Medical Association

Washington, DC — Today the Center for Consumer Freedom called on the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM) to come clean about its animal-rights motive for attacking diets that feature any meat or dairy foods. PCRM, an animal rights front group claiming to be a medical charity, launched a media campaign this week featuring reckless charges about health risks supposedly connected with eating meat.

“This misnamed ‘physicians committee’ represents a tiny fraction of America’s doctors who place animal-rights ideology above their patients’ health,” said Center for Consumer Freedom research director David Martosko. “PCRM has asserted itself as a home for anti-meat, pro-vegan nutritionists who are committed to removing beef, dairy, poultry, and other animal products from the American diet for good.”

The established medical community has soundly rejected PCRM’s dietary advice in the past. The American Medical Association has written that it “finds the recommendations of PCRM irresponsible and potentially dangerous to the health and welfare of Americans.” In a separate public censure, the AMA marveled at “how effectively a fringe organization of questionable repute continues to hoodwink the media with a series of questionable research that fails to enhance public health.”

PCRM has long-standing ties with People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), which has funneled over $850,000 to its medical front group. PCRM president Neal Barnard, a non-practicing psychiatrist, co-chairs the PETA Foundation with PETA co-founder Ingrid Newkirk.

Martosko added: “Most Americans are too smart to knowingly take dietary advice from PETA. But when animal rights activists put on the sheep’s clothing of the medical profession, it becomes harder to know who’s credible. Force-feeding animal rights propaganda to Americans doesn’t sound very ‘responsible’ to me.”

The Center for Consumer Freedom is a nonprofit coalition supported by restaurants, food companies, and consumers working together to promote personal responsibility and protect consumer choices. To learn more, visit www.ConsumerFreedom.com.

Martosko’s comments are especially germane given the lengths that PETA and PCRM go in order to hide the fact that the two are not only ideologically but also financially intertwined. It’s amusing to see PCRM and other groups complain that CCF receives money from and lobbies on behalf of companies that sell alcohol, fast food, etc.

Whatever else you may think of CCF, at least it is upfront about its ideological position and goals. It doesn’t try to distance itself from its core ideology as PCRM does, nor does it set up layers of nonprofit front groups to funnel money to it in order to hide its origins. Why is PCRM so afraid to stand up and say it is an animal rights group that receives funding from PETA?


‘Food Addiction Experts’ Censured by American Medical Association Press Release, Center for Consumer Freedom, June 3, 2003.

Anti Atkins ‘Physicians’ Group Is A Front For Animal Rights. Press Release, Center for Consumer Freedom, July 23, 2003.

PCRM Responds to Claims by Center for Consumer Freedom. Letter, Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, June 6, 2003.

Alex Hershaft: No Room for Feminist Protesters, But Open Arms for Terrorists

Alex Hershaft had a problem — the discussion board set up on VegSource.Com to serve as a place for activists to talk about their memories of Animal Rights 2002 was being dominated by a debate by remarks made by Howard Lyman and the appropriateness of campaigns by People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals which use sex to sell the animal rights message.

So Hershaft did what most people in groups try to do when faced with internal dissent — try to focus that anger back at a common foe. So on Monday, July 15, Hershaft posted the text of an op-ed by David Martosko, who is director of research at the Center for Consumer Freedom. But that article and Hershaft’s ensuing comments raised more problems and questions than they answered.

That was an odd choice because Martosko’s main point was that animal rights violence and terrorism is a mainstream part of the movement, and there was no better example of the truth of this than that advocates of violence were given prominent platforms at AR 2002. Martosko wrote, for example,

One such miscreant is actually a fugitive from justice. Paul Watson, who runs the misleadingly-named Sea Shepherd Conservation Society, made over a half-dozen speeches at AR2002, despite his continued defiance of a warrant for his arrest in Costa Rica. Watson, whose own ship has a bow filled with cement (for ramming and sinking other boats), openly advocated the baseball-bat approach to conflict resolution, telling the audience: “The fact is that we live in an extremely violent culture, and we all justify violence if itÂ’s for what we believe in.” In another session, ominously titled “Direct Tactics,” Watson advised the assembled activists that “ThereÂ’s nothing wrong with being a terrorist, as long as you win.”

Other memorable moments from AR2002 included former Animal Liberation Front (ALF) “spokesperson” Kevin Jonas embracing the T-word (“TodayÂ’s terrorist is tomorrowÂ’s freedom fighter”) and encouraging more activists to cross the line into lawbreaking: “Why should any one of us feel that ‘it shouldn’t be me taking that brick and chucking it through that window?Â’” he implored. “Why shouldnÂ’t I be going to that fur farm down the road and opening up those cages? ItÂ’s not hard; it doesn’t take a rocket scientist. You don’t need a 4-year degree to call in a bomb hoax.” Jonas (sometimes spelled “Kjonaas”) was profiled in yesterdayÂ’s Philadelphia Inquirer, defending his group and its violent actions. “I don’t feel any sympathy for people in England or America who have had their cars tipped or torched,” he offered, “because those cars were paid for out of blood money.”

To Hershaft, apparently, Martosko’s highlighting of the advocates of violence at AR2002 is representative of the real adversaries the animal rights movement faces.

This post by Hershaft brought a quick response by animal rights activist Dean Smith who was also one of the speakers at AR 2002. In a post titled, “Our “adversary” has a point”, Smith wrote,

Like it or not, the comments at AR2002 encouraging the use of violence as a means for achieving animal liberation could very well have been the impetus for the actions referenced in this article. The main point of the panel was to encourage this type of action, violent and otherwise. Why do we run away when violent acts occur and act as if they weren’t encouraged by movement leaders (tacitly and otherwise).

. . .

Both Dan Murphy in his recent column and the columnist referenced here are right to criticize our movement for violent actions. I personally wish that more leaders in this movement would have the fortitude to do so as well.

A couple others chimed in with agreement, and one, identified only as “Ali M”, put the question about terrorism and animal rights to Hershaft directly,

Alex, I’m confused about the message behind your post. What are you saying about animal rights activists who break the law? What are you saying about animal rights terrorists? There is a very clear distinction between breaking the law & being a terrorist. I hope you are not suggesting otherwise. Who are you saying is “our real adversaries?” Please respond.

Hershaft replied with a curt, chilling message,

From: AlexH. (pool-138-88-95-208.res.east.verizon.net)

Subject: Our real adversaries are consumerfreedom.com …

Date: July 15, 2002 at 3:26 pm PST

In Reply to: Re: Lest we forget our real adversaries posted by Ali M on July 15, 2002 at 2:26 pm:

… and their fellow shills for the meat, dairy, research, and animal oppressing industries. Since the people attacked in the editorial were my plenary speakers, I didn’t realize my post required clarification.

For Hershaft, then, the real adversaries of the animal rights movement are those outside of it who dare criticize activists like Paul Watson and Kevin Jonas for their endorsement of violence. To Hershaft, people like Jonas are not dangerous advocates of violence but rather “my plenary speakers.”

In Hershaft’s vision of the animal rights movement, feminists who go up on stage to read a statement in protest of an award given to a beauty pageant winner are divisive and may be banned from future animal rights conferences. Those who openly advocate violence, however, are not only welcome, but the real adversaries to the movement are those, like Martosko, who simply report about how the animal rights movement tolerates and encourages violent extremism.

This is the same Hershaft who earlier this year complained that people ignored instructions at Animal Rights 2001 and brought their dogs, complaining that the Hilton was angry about this and he needed to keep the event at the Hilton because “we are trying to project a middle class image.” It’s hard to tell where he thinks bomb hoaxes, property discussion and arson fit into a “middle class image.”


Animal-rights fanatics: Doctor Dolittle gone bad. David Martosko, Seattle Times, July 15, 2002.

Lest we forget our real adversaries. Alex Hershaft, VegSource.Com, July 15, 2002.

Our “adversary” has a point. Dean Smith, VegSource.Com, July 15, 2002.

Yes. “Sydney”, VegSource.Com, July 15, 2002.

Re: Lest we forget our real adversaries. “Ali M.”, VegSource.Com, July 15, 2002.

Our real adversaries are consumerfreedom.com …. Alex Hershaft, VegSource.Com, July 15, 2002.