Subject: American Council on Science and Health and Quackbusters See Who Funds these Enemies of Health at http://www.rvi.net/~fluoride/funding.htm
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IAHF LIST: This is all very revealing about Barrett, Herbert, and Whelan. All health freedom fighters world wide need to read this carefully because we must know exactly who the enemies of health freedom are. Along with this article which ably exposes the utterly bogus Pharma Cartel Front Group:
American Council on Science and Health, please see the list of multinational corporations who fund ACSH at http://www.rvi.net/~fluoride/funding.htm. Sometime when I can grab the time I'd like to analyze the list of financial supporters of ACSH, and correlate it with the list of PAC donations to members of the US Congress which you will find at http://www.fec.gov We need to create a database which examines this info and coorelates it with the voting record of members of Congress on key legislation pertaining to our health, and of other governments world wide so we'll know who to vote out of office and give the hardest time to. If anyone on the IAHF list would like to spearhead this project for me, I'd welcome your assistance! By turning up the heat on our enemies, we can support our cause.
Date: Sat, 12 Aug 2000 14:22:30 -0700 (PDT)
From: Tim and Jan Bolen <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Subject: American Council on Science and Health and Quackbusters
To: Juan Carlos Bonetto <email@example.com>
Cc: Deane Hillsman <firstname.lastname@example.org>, Jeff Green <email@example.com>,
FAIM <firstname.lastname@example.org>, Ralph Fucetola/LSC <email@example.com>,
Frank Cuny <firstname.lastname@example.org>
The American Council on Science and Health includes on
their board, 'Dr.'s' Stephen Barrett and Victor
Herbert. Barrett is a vicious attacker of anti-floride
movements, Herbert claims vitamins and food
supplements are murdering Americans! Perhaps this
explains where their money comes from....
I've been called a paid liar for industry so many
times I've lost count," boasts Elizabeth Whelan of the
American Council on Science and Health.
This year, ACSH celebrated its 20th anniversary as an
"independent" organization that claims to offer a
"sound scientific" understanding of issues related to
public health. Yet a substantial percentage of its
funding comes from the same corporations that produce
the food, pharmaceuticals, pesticides and other
chemicals that ACSH routinely and enthusiastically
Notwithstanding these funding sources, Whelan insists
that her principles remain pure. "If you consider the
possibility that we do believe in what we're
doing--that it's wrong to terrify people about trace
levels of chemicals that cause cancer in mice--where
could you get money?" she asks. "Where would such
money come from that would not be tainted?"
Of course, no one but Whelan herself knows whether her
beliefs are "sincere." What matters is why
corporations like Monsanto, Dow Chemical and hosts of
others choose to donate money to ACSH, year in and
Corporations are not ruled by concepts like
"sincerity." They are ruled by the need to maximize
profits, and their donations to an organization like
ACSH are designed to serve this need. For them, it
doesn't matter whether Whelan believes what she says,
as long as what she says helps further a vision of
"truth, science and progress" that advances their
In examining organizations like ACSH, therefore, the
key question is not, "Are they paid liars?" It is more
meaningful to simply ask, "Who funds them, and whose
interests do they serve?"
Center for Media & Democracy Home Page
THE JUNKYARD DOGS OF SCIENCE
by John Stauber and Sheldon Rampton
For the American Council on Science and Health (ACSH),
the "phthalate issue" (pronounced "THAL ate") is just
another "scare as usual"--another media fire needing
to be extinguished.
The issue has been simmering for several years, but it
reached a flash point in the United States in November
1998 when the environmental group Greenpeace issued a
report showing that soft vinyl children's toys contain
significant levels of toxic chemicals--up to 41
percent by weight. Greenpeace warned that children may
ingest the chemicals, known as phthalates, if they put
the toys in their mouths. "When children suck and chew
on soft vinyl toys, it is similar to squeezing a
sponge. Water comes out of a sponge, just as these
toxic softeners can leach out of a toy," explained Joe
Di Gangi, the author of the Greenpeace report.
Greenpeace was not alone on the issue. Health
authorities in several other countries, including
Austria, Denmark and Sweden, had already issued
regulations banning phthalates. Similar measures were
under consideration, along with warning advisories to
parents and requests for retailers to voluntarily
recall vinyl toys, in half a dozen other European
countries and Canada.
ACSH responded to the "scare" the way it has responded
on many similar past occasions, by announcing that it
was forming a committee to study the question, headed
by former U.S. Surgeon-General Dr. C. Everett Koop.
"Dr. Koop will oversee the blue ribbon committee's
work and ensure that the most qualified scientists are
recruited to look at the science on phthalates," said
ACSH president Elizabeth Whelan. "We know that people
want to hear from independent scientists and
physicians on important safety issues. The committee's
report will provide an authoritative point of view on
the safety of phthalates in vinyl products."
Most people who read the news probably concluded that
ACSH--described in numerous stories as a "health
advocacy group"--was some sort of impartial consumer
organization that could be expected to look seriously
at the issue. Some reports noted vaguely that ACSH
"gets some funding from industry." Overall, however,
the media did such a thorough job of obscuring ACSH's
identity as an industry front group that Plastics
News, an industry trade publication, mistakenly
credited ACSH for beginning the "barrage" against the
plastics industry over the phthalate issue.
In fact, ACSH is anything but a critic of industry.
Since its founding in 1978, it has actively courted
industry support, offering itself as an off-the-shelf,
available-on-demand source of "sound scientific
expertise" in defense of virtually every form and type
of industrial pollution known to the 20th century.
FOLLOWING THE MONEY
For public consumption, ACSH calls itself "a
science-based, public health group that is directed by
a board of 300 leading physicians and scientists . . .
providing mainstream, peer reviewed scientific
information to American consumers."
When appealing to industry, ACSH uses a different
pitch. A revealing reference crops up, for example, in
the minutes of a March 16, 1978 meeting of the board
of directors of the Manufacturing Chemists'
Association (today known as the Chemical Manufacturers
Written in the same month that ACSH began operating,
the minutes record an appeal by MCA director William
J. Driver, who noted that Whelan had founded "a
tax-exempt organization composed of scientists whose
viewpoints are more similar to those of business than
dissimilar. . . . ACSH is being pinched for funds, but
in the interest of independence and credibility will
not accept support from any chemical company or any
company which could even remotely be concerned with
the aims of the council."
Notwithstanding this desire to make ACSH appear
independent, Driver added that "Dr. Whelan would be
happy to hear from" MCA members who "are interested in
the work of the council and know of possible sources
Shortly after its founding, ACSH abandoned even the
appearance of independent funding. In a 1997
interview, Whelan explained that she was already being
called a "paid liar for industry," so she figured she
might as well go ahead and take industry money without
Today, some 40 percent of ACSH's $1.5 million annual
budget is supplied directly by industry, including a
long list of food, drug and chemical companies that
have a vested interest in supporting Whelan's message.
STACKING THE DECK
ACSH claims to be an "independent, nonprofit,
tax-exempt organization" that adds "reason and balance
to debates about public health issues."
Whatever "balance" means, however, it definitely
doesn't mean ideological neutrality. ACSH is
unabashedly right-wing and pro-industry. Whelan makes
no bones about her political leanings, describing
herself as a lifelong conservative who is "more
libertarian than Republican." ACSH's board of
directors is also heavily stacked with right-wing
Take, for example, ACSH board chairman A. Alan
Moghissi. A former official with the U.S.
Environmental Protection Agency, Moghissi
characterizes environmentalism as a belief that
"members of endangered species deserve protection and
that, because there are billions of humans, humanity
does not qualify for protection."
As an "expert on risk assessment," Moghissi appears
regularly on rosters of industry-supported "expert
panels" that work to undermine environmental
regulations. He serves on the advisory board of
numerous anti-environmental organizations and
right-wing "think tanks," including the American
Policy Center's "EPA Watch," the Committee for a
Constructive Tomorrow, the Advancement of Sound
Science Coalition, and the National Wilderness
Institute, a "wise use" anti-environmental
organization that calls for abolition of the
Endangered Species Act.
In 1990, Moghissi served on a panel created by the
far-right Competitive Enterprise Institute, in league
with Consumer Alert and the National Consumer
Coalition to challenge the EPA's policy requiring
asbestos removal from schools and other public
Moghissi also chairs the Science Advisory Committee of
the Environmental Issues Council (EIC), which was
established in 1993 by industry trade associations
including the Association of American Farm Bureaus,
the Association of General Contractors, the National
Cattleman's Association, the American Pulpwood
Association, the Natural Gas Supply Association, the
United States Business and Industrial Council, the
Mountain States Legal Foundation (MSLF), as well as
the Independent Petroleum Association of America
The purpose of the EIC was to serve as a "new ally
against ill-conceived environmental regulation"
according to Petroleum Independent, an IPAA trade
publication. "The industries represented face common
problems," it explained. "The spotted owl might seem
to be an active threat only to the timber industry but
is in actuality a direct threat to agriculture, mining
and virtually any land user. In addition to the
Endangered Species Act, all industries are seriously
threatened by federal policies regarding wetlands,
hazardous waste, and a multitude of other
Other members of the ACSH board of directors include:
Attorney Jerald Hill, a former long-time president
of the Landmark Legal Foundation, which appears in the
Heritage Foundation's list of conservative "resource
organizations." A recipient of funding from right-wing
gazillionaire Richard Mellon Scaife, Landmark has a $1
million annual budget and a reputation as a
"conservative's American Civil Liberties Union." It
has filed lawsuits against labor unions and school
desegregation and has fought for legislation that
would allow parents to direct public education funding
toward their children's private schools. (Whitewater
special investigator Kenneth Starr also has ties to
Landmark, which has focused heavily in recent years on
hyping the Clintongate scandals.)
Fredric Steinberg of Mainstreet Health Care, a
private HMO in Atlanta, Georgia, who regards Canada's
single-payer healthcare system as "the socialized road
to medical oblivion."
Henry Miller, a former FDA official now at the
Hoover Institution, who regularly grinds an ax against
what he considers the FDA's "extraordinarily
burdensome regulations" regarding genetically
engineered foods and new drugs. In 1996, Miller also
editorialized against the FDA's proposal to regulate
tobacco. "The FDA's anti-tobacco initiative . . . has
not been without its own costs to American consumers
and taxpayers," he stated, describing FDA commissioner
David Kessler as "personally consumed by this single
In addition to the board of directors, ACSH also has a
300-member "board of scientific and policy members."
[INCLUDING STEPHEN BARRET AND VICTOR HERBERT]
As journalist Beatrice Trum Hunter observes, however,
"Many of the advisory board members from academia
serve in departments of food science and technology,
mainly supported by the generosity of commercial food
Other advisors include familiar names from the list of
"usual suspects" who appear regularly as scientific
experts in a variety of anti-environmental,
pro-industry forums: Dennis Avery, Michael Gough,
Patrick J. Michaels, Stephen Safe, and S. Fred Singer,
to name a few. Several, including Floy Lilley and J.
Gordon Edwards, as well as Moghissi, have written
articles for 21st Century and Technology, a
publication affiliated with lunatic-fringe conspiracy
theorist Lyndon LaRouche.
The 17-member ACSH board of directors also includes
representatives from two PR and advertising firms:
Albert Nickel of Lyons Lavey Nickel Swift (their
motto: "We change perceptions"), and Lorraine Thelian
of Ketchum Communications.
Some 40 percent of ACSH's
$1.5 million annual budget
is supplied directly by industry,
including a long list of food, drug
and chemical companies that
have a vested interest in
supporting Whelan's message.
Thelian is a Ketchum senior partner and director of
its Washington, DC office, which handles the bulk of
the firm's "environmental PR work" on behalf of
clients including Dow Chemical, the Aspirin Foundation
of America, Bristol Myers Squibb, the American
Automobile Manufacturers Association, the Consumer
Aerosol Products Council, the National Pharmaceutical
Council, the North American Insulation Manufacturers
Association, and the American Industrial Health
Council, another industry-funded group that lobbies
against what it considers "excessive" regulation of
carcinogens. Ketchum boasts that the D.C. office "has
dealt with issues ranging from regulation of toxins,
global climate change, electricity deregulation,
nuclear energy, product and chemical contamination,
and agricultural chemicals and Superfund sites, to
name but a few."
In 1994, for example, Ketchum's DC office worked on
behalf of Dow and the Chlorine Chemistry Council to
round up scientists who would challenge the U.S.
Environmental Protection Agency's 1994 report on the
health effects of dioxin. Even before the report was
released, Ketchum swung into action with a 30-city PR
blitz designed to undercut press coverage for the EPA
report. "We identified a number of independent
scientists and took them on the road" to meet with
journalists, academics, political leaders and local
health officials, Mark Schannon, an associate director
of Ketchum's Washington office, said. "Basically what
we're trying to do is assure that industry's voice is
heard by people who make policy decisions both here
and around the country," Schannon said.
Center for Media & Democracy Home Page
INTEGRITY AINT CHEAP!
Corporate funders for the American Council on Science
and Health have included American Cyanamid, American
Meat Institute, Amoco, Anheuser-Busch, Archer Daniels
Midland, Ashland Oil Foundation, Boise Cascade,
Bristol-Myers Squibb, Burger King, Chevron,
Ciba-Geigy, Coca-Cola, Consolidated Edison, Coors, Dow
Chemical, DuPont, Exxon, Ford Motor Co., Frito-Lay,
General Electric, General Mills, General Motors,
Hershey Foods, Johnson & Johnson, Joseph E. Seagrams &
Sons, Kraft Foundation, Kraft General Foods, Merck
Pharmaceuticals, Mobil, Monsanto, National
Agricultural Chemicals Association, National Dairy
Council, National Soft Drink Association, National
Starch and Chemical Foundation, Nestléé, NutraSweet
Co. (owned by Monsanto), Oscar Mayer Foods,
Pepsi-Cola, Pfizer, Procter & Gamble, Shell Oil, Sugar
Association, Union Carbide Corp., Uniroyal Chemical
Co., USX Corp., and Wine Growers of California.
The Kellogg Co. has also contributed, but in 1998 it
chose not to renew its $10,000 annual donation. ACSH
responded with an angry letter, accusing Kellogg of
"trying to manipulate scientific findings" by
withholding funding because the ACSH does not support
the company's argument that dietary fiber helps
prevent colon cancer. Whelan pleaded for Kellogg to
reconsider, noting her organization's lengthy history
of combat with the Center for Science in the Public
Interest (CSPI), a group that, unlike ACSH, has
regularly criticized the food and restaurant
"We've been there to counter CSPI's claims as [it] has
attacked virtually every aspect of modern-day food
technology, whether it be caffeine, sugar, dietary
fiber, the fat-replacer olestra, dietary fat and
cholesterol, moderate consumption of alcohol--or
whatever other alleged carcinogen, toxin, or 'killer'
ingredient [CSPI] has singled out for indictment,"
"I am appalled and regret the level of reaction from
an organization that seems to be of the opinion that
they should be funded forever," responded a Kellogg
Center for Media & Democracy Home Page
ACSH Fears Nothing but Fear Itself
Although the American Council on Science and Health
styles itself as a "scientific" organization, it does
not carry out any independent primary research.
Instead, it specializes in generating media advisories
that criticize or praise scientists depending on
whether they agree with ACSH's philosophy. It has
mastered the modern media sound byte, issuing a
regular stream of news releases with catchy, quotable
phrases responding to hot-button environmental issues.
USA Today cites ACSH as one of its most
frequently-quoted sources for information on public
health issues. ACSH itself carefully tabulates its
media successes in a periodic "ACSH Media Update"
provided to the corporations and other funders that
support its work. A look at its media update for the
period from July 1997 through January 1998 provides a
revealing list of headlines:
"A Global Scare: The Environmental Doomsday Machine
is in High Gear" (one of six stories cited that
dismisses dangers of global warming)
"Irradiation Only Sure Method to Protect U.S. Food
"Safe Meat: There Is a Better Way" (a Wall Street
Journal editorial in which Whelan criticizes the
USDA's August 1997 recall of E. coli contaminated beef
from Hudson Foods)
"Evidence Lacking that PCB Levels Harm Health"
"The Fuzzy Science Behind New Clean-Air Rules"
"Screaming About Breast Cancer"
"Environmental Alarmists Can't Explain Progress in
"Eat Beef, America" and "Salad Days are Over"
"Alcohol's Good Side: Moderate Use"
"At Christmas Dinner, Let Us Be Thankful for
Pesticides and Safe Food"
ACSH calls the U.S. ban on DDT one of the 20 worst
unfounded health scares of the 20th century. It
ridicules the risks that chemical "endocrine
disruptors" pose to human health and fertility. In
addition to pesticides and chemical food additives, it
has defended asbestos, Agent Orange and nuclear power.
Whelan's nutritional advice has also raised eyebrows
among health experts, many of whom take exception to
her claims that there is "no such thing as 'junk
food,' " and that "There is insufficient evidence of a
relationship between diet and any disease."
Whelan is the author of books titled Panic in the
Pantry and Toxic Terror. An ACSH-published magazine
called Priorities features articles with titles like
"Toxic Terror on the Golf Course," which defends the
use of pesticides and chemicals on golf courses; "The
Media's War on Essential Chemicals"; "Inflated Fear on
the Magazine Rack," which criticizes women's magazines
for suggesting that there are health risks from
silicone breast implants; and "The Consumer Rights
Movement Exposed," which takes on Consumer's Union
(the publisher of Consumer Reports), along with the
Center for Science in the Public Interest and the
Consumer Federation of America.
The notion that environmentalists and consumer groups
are "terrorists" is a recurring theme in ACSH
publications. For example, ACSH uses the term "mouse
terrorism," which it defines as "the indiscriminate
use of a single animal cancer test to determine human
cancer risks," to dismiss the results of toxicology
tests based on animal tests. "'Mouse terrorism' is
becoming the single most influential research method
used to control the availability of or even to ban
useful pharmaceuticals, agricultural chemicals and
technologies," argued a 1995 ACSH newsletter. The same
issue carried a brief review by Whelan of The Safe
Shopper's Bible, a new book by David Steinman and Dr.
Samuel Epstein. "Those specializing in terrorizing
consumers about alleged toxins in food must be running
out of ideas," Whelan declared.
Whelan used similar language in 1990, when she
participated in a PR campaign by Ketchum
Communications against Steinman's earlier book, Diet
for a Poisoned Planet. (See related story in this
In Panic in the Pantry and other publications, Whelan
argues that public concerns about food safety are
simply irrational fears fed by unscientific
manipulators of emotion.
FEAR NOT FACTS
In 1997, ACSH released a "special report" in pamphlet
form titled "Facts Versus Fears: A Review of the 20
Greatest Unfounded Health Scares of Recent Times."
Compiled by ACSH Director of Media and Development
Adam Lieberman, the list included DDT, cyclamates, the
hormone DES in beef, the chemical contamination of
Love Canal, dioxin at Times Beach, and asbestos.
Lieberman's "study" devoted approximately one and a
half pages to each "scare," including footnotes (which
draw heavily on Whelan's writings).
A mass mailing of "Facts Versus Fears" to journalists
generated countless uncritical stories in which
reporters, ranging from Jane Brody of the New York
Times to William Wineke of the Wisconsin State
Journal, repeated Lieberman's conclusions or simply
quoted them verbatim. Paul Harvey described it as
"meticulously documented." An editorial in the
Kentucky Enquirer used arguments from "Facts Versus
Fears" to conclude that "we have plenty of reason and
experience to be wary of overreacting to issues driven
by ideology rather than sound science."
Not long after its publication, however, Lieberman
himself underwent a political change of heart and
published a confessional in Mother Jones in which he
admitted that his own work was motivated primarily by
conservative ideology. Morever, he noted, ACSH itself
was engaged in fear-mongering. "I was placed in the
position of suggesting that the future of society was
in jeopardy if consumers rejected the use of the fat
substitute olestra or the milk-producing growth
hormone rBST in cows," he stated.
DO ENVIRONMENTALISTS CAUSE MALARIA?
It is impossible to find a report anywhere in the mass
media in which a journalist actually attempted to
independently verify or critique the arguments in
"Facts Versus Fears." If they had, they would have
immediately noted serious problems.
Lieberman's verdict on DDT, for example, is a straight
rehash of Whelan's arguments in Toxic Terror, in which
she claims that environmentalist opposition to the
pesticide is responsible for a worldwide resurgence of
"The scientific evidence for banning DDT were purely
based on mice studies. There's no evidence of human
health problems," Lieberman added, citing "ACSH
scientists and physicians" who claim that DDT has
prevented hundreds of millions of malaria deaths.
Outside of ACSH, however, most scientists today credit
the DDT ban for rescuing the bald eagle and other
endangered species from the brink of extinction. "And
there's no question that helping save them has helped
save us," adds Louis Guillette, a University of
Florida biologist. "Because if something is affecting
wildlife, it's affecting humans, too." Indeed, the
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency today lists DDT
as a suspected carcinogen.
"I was placed in the position
of suggesting that the future
of society was in jeopardy
if consumers rejected the use
of the fat substitute olestra
or the milk-producing growth
hormone rBST in cows,"
To build her case regarding malaria, Whelan points to
the case of Sri Lanka, where use of DDT to control
mosquitoes brought the number of malaria cases down
from 1 million in 1955 to just 18 in 1963. Following
the cessation of DDT use, the mosquitoes (and malaria)
returned to their previous levels.
The U.S. ban on DDT, however, was not enacted until
1972, and spraying in Sri Lanka was discontinued in
1963 for budgetary reasons, not environmental
concerns. In fact, DDT is still used today in many
parts of the world to control malaria--including
India, China, South America, Africa and Malaysia.
"Widespread continuing usage of DDT is evident across
a wide range of environmental samples (air, water,
soil, sediment, fish, biota, foodstuffs, breast milk,
blood serum, human fat, and more) that are routinely
reported in scientific journals," notes Byron Bodo, a
Canadian scientist and university professor who has
worked extensively on water quality and other
One of the major problems with using pesticides,
however, is that insect populations rapidly evolve to
develop resistance to the chemicals. In fact, heavy
use of DDT for agricultural purposes (as distinct from
public health uses) is one of the major factors which
are enabling the disease to make a comeback.
"At the very time malaria control efforts were
splintering or collapsing, the agricultural use of DDT
and its sister compounds was soaring. Almost overnight
resistant mosquito populations appeared all over the
world," notes author Laurie Garrett in her 1994 book,
The Coming Plague. At about the same time,
antibiotic-resistant strains of malaria began to
"To make matters worse, some Asian strains of the
malaria parasite have developed resistance to
available anti-malarial drugs," Bodo observes. "The
combination of pesticide resistance in the
transmission vector, the resistance of the parasite to
anti-malarial drugs, and the virtual impossibility of
mounting an effective quarantine in a modern world
where 500 million+ people annually move relatively
freely across borders, has knowledgeable public health
officials fearful that a major global resurgence of
malaria may be in the offing."
Ironically, writer Rachel Carson, whom Lieberman and
Whelan blame for creating the "DDT scare," was one of
the first people to warn that widespread agricultural
use of insecticides could undermine efforts to control
"No responsible person contends that insect-borne
disease should be ignored," Carson wrote in her 1962
book, Silent Spring, before adding prophetically, "The
question that has now urgently presented itself is
whether it is either wise or responsible to attack the
problem by methods that are rapidly making it worse. .
. . The insect enemy has been made stronger by our
efforts. Even worse, we may have destroyed our very
means of fighting."
IS VEGETARIANISM AN EATING DISORDER?
Sometimes ACSH's analysis of public health issues is
built around manipulations of emphasis rather than
wholesale rejection of the facts. In a 1997 booklet
titled "Vegetarianism," for example, ACSH staffer
Kathleen Meister performs an artful dance around the
facts which acknowledges the healthy potential of a
meatless diet while simultaneously providing
intellectual ammunition for ACSH's meat-industry
Of course, meat in moderate quantities can be part of
a healthy diet, but the typical American diet today
involves a much higher level of meat consumption than
even ACSH can defend. Meister's study therefore
ignores the consequences of the typical high-fat,
low-fiber Western diet, while dramatizing hypothetical
health risks to that small portion of the American
population which not only avoids meat entirely but
avoids dairy products and eggs as well. By Meister's
own estimate, less than 2 percent of the U.S.
population falls into this category.
"Many people choose a vegetarian diet because they
believe that vegetarianism is associated with good
health," Meister admits. "A substantial body of
scientific literature supports this belief. Several
large epidemiologic studies have indicated that
vegetarians (primarily lacto- or
lacto-ovo-vegetarians) have lower mortality rates and
lower rates of chronic diseases than do meat eaters."
She then attempts, however, to explain away these
studies by arguing that "Vegetarians may be healthy
for reasons not related to their dietary choices. Many
vegetarians are health conscious; they exercise
regularly, maintain a desirable body weight, don't
smoke, don't abuse illegal drugs, and don't abuse
"Vegetarianism may represent
a 'politically correct' way to
rationalize an eating disorder
. . . to explain away bizarre
eating practices such as
eating mainly salads and vegetables."
--ACSH's Kathleen Meister
After quickly disposing of the evidence in favor of
vegetarianism, Meister warms to the attack, warning
about what she calls the "danger of extremism. . . .
There have been tragic cases in which parents who were
attracted to 'alternative' medical practices and
philosophies have irreversibly damaged their
children's health by feeding them inappropriate diets,
relying on unproved health practices, and avoiding
scientifically based medical care. Often,
vegetarianism has been involved in such situations,
usually in combination with other unconventional
practices. . . . The result, in several reported
cases, has been serious--even fatal--illness."
Moreover, Meister adds, these dangers may increase
when kids go off to school: "Animal-rights groups and
environmental organizations that discourage meat
consumption are active on college campuses and even at
some high schools. These organizations are often very
aggressive in presenting their messages, and some
young people are strongly attracted by their emotional
appeals. . . . Some health professionals who treat
young people with eating disorders such as anorexia
nervosa and bulimia report that they are seeing
increasing numbers of young vegetarians who avoid
eating meat because they fear that it will make them
The point of the whole exercise is clear from the
headline of the news release that comes packaged with
the pamphlet: "You don't have to give up meat to enjoy
the benefits of a healthy diet."
Notwithstanding Meister's admission that a meatless
diet can be healthy, the pamphlet provides a ready
source of authoritative-sounding sound bytes that Mary
Young of the National Cattlemen's Beef Association
uses to warn the public against giving in to
In response to a newspaper story about vegetarian
actress Jennie Garth, for example, Young cites
Meister's opinion that "some teen-age and college-age
women who describe themselves as vegetarians may
actually be practicing unhealthy forms of weight
control or suffering from an eating disorder."
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