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Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia


The Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM) is a non-profit organization based in Washington, D.C., founded in 1985 by psychiatrist Neal D. Barnard. It is an "association of doctors and laypersons" whose stated purposes are to promote preventive medicine and encourage higher standards for ethics and effectiveness in research. [1]


The organization's advisory board includes T. Colin Campbell, Ph.D., of Cornell University, Caldwell B. Esselstyn, Jr., M.D., of The Cleveland Clinic, Henry J. Heimlich, M.D., and John McDougall, M.D among others. [1] PCRM has a paid staff of 40[2], and claim a membership of approximately 5,000 physicians and 100,000 lay members. [3]


The PCRM advocates for a vegan diet, which it argues helps combat a multitude of physical ailments, such as diabetes and high blood pressure among many others. PCRM goes further and claims that vegetarian products, which are "naturally low in saturated fat, high in fiber, and replete with cancer-protective phytochemicals," can help to prevent cancer. [4]

PCRM runs a website that collects reports of adverse health effects experienced by people on the Atkins diet. [1]. PCRM also argues that consuming dairy products is unhealthful and advocates for improving the food served in school lunchrooms. [2] In addition, PCRM runs The Cancer Project, a program for cancer prevention, research, and nutritional assistance to cancer patients. [3]

Its research department promotes alternatives to the use of animals in education and research. The organization's official position paper on animal experimentation argues that the scientific and medical communities must move decisively to replace animals: "The exploration and implementation of non-animal methods should be a priority for investigators and research institutions and should take advantage of a wide variety of viewpoints to ensure progress toward scientific, human health, and animal protection goals." [5]

The organization's nutrition director, Amy Lanou, Ph.D., has criticized the U.S. Department of Agriculture for promoting high-fat, high-calorie product, such as some cookies and fast-food products [6]linked to child obesity. [7]

PCRM's founder, Dr. Neal Barnard, is a psychiatrist by training, not a nutritionist. However, Dr. Barnard has published dozens of peer-reviewed scientific papers on nutritional topics in such leading journals as The American Journal of Cardiology and the Journal of the American Dietetic Association. [citation needed]

The American Council on Science and Health is critical of PCRM's nutritional policies, saying that the group emphasize and exaggerate the reliability of certain research, to further an animal rights agenda.[8].

PCRM and the Center for Consumer Freedom

The Center for Consumer Freedom has accused PCRM of being a front group for People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals [9] as well as being a "fanatical animal rights group".[10] PCRM was also criticized, in this article, for misrepresenting medical studies to promote a vegetarian diet.

PCRM responded by calling CCF a "a group funded by the tobacco, meat, and junk-food industries" and accuse Richard Berman, the director of CCF, of receiving funding from industries that market "unhealthful products". [11]

Relationship with People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals

PETA has donated more than $1.3m to the organisation [4]. PETA is based in Norfolk, Va., and PCRM in Washington, D.C. However, there exists a third organization called Foundation to Support Animal Protection housed out of the same address as PETA. This organization's board consists in part of PCRM founder and president Neal Barnard, MD and PETA's cofounder and president Ingrid Newkirk.[5] The IRS form 990s filed for FSAP confirm that from 1999 through 2000 PCRM was a supported organization.[6] Since 2000, FSAP has declined to itemize its supported organizations. [7]

The ties between PCRM, PETA, and FSAP have received criticism from consumer and professional watchdog groups; including The Center for Consumer Freedom[8], the The American Council on Science and Health[citation needed] and The American Physiological Society [9].


PCRM has been accused of having links with animal rights "extremists". Jerry Vlasak, a former spokesman for the PCRM, caused controversy in 2004 when he commented, "I don't think you'd have to kill too many researchers. I think for five lives, 10 lives, 15 human lives, we could save a million, 2 million, 10 million non-human lives." PCRM subsequently distanced themselves from Vlasak, who acknowledged he was working independently of the group "at the moment". [10] The Observer reports that in 2001, PCRM president Neil Barnard joined Kevin Jonas, the former leader of SHAC-USA, "to co-sign hundreds of letters sent to the bosses of companies involved with Huntingdon Life Sciences, urging them to break their links with the firm." [11] Jonas was later convicted and jailed for "animal enterprise terrorism" of those who did business with HLS [12], and Vlasak's wife, Pamelyn Ferdin, succeeded him as the president of SHAC-USA.

PCRM features on the Quackwatch list of Questionable Organisations.


  1. ^ a b "About PCRM", retrieved August 11, 2006.
  2. ^ Report on PCRM by, retrieved August 12 2006
  3. ^ PCRM entry on, retrieved August 11 2006
  4. ^ Vegetarian Foods: Powerful for Health, retrieved August 11, 2006
  5. ^ "PCRM Position Paper on Animal Research", adopted June 4, 2004
  6. ^ [ "Cookie Monsters Oreo promotion puts USDA on wrong side of obesity fight"], July 11, 2004, retrieved August 2006
  7. ^ Fast Food Linked To Child Obesity, Associated Press, January 5 2003
  8. ^ Physicians' Committee for Responsible Medicine: Not So Responsible, retrieved September 12, 2006
  9. ^ "Atkins Blasting 'Physicians' Committee Is a Front Group for PETA", Center for Consumer Freedom, February 10, 2004
  10. ^ Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine on, retrieved on August 11
  11. ^ Group Responds to Smear Tactics by Tobacco/Meat Industry Front Group", November 7, 2005

External links

  • Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine
  • The Center for Consumer Freedom
  • The American Council On Science and Health
  • The American Physiological Society

See Also

Center for Consumer Freedom

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