Debating PCRM Isn’t a Fair Fight

We’ve followed the phony milk debate that anti-dairy activists at the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM) are trying to reboot in the mainstream media. Meanwhile, another PCRM rep put pen to paper to engage in a Wall Street Journal point/counterpoint debate. It turns out that in a head-to-head matchup, PCRM looks even worse.

Although he didn’t waste any ink hawking dioxin screening tests (for a small fee), PCRM board member T. Colin Campbell unsurprisingly takes the side of “Yes: Cut Animal Based Protein.” When you read Campbell’s screed, you might feel déjà vu. Don’t worry—you have heard all of this before. Much like his fellow activists at PCRM, Campbell rehashes the same old arguments, many of which come from his book, The China Study, published back in 2004, the most ridiculous being that animal protein causes cancer.

On the other side is Dr. Nancy Rodriguez, a professor of nutritional sciences at University of Connecticut, Storrs. She advocates a balanced diet and lifestyle. And she also makes it clear that Campbell’s points, particularly on animal protein causing cancer, aren’t credible:

Proponents of a vegan diet paint a grim picture of the effects of animal protein on human health. But the effects of powdered, isolated casein on rats tells us very little about what traditionally consumed forms of milk will do to humans. And it tells us nothing that can be generalized to all “animal nutrients.” …

It is simply untrue to suggest that animal protein causes cancer. The American Cancer Society, along with other leading health organizations, emphasizes that the effects of foods and nutrients need to be considered in the context of the total diet. Research from many sources shows that other factors, such as not smoking, responsible alcohol consumption, maintaining a healthy weight and regular physical activity, are much more important to reducing cancer risk than eating or avoiding any individual food.

She also puts PCRM’s junk science about dairy to shame.

Finally, contrary to my opponent’s assertions, dairy’s role in strengthening bones has long been established by the nutrition and science community. Don’t take just the Dietary Guidelines’ word. Dozens of randomized, controlled, clinical trials—the gold standard in research—have demonstrated that calcium and dairy products contribute to stronger bones. These trials far outweigh any observational studies which, by their very design, cannot show a causal relationship between eliminating meat and dairy foods and a subsequent improvement in health.

When you start with an animal rights agenda and try to find the science to back it up, you’re bound to find only the studies that support your position. PCRM’s “research” against meat and dairy can hardly stand on their own, let alone against a credible expert.

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