Editorial: PCRM: A Trusted Resource
PCRM members can be proud to be part of an organization that has become a vital resource on medical issues, from prevention and nutrition to animal experiment alternatives to controversies over human experimentation.
In medical schools and trauma courses for surgeons and emergency physicians, the information and encouragement PCRM has provided have helped a great many medical centers institute new training methods that are much more effective than old-fashioned animal laboratories. We are now seeing these techniques becoming routine. And, as PCRM staffers critique test plans submitted to the Environmental Protection Agency by chemical manufacturers, they are able to provide information on testing methods that are far better than tests on rats, mice, and dogs.
We have acted as an important information source to a sometimes reluctant federal bureaucracy. I recently addressed the Scientific Advisory Council of the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), recommending that the Council hold its researchers' feet to the fire about using alternatives to animals. The case in point was the well-publicized NIDA experiment in which Ohio State University veterinarian Michael Podell administers methamphetamine ("speed") to cats, along with an infectious virus, to "model" the brain-damaging effects when HIV-infected humans use speed as a drug of abuse. What many people at NIDA did not apparently realize was that their institute is also funding another researcher to do essentially the same study in human beings—he is examining brain function in methamphetamine-dependent, HIV-positive humans. So the question was, why didn't the cat experimenter first check the alternatives, including the possibility of ethical human studies? That would have given meaningful results. After the meeting, several attendees spoke up, saying they were glad someone had finally raised an issue they had been concerned about themselves.
As a result of our successful federal lawsuit, the process by which the government's dietary guidelines are developed is now open to the public. And, as dairy industry ads have splashed on buses, newspapers, and magazines, PCRM has insisted on truth in advertising. One major result was the first admission from any governmental body that, indeed, drinking milk is linked to prostate cancer and heart disease.
PCRM's newest publications come in the new four-book Healthy Eating for Life series, published by John Wiley & Sons. In it, PCRM experts detail the very best dietary information for pregnancy and childhood, women's health, cancer prevention and survival, and diabetes prevention and reversal. Not surprisingly, the series has become an instant hit, with information most doctors never before provided for patients.
Meanwhile, the news media regularly turn to PCRM for authoritative information on medical issues and controversies. And, our classes for individuals seeking to improve their diets are filled to the brim.
Our latest innovation is PCRM Breaking Medical News. Designed for medical students, health professionals, and interested laypersons, this electronic newsletter brings the very latest research reports, often before they are accessible by Medline or other computer search programs.
In all these areas, our job has been to separate the truth from the noise and to speak up for compassion, health, and a better kind of medical practice.
Neal D. Barnard, M.D.
President of PCRM