PCRM 2003: The Year in Review
The close of 2003 marks another year of growth and increased effectiveness for PCRM. Remarkable success has been achieved in medical schools, where animal labs are steadily being replaced with better methods. Interest in vegetarian diets on the part of the media, consumers, and the health care community continues to soar.
Challenges remain, however. The Atkins Diet fad is posing serious health risks to so many dieters struggling against obesity, while organizations such as the March of Dimes cling to animal experiments when relevant human health studies are more needed than ever.
The coming year holds tremendous opportunity to tackle these and other issues—thanks to PCRM supporters who make this possible.
PCRM’s communications department is headed by director Simon Chaitowitz. Along with communications liaison Jeanne Stuart McVey, communications coordinator Colleen Young, staff writer and Web editor Patrick Sullivan, and staff writer and Good Medicine editor Kristine Kieswer, the department ensures that PCRM’s nutrition and research campaigns remain front and center in the media worldwide.
Breaking the Food Seduction: PCRM president Neal Barnard, M.D., traveled to 40 cities this year, discussing his surprising findings on the addictive qualities of foods. Hundreds of radio, television, and print interviews allowed audiences to hear about the physically addictive nature of meat, cheese, chocolate, and sugar. Highlights included coverage by Good Morning America, WebMD, CNN Radio, newspapers in the United States and abroad—from New Zealand to Malaysia—and even by Dave Barry, Pulitzer Prize-winning humor columnist for The Miami Herald.
Newsweek ran a full-page feature on Dr. Barnard’s current diabetes study.
Three new televisions commercials were produced on the links between meat eating and heart disease and impotence.
Nutrition Research, Reports, and Surveys: The communications department handled publicity for a number of influential reports and surveys conducted by the nutrition department, including the National School Lunch Program report. Members of Congress were again encouraged to shift emphasis away from USDA-subsidized animal products, known to fuel childhood obesity, and toward the inclusion of more fruits and vegetables, which are sorely lacking in most school districts. The report was covered by Good Morning America, the Today Show, the Washington Post, National Public Radio, Associated Press, Education Week, and the New York Daily News. HealthySchoolLunches.org was launched, with ads appearing in Education Week.
PCRM’s reviews of airport and airline food, new fast-food salads, and cruise ship cuisine were covered in dozens of outlets, including the CBS Evening News, CNN’s Headline News, Wall Street Journal, National Public Radio, Travel Weekly, New York Times, San Francisco Chronicle, Boston Globe, Dow Jones News Service, WebMD, Chicago Tribune, Family Practice News, SkyGuide, Fitness Magazine, and Philadelphia Inquirer.
Exposing Dangers of the Atkins Diet: The communications department continued to disseminate information about the dangers of high-protein diets. PCRM nutritionists were featured on CNN, The Early Show, BBC, and many other U.S. and foreign news programs.
PCRM’s provocative new television commercials challenging the Atkins Diet ran on CNN’s Accent Health in doctors’ offices nationwide. An accompanying print ad, “High-Protein Diets Can Have Surprising Results,” ran in U.S. News and World Report’s “best hospitals” issue, as well as in the New York Times and other high-profile publications.
Research Issues: A study by PCRM physician Larry Hansen on the diminishing use of live animal labs in medical schools was published in Academic Medicine, bringing wider public attention to the issue through coverage in USA Today, the Chronicle of Higher Education, and Scripps Howard News Service.
Letters to the Editor and Commentaries: PCRM continued to submit letters and op-ed pieces regarding preventive medicine and research ethics to newspapers and magazines throughout the country, including USA Today, Psychology Today, Cleveland Plain Dealer, New Scientist, and Nature.
PCRM’s membership development department is led by development director Peggy Hilden and includes membership manager Alan Heymann, special events coordinator Alison Drone, data manager Rod Weaver, member services coordinator Deniz Corcoran, and data processing specialists Nabila Abdulwahab and Sossena Dagne. PCRM’s public education group includes member liaison Jennifer Drone, outreach coordinator Claudia Delman, assistant to the president Daria Karetnikov, and literature manager Victoria Meshcheryakova.
The development department also serves as a vital link to the community and those who generously support the work of PCRM. The Presidents’ Circle, Leadership Circle, the Rodney Fund, and Lifetime Partners programs were created to acknowledge these gifts. This year, the department responded to hundreds of calls, letters, and emails from members seeking assistance with planned giving, speaking engagements, and nutrition information. PCRM’s online estate-planning module (www.pcrm.gift-planning.org) now allows donors to see the power of their giving options.
PCRM’s legal advocacy team includes chief legal counsel Mindy Kursban and senior litigator Dan Kinburn. They handled many interviews regarding obesity-related lawsuits, raising awareness about the risks of meat-heavy diets and resulting in national television appearances, including CBS’s The Early Show, Fox News Channel’s Hannity and Colmes Show, and MSNBC’s Lester Holt Show. Numerous in-depth op-eds ran in publications such as the Atlanta Journal-Constitution and the National Law Journal.
PCRM’s legal department has submitted testimony to the House and Senate opposing food-industry bailouts, which attempt to immunize the food industry from any liability related to the obesity epidemic.
Lawsuits filed in 2002 are being pursued. In particular, PCRM is another step closer to cutting out animal toxicity tests imposed by the EPA’s High-Production Volume Challenge. And PCRM’s suit against Tyson Foods for false advertising claiming that chicken is “natural” and “heart healthy” are moving forward.
The legal team’s petition for rulemaking filed with the USDA asking that non-dairy beverages be included in the National School Lunch Program prompted many other organizations to push for this change. Congress is now considering the issue as part of the National School Lunch Act reauthorization.
PCRM’s research advocacy department is run by director Chad Sandusky, Ph.D. Research analysts are Megha Even, M.S., and Kristie Stoick, M.P.H., with consultants Jonathan Balcombe, Ph.D., and Jarrod Bailey, Ph.D.
Alternatives to Animal Experimentation: The Humane Charity Seal of Approval guides potential donors to charities that avoid animal experiments. Campaign outreach expanded to include advertisements featuring actor Noah Wyle and assistance with the creation of British and Australian chapters.
Cleaning Up the March of Dimes: PCRM is continually reaching major corporate March of Dimes sponsors, urging them to allocate their donations to nonanimal research programs. After learning about March of Dimes’ wasteful animal experiments, Vons supermarket in Arcadia, Calif., replaced its donation boxes with those of Easter Seals, which has been awarded the Humane Charity Seal of Approval.
Monitoring the EPA: Since EPA’s High-Production Volume Challenge (HPV) began in 1998, PCRM’s research analysts have monitored test plans and uncovered major flaws in the program’s fundamental design and execution. When Arch Chemical, Inc., planned to conduct duplicative animal tests, PCRM met with EPA officials, who directed the company to instead make use of available chemical data.
PCRM worked with local activists in Ingham County, Mich., to educate the public about pound seizure (the sale of animals, usually dogs, from shelters for experimentation), convincing county board members to ban sales to “Class B” dealers. A bill is now pending in the State Legislature to terminate the practice statewide.
The research department took part in the Scientific Advisory Committee for Alternative Toxicological Methods meetings, Animal Care Guidelines meetings at Georgetown University, and many other scientific conferences. Dr. Sandusky maintains a significant presence at the Voluntary Children’s Chemical Exposure Program meetings and has also been appointed to the Board of Trustees of Toxicology and Environmental Risk Assessment, ensuring that ethical concerns regarding the use of animals in research remain front and center.
PCRM researchers are now working to develop a cruelty-free insulin assay, a diagnostic test to assess insulin sensitivity in diabetes patients, including those enrolled in PCRM’s current study, without harming animals.
Jonathan Balcombe, Ph.D., has completed a scientific analysis of the effects of routine laboratory procedures on animals and submitted it for publication. The paper is the first in a series concerning various aspects of animal experiments, from ethics to validity.
Jenna Morasca's Dissecton Alternatives Advertisement
The Alternatives to Dissection program introduced students, parents, and teachers to a new PCRM resource that helps them explore biology without harming animals. A brochure, Web site DissectionAlternatives.org, convention backdrop, and Web banner advertisement were designed, along with an exciting advertisement featuring Jenna Morasca, 2003 winner of CBS’s hit show Survivor.
PCRM’s nutrition department is directed by Amy Lanou, Ph.D., and includes nutrition projects coordinator Jennifer Keller, R.D., staff dietitian Amber Green, R.D., and research assistant Sarah Mugford. It works closely with the clinical research department, whose research coordinator is Brie Turner-McGrievy, M.S., R.D., research data manager is Travis Moose, and phlebotomist is Laura Hale.
The Cancer Project • www.CancerProject.org: PCRM’s nutrition staff, led by Jennifer Keller, R.D., taught five more series of the Nutrition & Cooking Classes for Cancer Survivors, which have now reached hundreds of cancer survivors and their friends and family members in the Washington, D.C., area. The Nutrition for Cancer Survivors Video and Handbook and the Food for Life television pilot are under development.
Healthy Kids Campaign: The soymilk acceptability pilot study found that 30 percent of students at Dillard Elementary School in Broward County, Fla., chose soymilk over cow’s milk after four weeks of having a soymilk option in the lunch line. Five similar studies will be conducted throughout the school year to evaluate taste preferences and calcium intake.
Nutrition Research: PCRM’s weight loss study was completed with four scientific manuscripts submitted for publication.
PCRM’s diabetes study, which grew from a 1999 pilot study testing a vegan diet in patients with diabetes, is now underway. The study compares a low-fat, vegan diet to the current nutrition guidelines of the American Diabetes Association.
The department is conducting reviews of the scientific literature on:
- Dairy and Bone Health in Children and Adolescents
- Vegetarian Diets and Weight
- Vegetarian Diets and Heart Disease
- Vegetarian Diets and Hypertension
Many presentations on vegetarian nutrition were given at scientific and medical conferences, including the Alabama Dietetic Association conference, the American Dietetic Association conference, the Massachusetts Association of Health, Physical Education, Recreation, and Dance, and the American Public Health Association Conference on Dairy and Bone Health.
PCRM nutrition experts appeared several times on CNN Headline News to discuss healthy school initiatives in New York City, nutrition labeling on restaurant menus in the District of Columbia, and healthy breakfast ideas for kids.
PCRM’s administration and finance department includes controller Stephen Kane, personnel manager Louise Holton, IT manager Nick Patch, office manager Ronny Little, and receptionist Lauren McCutcheon. The team coordinated a major office expansion at PCRM’s D.C. headquarters to accommodate continued growth of the staff and PCRM campaigns.
Publications are handled by director Doug Hall, Web designer Lisa Schulz, publications associate Isabel Clark, and production coordinator Juliet Capon. The department oversees the production of Good Medicine magazine, PCRM Web sites, books, brochures, print ad design, merchandise, and convention displays, bringing the campaigns of every department to life.
A sincere thank-you to the countless physicians and others who have lent their time and expertise in 2003, including:
Zarin Azar, M.D.
Sheri Lynn DeMaris, R.D.
Michael Jacobson, Ph.D.
William Richardson, M.D.
Each year, PCRM’s public education group reaches thousands of medical professionals at conferences such as these:
American College of Surgeons
American College of Cardiology
American Society of Internal Medicine /American College of Physicians
American Academy of Pediatrics
American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists
American Diabetes Association
American Medical Student Association
American Dietetic Association
Thank you, Dean!
Long-time member Dean Vanech is not sitting still for diabetes, a condition that affects millions of people, including his mother. He laced up his sneakers and, with sponsorship from friends and family, raced 26.5 miles around San Francisco’s Kezar Stadium track. In the process, he raised $2,500 for PCRM’s clinical diabetes study.