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The Physicians Committee

 PCRM 2008 The Year in Review

Ethical Research, Healthy Bodies

Alternatives to Animals in Medical Education

graduate and dogThis has been an extraordinary year. From encouraging better nutrition in schools to promoting alternatives to animal use in medical education, PCRM has accomplished more than ever before. Here are highlights from our major campaigns.

PCRM continues to push hard for animal-free medical education, and our efforts have paid off. Every new medical school established in the past quarter-century has an animal-free curriculum, confirming that the medical education standard no longer includes the use of animals.

In March, PCRM learned that the Brody School of Medicine at East Carolina University would end the use of live animals, and Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine in Ohio announced that it would end its live animal lab program in June. In November, the University of Tennessee announced that students will no longer practice on animals. This leaves only eight U.S. medical schools with live animal laboratories. PCRM is actively working to end these last live animal labs.

PCRM has also stepped up its campaign to end the use of animals in trauma training. Over 90 percent of U.S. and Canadian facilities no longer use animals for Advanced Trauma Life Support (ATLS) training.

In September, the University of Vermont College of Medicine and University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics stopped using animals in ATLS courses. In November, PCRM launched a public effort to end the use of live dogs from a local animal shelter for ATLS training at Idaho State University. PCRM’s efforts sparked widespread media coverage, and just seven days after the campaign launched, the school announced it would end the practice.

As these postgraduate programs are replacing animal use with humane learning methods, it is becoming even more difficult for college, high school, and middle school educators to justify classroom dissection. The National Science Teachers Association, the largest science education association in the world, has announced a revision to its position in support of humane alternatives to dissection.

PCRM will continue its work to encourage alternatives to animal use in science education and medical training. To learn how you can help, go to

Polling placeBig Win for Animals in California

Proposition 2—a California ballot measure that will improve the lives of animals on farms across the state—won by a huge margin on Nov. 4, and PCRM played an important role in this victory. The measure requires that breeding pigs, calves confined for veal, and egg-laying hens be given enough space to stand up, turn around, and fully extend their limbs or wings. More hygienic conditions will also decrease the chance of pathogens infecting the animals and spreading to humans.

PCRM gathered thousands of signatures to help get Proposition 2 on the ballot. Member doctors published op-eds and letters to the editor supporting the initiative and organized get-out-the-vote efforts.
Healthy School Lunches

PCRM offered vegan options in Broward County, Fla.PCRM is working to improve school lunches across the country.

This year, PCRM helped Washington International School in Washington, D.C., add vegan options. And after a successful test of vegan options in Broward County, Fla., the entire school district—the nation’s sixth-largest—added vegan meals to the regular menu. 

PCRM’s seventh School Lunch Report Card graded schools on their menus and nutrition education, and offered suggestions on how to improve. The 2008 report card showed an increasing number of healthful vegetarian and vegan options, and all the schools participating offered a nondairy beverage. There is still room for improvement. While seven school districts received an A- or higher, six districts lagged behind with D’s and F’s.

Hot Dogs Feeling the Heat

The Cancer Project launched a major campaign to educate the public about the cancer risk found in processed meats. Hot dogs, bacon, and other processed meats cause colorectal cancer and should be avoided completely, according to the American Institute for Cancer Research and the World Cancer Research Fund.

In July, The Cancer Project released “Protect Our Kids,” a provocative 30-second TV commercial that sparked major media coverage and became a YouTube hit. The ad features three young actors describing their lives from the perspective of adults with cancer. The ad invites viewers to help “get processed meats out of our schools.”

Cancer Project nutritionists also conducted a study of 29 large school districts across the country, finding that school menus are packed with processed meats; 16 of the 29 districts received failing grades.

The Cancer Project filed a petition for rulemaking calling on the U.S. Department of Agriculture to eliminate processed meats from school lunches. The petition includes declarations of support from prominent nutrition and cancer experts, including Walter Willett, M.D., Dr.P.H., chair of the department of nutrition at the Harvard School of Public Health.

To learn more and find out how you can help, visit


Good Medicine: The War on Animals

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