A psychiatrist by training, Neal Barnard has made a name for himself in
animal-rights circles since 1985, when he founded the Physicians
Committee for Responsible Medicine, an animal rights group dressed up
as a medical association. From 1989 to 1991 he served as a Contributing
Editor to The Animals' Agenda magazine, writing frequent columns on
animal-rights topics. In 2003, he was nominated for the "Animal
Rights Hall of Fame."
Barnard grew up in North Dakota in a family that included two doctors
and four cattle ranchers. He actually worked at a local McDonald's
during high school. According to a now-defunct publication called the
Animal Rights Reporter: "Barnard says that his involvement in animal
rights results from a rescue of a lab rodent that became a pet and
companion to him."
Although he's a psychiatrist by training, Barnard has written nearly
a dozen books on the subject of nutrition. All of them condemn animal
protein. One such book, Breaking the Food Seduction, argues that meat
and dairy are, literally, addictive drugs.
Neal Barnard is People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals' medical
advisor, and is president of the Foundation to Support Animal
Protection (also known as "The PETA Foundation") -- a legal entity
that owns most of PETA's real estate, pays its largest salaries, and
has funneled huge sums of money to PCRM.
In 1995 Merritt Clifton, editor of Animal People News, wrote that
Barnard and PETA president Ingrid Newkirk had "lived together for
many years" and were "lovers."
Founder & President, Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine;
Advisory Board Member, EarthSave International; President, Foundation
to Support Animal Protection (The PETA Foundation); former Contributing
Editor, The Animals' Agenda
Associated Organizations and Foundations
Organization: People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals
Position: Medical Advisor
People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) has been described
as "by far the most successful radical organization in America." The
key word is...
find out more »
Organization: EarthSave International
Position: Advisory Board Member
EarthSave began in 1988 as a pet project of John Robbins, one-time heir
to the Baskin-Robbins ice cream fortune. His book Diet for a New
find out more »
Organization: Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine
Position: Founder & President
The Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM) is a wolf in
sheep's clothing. PCRM is a fanatical animal rights group that seeks
find out more »
Foundation: PETA Foundation
This foundation is a project of PETA president Ingrid Newkirk and the
Physicians Committee's Neal Barnard. In addition to being a money
Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine
5100 Wisconsin Avenue, Suite 404, Washington, DC 20016
Phone 202-686-2210 | Fax 202-686-2216 | Email pc...@pcrm.org
The Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM) is a wolf in
sheep's clothing. PCRM is a fanatical animal rights group that seeks
to remove eggs, milk, meat, and seafood from the American diet, and to
eliminate the use of animals in scientific research. Despite its
operational and financial ties to other animal activist groups and its
close relationship with violent zealots, PCRM has successfully duped
the media and much of the general public into believing that its
pronouncements about the superiority of vegetarian-only diets represent
the opinion of the medical community.
"Less than 5 percent of PCRM's members are physicians," Newsweek
wrote in February 2004. The respected news magazine continued:
[PCRM president Neal] Barnard has co-signed letters, on PCRM
letterhead, with the leader of Stop Huntingdon Animal Cruelty, an
animal-rights group the Department of Justice calls a "domestic
terrorist threat." PCRM also has ties to People for the Ethical
Treatment of Animals. An agency called the Foundation to Support Animal
Protection has distributed money from PETA to PCRM in the past and,
until very recently, did both groups' books. Barnard and PETA head
Ingrid Newkirk are both on the foundation's board.
New York Times columnist Joe Sharkey put it more crisply in a November
2004 piece about PCRM's annual airport-food ratings. "The
physicians' committee has a PETA link," he wrote, "and its food
rankings reflect that agenda."
While PCRM presents itself as a doctor-supported, unbiased source of
health guidance, the group's own literature echoes Newsweek's
observation that 95 percent of its members have no medical degrees. And
even the five-percent doctor membership that PCRM claims is open to
question. Anyone claiming to be a physician or a medical student can
join without paying a dime -- even if their only motivation is to
collect free waiting-room reading material.
PCRM's anti-meat and anti-dairy tactics include newspaper op-eds and
letters, campaigns against airports and school boards, and television
commercials. One 2005 TV spot claims "the most dangerous thing our
kids have to deal with today isn't violence. It isn't drugs. It's
unhealthy food." PCRM's prescription? "Vegetarian foods."
The American Medical Association (AMA), which actually represents the
medical profession, has called PCRM a "fringe organization" that
uses "unethical tactics" and is "interested in perverting medical
PCRM is a font of medical disinformation. The group has argued, with a
straight face, that experiments involving animal subjects "interfere
with new drug development." PCRM even rejects the consensus of the
respectable medical community by claiming that animal experimentation
"leads AIDS research astray."
PCRM discourages Americans from making donations to health charities
like the American Heart Association, the American Cancer Society, St.
Jude Children's Research Hospital, the American Foundation for AIDS
Research, the Christopher Reeve Paralysis Foundation, the American Red
Cross, and even Boys Town. All because they support research that
requires animals, in order to cure human diseases. PCRM's multi-year
crusade against the March of Dimes, which includes protests directed at
March walkers, volunteers, and donors, has been reported widely.
Attacking Meat and Dairy
Often appearing in a lab coat, PCRM president Neal Barnard looks the
part of a mainstream health expert. He also churns out a steady stream
of reliably anti-meat and anti-dairy nutrition research. Although his
"results" generally conclude that a vegan diet (practiced by a tiny
fraction of Americans) will solve any of dozens of health problems, the
mass media eats them up. And PCRM is media-savvy enough to take
But Barnard was trained as a psychiatrist, not a nutritionist. His
nutritional advice boils down to one basic message: don't eat meat,
or anything that comes from animals. PCRM has complained to the Federal
Trade Commission about advertisements that depict milk as part of a
healthy diet. It petitioned the government to slap meat and poultry
with a "biohazard label," adding in its newsletter that eggs should
carry these dire warnings as well.
PCRM often uses a mixed carrot-and-stick approach to spreading its
propaganda. While its ads call school lunches "weapons of mass
destruction" for including meat and milk, its "report card" press
releases congratulate selected schools for serving "healthy" (read:
vegetarian-friendly) meals. After receiving a "failing" grade in a
2004 PCRM survey, the Albuquerque Public Schools told the press that it
wouldn't have participated if it had known the group's real agenda.
"Real physicians," the school district's nutrition coordinator
told the Albuquerque Tribune, "would not recommend a vegan diet for
In 1994, PCRM created an ad that suggested eating meat is "tantamount
to suicide." The ad began: "Last year, over a million people left
the same suicide note." Under that headline a handwritten note read:
"Shopping list: Butter, eggs, mayo, potato chips, ham, bacon."
A 2003 PCRM ad campaign had the same theme. The group bought a full
page in the "Hospital Guide" issue of U.S. News & World Report and
used the space to imply that eating meat will put you on a hospital
gurney. The ad places readers in the position of a patient, looking up
at surgeons, and reads: "High-Protein Diets Can Have Surprising
And so it goes with milk. PCRM claims that dairy causes "a host of
medical problems like cancer, anemia, diabetes, and heart disease."
The group has compared Christopher Columbus's introduction of cheese
in the New World to the 15th-Century contagions that ravaged Native
American populations. It also makes the ridiculous argument that policy
makers "should think of drinking milk the same way we think of
A January 23, 2002 article by the Cybercast News Service further
reveals PCRM's duplicity:
A Harvard professor is denouncing efforts by an animal rights group to
show a link between milk and cancer, accusing it of misrepresenting his
research. The group Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine
(PCRM) is using the research of Dr. Daniel Cramer, M.D. to support a
recent ad campaign that claims milk and dairy products contribute to
"obesity, ear infections, constipation, respiratory problems, heart
disease, and some cancers."
But Cramer said those conclusions are false and that his research never
supported such claims ... "I think that particular group has their
own sort of agenda, of not wanting milk production around, and cows to
be utilized," said Cramer. "Their agenda is that [they] don't
want ... cows exploited or they want everybody to be vegetarians,"
Participating in Fast-Food Lawsuits
One of the most farcical aspects of American culture in the last few
years has been the advent of lawsuits blaming restaurants and food
companies for individuals' obesity. Even before such cases became the
stuff of late-night television comedy, PCRM was demanding tobacco-style
federal lawsuits against meat producers and fast-food restaurants.
Claiming that "meat consumption is just as dangerous to public health
as tobacco use," PCRM recommended that the Justice Department
"begin preparing a case against major meat producers and
retailers." That was in 1999.
In the summer of 2002, New York City attorney Samuel Hirsch filed suit
against McDonald's, Wendy's, Burger King, and KFC, alleging that
the restaurant chains should be held financially responsible for some
of their customers' obesity and health problems. The suit's lead
plaintiff was an obese maintenance worker named Caesar Barber. At the
time, PCRM stated that it "applauds the lawsuit filed Wednesday in a
New York State court that holds four fast-food chains responsible for
an obese man's health problems."
Less than a month after the Barber lawsuit was filed, PCRM warned
doctors about possible legal action. "An ad targeting primary care
physicians -- with the headline 'Could Prescribing a High-Protein
Diet Put You at Legal Risk?' -- will debut the following week on The
Journal of Family Practice's Web site," PCRM wrote in a press
release. In the release, Neal Barnard alleged that doctors who
prescribe high-protein diets "may be assuming serious legal
When Samuel Hirsch filed a second lawsuit early in 2003 (this time
blaming McDonald's alone for the weight problems of children),
Barnard's name appeared four times in the legal complaint. One
The Defendants' [sic] allegedly distributed attractive plastic toys
and booklets on what they consider to be good nutrition. One of these
toys is a plastic beefsteak named "Slugger," which flexes its toy
muscles as if to suggest that meat gives strength. Dr. Neil [sic]
Barnard, a physician who is the president of the Physician's [sic]
Committee for Responsible Medicine (with over 5000 members) testified
that the accompanying booklet stated that eating two servings a day of
foods in the meat group "can make it easier to do things like climb
higher and ride your bike farther." However, as Dr. Neal Barnard
noted, the aforementioned "Slugger" representation was deceptive as
foods in the meat group do not increase endurance or athletic prowess,
and do not improve a child's capacity to climb or ride, and the
concept that high-protein foods are essential for endurance was proved
false many years ago. See Exhibit J, Witness Statement, Dr. Neil [sic]
In June 2003, Barnard's book Breaking the Food Seduction went on
sale. Part 1, less than 60 pages of the book, argues that meat, cheese,
and chocolate -- all anathema to the PETA crowd -- are addictive.
It's based, writes Barnard, on work done "over the past several
years at our research center in Washington, D.C." PCRM's press
release refers to this work as "recently conducted but previously
Part 2, more than 200 pages long, makes the case for a vegan diet. The
book is littered with absurd claims (page 51 insinuates that all milk
and dairy foods contains morphine and other illicit drugs) and is
exactly what you'd expect from an animal-rights zealot posing as a
Except that the press release announcing Barnard's book was
headlined: "Nutrition Expert Provides New Ammunition for Fast-Food
Lawsuits." The release insisted that "it's high time we stopped
blaming ourselves" for overeating. Instead, PCRM argues, we should
blame restaurants and the food industry. After all, Neal Barnard has
declared that meat is addictive, and cheese is "morphine on a
cracker" and "dairy crack"
Supersized Con Job
It's not surprising that PCRM's magazine gave "Super Size Me,"
the anti-fast-food film polemic, "two carrots up" for pushing the
absurd notion of "the addictive nature of many unhealthy foods."
After all, the flick featured only one doctor who believes food is
addictive: PCRM president Neal Barnard. And in November 2004, when the
film's DVD was released, PCRM distributed copies to every member of
Fast food lawsuits are the perfect cover for PCRM's anti-meat agenda,
and film director Morgan Spurlock made full use of Barnard's
addiction theories in "Super Size Me." The movie's soundtrack
plays Curtis Mayfield's "Pusher Man" while showing footage of
Ronald McDonald. Discussing his all-McDonald's diet, Spurlock
complained: "I definitely went through serious withdrawal
But at the end of his 30-day fast-food escapade, Spurlock rejoiced that
he was no longer forced to continue his all-McDonald's diet. If
Spurlock were truly addicted, as his claim of "withdrawal symptoms"
would indicate, he couldn't have changed his diet so easily.
PCRM has also pursued its own lawsuit against Tyson Foods. An ad
campaign describing chicken as "heart healthy" ruffled PCRM's
feathers, even though the American Heart Association says that eight
separate Tyson chicken products are exactly that. The bogus lawsuit
also complained about the company describing its products as "all
natural." Tyson responded by noting that the USDA explicitly allows
its health claims.
Once the Tyson ad campaign had run its course and PCRM had wrung the
last drop of free publicity out of the episode, the lawsuit withered on
Yet PCRM continues to insist: "There's no room for chicken in a
healthy diet." Its argument? A big non sequitur: "Chicken, no
matter how smartly advertised, will never contain fiber, complex
carbohydrates, or vitamin C."
Similarly, spinach, broccoli, and carrots contribute no vitamin B-12 to
the diet, contain very little protein, and offer absolutely zero in the
way of heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids. But like chicken, they have
other properties to recommend them.
Exploiting the Dead and Drumming Up Lawsuits
In February 2004, PCRM ran the following advertisement in The Express,
a free commuter newspaper distributed on the DC metro-rail system by
the Washington Post:
Have you had serious problems on an Atkins-style, high protein, low
carbohydrate diet? Were you advised by a doctor to go on the diet or
did you consult with a doctor about the diet? If so, you may be able to
file a lawsuit to recover damages. If you believe you are injured,
contact attorney Daniel Kinburn at ...
Openly soliciting lawsuits against physicians -- at a time when
frivolous malpractice litigation runs rampant -- does not represent a
real conflict of interest for PCRM. After all, only 5 percent of its
"members" are actual doctors. And PCRM's not saying how many of
those physicians "joined" for free.
The other (non-leather) shoe dropped in May 2004, when PCRM announced
that it had enlisted a Florida millionaire named Jody Gorran to sue the
late Dr. Atkins's estate. Gorran claimed his cholesterol escalated to
unhealthy levels after he followed the Atkins diet plan for 30 months
-- despite the fact that he weighed a svelte 148 pounds before going on
the diet. Gorran insists that he's not in it for the money. He
enlisted PCRM's help, writes The New York Times, "because they are
familiar with publicity."
This is true -- PCRM is adept at using negative publicity to attack
anyone supporting a diet that includes meat and dairy foods. Just a
week after the "sue your doctor" ad appeared, PCRM scurrilously
leaked the late Dr. Robert Atkins's confidential medical examiner's
report to the Wall Street Journal and the New York Times, spurring a
media frenzy that misrepresented the facts surrounding his death and
unfairly painted him as an obese victim of his own diet advice.
PCRM obtained Dr. Atkins' records from Dr. Richard M. Fleming, who at
the time was promoting his own vegetarian diet book. (The manner in
which Fleming obtained the records is an ethical breach in and of
itself.) In its comments to the press, PCRM intentionally emphasized
ambiguous information from Dr. Atkins' medical file in an attempt to
smear him as "obese" at the time of his death. Dr. Atkins, however,
gained 60 pounds during the last days of his life, as he was hydrated
to an unusual degree in order to maintain his blood pressure. When Dr.
Atkins was initially admitted to the hospital following a head injury,
hospital records showed he was a fit 195 pounds. Details, details,
PCRM also attempted to blame the Atkins diet for its namesake's heart
condition. But doctors note that the root cause of this was a virus,
and not diet-related. An upset Veronica Atkins decried her late
husband's attackers as "the vegetarian Taliban ... They're nasty.
I've seen them. I've been to conventions, and everything else. They
are nasty, nasty people," she told Dateline NBC.
What Mainstream Doctors Have Said About PCRM
The American Medical Association (AMA) has issued several strong public
rebukes of PCRM, including a 1991 statement in Newsweek by the AMA's
senior vice president for science and medical education, who said:
"They are neither responsible nor are they physicians."
In a December 25, 1991 letter to JAMA (the AMA's official journal),
AMA scientific affairs vice president Dr. Jerod M. Loeb wrote: "the
Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine has been formally
censured by the AMA for purposefully misrepresenting the critical role
animals play in medical research." Loeb also noted that PCRM
"orchestrated a letter-writing campaign to JAMA" designed to
promote the false impression that most doctors agreed with
Barnard responded in an August 12, 1992 letter to JAMA, claiming that
"censure is used by the AMA for specific purposes, and PCRM has never
been the subject of any such proceeding."
Replying on the following page within the same issue of JAMA, Dr. Loeb
The term "officially censured" refers to a resolution adopted by
the AMA House of Delegates in June 1990 and noted in Dr. Barnard's
letter. Contrary to Barnard's statement, this resolution was debated
fully in a Reference Committee hearing at which Barnard was present and
at which he was given several opportunities to present his views in
full. The Reference Committee heard overwhelming support for passage of
this resolution and consequently recommended that it be included on the
consent calendar for approval by the AMA House of Delegates. This
procedure is traditionally reserved for those resolutions that the
Reference Committee believes have strong and obvious support. The House
of Delegates had ample opportunity to remove this item of business from
the consent calendar for specific discussion on the floor of the House
of Delegates but chose instead to move for passage. The resolution was
passed without dissenting vote and is now official AMA policy ... In
their zeal to promote animal rights, PCRM shortchanges patients.
Loeb was writing about AMA Resolution H-460.963, which the AMA
re-affirmed again in 2000, and is currently in force as official AMA
policy. It reads:
"Our AMA registers strong objections to the Physicians Committee for
Responsible Medicine for implying that physicians who support the use
of animals in biomedical research are irresponsible, for
misrepresenting the critical role animals play in research and
teaching, and for obscuring the overwhelming support for such research
which exists among practicing physicians in the United States."
In a letter notifying Barnard of the resolution's unanimous approval
(July 26, 1990), the AMA wrote:
The general approach used by PCRM takes selective data and quotations,
often out of context ... In response to a Resolution passed unanimously
at the recent AMA House of Delegates meeting, the American Medical
Association calls upon the Physicians Committee for Responsible
Medicine to immediately terminate the inappropriate and unethical
tactics your organization uses to manipulate public opinion.
The AMA has publicly issued several other criticisms of PCRM. A few are
AMA Resolution H-460.947 (1992, lapsed):
The AMA will ... continue to aggressively counter fallacious claims
about biomedical research being made by animal rights groups and
especially those of the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine
and the Medical Research Modernization Committee, two animal rights
organizations that purport to speak for medicine.
AMA news release (April 11, 1991):
The AMA finds the recommendations of PCRM irresponsible and potentially
dangerous to the health and welfare of Americans. [PRCM is] blatantly
misleading Americans on a health matter and concealing its true purpose
as an animal 'rights' organization.
A 1992 AMA press release blasting PCRM for starting a "milk panic":
The American Medical Association is alarmed by today's allegation
that milk is dangerous and should not be required or recommended in
government guidelines. There is absolutely no scientific proof to
support such a claim ... The AMA continues to marvel at how effectively
a fringe organization of questionable repute continues to hoodwink the
media with a series of questionable research that fails to enhance
public health. Instead, it serves only to advance the agenda of
activist groups interested in perverting medical science. The
Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine is an animal "rights"
organization, and, despite its title, represents less than 0.5 percent
of the total U.S. physician population. Its founder, Dr. Neal Barnard,
is also the scientific advisor to People for the Ethical Treatment of
Animals (PETA), an organization that supports and speaks for the
terrorist organization known as the Animal Liberation Front (ALF).
The AMA released a statement in 2004 acknowledging that it no longer
has an official "policy specifically addressing vegetarian diets or
the inclusion of milk in diet." However, the AMA has never disavowed
its specific criticisms of PCRM's unethical tactics or its
Other organizations have followed suit, including the California
Medical Association (CMA). In response to PCRM's campaign of
deception against the use of animals in AIDS research, CMA's
president wrote to Neal Barnard describing an action taken by the
CMA's House of Delegates:
[The House of Delegates] voted unanimously to register the strongest
objection to the lies and misrepresentations promulgated by your
organization ... The inability of the so-called "Physician's
Committee" to make the obvious distinction between misuse and proper
use of animal research subjects has resulted in a total loss of
Some of PCRM's high-profile officers use their affiliation with the
group to take financial advantage of an unwary public. Consider Cornell
University's Dr. T. Colin Campbell. This vocal PCRM Advisory Board
member has appeared in print, warning of the supposed dangers related
to dioxin in food (especially in meat). He also serves as chairman of a
company called Paracelsian, Inc., which markets its own proprietary
method of dioxin testing.
PCRM's name is also used to sell "Dr. McDougall's 12-Day Diet
Meal Plan," a product marketed by PCRM Advisory Board member John
McDougall. You can find this slick $120 bundle of vegetarian cup-a-soup
meals in grocery and health-food stores, as well as in the Sharper
The Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine has participated in
scare campaigns about pollution from livestock farming, meat
irradiation, mad cow disease, and the alleged overuse of antibiotics in
farm animals. Those disparate causes have one common element: they all
serve to frighten consumers away from eating meat. Which is exactly
what the animal liberationists at PCRM want.
The evidence that PCRM is an animal rights group is overwhelming. In
2003, Neal Barnard was nominated for induction into the "Animal
Rights Hall of Fame." From 1990 to 1991 he served as a Contributing
Editor to The Animals Agenda magazine, writing frequent columns on
animal-rights topics.And according to the Daily Californian, in 1989
Neal Barnard told a UC Berkeley audience: "I don't approve of the
use of animals for any purpose that involves touching them -- caging
In a campaign against the United States Surgical Corporation (USSC) in
the late '80s and early '90s, PCRM brandished a petition supposedly
including thousands of signatures from doctors who opposed USSC's
animal experimentation. PCRM even claimed the list had been
"audited," even though Animal People News would later write that
the planned audit was "never completed." And according to the (now
defunct) Animal Rights Reporter, PCRM's list contained "names of
physicians who deny having signed or even seen the document. It also
contains many names of persons who are not physicians."
By the time PCRM trumpeted its petition in 1989, the campaign against
USSC had become so intense that animal-rights militant Fran Stephanie
Trutt attempted to assassinate the company's president. PETA paid
$7,500 of her legal expenses.
The PCRM-PETA Connection
People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals has used a tax-exempt
affiliate called the Foundation to Support Animal Protection to funnel
at least $592,000 to PCRM. This foundation, whose letterhead now shows
that it is doing business as "The PETA Foundation," has the same
mailing address as PETA, and PETA owns its website address. Neal
Barnard and PETA co-founder Ingrid Newkirk are two of the
Foundation's three officers. Barnard is its President.
And PETA itself directly gave PCRM over $265,000 between 1988 and 1999.
Barnard is PETA's "medical advisor" and regularly writes for
PETA's publications. He admitted in a sworn deposition (International
Primate Protection League v. Administrators of the Tulane Educational
Fund, 1992) that PCRM has been housed at PETA headquarters in the past.
He also acknowledged requesting and receiving money from PETA, and
using a PETA-owned car to drive back and forth from work. According to
Barnard's deposition, PETA even paid the salaries of some of PCRM's
Citing an unnamed former PETA employee, a 1989 Washingtonian magazine
PETA funds were used, he says, to finance membership campaigns and
activities of two anti-vivisectionist organizations, the Physicians
Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM) and the National Association
of Nurses Against Vivisection (NANAV). Both organizations were housed,
rent-free, in PETA's headquarters, he says, and the respective heads
of the groups, Neal Barnard and Susan Brebner, were introduced to him
as PETA staff members.
Hostile Takeover: The New England Anti-Vivisection Society
PCRM's animal-rights agenda was perhaps most clearly evidenced when
Neal Barnard involved himself in PETA's successful campaign to wrest
control of the New England Anti-Vivisection Society (NEAVS). On March
20, 1989, Forbes reported:
PETA aggressively runs slates of its own people in board elections of
rival rights groups. Latest is the successful 1987 "takeover" of
the Boston-based New England Anti-Vivisection Society (fund balance, $8
million). The century-old group officially still operates
independently, but in reality PETA vegans and allies now control the
Society and its spending.
An April 10, 1987 Boston Globe article explained how PETA did it:
The wife of Gary Francione, a PETA executive and a Pennsylvania
attorney, walked into the Anti-Vivisection Society's Boston
headquarters a few months ago and purchased 300 voting memberships for
$3000 in cash. A surge of several hundred applications for voting
memberships arrived at the headquarters in bulk March 31. PETA set up
the Action Campaign Fund to subsidize or pay full air fare to Boston
for an unspecified number of voting activists.
And the Boston Herald wrote on April 30, 1987 that Ingrid Newkirk:
... sought to fill four open board of directors' seats and four
officer's positions with a slate of PETA members and friends. Some
locals claimed the election was "stacked" by PETA, who bankrolled
the busing of new members to the Boston election meeting from New York,
Washington, New Jersey, and New Mexico.
Along with PETA founders Ingrid Newkirk and Alex Pacheco, PETA's
candidates for NEAVS board membership included Neal Barnard himself.
Barnard even co-signed letters with Newkirk and Pacheco, urging NEAVS
members to vote for the PETA slate. In 1987, Barnard was elected to
NEAVS' board. He and Newkirk remained there for ten years.
A coalition of NEAVS members -- including some of its officers --
formed an ad hoc group called the Save NEAVS Committee to fight
PETA's takeover. They disclosed a proposal signed by Ingrid Newkirk
that read in part:
NEAVS has $7 to $8 million. I would suggest sharing some part of this
financial well-being with other organizations which a) have proven
themselves to be movement resources, b) are performing valuable
services compatible with NEAVS' goals, and c) are worth protecting.
My choices are the Association of Veterinarians for Animal Rights
(AVAR), the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM), and
the National Alliance for Animal Legislation (NAAL) ... A $1,000,000
grant to each of these organizations would not come close to depleting
NEAVS' holdings. It would, however, provide each with an annual
income security of approximately $100,000 if we stipulate that the
grant be held as principle [sic].
Although Newkirk's million-dollar-gift proposal was never acted upon,
NEAVS did give PCRM more than $500,000 between 1989 and 1998. In a
sworn deposition (IPPL v. Tulane, 1992), Barnard admitted that PCRM
received no money from NEAVS before the takeover, but hundreds of
thousands of dollars afterwards.
A profile of PCRM appearing in a contemporary newsletter called the
Animal Rights Reporter, discusses the importance of the NEAVS takeover:
With PETA's and NEAVS' resources, PCRM can take on campaigns that
otherwise would be financially prohibitive. For example, costs of the
physicians' petition against USSC last fall were paid for by NEAVS.
This occurred at a time when NEAVS had ongoing litigation with USSC and
the PCRM assault can be seen as apart of a NEAVS/PETA attack on the
medical supply company. Despite long-standing denials by Barnard and
PCRM that it was an animal rights group, PCRM was listed as an
"affiliate" on NEAVS' 1987 tax returns.
The connection between PETA and NEAVS was so strong that, for a time,
NEAVS' Legislative Director Cynthia Lebrun-Yaffee operated out of
PETA headquarters. Barnard, Newkirk, and Pacheco are no longer on the
NEAVS board, but NEAVS current executive director Theodora Capaldo was
on PETA's original 1987 slate of candidates.
In 2001, PCRM president Neal Barnard co-signed a series of over 40
letters (on PCRM letterhead) with Kevin Kjonaas, a former
"spokesperson" for the Animal Liberation Front (ALF) and the
then-U.S.-director of the violent animal rights group SHAC (Stop
Huntingdon Animal Cruelty).
Both groups have been designated "domestic terrorist" organizations
by high-ranking FBI officials. SHAC and seven of its leaders (including
Kjonaas) are scheduled to face federal Animal Enterprise Terrorism
charges in June 2005.
SHAC is singularly dedicated to dismantling Huntingdon Life Sciences, a
biomedical research firm that (like the rest of the medical and
scientific community) recognizes that breakthroughs in the study of
human diseases often require research using animals as test subjects.
Huntingdon's work includes animal research to find new treatments and
cures for Parkinson's disease, Alzheimer's disease, epilepsy, AIDS,
and several forms of cancer.
SHAC activists have chosen to make their feelings known by fire-bombing
automobiles, smashing windows, assaulting research employees, and
targeting anyone associated with Huntingdon (and their families) for
around-the-clock harassment and intimidation.
Barnard and Kjonaas co-signed letters to business leaders in 32 states
and 8 foreign countries, urging them not to do business with Huntingdon
Life Sciences. Given SHAC's tactics, these letters can be fairly
interpreted as a threat of harassment and violence.
The Barnard-Kjonaas letters instructed recipients to "read the
enclosed studies" -- both of which were co-authored by PCRM's Jerry
Vlasak. A trauma surgeon with connections to SHAC and a deep
association with PCRM, Jerry Vlasak told the crowd at the "Animal
Rights 2002" convention:
I think we do need to embrace direct action and violent tactics as part
of our movement ... I don't think we ought to be criticizing someone,
whether we're criticizing [them] because they're writing letters,
or whether we criticize them because they're burning down fur stores
or vivisection labs.
And at the "Animal Rights 2003" event in Los Angeles, Vlasak made a
verbal slip that suggests he may be an ALF thug himself, praising those
responsible for "all those hundreds of ALF actions that occurred
making us the, er, making the ALF, rather, the number one domestic
terrorist group in the United States." Vlasak also openly endorsed
the murder of doctors who use animals in their research:
If these vivisectors were being targeted for assassination, and call it
political assassination or what have you, I think if -- and I wouldn't
pick some guy way down the totem pole, but if there were prominent
vivisectors being assassinated, I think that there would be a
trickle-down effect and many, many people who are lower on that totem
pole would say, "I'm not going to get into this business because it's
a very dangerous business and there's other things I can do with my
life that don't involve getting into a dangerous business." And I
think that the -- strictly from a fear and intimidation factor, that
would be an effective tactic.
And I don't think you'd have to kill - assassinate - too many
vivisectors before you would see a marked decrease in the amount of
vivisection going on. And I think for 5 lives, 10 lives, 15 human
lives, we could save a million, 2 million, 10 million non-human lives.
At the 2003 conference, Vlasak was billed as a representative of PCRM.
He regularly represents PCRM on issues of animal testing. He has
written for PCRM's Good Medicine magazine, and is identified there as
"PCRM's Jerry Vlasak." In a February 2002 press release on animal
experimentation in medical schools, Vlasak is called a "PCRM
spokesperson." And in Vlasak's own writings, he has described
himself as PCRM's "scientific advisor."
Vlasak reinforced his advocacy of violence in April 2004, telling a
national cable network audience on the Showtime program "Penn &
Teller: Bullsh*t" that violence is a "morally justifiable
solution" for activists. Vlasak and his wife, the former child
actress Pamelyn Ferdin, are both directors of a SHAC-like group in Los
Angeles called the Animal Defense League (ADL-LA). Ferdin herself is
the legal president of SHAC USA. She carries business cards describing
herself as a PCRM employee, but listing ADL-LA's business address.
ADL-LA's website candidly states that it "fully supports" the
Animal Liberation Front (ALF). Its president is Gary Yourofsky, a
convicted ALF felon who serves PETA as its in-school "humane
Vlasak's threatening animal-rights exploits have been covered by No
Compromise, a magazine written by and for supporters of the ALF. Vlasak
has personally been arrested several times for animal-rights-related
activity, and urges others to "get arrested."
Neal Barnard is more circumspect about violence. The Animal Rights
Reporter has written of him: "Although he disavows the use of
violence, he says that researchers 'have set themselves up for it'
and 'have to worry' about animal rights violence. And in an
interview with Washingtonian magazine, Barnard says: "We're
demoralizing the people who think there's a buck to be made in animal
research. And they're starting to get scared, and they're starting
to get angry, and they're starting to give way."