Beware Corporate Wolves In Consumer Watchdog Clothing

The so-called Center for Consumer Freedom (CCF) is at it again.

This time, it’s not the American Medical Association or Mothers Against Drunk Driving they’re after. Instead, it’s the Physicians’ Committee For Responsible Medicine (PCRM).

The PCRM is a nonprofit organization that promotes preventive medicine, proper nutrition, and healthy lifestyles.

So why is something calling itself the Center For Consumer Freedom attacking the Physicians Committee and urging Congress not to promote healthier diets?

It’s because the PCRM is affiliated with the Cancer Project, which recently made a formal request asking Congress to earmark funds for nutrition and healthy lifestyle education.

You might think the Physicians Committee and the Cancer Project have little to do with limiting consumer freedom, and you’d be right. In fact, you might think that promoting nutritional education is just the thing needed to support greater consumer freedom. Odd, that the Center for Consumer Freedom should be against it.

Their real motives become clear when you look behind the scenes. Simply put, the Center For Consumer Freedom is a front group for the restaurant, junk-food, alcohol and tobacco industries, and they regularly run elaborate media campaigns opposing the efforts of scientists, doctors, health advocates, and animal and environmental groups, because these groups all threaten the bottom lines of the CCF’s corporate sponsors. The CCF says “consumer freedom,” but they mean “freedom to choose from our sponsors’ products.”

The deceptively named Center for Consumer Freedom was founded as the Guest Choice Network with a grant from Big Tobacco. They’ve changed their name, but they’ve never strayed far from their roots. Consumer freedom — or consumer health — is not nearly as important to them as the bottom lines of their corporate sponsors.

According to SourceWatch, a project of the Center for Media & Democracy:

Picture of Gayle DeanAnyone who criticizes tobacco, alcohol, fatty foods or soda pop is likely to come under attack from CCF. Its enemies list has included such diverse groups and individuals as…the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons; the American Medical Association; the Arthritis Foundation; the Consumer Federation of America;…the Harvard School of Public Health; the Marin Institute for the Prevention of Alcohol and Other Drug Problems; the National Association of High School Principals; the National Safety Council . . . Ralph Nader’s group, Public Citizen; and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

David Martosko of the CCF mocks the Physicians Committee by saying “Tofu is not a cancer cure. Saying otherwise is irresponsible”. Now let’s compare. Visit the Physicians’ Committee website and look around for a statement that tofu cures cancer. You won’t find it. Now, take a look at the CCF website, where you’ll find article after article dismissing reputable scientific evidence that demonstrates the dangers of high fat diets, trans-fats, sugar, processed food, meat-consumption, high mercury levels in fish, and on and on — all laced with attacks upon advocates of healthy and responsible lifestyles. Who’s being irresponsible now?

Mr. Martosko knows which side his bread is buttered on, so I doubt he really wants Congress to “seek out the advice of the American Cancer Society or the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services…” –as he claims — because here’s what the American Cancer Society has to say at their website:

“Tobacco use, physical inactivity, obesity, and poor nutrition are major preventable causes of cancer and other diseases in the US. The American Cancer Society estimates that in 2006, more than 170,000 cancer deaths will be caused by tobacco use alone. In addition, scientists estimate that approximately one-third (188, 277) of the 564, 830 cancer deaths expected to occur in 2006 will be related to poor nutrition, physical inactivity, overweight, and obesity.”

This means that about two-thirds of all cancer deaths are due to lifestyle choices and can therefore be prevented. The American Heart Association agrees that heart disease is “mostly preventable.” The American Diabetic Association publishes similar estimates and analysis. Doctors, scientists, and the major American medical associations all support and encourage prevention as a better means to a healthier life, and the Cancer Project is right on target requesting funds to promote disease prevention. Only lobbying groups like the CCF and its corporate clients would like us to believe otherwise.

The constant barrage of disinformation put out by the CCF flies in the face of both science and common sense. But that should come as no surprise, since their goal never was to promote consumer health — or freedom — but to increase the profit-margins of their meat, dairy, alcohol, soda-pop and junk-food sponsors.

Judge for yourself. Visit both websites and see which group is interested in consumer health and which is only interested in consumer dollars.

And for a further clue, check out these two photos. Guess which one is the 54-year-old physician, who heads the PCRM, and who recommends a low-fat, plant-based diet, and which is the 30-something defender of meat-eating, high sugar and high-fat diets, and all that promotes food-industry bottom lines. I know which one I’d take dietary advice from!

By Gayle Dean – Original Publication Date: April 8, 2007 – Reproduced at Ciggyfree with the permission of Gayle Dean.

 Gayle Dean is a freelance writer, outdoorswoman, and cruciverbalist. Her work has been widely published and has appeared in The New York Times, The Washington Post Magazine, L.A. Times, Simon & Schuster books, River Runner magazine, Men’s News Daily, Universal Press, and Dell Puzzle Magazines. We sincerely appreciate permission from the author to republish this article at Ciggyfree.

2 thoughts on “Beware Corporate Wolves In Consumer Watchdog Clothing

  1. Kirk VandenBerghe

    I’m one who had never heard of the CCF before. It’s amazing what some of us in society will do for money, including supporting practices that ruin health and snuff out people’s very lives.


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