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Myth or Science: Resources & Citations


Marion Nestle's landmark
treatise, Food Politics: How
the Food Industry Influences
Nutrition and Health
This page begins with a sampling of key General Resources, followed by sections on

Making Foods Addictive: Food Neuroscience & Psychology;

Strong-Arming Governments & Critics to Silence Them; and

Spinning Greenwash: "Experts" are Their Lobbyists.

All videos cited are free online!

General Resources

"Food Industry Funding Effect" (Video, 2-mins.), by Dr. Michael Greger, NutritionFacts.org.
     He who pays the piper calls the tune: studies funded by the dairy and soda industries appear to be more biased than even studies funded by drug companies. NONE gave results unfavorable to the industry funder.

Food Politics: How the Food Industry Influences Nutrition and Health (Book), Revised and Expanded Edition. Nestle, Marion. University of California Press. 2007.
     Read especially “The Shift to ‘Eat Less’: Preventing Chronic Disease, 1969–1990” section in Chapter 1 (Kindle Locations 907-908) to see how they forced a re-write of a U.S. Senate Committee report and ousted Sen. George McGovern. Wikipedia summary: McGovern's Select Committee on Nutrition and Human Needs expanded its scope to include national nutrition policy. In 1977, it issued a new set of nutritional guidelines for Americans that sought to combat leading killer health conditions. Titled Dietary Goals for the United States, but also known as the "McGovern Report", it suggested that Americans eat less fat, less cholesterol, less refined and processed sugars, and more complex carbohydrates and fiber.
     Although many public health officials had said all of this for some time, the committee's issuance of the guidelines gave it higher public profile. The recommendations proved controversial with the cattle, dairy, egg, and sugar industries, including from McGovern's home state.

Manufactured Uncertainty: Protecting Public Health in the Age of Contested Science and Product Defense” (Article), by Michaels, D. Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences, Sept. 2006 (1076:149-62). PubMed PMID: 17119200.
     Abstract: The strategy of "manufacturing uncertainty" has been used with great success by polluters and manufacturers of dangerous products to oppose public health and environmental regulation. This strategy questions the validity of scientific evidence on which the regulation is based. This approach is most identified with the tobacco industry but has been used by producers of asbestos, benzene, beryllium, chromium, diesel exhaust, lead, plastics, and other hazardous products to avoid environmental and occupational health regulation. It is also central to the debate on global warming.
     The approach is now so common that it is unusual for the science not to be challenged by an industry facing regulation. Manufacturing uncertainty has become a business in itself; numerous technical consulting firms provide a service often called "product defense" or "litigation support." The usual objective is not to generate knowledge to protect public health but to protect a corporation whose products are alleged to have toxic properties.
     Evidence in the scientific literature of the "funding effect"--the close correlation between the results of a study desired by a study's funder and the reported results of that study--suggests that the financial interest of a study's sponsors should be taken into account when considering the study's findings. The interpretation of data by scientists with financial conflicts should also be seen in this light. Manufacturing uncertainty is antithetical to the public health principle that decisions be made using the best evidence currently available.

"The Only Safe Upper Level of Dietary Trans Fats is Zero" (Official document), by the Food and Nutrition Board, Institute of Medicine of the National Academies (2005). Dietary Reference Intakes for Energy, Carbohydrate, Fiber, Fat, Fatty Acids, Cholesterol, Protein, and Amino Acids (Macronutrients). National Academies Press. See bottom of p. 423.
     This Institute of Medicine (National Academy of Sciences) research reported that the only “safe” level of trans fats in the human diet is “zero.” The report admits that “Because trans fatty acids are unavoidable in ordinary, nonvegan diets, consuming 0 percent of energy would require significant changes in patterns of dietary intake.” One-fifth of trans fats in the US diet is from animal parts and products, so a logical conclusion would be to recommend that people not eat animals.
     When questioned, one scientist who co-authored the study (Eric Rimm, Associate Professor of Epidemiology and Nutrition, Harvard University) said, “We can’t tell people to stop eating all meat and all dairy products. Well, we could tell people to become vegetarians …If we were truly basing this on science we would, but it would be extreme.” (Quote source)

The Tomato Effect” Video, 3 mins.), by Dr. Michael Greger, NutritionFacts.org Oct. 14, 2011.
     Why does the medical establishment sometimes ignore highly efficacious therapies such as plant-based diets for heart disease prevention and treatment?

Making Foods Addictive: Food Neuroscience & Psychology

Advertising Aimed at Kids, “Voluntary” Changes: “No Silly Trix” (Video, 55 mins.), by 60 Minutes.

The Flavorists” (Video, 14 mins.), by 60 Minutes. Tweaking tastes and creating cravings, November 27, 2011.
     Meet the scientists who create flavors that make foods and beverages so tasty that critics say they're addictive. Morley Safer reports. A team from Givaudan, headed by Jim Hassel, led Safer from a California citrus grove to Hong Kong restaurants to Givaudan’s labs. While Safer seemed duly impressed by the technology involved in turning a roasted chicken into a powder, he also noted, “strawberry and vanilla flavor can come from the gland in a beaver's backside.” Former FDA Chief David Kessler had a cameo, suggesting “flavors are so stimulating, they hijack our brain.
     Early in the film, the "alchemists" said, "You don't want flavors to linger because you want people to eat more." Later, the head of the company said, "No, we're not trying to get people to eat more (thus contributing to obesity). We just want the food to be memorable so consumers repeat-purchase.” (paraphrasing) Well isn't it both? Create these super-flavors that hit our dopamine "pleasure" receptors but only briefly, so that we want more? And then the flavors are so much more powerful than those in real food that we end up repeat-purchasing in order to get the same "hit?"

The Extraordinary Science of Addictive Junk Food” (Article) by Michael Moss, The New York Times, Feb. 20, 2013.

How to Lose Weight Without Losing Your Mind” (Video, 1 hour, 14 mins.), by Douglas Lisle. Forks Over Knives Presents.
     You aren’t destined to have weight problems and your psychological problems are not causing your overweight. Just increase the amount of whole plant foods in your diet (that your body needs for health) and decrease the concentrated calories (meats, poultry, fish, fats/oils, processed foods) until your body gets to the weight you want. Covers “motivational triad”, fat receptors, and more.

Pleasure Trap: Mastering The Hidden Force That Undermines Health and Happiness (Video, 17 mins.); Why We Get 'Addicted' to Animal-based Diets and Why It's 'Hard' To Quit, by Douglas Lisle, TedxFremont Talk, Nov. 2012, Published Dec. 4, 2012.
     Why does the great male shrike kill bugs and poke them on thorns? Why is it so hard for humans to make the right choices? Psychologist Douglas Lisle shows us how the answers are related. One of psychology's most innovative and curious minds, Lisle is the Director of Research for True North Health Center and coauthor with Alan Goldhamer of The Pleasure Trap.
    Longer version (59 mins.) of Pleasure Trap by the Vegetarian Society of Hawaii.
    A hidden force has turned many smart, savvy people into unwitting saboteurs of their own wellbeing. When trying to make positive changes in diet and lifestyle, well-intentioned determination is, surprisingly, rarely enough. People who are chronically overweight, sick and ailing, or junk-food junkies are not that way because they are lazy, undisciplined, or stuck with bad genes. They are victims of a dilemma that harkens back to our prehistoric past...the Pleasure Trap.

Our Fascination with Unhealthy Food: Why Do We Eat It? (Video, 13 mins.), by Richard Oppenlander, Uploaded Dec. 19, 2011.
     Oppenlander discusses the health implications of eating animal flesh and animal products. It would be just as truthful to say that it is scientifically proven to have the same clear, undeniable ill-effect-comparison on our bodies as smoking cigarettes has, if not significantly worse in terms of the diseases that result. Maybe one day consuming meat will be as uncool as smoking.

Strong-Arming Governments & Critics to Silence Them

FAO Yields to Meat Industry Pressure on Climate Change” (Article) by Robert Goodland, The New York Times Opinion Pages, July 12, 2012; Mark Bittman’s NY Times blog.

Food Politics: How the Food Industry Influences Nutrition and Health (Book), Revised and Expanded Edition. Nestle, Marion. University of California Press. 2007.
     Read especially “The Shift to ‘Eat Less’: Preventing Chronic Disease, 1969–1990” section in Chapter 1 (Kindle Locations 907-908) to see how industries forced a re-write of a U.S. Senate Committee report; they also persuaded the Senate to disband the committee. Wikipedia summary: McGovern's Select Committee on Nutrition and Human Needs...issued [in 1977] a new set of nutritional guidelines for Americans that sought to combat leading killer health conditions. Titled Dietary Goals for the United States, but also known as the "McGovern Report", it suggested that Americans eat less fat, less cholesterol, less refined and processed sugars, and more complex carbohydrates and fiber. Although many public health officials had said all of this for some time, the committee's issuance of the guidelines gave it higher public profile. The recommendations proved controversial with the cattle, dairy, egg, and sugar industries, including from McGovern's home state.
     Nestle's book documents many similar incidents over the decades; such strong-arming continues unabated today. (See a related 7-minute video on the McGovern incident.)

In Defense of Food: An Eater’s Manifesto (Book), by Michael Pollan. Penguin Group Publishers: US, April 2009. 256 pp.
     Most of what we’re consuming today is not food; it's “edible foodlike substances”—no longer the products of nature but of food science. Many of them come packaged with health claims that should be our first clue they are anything but healthy. In the so-called Western diet, food has been replaced by nutrients, and common sense by confusion.
     Pollan proposes that we "Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants." (I would say only plants.) He challenges the prevailing nutrient-by-nutrient approach—what he calls nutritionism—and proposes an alternative way of eating that is informed by the traditions and ecology of real, well-grown, unprocessed food.

Joyce D'Silva: 'Meat Should Carry a Health Warning'" (Article), by Eifion Rees, The Ecologist, September 30, 2010.
     The FAO's (United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization) Dr. Samuel Jutzi reported the huge pressure the FAO comes under from agribusiness interests. When it produced the Livestock’s Long Shadow report in 2006, a couple of the governments withdrew their funding when the first draft came out, because they were so upset by its findings. Just a few months ago, an academic in the U.S. produced a paper trying to debunk it which the press pounced upon: his research was subsidized by the meat industry. People often aren’t aware that the meat and livestock industries lobby hard to keep consumption up.

The McGovern Report (Video, 7 mins.), Dr. Michael Greger, NutritionFacts.org, April 12, 2013.
     In January 1977, the Senate Select Committee on Nutrition and Human Needs issued the first report on U.S. dietary goals. At the press conference announcing the goals, committee Chair Sen. George McGovern warned "that our diets have changed radically with the last 50 years with very harmful effects... [that] represent as great a threat to public health as smoking." The Senator noted that Americans deserved to know the truth. Dr. D. M. Hegsted, Professor of Nutrition at the Harvard School of Public Health, joined Sen. McGovern and issued a formal statement that "Most all of the health problems underlying the leading causes of death in the United States could be modified by improvements in diet.... We cannot afford to temporize."
     The food industries labeled Sen. McGovern, Dr. Hegsted, and other anti-industry, pro-health advocates as "puritannical do-gooders" and warned that "healthcare expenditures [would] increase if the lifespan is prolonged" by healthier diets. They forced the committee to issue a whitewashed report in December 1977 and had the committee eliminated. (See also Food Politics, by Marion Nestle.)

Saving U.S. Dietary Advice from Conflicts of Interest,” by Jeff Herman, Food and Drug Law Journal, Vol. 65, Issue 2, 2010, pp. 285-316.

Shut Up and Eat: The Beef Industry's Lawsuit Against Oprah Winfrey,” PR Watch. Center for Media and Democracy. (Print version: Second Quarter 1997, Vol. 4, No. 2.)

Spinning Greenwash: "Experts" are Their Lobbyists

(See also General Resources section, above)

Case of Mad Cow in Texas Is First to Originate in U.S.,” by Donald G. McNeil Jr., The New York Times, June 30, 2005.
     This reassuring article conveys the sense that the US government is on top of this, catching the first cases and taking swift and thorough action for public safety. USDA’s Dr. Clifford and Gov. Perry of Texas are the only experts whose comments The New York Times printed.

'The Media-Lobbying Complex': Investigation Exposes Undisclosed Corporate Ties of Network Political Pundits," Democracy Now!, Feb. 24, 2010.

The Media-Lobbying Complex” (Article), by Sebastian Jones. The Nation, Feb. 11, 2010. (Print version: Mar. 1, 2010, edition.)

When Doctors, Even Santa, Endorsed Tobacco” (Article), by Stuart Elliott, The New York Times, Oct. 6, 2008.
     A great slide show accompanies this article.

Who Is the Dairy Coalition?” (Article), by Sheldon Rampton and John Stauber, PR Watch, Center for Media and Democracy. (Print version: PR Watch, Fourth Quarter 2000, Vol. 7, No. 4.)
     This article also discusses the American Dietetic Association’s ties to the food industry.


   • Wake up from the advertisers’ disinformation campaigns!
   • Liberate yourself from dietary habits that harm your health!
   • Align your dietary habits with your environmental and animal-loving values.


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