Dr. Campbell (The China Study), and Dr. Flora's thoughts on his statements.
Dr. Campbell: I’m rather enthusiastic about how impressive the evidence is for this vegan diet and how it relates to health. Of course, I came to this particular point-of-view over many years of being involved in research and policy development as well as lecturing: both in the classroom and in public. Here are questions we need to answer and to understand why they are this way and what to do to change the situation:
Why does the U.S. rank #1 in the world in per capita health care costs, but 37th in the quality of health care, according to a United Nations document?
Why is hospital food so unhealthy?
Why must public schools, who offer federally supported school lunch programs, absolutely require dairy to be served to innocent children, if the schools want to participate in getting free food?
Why are they urging at local level, with the teachers who run the programs, that the children should in fact drink milk when the evidence against dairy is becoming so troublesome and contrary to that mistaken idea?
Why is the school lunch program food so unhealthy, just like the hospital food?
Why do we produce the most expensive food, especially when it is the most unhealthy food? It doesn’t seem to make a lot of sense.
Why is it not known that the #1 cause of death is not really heart disease, as is said by everyone, but instead it’s our ignorance of nutrition? One can actually do the math on that and calculate the percentage of deaths that can be attributed to dietary and nutrition practices and easily come up with that number.
Why does the National Cancer Institute of the National Institutes of Health estimate that 35% of cancers can be prevented by diet? But, if you ask how does this occur, although it’s generally understood that fruits, vegetables and grain can help you prevent cancer, they often will say “we don’t really know why it happens and we don’t know how it works,” although they acknowledge again that 35% can be prevented by diet. With this absence of information, and relatively certain agreement that many cancers can be prevented, why then do they only spend 2-3% of their research budget, rather than 35%, to find out why diet works in this way? There is a mismatch here and it’s a mismatch on something that obviously is considered to be so important.
Why do we spend so much money discovering new genes, and of course then protein products, when it will be virtually impossible in the future to ever identify which gene or set of genes causes which disease?
Here’s a really profound idea: who really controls the development of, and the dissemination of, diet and disease information?
Why do research studies make conclusions about plant-based diets when they fail to include human subjects using plant-based diets? A lot of their prospective cohort studies and case-controlled studies, these are human experimental study designs. Those kinds of studies in fact include subjects, who few of whom or usually known of whom, are really consuming a full, plant based diet.
How can they make sound conclusions from these kinds of studies about plant-based diets when they are not really including people who are consuming such diets?
Why does it take a court order to require scientists, who sit on a major nutritional policy board, to reveal their industry ties? I’ve had a lot of experience sitting on these boards. For 20 years I was almost continuously on one of them and it was really a sacred process to have us reveal any associations we may have with the private industry or sector. We didn’t want to have conflicts of interest. But, in more recent times, it turns out that the members of that particular panel did not appropriately reveal through their agency their association with their industry, and one had to go to court to find out that a majority of the members who choose the food we eat had financial ties with (owned stock in the companies that produced) the foods they were recommending. I don’t think that should be necessary.
(Dr. Flora: This should be a time of disclosure, of pure intent, not of special interest groups pushing unhealthy foods on our innocent children and mandating that schools buy them. The people on the boards should not have any stock or own companies that sell foods that are recommended by the nutritional policy board members.)
Why are affected food and drug industries now allowed to fund as much as half (49%) of reports on diet and health by the prestigious National Academy of Sciences? Again, in my day when I was on those panels, I was not aware of private sector money being used to fund any of those studies. But now it seems that there is a new policy and it can fund half of these studies, and this raises a serious question.
In any case, all of these questions are pointing to a serious mismatch of what is known in the scientific laboratory and what is actually being told to the public.
Dr. Campbell gave 2 examples and then finished his thoughts off with:
The final recommendation that The World Health Organization made, which was more startling than anything I can possibly imagine, is that we could go as high as 35% of calories in the form of protein in order to minimize chronic disease risk. Now in the lectures that I’ve been giving here, at Cornell, most of this information regarding the effects of protein on these diseases of affluence (cancer, diabetes, heart disease, M.S., etc.) tend to occur in the 10-20% range. In other words, as we increase protein intake from 10-11% or so up to 22-23%, that’s when we see evidence suggesting increases in cancer risks, increase in cholesterol concentration, increase in loss of calcium from the bones, etc. We’re already consuming enough protein. The range of protein that we now have become accustomed to in this country is already in excess of what is needed.
In prior years, we always said that 10% protein was enough. That was the RDA. Because of this worship of protein that has existed in this society, most people are consuming diets somewhere between 11-22%. Where all we need is 10%. The average protein intake in the U.S. is about 17% and 70% of that 17% is animal-based. So, we’re consuming protein-rich diets now that one could argue have a lot to do with determining our risk of cancer and heart disease, etc. All of a sudden, the Food and Nutrition Board comes along and says, “Hey, we now have evidence that we can go all the way up to 35% protein, where almost nobody goes, and that’s associated with minimized chronic disease risk.”
Somebody might ask: “Were there any companies involved in funding this report that had an interest in the protein question?”
Well, one of the most powerful dairy conglomerates in the world in fact was helping to do this and much of our protein intake in the U.S. comes from dairy foods. In fact, one can argue that dairy food consumption has been justified to a considerable extent not only because of the presence of calcium, but of protein.
Dr. Flora: And the tragic truth of the matter is that, thanks to our French researcher, Dr. Kirvran, and his book Biological Transmutation and the Secret Life of Plants, by Christopher Bird, we know that calcium in foods has never been known to approach the human bones. It’s only foods rich in potassium, magnesium, and silica, which turns into bone calcium. Calcium in dairy actually provides nothing helpful. There is so much sodium in dairy that it’s dangerous, but who would want to eat cheese without salt? It’s a marketing ploy, a necessity. Salt-free cheese tastes like what it is, a block of Elmer’s glue, which is made of the dairy protein casein or casomorphine. Cheese decalcifies women; it’s so acid that our bones' calcium is withdrawn to act like a buffer. The more acid protein we eat, the more osteoporotic we get!
Dr. Campbell: Here we have a Food and Nutrition Board report coming right out in our face telling us that they are going to drastically change the recommendations that we’ve previously had all for the purpose of reducing cancer and heart disease risk. And we find that the people involved in this are associated with the industry. It’s not terribly well known who is associated with whom and how much association they really have. We find that the industry supports this report and I find the entire process appalling.
Dr. Flora: Working in Washington for the Department of Justice, setting up a program called Juris, I spoke with some of the attorneys there, and they showed me a chart that indicated how just a few people own everything! Shell companies conveniently hide the principals from view of criticism. Change a name to something ‘healthy’ and no one knows you are pushing foods that are bad for our kiddies.
Dr. Campbell: Now the vast amount of our research has been conducted with an enormous focus and undue focus on the activities of various chemicals. Whether these chemicals be nutrients or whether they be chemicals to stop reactions from chemical carcinogens or whatever. We put so much focus on the effects of individual nutrients out of context.
So, as a result, we’ve lost sight of what whole foods can really do; whole foods that do work in large measure because of their presence of nutrients. It’s the nutrients that are part of these foods that make it work. But to take a nutrient out of context, whether it’s being used as a drug or whether is being used as a chemo preventive agent (one of the popular terms) or whether it’s being used at elevated levels of intake. All that stuff is going on and that’s been the nature of science lately, and I find that my criticism of this approach to our thinking unfortunately almost goes to the heart of what science is really all about and I don’t have time to get into that question. We put so much emphasis on single nutrient effects: what they do that are supposedly good, or whether they’re doing things to block bad things that otherwise would occur.
Dr. Flora: It’s like scientists are now trying to take apart a butterfly, tear it down to its individual pieces, put it back together again and wonder if it will fly, or why it won’t fly or how they can sell the parts so that we can fly. Fractionated things don’t work. They’ll never work. Homogenized, shot from guns, extruded from little strainers to break down the normal size of the fat, boiled, etc.
Dr. Campbell: In our economic system, in our free market system, discoveries of new chemicals, new products, new devices, or whatever will go someplace if they have value. What kind of value am I talking about? Economic value that’s inherent in these studies. So, if we make a discovery about a certain nutrient doing this or a chemical doing that, it will reach the marketplace. It can make money, it does have value, but only if insofar as we’re able to protect that intellectual property, and we can do that, with our patent laws, our trademark laws, our copyright laws, are such that that’s what it’s all about. If we can use those laws to protect an intellectual property at least for a sufficient period of time to go to the marketplace, we can make money.
That’s how information from nutrition literature and the biological information that comes from N.I.H. are really valued - maybe not obviously at the dense top with the individual researchers doing this work, they’re not concerned really with this most of the time. The vast majority of researchers are honorable, hard working, dedicated people doing the work and doing very good work, I should add. But, the problem is now that I’m talking about the larger context of what becomes of this information that they research. This info that becomes of value in an economic sense is information that reaches the public.
Once we come to terms with understanding what that’s all about and with the kind of claims that can be made, and I’ve been involved in that game and I’ve seen a lot of the evolution of regulations concerning the health claims, it becomes very easy to see why there’s so much confusion. Most of the information that reaches the public is either coming directly from health claims, most of the public aren’t aware of that, or it’s coming from institutions and agencies that are doing the bidding in many ways for the industry simply because they are populated by people who are setting the guidelines. So, that’s the professional side.
The unprofessional side of this problem is illustrated by the Food and Nutrition Board, the Dietary Guidelines, by my colleagues at Johns Hopkins University, where they had other agendas and other interests because of their personal compensation. Obviously, I consider that to be unprofessional. But, nonetheless, rest assured that that happens.
Fortunately, I think it only happens in a minority of people in the scientific community because I still hold in very high regard the vast number of people working in science. Very fine people, as I said before, just doing their work. It’s just the very small handful of people who get into powerful positions, who have associations with the food and drug industries that then in turn are compensated through honorary and other means or perhaps get money for dong their research. These people end up in very powerful positions often times in the government, in agencies particularly the policy arena, and really mess things up. So, these are my thoughts in terms of the confusion we have to be concerned about and the questions that were raised in the beginning. If you go back and look at those questions, they will be available to you, do a little analysis of the history and go interview some people, look at reports, and I think you will find what I in fact have over these years.