They wrap themselves in the flag of public health but it's really about money - because when Annals of Internal Medicine was set to publish reviews showing that meat "risk" was overstated, they mobilized an automated email campaign to criticize the editor, they tried to get both the FTC and the District Attorney in Philadelphia to pressure the journal, they claimed the authors of the papers were industry shills, all while downplaying their own extensive industry ties to dozens of companies.
Professor Walter Willett of Harvard even lumped in a prominent health journalist at the New York Times as a tool of a disinformation campaign against his work - the kind of claim that suggests something like Russian mobsters being involved. He presented this at a cardiology conference, to try and shore up his beliefs about meat.
Provided by Texas A&M
Instead, the mafia tactics were clearly on the part by the epidemiologists who'd made a lot of money and generated a lot of prestige claiming a vegetarian diet is good and meat is bad. They even got their allies inside the International Agency for Research on Cancer to claim that meat is just as hazardous to public health as World War I mustard gas, plutonium, and cigarettes.
This is not new, I doubt Willett expected any blowback at all. From our own National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences to Ramazzini Institute in Italy, calling out people who disagree with your pet beliefs is so much part of their echo chamber it's expected.
The science community seems to have had enough of this abuse by these agenda-driven epidemiologists. The tactics of Professor Willett and his colleague, Frank Hu, have set off the alarms for pro-science agriculture schools nationwide. John Sharp, Chancellor of Texas A&M, very much does not like Willett's insinuation that Texas A&M scientists are industry shills. Especially when True Health Initiative has dozens of industry partners and does not disclose where their funding derives or what they spend it on.
He wrote to his Harvard counterpart, Dr. Lawrence S. Bacow, "I am attaching an illustration Dr. Willett presented at a cardiology conference to attack a distinguished Texas A&M professor and the university itself as being influenced by industry. This unsubstantiated claim has been independently rejected and shown to be false" and then asked Harvard to investigate them - and reject politics and conspiracy rhetoric.
Will Bacow do it? Harvard School of Public Health essentially created the food epidemiology industry, they were the ones who gave food frequency questionnaires and questionable statistical manipulation the prominence it has in nutrition claims today. They have a lot to lose, decades of media endorsements, if that's undermined. Harvard leadership has also believed all kinds of nonsense. One of them even recently believed girls couldn't do math. So we'll have to see if they are pro-science or circling the wagons around their revenue sources.
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