The Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, which says it has 3,000 physician members nationally and 50,000 lay "associate members," describes itself as "a non-profit organization in Washington promoting preventive medicine, and dealing with issues in human and animal research, and medical care."
Its president is Dr. Neal Barnard, 39, a Washington psychiatrist who grew up in Fargo, N.D., in a cattle-raising family of "big-time meat eaters." He said he now is a vegetarian who avoids all animal products, vegetable oils and salt.
But the American Medical Association, which often finds itself at odds with PCRM, describes it as "an animal rights organization [that] represents less than .005 percent of the total U.S. physician population." It also describes thePCRM as a fringe organization of "questionable repute" that continues to "hoodwink" the media with "questionable research that fails to -- enhance public health."
Dr. Barnard said the AMA reaction to last week's anti-milk statements was "nothing we didn't expect" from "an old dinosaur organization.
He said there has been an "enormous response" to the Boston statements with callers to PCRM expressing "concern, shock and relief." Many asked for its calcium charts that list calcium sources other than milk, he said.
"We're not saying everyone has to sit down in the produce department and eat tons of broccoli," he said. "There is a variety of good calcium sources."