No Room for Debate II

This is a sequel to my post yesterday about the Consumer Federation of America’s (CFA) decision to disinvite author of The Big Fat Surprise Nina Teicholz from the 2016 National Food Policy Conference. To recap: one of the panelists, Director of Nutrition Policy at the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI), Margo Wootan, said that “concerns were raised about Teicholz’s credibility, given the significant inaccuracies in her work.” 

Wootan cited a letter that was sent to the BMJ requesting the retraction of Teicholz’s article, The scientific report guiding the US Dietary Guidelines: is it scientific?, which criticised the methodology and findings of the 2015 dietary guidelines report. The letter was organised by Wootan’s CSPI colleague, Bonnie Liebman, via an email that was circulated among 180+ university professors and graduates from the US and Europe.

I’m taking this opportunity to publish some of the responses to Liebman’s original email, which I obtained by filing records requests with various UK universities.

Name of signatory and university

Jayne Woodside, PhD / Queen’s University, Belfast
Laura Johnson, PhD; and Angeliki Papadaki, PhD, MSc, FHEA / University of Bristol
Mike Rayner, DPhil / University of Oxford
Neil Poulter, MD / Imperial College London
Graham MacGregor, MA, MB, BChir / University of London

No Room for Debate

Journalist critical of 2015 United States Dietary Guidelines disinvited from speaking at the 2016 National Food Policy Conference [Updated: Read the UK responses to Bonnie Liebman’s email re: CSPI / Nina Teicholz retraction letter by clicking here]

Nina Teicholz, journalist and author of The Big Fat Surprise, has been disinvited – or perhaps a more apt word would be “deplatformed”¹ – from a prestigious Washington, DC food policy panel. Politico reports that Teicholz, whose work challenges the science on diet and nutrition, has been replaced by Maureen Storey, president and CEO of the Alliance for Potato Research & Education. If nothing else, Storey’s pro-carb perspective will make for an agreeable talk.

Margo Wootan, Director of Nutrition Policy at the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) and National Food Policy Conference panelist, reportedly said that “concerns were raised about Teicholz’s credibility, given the significant inaccuracies in her work” – citing a letter that was sent to the BMJ requesting the retraction of Teicholz’s Sept. 23, 2015 article, The scientific report guiding the US Dietary Guidelines: is it scientific?, which strongly criticised the methodology and findings of the 2015 dietary guidelines report.

The Nov. 5, 2015 letter was organised by Wootan’s CSPI colleague, Director of Nutrition Bonnie Liebman, via an email that was circulated among more than 180 university professors and graduates from the United States and elsewhere. For a sense of the slipshod organisation and uncritical thinking that went into the preparation of the letter, click here for Liebman’s original email plus a sample of the responses, which I obtained via a records request to Queen’s University, Belfast.

Click here to sign a petition to reinstate Teicholz on the panel at the National Food Policy Conference on April 6-7.

See also: Disappearing Act: 18 co-signers of BMJ retraction request letter are now MIA, which I co-authored with Atlanta, GA reporter Peter M. Heimlich last December.

¹Deplatforming means disinviting a speaker at the insistence of a special interest group, and is traditionally the domain of hypersensitive undergrads, as seen last October when students at Cardiff University (UK) petitioned to cancel a lecture by iconic feminist Germaine Greer.