Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Craven cave-in: How journalist/author Nina Teicholz was "disinvited" from the National Food Policy Conference (v2)

Nina Teicholz

Via Teicholz disinvited from food policy panel by Catherine Boudreau, Politico, March 25, 2016
...Nina Teicholz, an author who has publicly criticized the science behind the government's low-fat dietary advice, was recently bumped from a nutrition science panel after being confirmed by the National Food Policy Conference. The panel instead will include Maureen Storey, president and CEO of the Alliance for Potato Research and Education.

...Teicholz said she was disinvited after other panelists said they wouldn’t participate with her. Thomas Gremillion, director of food policy at the Consumer Federation of America, which is organizing the conference, confirmed he’d hoped to have Teicholz on the panel “but it didn't work out...”

...Margo Wootan, director of nutrition policy at the Center for Science in the Public Interest, will speak on the panel, along with Barbara Millen, the former chairwoman of the 2015 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee, and Angie Tagtow, executive director of the USDA’s Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion. Wootan said that “concerns were raised about Teicholz's credibility, given the significant inaccuracies in her work.” Wootan pointed to a list of 180 scientists who urged the British Medical Journal to retract a feature article by Teicholz last year.

Thomas Gremillion (source)

What caused Gremillion to rudely and unceremoniously kick a prominent journalist/author off the panel?

According to Teicholz, she received a March 9, 2016 e-mail from Gremillion inviting her to be a member of the “Turning Nutrition Science into Policy,” scheduled for April 6.

An hour later Teicholz accepted and everything was in place for a lively debate.

And isn't that a cornerstone of the scientific method?

A couple hours later, that prospect headed south.  

Margo Wooten (source) Barbara Millen PhD (source) Angela Tagtow (source)
From: Thomas Gremillion <>
Date: Wed, Mar 9, 2016 at 12:20 PM
Subject: RE: Panelist info for Natl Food Policy Conference

Hi again Margo, Barbara, and Angie,
I apologize for inundating your inboxes this week but I wanted to let you know that we have confirmed Nina Teicholz (cc’ed) as our fourth panelist. Nina is an investigative journalist and author of The Big, Fat Surprise.

You should hear soon from your moderator Sue Pitman. In the meantime, do not hesitate to contact me with questions.


It's unclear how "Thomas, Margo, Barbara, and Angie" passed the rest of that afternoon, but the next morning Gremillion gave Teicholz the axe.

On March 28 I e-mailed these questions to Gremillion and copied reporter Catherine Boudreau at Politico:
After you sent the March 9 e-mail, were you contacted by Ms. Wootan, Dr. Millen, Ms. Tagtow, or anyone else who expressed displeasure with Ms. Teicholz's presence on the panel?

How did you choose Dr. Storey to replace Ms. Teicholz and on what date did you invite her?

When you invited Dr. Storey, was she aware that she was replacing Ms. Teicholz?
Here's his prompt albeit skimpy reply:
From: Thomas Gremillion <>
To: "Peter M. Heimlich" <>
CC: "" <>
Subject: RE: blogger inquiry
Date: Mon, 28 Mar 2016 21:54:26 +0000

Hi Peter,

I don’t have any further comment on Nina Teicholz. I am very pleased with the program that we have put together for the National Food Policy Conference this year and I think our audience will be too.


In this e-mail she sent me (including the links), Teicholz was less taciturn:
It's startling to me that well-respected DC organizations like CSPI would take the stand that they simply can't tolerate debate and discussion. This behavior truly begs the question: what is it they have to fear? If the science that CSPI has been promoting for four decades can hold up to scrutiny, then they should welcome the chance to make that case. The reality is that in recent decades, there's been a tremendous re-evaluation of what causes nutrition-related diseases: if not dietary fat, as we've thought for so long, then what? But the political-industrial alliances in DC don't want this science to be heard. 

It's not just me, I know, because after I was disinvited, I proposed a Harvard MD and a former Dietary Guidelines Committee member to take my place, but they weren't invited, either. Also, some 4150 people signed a petition in just a week to get me reinstated. They know that the thinking has changed and that the science needs a full, open debate (read their comments--they are passionately in favor of science and debate).

CSPI has clearly been trying to shut down that discussion, not only by having me disinvited, but also by organizing a letter to retract a piece I wrote in The BMJ that was critical of the science behind the Dietary Guidelines. That piece has not been retracted. My work stands, and I believe it's beneath basic standards of intelligent debate to disinvite someone because their views pose uncomfortable challenges to established views.

April 6, 2016: This is a revised, expanded version of an item I posted on March 30, 2016 and took down a few hours later due to an unexpected editorial snafu. The substantive information is identical plus the updated version includes the quotes from Teicholz.