Cornucopia Institute Challenges Dr. Alan Greene’s Conduct

So, Dr. Alan Green, much loved celebrity pediatrician among the green set, is being accused of some pretty serious stuff by Cornucopia Institute. First of all, I wrote a much longer post about the accusations at Inhabitots, and I don’t feel up to rehasing it here. That said, if you want the full scoop head to Inhabitots.

Still, since I’ve mentioned Greene here before and because I discuss Cornucopia Institute frequently, I’ll address the issue here in part.

Accusation one:

Greene is being accused of taking part in a coordinated effort this past December that allegedly misled the USDA’s National Organic Standards Board (NOSB) into approving the use of synthetic nutritional oils in organic foods. That’s a big old deal in the organic world, as many major organic advocates don’t want synthetics in organics. On top of that, the use of fake, man-made DHA is still up for debate, with some research showing that some big health problems may result when babies are given fake DHA.

Accusation two:

At the NOSB meeting in December, Greene was there in support of one of his largest clients, dairy giant Dean Foods, who among other sub-companies, runs Horizon and Silk (“soymilk”). It’s no secret that I’m not a fan of Dean Foods. In fact I won’t even buy Horizon organic products. At the NOSB meeting, Greene said he was a consultant to Dean Foods but failed to disclose the full scope of his relationship with this sketchy organic company (he’s been with them for years). Since Dean Foods is pro-fake DHA, this is a major conflict of interest.

Accusation three:

Greene, who many consider a breastfeeding advocate is also receiving financial compensation from Mead Johnson, the pharmaceutical company that manufactures the country’s largest brand of conventional infant formula. Marsha Walker, RN, IBCLC Executive Director, National Alliance for Breastfeeding Advocacy notes, “It is completely unacceptable and unethical for a pediatrician who masquerades as a breastfeeding advocate to enter into a financial relationship with Mead Johnson for the promotion of their formula with DHA.” Walker goes on to add this is because these marketing claims, made by Greene, a well trusted doctor, have, “Made it much harder for mothers to understand that infant formula is not equivalent to breastmilk and that their babies will not see better or be smarter if they consume this formula.

What’s next:

Cornucopia Institute, has requested that a speech by Greene, be canceled at the Natural Foods Expo, being held this week in Anaheim, California. Cornucopia notes, “The speech is part of a $175 per plate fundraiser for The Organic Center, a research group launched by the Organic Trade Association and funded by corporate agribusiness.  Dr. Greene is the Center’s former president.

What I think…

I really like Cornucopia’s work. I’m not a fan of formula companies or man-made DHA. I’m also not a fan of synthetics in organics or companies who greenwash to sell fake organics. Greene has not released a statement about all this yet, and Cornucopia notes that he hasn’t responded to them either. I’m actually very curious as to why Greene has failed to connect with Cornucopia or issue any statement about these turn of events. In my opinion, folks with nothing to hide, speak up.

Overall, I think an issue like this will die down though. I’ve noticed that people really like to support celebrities, in spite of what they do that may seem contrary. I’ve written about ‘green’ celebrities who endorse fake green products before and got a few emails telling me I was dumb and the celebrity had every right to take pay from a non-green company.

No one seems to give a hoot if famous people live, or don’t live by their proclaimed eco-ethics, which is lame in my opinion, but just the way it is. Thus, I’m thinking this news will likely go nowhere, even if other organic organizations decide that Greene is indeed guilty of unethical conduct.

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  1. Janelle Sorensen says

    Hi Jennifer, The Cornucopia Institute is really spreading a lot of misinformation about this whole situation and it’s very sad. Dr. Greene is a tremendous champion for children’s health and discrediting him is a serious injustice to the movement as a whole.

    I strongly encourage you and your readers to check out his response:

  2. Lynn says

    Cannot people of good will and conscience disagree? I don’t know enough about this issue to have an opinion and have no understanding of why the Cornucopia Institute would be “out to get” Dr. Greene. There are so many issues around sustainability and health that are guesses and we have to sift through it all and try to make the best decisions for us and our families. I agree with Janelle that attempting to discredit Dr. Greene is not helpful.

  3. Jennifer Chait says

    @Lynn – Yeah, it’s a tricky situation, made more so because I’m on board with many of Cornucopia’s and Greene’s ideas. This “he said, she said” stuff is so messy. Especially, as you note, because it’s related to eco-issues. Green advocates make up a remarkably small camp in the USA, so you’d think most of these organizations might ban together vs. going at each other. It can be frustrating.

    I’ve gotten follow-up statements from both Cornucopia and Greene – which by the way haven’t cleared the issue up much as both are still saying the other is in the wrong. Still, I’ll be posting what they had to say over at Inhabitots, but I’ll be linking that piece here in case readers here want to follow up too.

  4. Lynn says

    Looking forward to seeing what they said, but as you indicate, doubt it will help. I feel like I’m missing something (as with most things, LOL). I don’t know the inside scoop on either side so the actions just muddy the waters. For me, it doesn’t matter who said what. It only matters that each seems believe they own the truth and we are left wondering. Argggh!

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