Frederick J. Stare

From SourceWatch
Jump to navigation Jump to search

This article is part of the Tobacco portal on Sourcewatch funded from 2006 - 2009 by the American Legacy Foundation.

Frederick J. Stare (d. 2002-04-04[1]) was an industry-friendly, industry-funded Professor of Nutrition and head of the Department of Nutrition at the Harvard School of Public Health, who also regularly took money from the tobacco industry to provide them with a scientific front and money-laundering service. From 1945 to 1980, Stare wrote a nationally syndicated newspaper column, "Food and Your Health." He also wrote many popular books on nutrition, and had a regular syndicated radio show along with an ex-student Elizabeth Whelan promoting his nutritional ideas and lambasting anyone who thought chemicals in food, or excessive sugars in the diet, could be a health problem.

In 1950, Dr. Stare assisted in establishing the Food Protection Committee (FPC) of the National Research Council and the National Academy of Sciences with grants from the food industry and the government. The committee's first report assured the country that DDT and other pesticides were safe.

Stare served as Chairman of the Board of Directors for the American Council on Science and Health in 1980, at which time he sought funding from Philip Morris for ACSH's activities.[2][3] However, his partner and the CEO of ACSH, Elizabeth Whelan was a fervent anti-smoker, who could see the reputational benefits for a chemical lobbyist, in attacking the tobacco industry.

Nutrition Qualifications

During the Second World War, the US government suddenly found that it needed the advice of nutritionists capable of devising transportable menus suited to the troops. They also needed advice for establishing requirements for possible civilian food rationing.

At this time America had virtually no academic specialists specialising in human nutrition, so they recruited animal nutritionists from the Agricultural Departments of several state universities where they had been researching the nutritional requirements for cattle, dairy cows and pigs. Fred Stare was one of these and he was transferred to Harvard University's School of Public Health.

Food lobbyist

The April 1973 Harvard's student publications The Present Illness carried a diagram of Stare's industry links. It says he had been director of Continental Can Co. since 1964. It also revealed that Harvard University held $8.737 million worth of shares in the family(?) company. According to this article, Stare also had retainers from Nabisco, Kellogg and Cereal Institute. (See The Present Illness page 18 -21.[4])

The Kelloggs were eventually persuaded to fund him $2 million to set up the Nutrition Foundation at Harvard, and his family associations provided excellent connections to other large organisations in the food processing business willing to provide funds. The Nutrition Foundation is independent of the university (except for the use of the Harvard name) and it published a journal Nutrition Reviews which he edited for 25 years.[1]

A book jointly written with Whelan, Panic in the Pantry, carried the jacket message, "Eat your additives, they're good for you"; that, along with Stare's support for the sugar industry, earned him the sobriquet at Harvard University of "The Sugar King."

Tobacco helper - cut-out for Carl Seltzer

Despite the virulent anti-smoking campaign carried on by his associate Elizabeth Whelan through their shared industry-friendly group the American Council on Science and Health (ACSH), Stare worked for the tobacco industry as a cut-out for Carl C. Seltzer. Seltzer was a physical anthropologist specialising in identifying the ancient boundaries of Native American tribes before their lands had been taken over by settlers, and he worked through the Peabody Museum which was located on the Harvard campus. Seltzer had access to the Museum's legitimate use of Harvard University letterhead, and he built up a side business as a tobacco industry lobbyist, promoting the idea that smokers differed genetically from non-smokers.

He claimed that genetic differences existed between those who enjoyed tobacco smoke and those who didn't - both in their enjoyment and in their propensity for heart disease. This became the so-called "constitutional hypothesis" -- which was the only remotely-viable challenge to the statistical evidence that smokers had higher rates of heart-disease (NOTE: not lung cancer). The difference, he claimed between non-smokers and smokers, was not due to the smoke but to the genetic predisposition [2], and therefore there was no reason for smokers to give up their addiction, since the propensity existed anyway.

Seltzer was eventually transfered (via generous tobacco industry research grants) to the Harvard School of Public Health, and given a Professorship in the Nutrition Department where Stare protected him for many years. Stare also organised a casual lecturing position for Seltzer at Tufts University (through a close associate) which allowed Seltzer to use the title of "Professor"; Seltzer thereupon offered voluntary statistical services to the American Heart Foundation, Kaiser Permanente, and to other genuine research institutes, using his Harvard School of Public Health and Tufts University credentials.

The tobacco industry was then able to utilize this entirely-artificial status by promoting Seltzer as an independent "Professor" from the "Harvard School of Public Health" who was touted as an "expert on cardiac (heart) diseases" and a "consultant to the American Heart Foundation." He was given grants to travel the world making media appearances where he was casually reported in the press as a "Harvard University Cardiologist" ... or 'geneticist' ... or just heart-specialist, who attacked tobacco advertising bans. The media (who wanted advertising dollars) delighted in photographing him lecturing in a cloud of self-generated fog of smoke.

Over a number of decades, more than $2 million in tobacco money (via a secret Special Projects #4 A/c) was channeled to Seltzer via Stare through the law firm Shook, Hardy & Bacon. Yet both Seltzer and Stare publicly maintained that he was totally independent and never took a penny from the tobacco industry. They were able to expoit the Harvard name and maintain they had "never taken a penny from the industry" without fear of prosecution, because this last statement was correct; the money had all come from lawyers, and it was passed to them via Stare's department, which theoretically decided what research would be done.

After constant claims about his Department's funding sources, on January 28, 1972, Stare made a written public statement which said:

"I don't recall that any individual tobacco company has ever contributed any money directly to the department." [3]

These were weasel words intended to deceive: he was himself a recipient of a couple of tobacco grants from the joint tobacco industry body (via the secret CTR (Council for Tobacco Research) Special Account #4 held by a Kansas City law firm), and his department systematically laundered payments for the notorious Dr Carl Seltzer and a half-dozen other Harvard scientists, for a couple of decades. [4]

In mid 1973, Stare was exposed as a scientific lobbyist for the food, chemical, and pharmaceutical companies by Harvard students in the campus magazine (The Present Illness), (See student magazine claims about Stare: page 19-20 [5]) and also at the same time the student body attacked the support being given to the university scientists by the tobacco industry. Dr Gary Huber, and a couple of other Medical faculty members were eventually driven out of the university (Huber moving to Kentucky State University), but Seltzer, Stare and many others survived at Harvard.

SourceWatch Resources

External resources


  1. Newsletter May/June 2002 - Remembering Fred Stare. National Council Against Health Fraud (2002-05). Retrieved on 2010-01-12.
  2. Fred Stare, American Council on Science and Health Untitled letter to Helmut Wakeham of PM Letter. December 5, 1980. Bates No. 1000283163/3165
  3. John L. Hess, Saturday Review Issues Harvard's Sugar-Pushing Nutritionist Article. Estimated date August, 1978. Bates No. 10413210/3217
  4. L.R. Berger, Harvard Medical Alumni Bulletin The Present Illness Magazine/newsletter. January, 1974. Bates No. 2001210704/0754