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Transcript: Arnold E. Schaefer, 1980

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This is November 7, 1980 in Omaha, [Nebraska].  My name is Paul Anderson and I’m speaking today with Dr. Arnold E. Schaefer who is Executive Director of the Swanson Center for Nutrition, and former Executive Director of the Interdepartmental Committee for Nutrition for National Defense [ICNND].  That’s the subject of our conversation this afternoon.

As a means of understanding the background of the ICNND it is important to trace when nutrition in foreign lands first became a concern of the U.S. government.  This question may not be something you could answer or something you may know a great deal about.  Might we trace this back to World War II, for example?

Yes, I think it really started in World War I when Herbert Hoover asked Dr. E. V. McCullum to head up a committee that would stress the need for food conservation and food rationing in World War I.  What it really led to was the initiation, at that time, of a few specialists in animal nutrition that devoted their efforts towards planning food supplies for the United States, especially in case World War I lasted for any long period of time.  This was done through some assignments through the Sanitary Corps.  Then in World War II there was a real effort to organize, even before the war broke out, a group of Sanitary Corps officers that were designated as specialists in food nutrition.  Eventually, they were called nutrition officers, and that was headed by Colonel Paul E. Howe.  Dr. Howe was, prior to that, the Director of Human Nutrition in the Department of Agriculture and had a primary responsibility for supervising the feeding in our prisons.

I happened to have, like many of us, a commission in the infantry, and right after Pearl Harbor I had notification to quickly report for duty.  My major prof [professor] thought it would be appropriate to see whether he could get an assignment for me as a nutritionist, which happened.  So I had the good fortune, I’d say good fortune, of serving as a nutrition officer over in the European theater.  In fact, I was over there three years during my four years of service.  And it really gave me an opportunity of seeing nutrition at its ugliest because I had the privilege, if you want to call it privilege, of seeing the prisoners come out of the Dachau prison camps.  These were our PWs and it came as a real shock; it was hard to conceive that humans could be mistreated that way.  They were just rack and bone, and I had the chore of deciding who was going to be hospitalized and who wasn’t, and used as a criterion if a man knew his name and his serial number, he was ambulatory.  If he couldn’t recall his name or his serial number, he had to be hospitalized.

We quickly filled up our field hospital with those that were really in a mental stupor, and then the [question was] how do you rehabilitate somebody that has really undergone severe starvation?  Well, that turned out to be a good challenge when primarily all we had was skim milk powder and dehydrated eggs.  [We] quickly found out that these people could not be fed quickly; they couldn’t be allowed to eat on their own; they couldn’t be allowed to go take a shower.  They had lost all sense of touch, and I had never seen malnutrition at such an ugly stage.

Well, when I came back from World War II, I went back to Wisconsin to finish my Ph.D.  I had my master’s at that time and really went into animal nutrition.  I got interested in going back into the government, again through my major professor, who knew that Dr. Harold [R.] Sandstead was looking for a biochemist.  Sandy worked at [the] National Institutes of Health, and this was just at the time they were organizing the Interdepartmental Committee on Nutrition.

This would be in 1954?

He contacted me in ’54, the memorandum of agreement which established the committee was signed in early January, and I came on board in March of 1955.

We can see from what you’ve just said that there was a clearly established connection in the position of nutrition officers and the army and others, between nutrition and national defense.  For example, I recall a White House conference that President Roosevelt called in ’41 that established this notion, the link up of nutrition and defense.  But I can see that it was substantially earlier that—

Roosevelt’s first World War II Food Order #1 really dictated the need to enrich our food supply, that is, fortify white bread.  That was the result of—  He quickly asked the Academy of Science to organize a special advisory group and that was the birth of the Food and Nutrition Board of the National Academy of Science.  That was made up of really the key nutritionists throughout the United States.  It’s always been a real prestigious body, and again that gave credence to establishing the recommended dietary allowances.  That’s when the first one was published.  That was primarily for planning purposes and was the key document used by the military in prescribing the diet, making sure that all diets, whether they were combat rations or what we called Class A and Class B field rations, supplied nutrients that would meet the recommended dietary allowances.

So we had an early input in World War II, recognizing the role of nutrition and specifically for defense.  What a lot of people forget is that nearly all our food standards, the standards that FDA now talks about – there’s a standard for milk and a standard for this food and that – it was all developed by the military, primarily to enable purchasing food in large quantities.  Obviously, the Defense Department was the largest food purchaser in the world because at one time we had as high as thirteen million men under arms.  Not all [at the same time].  There were roughly thirteen million men that went through the channel for World War II.  And so it had a real effect on our entire food supply.

Yes, I can see that.

Again, it happened that just as I’ve reiterated in my experience in the European theater, the same kinds of things, even worse, were found in the Far East theater.  At the end of the war, of course, virtually all the nutrition officers were again discharged and out of the service.  They did maintain an Office of Nutrition in the Surgeon General’s Office of the Army in preventive medicine, and they went one step further.  They created a Food and Nutrition Branch of the Surgeon General’s office that had laboratory capabilities.  That was established down in Chicago.  It eventually moved to Denver as a part of Letterman General Hospital, and about eight years ago, it was moved out to the city of San Francisco, California, where it was called the Letterman Army Institute for Research.  But primarily it was a group that had been responsible, ever since World War II, for nutrition surveys, nutrition surveillance, and conducting nutrition research on the needs for the military.

Now this would be strictly the American military, or in those days did they have any idea that they might want to think about allied peoples?

Initially, it was strictly American – the military.  It was during the Korean conflict that somebody finally woke up and said, “Gee, I think maybe we’ve got some nutrition problems.”  The field commander, I think it was General [Douglas] MacArthur, requested the Surgeon General to investigate the nutrition status of the soldiers, and one of the key members of that team was Dr. Harold Sandstead.  That report really was an eye opener again, in which we, the United States, were responsible for training Korean troops.  The first thing that Sandy did was to get out in the field and take a look at the troops, line them up and have them strip, and he went on and he was just shocked to find that they had what we call, I suppose, kwashiorkor in kids.  They had protein malnutrition in adults.

They quickly found out that it was a simple error in which they were working these soldiers at a rate of using up say, let’s say, 3,600 calories and only feeding them 2,600, and they just ran out of gas.  And that really led to a very detailed survey and a revamping and re-initiation of making sure that there was medical support in the staff offices for finding and making sure that our allies, in this case it was the Koreans fighting on our side, were properly fed.

You’ve written on the subject of the beginning of the committee in the Korean conflict time, but you pointed out two important facts: one was that there was a shortage of Americans who were trained to be competent to carry out these kinds of things, and the other is that there was confusion among American groups that were involved.  You said that at one time there were as many as six American agencies that were involved.

Doing some kind of nutrition survey in Taiwan.

Could you comment in more detail?  That was Taiwan?

Yes, it was Taiwan where really two things sparked the organization of this committee.  One was Dr. Sandstead’s experience in Korea, and right after that he had been called for guidance and advice in Taiwan.  The reason [that] he called for guidance and advice on Taiwan was [that] Ambassador Bullock, our U.S. Ambassador, was walking along the beach one evening and a soldier that was guarding the beach bumped into him.  [To make] a long story short, this fellow turned out to eventually be Bullock’s houseboy, and he had night blindness.  He fired off a request saying, “Hey, you know, I understand night blindness is due to nutritional deficiency or a nutrition-food problem.”  They were just glutted then with these six different groups; everybody was responding to run over and do a survey.

Do you remember some of the groups that were doing this?

Well, there was a group from Columbia that were going over there and they were primarily interested in looking at children.  Then there would be other specialists that were being sent over – some military, some civilian.  As a result, nobody really came up with any good, clear-cut recommendation.  It finally evolved into having this U.S. military Army Nutrition Lab respond by sending a full-fledged team over.  They, again, were really short on physicians with any experience.  This then fell upon Dr. Herbert Pollock, who was a civilian, who had been in the Nutrition Corps in World War II, who came to the rescue, along with Sandstead, in organizing a team and then going through a very methodical survey and recommended that a field study, a field trial, would be set up.  And it’s the first and really only time that we had a survey conducted and then somebody said, “Say, let’s see what we can do about it.”

They set up a field trial and gave one battalion enriched rice.  This was rice that was fortified with thiamin, riboflavin.  [They] increased their ration issue of sweet potatoes as a source of vitamin A, put them through the same rigorous training, monitored them for three months, and said, “Hey, hey, this can do the job.”  Well, it turns out that one of the first assignments that our committee had, the ICNND, was to plan a rice-enrichment plant for Taiwan, which we did.  That was really the first assignment that I went to work on, but that Taiwan experience really set Dr. Sandstead to discussing with the First Assistant Secretary of Defense for Health and Medicine, the first time that health and medicine even had a—

Who was this?

This was Dr. Frank [B.] Berry.  In discussions with Frank Berry and Dr. Henry Sebrell, who was Director of the NIH.  Then they also enlisted the help of Dr. [Howard T.] Karsner, who was the civilian advisor or consultant to the Surgeon General of the Navy on health matters, and Dr. [Stanhope] Bayne-Jones, who was a counterpart advisor to the Surgeon General of the Army.  They decided [that] since there wasn’t any one organization – even though there was a nutrition laboratory in the Army – there wasn’t any one organization that had enough personnel and a broad enough expertise that could handle this.  They decided that what they would do is organize an interdepartmental committee and see what could be done on getting people from H.E.W. and NIH, or [as] Dr. Sandstead was, from agriculture [and] from any of the organizations that had an interest in international activities.  That really [gave] birth to the concept of organizing an interdepartmental committee on nutrition, and, they said, for national defense.

One of the key architects on that committee, although you don’t read about it, was Dr. Bayne-Jones.  Bayne-Jones was a famous bacteriologist and had probably one of the most powerful positions for a medical person in World War II, in which he headed up the Typhus Commission.  This was a special commission appointed by (again) President Roosevelt that gave him absolute authority, even over guns and ammunition and men, to travel any place in the world and [to] organize any group needed to combat typhus, which was a really debilitating disease in World War II.  It was Bayne-Jones that suggested that they organize the committee patterned after the Typhus Commission, but with not quite that much power.  He felt that under war conditions that was great that he could order anybody and he had a clean run of things.  So it took some pretty good input to organize this memorandum of agreement which was signed by the Secretary of Defense with concurrence of Army, Navy and Air Force Surgeon Generals.  [It was] then signed by the Secretary of State, the Secretary of Foreign Operations Administration, which at that time was Harold Stassen, and is now, you know, USAID [Agency for International Development], the U.S. Department of Agriculture, and the Department of H.E.W. [Health Education and Welfare], which just bloomed as a new department.

That was only founded in ’55 or—

Yes, in ’54 when I came in.  I think it was Oveta Culp Hobby that signed it.  I’ve still got the original signatures of that memorandum of agreement.  In a way, it was loose and very broad.  It gave that committee the power to respond for the United States government in providing assistance to any country that asked for it.  Then, of course, you get down to what about funding the committee.

Yes.  We ought to talk about that if we could.

Here’s where it took some pretty forward-looking people like Frank Berry, who decided that one, it was definitely a defense mission and that he would go to bat to see whether he couldn’t get funding directly through the Department of Defense.  At that time the secretary was [Charles] Wilson, a pretty hard-nosed financier.

“Engine Charlie”?

(Laughs)  Yes.  Just as a sideline, I’ll tell you my first introduction to Wilson.  I’m jumping ahead a little ways.  I had a responsibility of getting the teams off to Iran and Pakistan and I had done all my homework and everything, and we were ready to roll, except that I needed to make sure we had the money to pay [for] a private aircraft.  We actually went out and chartered a plane to fly our team over and needed fifty thousand dollars.  So Frank says, “Well, go on down and see Secretary Wilson.”  I didn’t know if Secretary Wilson knew how busy it was, and I walked in and he looked at me and said, “What do you want?”  I said, “Dr. Berry sent me over here to see whether I could get you to sign off on this fifty thousand dollars.”  “Fifty thousand?” he said, “Man, get out here.  Get him out of here!  I’m working on a fifty billion dollar budget.”  (Laughs)

I went back to Berry and he said, “Did you get it?” and I said, “No, he threw me out of his office.”  He said, “Well, wait a minute.”  So he went over and he got the fifty thousand.  Wilson wasn’t about to talk to me about fifty thousand.  He said, “Get out of here, we’re working on a fifty billion dollar budget.”

He wasn’t upset that you were asking for money that hadn’t been budgeted already.  It was just that it was so minuscule.

(Laughs)  Yes.  He didn’t have time to fiddle with that.  Really, the budget burden came down to one man pretty much, Frank Berry.  I used to go with him when we testified.  We testified before Congress a couple of times.  But primarily, he got his money through the Security Council, getting their backing.  They in turn then would—

This was the National Security Council?

Yes.  National Security Council, which in turn, with their blessing, we always got the money from Defense.

Who was your angel on the Security Council?

You know I’ve forgotten the name of the man, but he was from State and he had to be a good personal friend of Frank Berry’s.  They had a tremendous respect for Frank; he never asked for anything that he didn’t think was really worthy.  So when he asked, he was never turned down.  I think [in] our testimony before the Congress once, we had to justify the budget expense at line item and at that time I think we were now talking about a half a million dollars a year.

Do you recall what years you testified before Congress?

In ’57 and ’58.

Did they ever print the transcript of that?

I don’t think so.  It was usually short and since it was part of the military budget, although we never had anything that you would really classify as secret, we did operate under the strict guidance of security.  Just from the diplomatic reason – making sure we didn’t make a commitment to a government without having clearance from our State Department that it was okay, and too, that we could fulfill the mission – that we had money to back it up.

Who did you go to in the State Department to get clearance?

The member that the Secretary of State appointed to our committee at that time, was Mr. Walt Rudolph.  He was one of the early science advisors, one of the first.  The Office of Science Advisor to the Secretary of State was one of these “on and off” things.  They’d appoint somebody, then drop them and then they’d appoint somebody, but Walt was one of the survivors.  He was probably our most ardent supporter because he’s the one that always lined up our clearances.

We never went into a country without having a request from their Minister of Foreign Affairs, and making sure that our ambassador knew about it and that he approved it.  This just didn’t come about; this had to happen by messages going forward and he’s the one that the transmitted messages.  He went on a lot of trips with me.  In fact, I think he visited nearly as many countries as I did.  Many times he’d just go back over and report when we took the reports back, but he devoted a lot of his time and effort to making sure that the committee functioned smoothly insofar as getting clearance.  We had to get passports; we had to have special passports for every single team member and we had as high as three, four teams in the field once in awhile and there’d be fifteen, sixteen men on each team.  So we had a pretty good, hefty roster, and each one of these persons had to be screened for security clearance.  Security clearance meant more than—  It wasn’t that we were CIA or anything like that, but it meant that we didn’t have some pervert on board or we didn’t have somebody that would be a rabble-rouser.

Somebody who would be, in other words, a liability to the operation.

That’s right.  I think everybody appreciated the fact.  Nobody really—  When I look back, we sent something like 507 key specialists, professional people over, and I can only recall one or two cases where questions were raised out of the 500.

You were talking earlier about Taiwan and this was to be sure before the committee got formally operative, but you left off with the ambassador bumping into the soldier.  I was wondering when he recognized this problem, how did he get the ear of the Nationalist Chinese government to make them recognize that they ought to call in Americans?

He really did it because at that time we were just starting to give pretty heavy assistance to Taiwan, military assistance.  We had a real military commitment so that he just felt that it was important for us to have them healthy.  You know, it was the sort of philosophy that I used to always admire Frank Berry for – is that when we’d go to testify or we’d go to recruit people, [and] they’d say, “Oh, I don’t want anything to do with Defense.”

Who would say this?

Well, some university staff would say, “Oh, I’m not going to go [near] Defense.”  We were always anxious to enlist and get the support of FAO [Food and Agriculture Organization] and WHO [World Health Organization], and I know in our first contacts [the response] was, “Well we can’t have anything to do with you because you’re just interested in Defense.”  And Berry would say, “Now listen, we’re not just interested in defense.  We’re interested in people, and my stand is that if we can help the people then that’s where the military’s coming from.  The mission’s solved and our goal is to have peace and you can’t have peace unless you feed people.  We want to help the governments to identify [the malnourished].”  He actually coined the words “food for peace” long before anybody in that bureaucracy did.

This is Frank Berry’s phrase: “food for peace?”

Yes, “food for peace.”  He sold that [in] testimony to the government – that this was a program that was concerned with people.  And although initially, our first couple of surveys that we did, the one in Iran and Pakistan, again our request there was specifically to assist the military in determining whether they had any nutrition problems, and if they did what could they do about them.  So that our first two surveys, Iran and Pakistan, were strictly done on the military and it quickly emphasized to them that boy, one, we were trying to make Iran a mobile force and had supplied them with tanks and mobile equipment and they couldn’t move more than about twelve, thirteen miles a day because they had no field rations.  Whoever did all the maneuvering in the Defense Department and in State, in saying, “Well, we’ll give you this and this and this,” just forgot that you have to feed an army.  So that the first requirement was “What about a field ration?”  Then you found out that they didn’t even have a food canning plant.  They had had one that was opened by the Swedes and after the first week of production, a bunch of people were poisoned and they closed it up, therefore, [they believed] any canned food was poisonous.

We went back in and pointed up that they needed – they had nutrition problems, that was one thing – but the real practical standpoint was that they needed a food processing plant and it really was the birth of their whole bloody food industry.  I can remember the first plant that was opened up.  It was up on the Caspian Sea and was supervised by American food technologists, even after our survey left.  We had Dave Hand who was in food technology from Cornell on the survey, and he was really instrumental and helped [to convince] the Surgeon General of the Iranian armed forces that it was absolutely mandatory that if they were going to have a mobile force, they had to have a field ration, and that meant you had to be able to preserve food.  Within six months after our survey was done, we went back a year later and witnessed the dedication of the new plant that they’d opened up.  They were making canned stew [and] canned products.  Then they started canning vegetables and fruits, and Dave had sold them on the fact that there was a tremendous market – that they needed these foods, also, for their civilians.  So all that year it was subsidized by the armed forces.  They got it under operation and their veterinary corps set up the controls just like our Food and Drug Administration, because they didn’t have any Food and Drug.  In fact, the Farsi language didn’t have a word that says nutrition.  They used “nutrition” now, but it’s ours, it’s not a Farsi word, it’s “nutrition.”

We also had a request from a general named Iadi.  He wrote to me and he spelled my name “Schiffer.”  “Dear Dr. Schiffer:  Could you help us get a yeast plant and one less tank?”  Berry used this in one of our testimonies – testimony before Congress – saying that it’s more important to feed people than it is to send them tanks.  He said, “Here’s a letter.  We got a request from the Surgeon General of the Iranian Armed Forces saying could we help them get a yeast plant so that they could make a different kind of a bread and process it and use it in their food supply, instead of having all these tanks.”

Okay now, we know that the leaders of all the countries that we’ve mentioned so far are very, very proud.  How do you get people to ask for American assistance if you’re interested in rendering it?

Yes, I think this took some pretty good diplomacy.  I never met a man that was more diplomatic than Berry.  And here was an Assistant Secretary of Defense – he arranged two early trips; one was actually before I came on board in ’54, before the committee was organized.  They took Dr. Sandstead over and they went to Greece, Iran, and Pakistan and met with our missions and talked about this.  This is where Berry convinced them that in Pakistan and Iran, you know, if we were going to really supply them with training and with arms and ammunition to help defend themselves against Russia—

So you would speak with the American consular officials?

Right.  And then in turn, he always was welcomed by his counterpart, which would either be the surgeon general of the armed forces, because a lot of them didn’t have the air force and navy like we do.  And by talking with them they just said, “You know, this makes sense.  We need help, we don’t know what our problems are.”

So it was a kind of personal diplomacy with a colleague in a foreign country’s armed forces?

Right.  My first trip was in ’56 with him.  After we had done the surveys, he then arranged for a group which included the Surgeon General of the Army, Navy and Air Force, himself, a representative from the State Department, and I.  At that time we had access to Dulles’ special mission aircraft and flew to, I think it was thirteen countries in something like twenty-one days.  It was primarily on a mission one to Iran and Pakistan we met with the Iranians and Pakistanis to discuss the report.  We had set it up so that every survey team had two times as many local people on board, natives on board, to every one of our specialists.  We also impressed on them that we would help analyze the data and send it over, but we wanted them to look at it and come up with recommendations.

Well, to get it off a dead start, we always wrote the first draft and we’d put in a few recommendations and send it over, and then go back over there.  We took the survey director and usually one or two other team members and myself, or someone like that, a consultant, sit down with them and really write to the reports that they were writing.  What could they do to help themselves?  What did they need?  And I think that’s what sold the program, because they had a feeling that boy, these were their recommendations and they were a lot tougher in the reports than we would be.  We’d have been more diplomatic, instead of talking about a problem, you know, we would have been saying it, but in more diplomatic terms.  Man, they wanted “black is black, white’s white” and put it down and that’s it; we’ve got to do something about it.

In country after country, this is the situation that you found – that they were really anxious to have the help?

That’s right.  I can only recall one time when we had a real difficult time in getting the report across and that was because we had an ambassador that – I won’t comment on what I think of him.  Well, hell, his name was Snow, Ambassador Snow to Uruguay, and he didn’t like the report.  He didn’t like some of our statements in which we were critical.  We were critical of the U.S. stand on trying to get Uruguay to really shift over massively (I forget what it was) [to] produce one of the cereal crops.  Our team members said, “No, that isn’t the kind of crop that they ought to be raising in Uruguay.”  So he tried to hold up the report.  Well, he wasn’t successful; he was successful for a while, but eventually Berry won out and we got the report through to the government.  But certainly the government wasn’t [against] it.  We always used the philosophy that what would be good for the country would be good for us.  You know, it wasn’t just always “Boy, it just has to benefit the United States.”  [Berry] preached and he believed, and I believed, that if a program was good for the country, it had to be good for the United States.

What kind of administrator was Harold Sandstead?

Sandstead?  Well he was a tremendous fellow.  You know the story.  I came to work in March as a biochemist, and Sandy gave me the job then of looking over what the military groups had found on the Taiwan survey.

This was 1955?

Yes, early ’55.  Then the work on developing a report that would come up with a recommendation that we ought to supply [a] rice enrichment plant, and this is the enrichment formula it ought to have, and this is how we go about doing it; and this is what it’s going to cost.  So that was my first assignment, and Sandy was a tremendous guy to work for.  He gave the assignment and, brother, you had a chance to do it.  Then he was on a mission to go out to Oregon State to talk with the hope of encouraging Joe Butts.  Dr. Butts was Chairman of Food Science and Nutrition out at Oregon State.  He wanted to go out and see whether Joe, [who] had been a lieutenant colonel – nutrition officer – in the nutrition corps during World War II, and wanted to see whether Joe would head the survey team going to Iran.  On the flight out, he was on a United Airline flight that a young boy put a bomb on board to kill his mother.  Sandy was on that flight – that was in November of ’55.  Sandy was going to head up one team, Joe Butts was going to head up one, and then he had a deuce of a time finding two other clinicians that could do the physical exams.  [He] finally recruited one out of the army medical nutrition lab and that’s all they had.  So he and the other fellow were going to—

Who was this other fellow?

This was Larry Hursh, Colonel [Laurence M.] Hursh.  When Sandy was killed [on the United Airlines flight to Oregon] there were just myself and an [agriculture] economist and so far we were just in the process of writing that first manual.

Do you recall the agriculture economist’s name?

Yeah.  Arthur [G.] Peterson.

So Sandstead was really the master mind behind the manual?

Right.  He was backing the manual insofar as saying, “You know, we really have to spell out what everybody’s going to do and we need to standardize the procedure.”  He had plans which we carried out, that we’d be doing this in a whole battery of countries.  And that we would hope—  One of the things that I didn’t tell you about, that I think was instrumental in selling the countries, is that the program was sold on the concept that we had to do some biochemistry.  In order to make sure we could do it, we wanted to take our own lab material over.  Then we would leave this in the country.  We would leave it in a place that hopefully we [could] organize and tell them where, [and] that they would continue to use it.  At the beginning of the survey – it got a little more expensive later – this amounted to about twenty-five thousand dollars per country, but it was worth about four times that to the country because it was sophisticated equipment at that time and was more or less of a plum.

In that manual – I don’t know if you looked at it – it has a whole list of all equipment necessary.  We did that again for logistics so that if the survey director got over there and he says, “I’m missing item 462 and here’s the list,” we knew exactly what hadn’t arrived.  In that small office of ours we ordered the equipment.  I had the chore of loading the plane, and I learned more about what kind of chemicals you aren’t supposed to send or have to have really restricted when you’re shipping in an airplane, especially when you’ve got people in that aircraft.  But you learn in a hurry when you’ve got to do it.  (Laughs)

There was another individual who was very prominent in the committee and this was John [B]. Youmans.  Could you tell me about his involvement?

Well, I mentioned Colonel Howe as being head of the nutrition corps at the beginning of World War II.  He was then replaced by Dr. John Youmans, who was really—  I’ve always considered John the father of human nutrition in the United States, clinical nutrition.  He published the first book on clinical nutrition, and he was a tremendous supporter.  The committee established a group of leading scientists as consultants, and John Youmans was one of those, so was Dr. [Robert] Shank, and Greg Schoolsman.  The food nutrition board and all the leading nutritionists, biochemists, clinicians, food economists, people that had competency in dietary surveys, served as our advisors, helped us recruit staff, helped review and criticize and critique the reports, really helped prepare the manual.  Each one of the manuals that was published has a list of those consultants and they all contributed to the manual.  Reviewed it.

John Youmans was probably – well, without a doubt – the senior, the senior consultant and at that time he was Dean of the Medical School at Vanderbilt.  Every time, and I mean every time, we got in a bind on personnel, John would come to our rescue and a lot of times that meant himself.  For example with Harold Sandstead being killed, John took it upon himself to personally take the teams over to Iran and Pakistan, and he stopped over – he had been in on all the briefings – and helped brief them.  So he went over and made sure that, at least diplomatically, they were accepted because Sandy wasn’t around to do it.

Did his reputation proceed him?

Yes, yes it did.  He was another Frank Berry, you know.  He loved to travel, he got along fantastically [well] with foreigners – he didn’t call them foreigners – and they respected him.  You know, the man never shouted and he never yelled, he was a diplomat all the way, and they just knew he was sincere.  I can’t ever remember a time that somebody turned him down.  I was always fearful that we were overusing him and it would put him in bad state with his university.

He remained on the staff of Vanderbilt all through this time?

Yes, yes.  Eventually, you see, after he retired from Vanderbilt he became the medical advisor to the Surgeon General of the Army for three or four years, and then he was a member of our committee.  But in all the dealings with ICNND he just always functioned as a real member of the committee.

He’s now dead, is that right?

Yes.  He just died a couple years ago.

I forgot to ask, is Berry still living?

No, Berry died about three years ago.

Another man whose name appears again and again, I think he’s also from Vanderbilt, is Dr. William [J.] Darby.  Could you tell me about his involvement?

Well, Bill was a protegee of Dr. Youmans’, you know, Dr. Youmans was dean [at Vanderbilt].  He hired Bill Darby to come to Vanderbilt to head up nutrition and biochemistry; Bill being one of the few that also has a Ph.D. in biochemistry as well as an M.D.  And Dr. Darby – he and Bill [William J.] McGanity, who initially was at Vanderbilt in pediatrics, probably served on more survey teams than any [other] two of our consultants.  A lot of it was due to the fact that Dr. Youmans was Dean of the Medical School and he’d say, “Hey, Bill, do you want to go on a survey?  You have my blessings; don’t tell the Chancellor,” (laughs) and Bill would be off.  Again, you have to have some diplomacy about you and Bill certainly radiates that.

Well, you really had a Vanderbilt mafia to contend with.  I think Sandstead, as well, had a position at Vanderbilt for a while.

He did.  You know, nutrition is like a yo-yo.  In our government, it’s been up and down, and Sandy was just too early, he was too far ahead of his time.  He had proposed and had pushed hard during the early years of the Public Health Service to get them to make a commitment to every state, so that they would appoint a state nutritionist, and [he] had a very energetic program planned and ongoing.  Then, as usual, the government just cut it off, just cut the rug out from under him, and he was virtually without a job.  In the interim he took a leave of absence and Dr. Hillmans gave him a job at Vanderbilt.  Then he was followed by—  At the time of his death, Sandy’s son [ed. note: Harold H. Sandstead] was just finishing his first four years in college and was entering medical school, and he went to Vanderbilt.  Young Sandy is now head of the nutritional lab for the USDA [United States Department of Agriculture] up at North Dakota.  But I was fortunate in getting Sandy assigned to my unit for his two-year military tour for his military obligation.

Sandy, Jr.?

Sandy, Jr.  I’d watched him.  I had followed him through his full medical career – he was as close to me as my sons are.  Got him assigned to—  At that time we had helped support and organize a nutrition component of the NAMRU 3 at Cairo [ed. note: Dr. Schaefer probably is referring to NAMRU 2].  This was with the navy, in which we were using NIH funds, which I was in charge of, and also ICNND funds.

Could you explain the acronym, NAMRU?

It’s the Naval Medical Research Unit Number 2.  Number 1 was in Bethesda, the naval hospital; Number 2 was in Cairo, and Number 3 was in Taiwan.  So they had three basic medical research units.  We conducted a survey in Ethiopia and had set the one up for the survey to go in Jordan and met with the commanding officer of NAMRU 2 and convinced him [to] establish a nutrition unit.  We helped supply the equipment and recruited people.  Initially, we had an Indian doctor – or a young boy that had applied for U.S. citizenship, but it was—  His name was Ananda Prasad, [ed. note: born in 1928], who had been over in Iran and had described what he thought was zinc deficiency in humans.  [He] sent over a director of the laboratory, I’ve forgotten his name right now, he’s back in Vanderbilt.  Then [he] got an NIH grant to Vanderbilt to support that lab on a long-term basis.  That was headed by Darby.  Then, when young Sandy came on board, he took his two years on assignment over as one of the key clinicians on zinc and he’s been working on zinc ever since.

What kind of changes were made in the manual as a result of the earliest experiences and surveys?  This was before the first edition of the manual came out.

Well, the second edition had a lot more detail about sampling.  We were just getting at the stage where we could get away from the McBee card.

The McBee card being a primitive computer card?

Right.  All that had was holes in it.  We were punching all the material, all the things we were doing, by holes so you could run a needle through a stack of these.  If they all had that lesion, all those cards would drop out so then you could count the cards.  It was a manual sort of analysis but it was the only thing that was feasible for the countries concerned.  You know, computers hadn’t—

That’s right.  Even if you had computers in Washington, you wouldn’t do any good because the data was analyzed in situ.

Right.  In our second edition really had – well, we added the section on children, infants, and mothers, whereas [in] the first one we had to put out handwritten sheets [to explain that] if you have infants and mothers these are the kind of data you need to get.  So it was really expanded to include the civilian population.  That’s pretty much it.  We did a lot more in biochemistry, we put in more alternative methods.  But basically it was describing sampling, and especially sampling in civilian [populations].  Military population samples are easy – man, they’re captive, but when you get into the civilian proposition it’s much more difficult.  So all it was, really, was a more detailed [survey], but it did really cover nutrition surveys for civilian populations.  You know, in the military too, it was easy, it was easy to get dietary information on a company of men.  You could just measure all the food that a hundred men ate and you could come up with per man per day [ration], whereas for the civilian population we had to come up with some different ways of analyzing it.

Really, that second edition was a manual [in which] we were doing experimental work.  We started out doing a three-day study and found that if you’re going to survey populations, you can’t stay in a site for three days to do a three-day dietary survey.  So we were one of the early ones to use a 24-hour recall.  We said, if you do enough people, you’re not going to be using that data on that individual to compare with his biochemistry, but you can look at groups of people and you may just have one day’s dietary intake on sample number 1, but if you’ve got 1,200 of these, you’ve now got 1,200 days, or any way you want to look at it.

We then decided we’d try to do a few other things.  We would compare that to doing a one-day recall, but weighing right in the home, and we really did that on the Ecuador survey.  We did a 24-hour recall, just sitting the mother down using models and having well-trained people that would do the interview.  Then [we] did that same family at home measuring all the food.  Then we would make a food composite, because at that time we didn’t have analysis on all their foods.  The idea of the food composite would be based on that one-day recall of groups [so] that we’d actually make a food composite, use the water and everything right there in that area, homogenize it and send it back to the States for analysis.  In those countries where they had [the] capability, they’d analyze them also, so then we’d have a double check.  That gave us some information.  There was no way we could have gotten information on salt intake; we had better data on salt intake in those thirty-three countries that we studied overseas than they’ve got right here in the United States today because there isn’t the data bank on salt, sodium and chloride content of foods.  They’re just about twenty years behind time, finally getting it, but damn slow.

If I understand you correctly, a 24-hour recall policy is important in a country where because of the lack of means, I guess you would have to say, maybe the diet is irregular.  I mean, they might have meat for example or some other thing only once every few days.

Really, the dietary studies were much simpler overseas than they are in the United States, mainly because you don’t have anywhere near the variety of foods.  If you go into the rural areas of Guatemala or in Africa, fundamentally those people eat about the same foods three times a day.  If they’re rice-eaters, they’ll eat rice morning, noon and evening, and that probably, in some cases, supplied 80 percent of the calories.  So now all you have to do is measure what little vegetables and fruit they eat, and occasionally they have meat.  It really was a lot simpler and easier because the variety – the numbers of foods – were a lot less.  You did run across foods that are completely foreign to us, and I remember we were just really shocked to find out that the kimchi that they used in Korea.  We went back and did another survey in Korea which was a follow-up to the one that Sandstead initially had done.  We could really show an improvement, a marked improvement, in the nutritional status of the troops; we also did some civilians.

The kimchi is nothing but fermented radishes and cabbage, it smells to high heaven and it’s got a taste that they like.  But, boy, it’s fermented and not just the acetic acid, but they’ll put some fish in it.  It turned out that it really preserved vitamin C.  When you took the analysis of the material that went into kimchi, and then took kimchi after it had been cooked or after it had been served you got virtually 95 percent of [the] vitamin C back.  And even after we sent the samples back home – we did some stability studies on it.

I always recall that Frank Berry used to tell our team, “Keep your own counsel, don’t go popping off that you know everything.”  He said, “If you are intelligent you’re going to find out that you’re going to learn more than you’re going to give.”  I think many, many times team members would come back and they’d always picked up a new research project and they picked up something new that they hadn’t heard of.  He certainly was right that if you were interested you always had something to learn.

To drop back briefly in time, the League of Nations did some studies in the nutritions of populations.  Did you draw upon those at all?  There was a man named [E. J.] Bigwood who did this.

Well, we had some breaks, because prior to World War II [there was] the study in Newfoundland.

Was that during and just after [World War II]?  Dr. Shank was involved in it.

Right, right.  That I think was right after the war.  That was one of the first studies too that really used the concept that Sandstead was one of the proponents of.  He believed that you needed to do physical examinations; and Youmans, you know, Youmans-Sandstead-Darby, [believed that] you needed to do physical examinations.  There were certain indicator lesions.

I think Dr. [Oliver H.] Lowry of the Washington University Medical School was on that [study].

At the same time, this same group of people had been working on biochemical methodology and adapted those that you could do in the field.  We were always criticized: “Why didn’t you use a more sophisticated procedure?”  Well, you’ve got to be practical, you know.  So you do those things that you can do in the field.  The Newfoundland surveys, I think one of the early ones, did a clinical, a biochemistry exam, and it also got dietary data together.  That resulted in a cereal-enrichment program for Newfoundland and then virtually wiped out the problems of riboflavin deficiency.

You know, it’s kind of hard to say, “Well, where did they get [the information]?”  They borrowed on the League of Nations studies and even from Herbert Hoover’s survey of some of the food problems in World War I.  By saying that – and this was on our team – we always had a person that was assigned the job of looking at food balances.  Food balances are, in broad-brush terms: how much food do they produce?, how much do they consume locally?, how much do they export?, how much do they import?  At least you can get some broad guidelines on food availability.  That doesn’t really give you consumption data, but it was always interesting, to me at least, to look at what our agricultural food consumption data would look like – food balance data is probably a better term – in comparison to our dietary surveys.  Boy, they were supportive, but, therefore, on our team we had somebody that did all the food balance stuff.  It would be easy to say, “Well, gee, you’ve got a riboflavin problem; eat more riboflavin.”  Well, what foods, at what costs?  Is it available; can they do it?  If they haven’t got it, can they raise it themselves?  These were the practical questions that we were—.  I think one of the early pioneers said that it doesn’t do any good just to say, “Hey, they’ve got problems,” or [to] stay home.  But you could identify problems – their resources, both manpower and food-wise – then, what they could do to help themselves.

Did you have any anthropologists on the teams who helped you understand this?

Well, not really, because we had a lot of good talk about “Hey, you need anthropologists.”  I’ve got letters in my file in which I had written to the Anthropological Society in Washington, D.C. asking for help and assistance.  They’d always give me a lot of talk, but no human being that would join the team and be willing to go where our team did.  These team members had to do some sacrificing.  They went for a minimum of three months and worked like hell.  Anybody that thought this was a joyride and a sightseeing tour wasn’t very realistic.

Well, just imagining from the manual, it is clearly outlined how the survey room was organized.  I can just imagine working all day with malnourished peasants was probably at times very depressing; and at all times probably very hard and demanding work.

It was hard and demanding and I think this is where it needed the right kind of person.  You could never screen and recruit on that basis, but once we had experience and we got people back, we would then use those people to try to help us identify people that they thought would do a good job.  By that, I mean somebody that could take it.  You could be the best clinician in the world and if you couldn’t stomach to take this kind of rigorous and often depressing situation – and lost his cool with his cohorts – you just undo all the good you could try to do.  I think we were awful lucky.  We had a couple of cases where—  Everybody knew that if they goofed off, and by that I mean did something that put that team in a bad light or the United States [in a bad light], we had [the] power and through the State Department to pull him out of that country so fast that his head would swim.

In a few cases did you have to exercise that power?

We did that twice, and I’d say that’s pretty small on 512 guys.  But in those two cases, the guys admitted well, they lost [their] cool, but we got them out of there pretty quick.

Let’s talk about international politics again.  Looking at all the countries that were surveyed, I see only one that was not an ally of the United States – not necessarily hostile, but neither an ally nor a Latin American country – and that was Burma.  Why Burma?

Great.  Great.  Well, I’d say that initially we had one goal: we were going to ring Russia.

A containment policy?

Yes.  That wasn’t my decision.  We weren’t required to do that.  This is where Frank Berry—  In fact he was one of the first champions of Latin America.  He decided, “Let’s start sending some teams down there; they’re important to us.  We need to get their friendship.”

Let me go back to Burma.  Again it was Frank Berry.  The Burmese government was (I forgot the dates) overthrown.  This was in ’61.  I think the coup happened in early ’61 or late ’60.  There were three junta members that took over the government.  One of them was an M.D., and he had traveled in the United States and he wanted some of his young officers to receive training in the United States.  So he came to the United States and was admitted, and met Frank Berry.  I met him and one thing led to the other and we started talking about the ICNND program.  He said “We need that.”  I think within six months we had gotten permission from our [government] – our embassy was still there – and [we] had this direct invite from one of the three junta [members.]

Do you remember this man’s name?

No, I’d have to look it up.  I can remember his key man was You (spells Y-O-U), who was a young M.D. who actually had been trained in the United States.  He turned out to be one of our real friends.  I could look it up – I know it’s in the file.  We were treated with top priority and we were there at the same time the Russians were there.  In fact, in the hotel they had a table for the Russians and a table for us.  (Laughter)  I’d say that our counterpart team members were always real frank with us, although they held their tongue when they were in the public areas.  After the survey finished, we had continued in fact—  Burma also was one of the—  I went over to negotiate the first PL 480, that’s [the] Public Law 480, program to support nutrition research there were let, and went to India, and Pakistan – at that time it was Pakistan.

Meaning Bangladesh?

Yeah, yeah.  East Pakistan and Pakistan, functioning through the Pakistani government, but we did the work there in East Pakistan, and Egypt, and Burma.  They enabled us to—  We gave them a grant.  At that time, I was also head of International Research Nutrition Research for NIH.

Now this was after the committee disbanded?

After the survey.  Our committee was still functioning.  The survey was done, but we could use this as a follow up.  As I remember, the grants were something like forty thousand [dollars] a year, that enabled them to follow up on the anemia study.  About that time the [Burmese government] kicked out the Rockefeller Foundation.

Out of Burma?

Out of Burma.  [They] finally wound up kicking out the embassy.  They still let us in.  I could go in any time, and Charlie [Charles S.] Davidson – who was one of our team members – Charlie could go in.  As long as we identified with ICNND and we were interested in just assisting them in doing nutrition research, we didn’t have any problems.  It used to hurt the State Department, you know, that we could get in and they’d say, “[We] don’t think you ought to go,” but we were always treated with top respect.  You know, I just can’t conceive that something like this Iran hostage thing occurred.

In those days, Egypt wasn’t any particular friend of the United States, either.

No, but there’s always some hidden politics.  I don’t mean hidden politics.  I’d say that the Navy never has gotten credit for being a good diplomat [yet] I don’t know of a Surgeon General of the Navy that didn’t have a standing agreement with the embassy in Egypt, that if anybody there got sick they took care of them.

You mean the Egyptians would take care of them?

No, the Americans would.  In the United States.  They maintained bloody good relationships with the naval personnel in Egypt and throughout—  First it was [Gamal Abdel] Nasser.  I went over when Nasser was there and when they had the Suez Crisis.

[In] ’56?

Yeah.  When the Suez Crisis happened.  That was later than that; the Suez Crisis was later than that.

The first Suez war that I recall was in ’56.

Yeah.  The time when we landed troops there, they had kicked [them] out again.  They had gotten our embassy out, but they left NAMRU 3.  They not only left NAMRU 3 – our units at NAMRU 3 – but they assigned a regiment just to protect them.  We never did quit, you know, we just kept going.  We were back in there all those years that the embassy was out.  That lab never did shut down.  I don’t know how many times the U.S. State Department has tried to say, “Well, the Navy ought to get out of medical research and they ought to get out of research in Egypt.”  I’d say, “Boy, they don’t really appreciate that that was probably one of the best diplomatic arms that they had there.”  Again, they did not mingle or butt in and they would not permit any of their people to get involved in local politics.  That meant you had to have the right kind of people on board.  They went about doing their work and their work was important to the Egyptians.

Were there any requests from countries that you had to turn down because they were just too unfriendly to the United States?

I honestly can’t remember that.  We usually stimulated the request.  You know, if you sat back and said “We’re going to wait till they ask us” – it required some selling.  You’d go and say, “We’ve got something to offer and it’s part of our foreign assistance.  In doing this we want to work and help train, if you need [to have] anybody to get trained, in nutritional appraisal techniques, and we’ll leave [the] laboratory equipment.”  We not only left laboratory equipment, but for at least while the committee still stayed in operation we continually supplied them with replacement parts.  Or if they had special chemicals or something that they couldn’t get, we just got it for them, no red tape.  They’d send us a letter and we’d do it.  We had a pretty broad mandate.  We were also careful that when we left the country, they had a special ceremony in which the ambassador in turn would formally turn over all the laboratory equipment to the government concerned, so we didn’t have any legal responsibility or entanglements on leaving any equipment.  It was part of our aid program.

It was a nice gesture and also cut the legal ties to what might happen with that equipment afterwards.


Were there any governments that had any second thoughts once you got involved?  I read somewhere that once the initial plans had been made you didn’t want to delay too long for fear that there might be a revolution.

That’s bringing me to Brazil.  We went through three coups before we got surveys started.  We went down [and] we briefed the government and then they had an overthrow and then it was halted.  So we went down and briefed the next government, and we barely got back to the United States [before] they were overthrown.  Then in the third coup, the first group got back in and we got the survey off.  As I recall, that was the only country that we had that kind of a turnover.  We were in some countries where after we got the survey done there was a coup and we just ignored it and went right back and briefed the government that was in power.  Usually, not always but usually, some of the key people that were involved with us in the survey always managed to survive that coup.

They were technological rather than political.

Right, right.  That has a real advantage.

Well, I see that you indicated in an article that the majority of funding for the surveys came from the Advanced Research Projects Agency.  I looked at the statement about ARPA in the government manual and it says, “ARPA is to select and pursue technological developments that minimize the possibility of technological surprise and otherwise increase our defense capability.”  Does that mean that the Defense Department was looking on your operation as a means of finding out what was in that country?

No, no.  I would say the opposite from that standpoint, because Berry was very adamant that the CIA could not use our committee nor our personnel to their advantage, and that we wouldn’t have any clandestine affair involved.  [I should] go back, but I’m pretty sure ARPA came into being after Berry was replaced.

I have it as early as ’58, but maybe they didn’t—

Well, ARPA didn’t fund us until later, because the original funding came, you know, right straight from the Department of Defense.  It wasn’t until – I think it was ’61, ’62 – Kennedy had put the kibosh on the committee.

Meaning what?

Well, his cotton-pickin’ secretary of state and director of AID [United States Agency for International Development] made the recommendation that we were going to shift from technical assistance to economic assistance, and that caused more hell than anybody really believed.  Then somebody got Kennedy to say, “Well, abolish all these committees and start over,” and we struggled for our livelihood to maintain the committee.  Now, I served on heck, twenty committees in that bloody government, and none of them was worth a damn except the ICNND, and I say that with all sincerity.  All the rest of them were just like ladies’ quilting committees, where you sat around the table and you told everybody what you were doing and nobody really could coordinate it or do a damn thing, and nobody had any money.  Our committee was an operational committee and we survived two years under Kennedy, and then the effort was made to get more of our funding from NIH.  [We] just about got there and then this was when Floyd [Floyd S.] Daft took over as chairman of the committee when Berry retired.  Well, he was vice chairman, rather, because Berry’s successor was chairman, and he was very friendly to us.

Who was Berry’s successor?

Jesus, I forgot his name.  It’s in that second edition of the manual.

I’ll look it up then.

The second edition of the manual has got it in there.

You were talking about the difficulty under the Kennedy administration.

Our only hope then was to get some long-term funding and one of the hopes and this was—  We were put on it through Dr. Berry and his successor.  Fitch?  Not Fitch, but I’m getting close.  Finch?  [ed. note: interviewer is consulting the ICNND manual]  It’s right in the beginning there.

I’m looking it up here in the manual.

It’s got to be right in the first [pages].

(Finds name)  Dr. Shirley [C.] Fisk.

Fisk, that’s it.  I was close.  That ARPA had funding to support research projects, and a certain amount of this could be used for human research.  It was on that basis that we wrote a proposal which one, included doing all six Central American countries, and as I recall we were also doing Paraguay.  And [the proposal] supported specific research projects.  Again, it was sold on the basis that whatever was good for the country would be good for us, and that it was a health for peace mission.  As I remember, the agreement was for 7.2 million [dollars].

What year would this have been?

I think it had to be ’62, ’63 – ’63.  I can’t remember whether we got all the 7.2 million [dollars] or not.  It was either ’62 or ’63.  That was the last basic funding we got from the Department of Defense.  When that ran out, that was really the essence of the committee.  That’s the only thing that really kept the committee alive, because it survived that push and cut by Kennedy to abolish committees.

Let’s go back to this important matter that you touched upon earlier.  People talk about American involvement abroad and surveys, and it occurred to me, and it should probably occur to other people, “Aha, CIA.”  But you say that Dr. Berry and others, yourself, were adamant that this would not be an intelligence gathering tool.


Did the CIA try?

No.  Let me tell you.  During this whole interim, I had a reserve commission as a lieutenant colonel in the military.

This was before you went to work for the commission?

Yeah.  I maintained that because I had my assignment with the Surgeon General’s Office in Washington, and this was in preventive medicine.  So that every year I’d take my two weeks’ active duty, and in that two weeks’ active duty invariably I got assigned to medical intelligence which, in essence, worked with CIA.  It used to be my job to go over there and look at what they had in the files on nutrition.  Invariably I’d find my damn reports, I mean all our reports, classified secret and then I’d say, “You know, this is the biggest farce I ever heard of.”  We issued, I think on Ethiopia, we had something like 2,000 copies.  We initially had made 500 and they wanted 500 more.  We probably distributed that many to Sweden, who in turn took over that nutritional program in Ethiopia, and here this Ethiopian report is labeled “secret” in the CIA files.

So these were public documents?

Yeah.  Somebody had decided that they were secret information.  But we were always careful that these—  We submitted one or two classified reports to the government concerned in which they were critical as hell, you know.

What particular country was that?

I’m just trying to remember.  I think one of them was to Venezuela; and one was to Colombia.  This was primarily because it dealt with a problem that either departments or an individual had been given a responsibility and actually screwed up.  I can cite one of them.  This was in a South American country where the government had passed a law saying that all salt had to be iodized, and the nutritionist [assigned] to it was given a bonus or a cut on every pound of salt that was sold, which was a government monopoly, and it was their job to monitor.  Well, when we got there we noticed a lot of goiter, and then we really did a detective job and found out how much iodine they had purchased, because the iodine had to be imported.  We found out that they hadn’t anywhere near bought the kind of iodine that they should have been buying.  Then we checked the salt and found out the salt wasn’t iodized.  This man was on our team, and he started smelling a rat.  Well, we decided that—

What was the rat that he was smelling now?  The fact that you were onto his incompetence?

Yeah, yeah, yeah.  The fact that he had not followed through.  He had not fulfilled the obligation that anybody as a health representative should.  Whether that was being lazy or whether it was incompetent or whether he was being paid not to do it, nobody knows; we didn’t care.  So we decided to handle that one with a separate report directly to the Minister of Health, and that was hand-carried.  With short notice; he was fired; he was relieved of command.  We collaborated with him and went back three years later to find out that well, they really controlled goiter when they honestly implemented the program.  So we had one or two cases like that, and that’s the only time that I’d say that we had something that never was published.  That story never got into our publications, because at least we were able to keep the good graces of the government.  And not only that – because we wrote the reports with their participation, and he wasn’t about to put that into that report.  So we just handled that one separate.  But I only recall two of those cases.

Well, were there any cases where groups within the foreign country other than the ones that invited you in, said, “Hey, look, these Americans are spies?”

Yeah.  I can recall getting that sort of a flack when I first went down to negotiate in Ecuador, for example, from the press.  “Oh, you’re just a bunch of military guys, you’re just spying on us.”  Fortunately Berry happened to be there, and he really dressed this young boy down.

The reporter?

Yeah.  (Laughs)  In no short terms, like any old professor could do.

Were there any other places where this was a difficulty?  In Uruguay, you had some local problems, that didn’t have anything to do with what the ambassador thought.  Did you have communists that were—

Yeah.  We always had that sort of a play; we had that play in Ethiopia because hell, after all, the Russians operated a hospital there and they were always trying to undercut, you know, the real objective of the team.  But by and large, I can’t remember any case where it really stuck.  I mean, as long as you didn’t get perturbed about it and just dropped it, denied it, and a lot of times you didn’t even deny it – just went about your business and kept reiterating that you were there to help them help themselves.

To go back to flack on the domestic front, you said the Kennedy administration nearly wrecked the program.  Did you get criticism from Congress or any other agency that might say “Well, this is the kind of do-gooder foreign aid that we can’t afford?”

I would say that we survived the Kennedy administration and got good support from the [Lyndon B.] Johnson administration.  Now, they didn’t really reinitiate the ICNND as such, but our unit had a real input on developing guidelines for foreign assistance in the food field, and my staff and consultants spent many, many hours working on the U.S. policy for food assistance.

Did you get credit for this?

Well, you know, in government you don’t individually get credit, although we got credit insofar as their letting my bosses know that we collaborated with them, that our support was appreciated.  Outside of that, I’m on quite a few papers, and we were invited as speakers in all sorts of different aid programs that were conducted overseas, and so were our consultants.  We had the assignment as being the nutrition adviser to U.S. aid and that was primarily during Johnson’s [administration].

At what point did the committee change its name?  It was National Defense and then it became National Development.

Well, that was again the politics in back of it.  We always had people saying, “Well, you’re just interested in defense, and it didn’t make any difference to me because—”

These were American critics?

American critics, always.  I can’t remember that any[one] paid any attention to that overseas because they associated ICNND was a group that was interested in their health and nutrition, and that we had labs there, and we had supported follow-up research, that we had assisted in arranging fellowships.  Virtually every team member [who] would come back would have somebody that would want to come on over to study or vice versa.

There was no trouble overseas, it was just in this country that people didn’t understand?

In this country, right.  And more so from my bureaucrats in H.E.W.  I was always a member of Health, Education and Welfare of NIH and then got shipped to the Public Health Service.  They didn’t really know what the hell to do to us, or do with us, after a couple of key guys left or retired or died.  It got to be, as political mish mashes do, “Well where’s the next home going to be?”

When did the name change go through, [to] National Development?

I think it was ’66, no, ’65.

So it was right at the end?

Yeah.  They tried to do it once when Berry was chairman.  He just wouldn’t listen to it, because I wrote up the minutes and it didn’t pass.

Where are these minutes?

Well, that whole file – when I left NIH, I had boxed it up and sent that out to LAIR [Letterman Army Institute of Research, San Francisco], that’s the Army medical nutrition lab.  Because [they were] the only group that was interested in it.  H.E.W. wasn’t a bit interested.  I got some of them back now.  Now they’re shutting off LAIR.  You know, they’ve abolished LAIR and are making a U.S. Department of Agriculture lab out of it.  I assume they’re in the boxes.  I’ve got about six boxes over at the hospital that still have some of these records and I assume that they’re there.

There was a survey in Vietnam in ’59.  From what I understand about Vietnam, there was never really any internal peace; I mean, there were always village chiefs being bumped off and so on and so forth.  Communists were always present in the south.  Did any of this come out in the survey’s work?  I mean, were you aware of this impending resumption of—?

Yeah, I’d say that anybody that said there wasn’t there [was uninformed].  I was back in Vietnam three times.  I did the survey in ’59; I was over there when we initially started it.  This was when [Ngo Dinh] Diem was in power.  At that time there was virtually no funding.  There certainly wasn’t any in Saigon and very little in the countryside.  There was discontent and I think you could see that.  We, in turn, were starting to build – we had a fairly small military mission.  We had some hellish good support there.  One of the key persons that had the ears and eyes of the Vietnam was Jacques [Meyer] May.  Jacques eventually was on my staff.

In what capacity?

He was there on AID’s (spells A-I-D) capacity in setting up a medical school.  Jacques had served in Vietnam for, I don’t know, ten years before World War II as a medical missionary and escaped Saigon when the Japs came in.  In fact, he escaped on a boat.  They picked him up in the China Sea, and he being a Frenchman was [in] one of the key positions on [Gen. Charles] DeGaulle’s staff.  After the war, he came over to the United States; and how he got a job in AID to go back to Vietnam to head up—  Of course, he knew Vietnamese and of course they spoke also French, and he was given the job to head up – organize and help them develop their own medical school.

He was in Vietnam when we went over to organize the nutrition survey.  I met both Diem and his wife; the team had absolutely top cooperation.  Again, it was strictly a health mission, and we had some real good Vietnamese friends on it.  I went back [when] the first Far East Nutrition Conference was held there.  I think that was ’61, and at that time you could start seeing the shift.  We had probably, I’m guessing, 50 times more people; there were 50 or 100 times more people there.  There were military troops and you got suspicious of – and there was fighting in the outskirts.  In fact, we were told, “Stay in Saigon and don’t go jacking off out in the country escapading unless you know who you are going with.”

Our findings in Vietnam really indicated problems, not only on the civilian side but on the military side.  We were again working against some bullheaded American military advisers who figured they were – how should I say this – hotshots out of West Point and they weren’t about to listen to some bunch of pipsqueak M.D.s or nutritionists telling them how to run an army.  They were committing the same cotton-pickin’ mistakes that our military advisers did in Korea – [they] just weren’t giving a damn about what these guys were being fed.  We were successful in forcing the issue and getting another re-survey out there which pinpointed that, man, they had guys dying of beriberi.  It was the sort of thing that the team had predicted, [that] unless they did this and this and this, that they were going to have problems.  They needed to enrich their rice, they really needed to take some immediate action and they didn’t.  And of course, when the war broke out, we had no more contact as far as the committee was concerned.

Well, the committee had already wound down by the time the war got warmed up.

Yep, but you could see it coming.

Well looking back at it all, which were your successes, if you wanted to generalize?

Well, I think it had an impact, I think, on United States attitude towards clinical nutrition.  It gave 500 scientists, minimum, in the United States, an opportunity to really see different kinds of malnutrition and to appreciate world hunger; to get an experience that they would never, ever have had otherwise.  You just couldn’t get [it] out of a book.  The benefit to clinical nutrition, I think, is probably the biggest payoff to the United States.  It gives an opportunity of doing some research that we couldn’t have done.  I look at the whole zinc problem and I can remember when our first study out of Egypt said, hey we’ve got some dwarfs that all of sudden grew six inches on getting zinc.  I wanted to report this as a discovery that humans really required zinc, and my immediate superior at NIH said, Senator Banks, said, “Who the hell’s interested in that? We don’t have any zinc problem in the United States.”  Well, I’m not so sure we don’t.  We’re just studying it like hell now.  And I can remember at the Federation meeting where there was one paper on zinc.  I’d say there were at least fifty papers on zinc last year, you know, years before.

Zinc is one, chromium is another one.  Now, I think we have to put chromium on the map, because we had a research project going on over in Jordan.  This kid that I sent over, Leon Hopkins, I really sent him over to look to see why these kids were not responding to severe protein calorie malnutrition and anemia the way they ought to.  We thought probably they had a concurrent Vitamin E deficiency, (quote) maybe selenium, because selenium at that time and E looked like they were both functioning as antioxidants.  Our original finding out of Jordan had indicated that there were some anemias that responded to E.  Well, he went over there and he wired back and he said, “Geez, can I try chromium?  Because it looks like some of these kids have glucose intolerance and there’s a possibility that chromium’s involved in glucose tolerance.”  Well, we had to get permission from Food and Drug.


Well, we wouldn’t permit him to do anything that we couldn’t do in the United States, and it hadn’t really been administered as a therapeutic agent in the United States, so we got an experimental approval to okay.

And this was standard procedure; nothing overseas that wasn’t approved by FDA?

As far as we were concerned, you better believe it.  It had to be approved.  We got permission and the right designation of the dose and how to give it.  One shot and god, these kids responding dramatically.  Taking it from there, you know, it opened the door on having people look at chromium.  We identified a real serious problem of bladder stones in Thailand, and I’d say that project has gone on for at least fifteen years.


Domestic problem?  Oh yeah.  The bladder stones are primarily in children, and it looks like it has something to do with phosphate in the soil that was tied up in one area where they had these high outbreaks and where they would do something like a thousand cases of surgical removal of bladder stones a year in one little bitty old hospital.  I’ve got pictures where the shelves are just full of bladder stones, and some of them are unbelievably big.  And [Robert] Van Reen, who was with the Navy, was on our team at that time.  This has been his life’s devotion.  He’s got on that bladder stone problem.  He’s now head of biochemistry and food science at Hawaii, and he still continues to work on the bladder stone problem.

We’ve got more data on cholesterol as it relates to different dietary intakes than any one group in the United States [has].  I think.  It’s never really been summarized that well.  We did the first experimental work using a two-lead EKG that you could adapt to the field.  This was done by one of the guys that was on my staff, [who] worked with Kelly West.

What was his name?

[John M.] Kalbfleisch.  He went to Malaya, he went to East Pakistan, [to] Burma.  We had him on a whole slug of Latin American ones and then set it up so he was on all of the Central America surveys, [and] Venezuela, Paraguay.  Initially, it was in Malaya that we compared [a] two-lead against a seven-lead EKG, and then brought the EKGs back and had the American Heart Association referee them.  They called the shots and compared them to what he called, and boy, we were in 95 percent of the ball game.  And a two-lead EKG could do just about having a guy set up – you could do it (snaps finger) in a very short period of time and it won’t pick up abnormal EKGs.  At the same time, he – in conjunction with Kelly West – we did a modified glucose tolerance test to screen [for] diabetes, instead of just peeing on a [piece of] paper and saying, “Well, he’s got a chance; he’s got sugar in that urine.”  We did a modified glucose tolerance test which is really indicative of being able to pick up, again, 95 percent of the diabetics.

We collaborated in doing wrist bone x-rays in all our Central American surveys, and of course they did it in the ten-state survey here in the United States.  For the first time [we] could really measure physiological bone growth with chronological age.  You do it objectively – a guy looks at it – all the records were read by Stan [Stanley M.] Garn at the University of Michigan.  Initially, he was with Fels Research Institute, that has done nothing but measure longitudinally the growth of children.  Well, we had data and an opportunity of really making some comparisons that could never be made before in chronological age with bone age, and you could really show bone retardation.  You could show demineralization of bones in women that were malnourished and had a lot of children.  What value is that?  Basically, it gives us a much better concept of really measuring growth retardation objectively, instead of subjectively, you know, looking at it backwards.

Do you think there is data that the committee produced which will turn out to be useful in the future; I mean, it just hasn’t been analyzed?

Oh, I think the best survey we ever did, that anybody’s ever done, and I’m not bragging because it took a lot of planning and some damn good collaboration, was the six surveys that were done in Central America.  We did this with INCAP and it was part of the ARPA input.  I would say that INCAP was losing its support and we saved it, number one, because it enabled us for over a two and a half year period to do all the six surveys.  One of the key inputs – key things – we did, [was to] establish a serum bank and this serum bank is the biggest serum bank ever collected in the world.  It resides in two places, in case something happened to the damn refrigerator.  It is a reservoir for x years, I don’t know how long, to be able to go back and do immunology, and they just barely creamed it.  The first screening was done on polio [and] diphtheria.  You can go there and you can take a look at that map and say, “Hey, there’s going to be an outbreak of polio.  It’s going to be in this area in Nicaragua.”  And boy, it came to pass.  It’s exceptionally good material, and you can see that, by God, they hadn’t immunized these kids.  They did the same thing on smallpox.

It also provided, I think, the first decent data on saying, “What about all these standards for a hemoglobin for defining anemia?”  The first time we had surveys and we had cream guys and I had guys on my staff that were these two-year fellows that were serving their tour, plus we’d send on consultants and we set up the equipment so we could do red blood cells, folic acid, [and] serum irons.  Oh, as part of this serum bank, we also had one sample that went for [a] parasitology examination so we could identify people that had hookworm, no hookworm, had adequate iron, adequate folic, adequate B12 and say, “What’s your hemoglobin?”  And from that Dr. Viteri just reconstructed a table on saying, “There’s a 95 percent chance that if the hemoglobin value is below this, that that person’s anemic.”  Then he went back and followed up on some of these.  I guess it still takes ten years for people to really appreciate that – as far as I’m concerned, that’s a milestone publication, because we never got our data on—

What’s his name again?


First name?

Fernando, Fernando Viteri.

Is INCAP still in operation?

Yep, still in operation.  They survived.  They just had a hell of scare because of this goddamn hostage bit.  It really bugs me that our State Department never said “Boo,” but the abductors came right into a staff meeting and took the Director of INCAP.

In Colombia?

No, in Guatemala.  [They] took him and an American.  Did you see anything in the papers?


Neither did anybody else.  [They abducted] the American who was the business administrator and took them as hostages.  They kept him there for four cotton-pickin’ months.  They finally released him.  They released him because his family put up – I don’t want to say how much – paid the ransom and there wasn’t a damn thing done about it.  I was mad.  I wrote letters and cabled the Pan American Health Organization.  The reason I knew about it is that, one, they were both my friends and then the other friend I’ve got down there who was also associate director, they were looking for him.  Fortunately, he was here in this country.  He wanted me to help, to see whether I couldn’t get PAH – Pan American Health – and the United Nations to do something – besides our embassy.  Well – nothing.  They didn’t do a damn thing.  They didn’t even mention it, and I think probably were just scared – scared out of their butt for fear that this may encourage somebody else to do the same thing.

Is INCAP a subsidiary of Pan American Health?

Yeah, it’s under the Pan American Health Organization.  It’s the United Nations outfit for Latin America.

Is there any area where the committee failed?  We’ve talked about the successes.

Yeah, I think there’s some we failed.  Right offhand, the one that we had the least impact on was Libya, from the standpoint that that’s one place that the laboratory equipment really wasn’t used. We were there when Libya was poor as hell.

It was still a kingdom, right?  [Muammar] Qaddafi hadn’t come to power.

Right.  They didn’t have oil; this was before the oil.  Nothing really happened there.  We just didn’t get off to leave anything there.  I can tell you another thing – where I kept telling you that we usually had two to three people join a team – there were some exceptions.  For example, in Ethiopia there weren’t that many people trained, but we did have a lot of young people that were what they called – in Ethiopia they were called – physician’s assistants, that eventually got there, and really were the top-notch intelligence of Ethiopia.  They butchered a bunch of them, but a couple of them survived and one is head of the Ag School now.  He was one of the first guys to get his Ph.D.  He came over and got his Ph.D.  I helped arrange to have his professor take him back and make sure he got a good job.  The Minister of Agriculture wanted him to be his typist, and we insisted that he start out as head of food science.  He just recently wound up as – he survived all the coups, he’s pretty pro-American.  He just wound up as Director of the Experimental Station in Ethiopia.

In Libya our counterparts were third-country people.  There were Italians, and there were Yugoslavs, but we didn’t have any Libyans, and that’s what hurt.  That’s why it really failed, and we didn’t have time enough to try to get some young people over to train them.

What you’re saying, I think, is the lasting results outside of the clinical data are the people that you trained, right?

I think that’s the biggest payoff for the country – is training their people.  I can go through every one of those countries: Iran, Turkey, Pakistan.  I’m still working with the guy in Bangladesh that we really set up and he’s got a fantastic nutrition unit functioning.  God knows he’s been through enough hell and high water, but he stayed with it, he’s trained people.   [In] Burma, I’ve lost contact.  I’m sure we had a good impact because that equipment was used, they were working on human nutrition research.  I have no reason to think that that didn’t survive.  The Philippines was great.  Taiwan, no doubt, boy, that unit was used.  Korea, the unit was used, they had people trained.  There are people now that are right up [on things] and can talk with any of us on nutrition.  Malaya, there again, the lab is being used.  Many of our team members still have continued liaison with – there’s no team members anymore – but they still maintain good rapport.  Bob Hodges, who was our team leader in Malaya, just went back last year again to follow up with them.  We did Spain – that was [in the] early parts.  In fact, Ike [President Eisenhower] was being blasted like hell for us helping Spain, and Spain was one of our big recipients.  Well, hell, it didn’t take long when Spain was a net dollar importer, and they were just starting their food industry.  They had a special request – they wanted a food and drug specialist on board, which we did.  I think we had a sanitary engineer on board that they wanted.  We would respond if [a country] had any special requests.  Ethiopia – I think that one paid off well, irrespective of who runs the country.

Right, because you started with such a primitive situation and there was no way to go but up.

We weren’t successful in convincing our AID program – and that was under Nixon – that they ought to support Ethiopia, because [Nixon] got mad at our damn ambassador.  So then Berry went to Sweden.  The Swedes had a Swedish hospital [in Ethiopia] and [he] talked to the Ministry of Health and convinced them that, by God, they ought to support the nutrition program.  We then sent [ William J.] Darby over to help brief them.  And that Swedish-Ethiopian relationship still exists.  So the Swedes did it.  I’m sorry we didn’t get credit for it, but that was because we were too damn dumb to see it.

Along the way, the committee sponsored its hearings at international meetings.  We’ve alluded to these already, but review them again.  There were a series of armed forces inter-nation conferences, and then there was a Far East symposium on nutrition that occurred at least three times, that I can recall.

There were four of them.

Four of them?

Let me see – we were in the Philippines and Taiwan—


Vietnam and Thailand.

Thailand?  Okay, there were four Far East symposiums on nutrition, then.  What, in retrospect, is your opinion of that?

I think they really served a useful purpose.  Initially, we started out primarily because there was a military mission.  I’ve forgotten the darn treaty.

A military mission to what?

There was a military mission with Iran and a military agreement [including] Iran, Turkey, Pakistan, the United States.

The Baghdad pact, or CENTO [Central Treaty Organization]?

Yeah.  It was Baghdad, then it turned out to be CENTO, because initially Iraq was in it and then Iraq backed off.  Iraq was one of the countries that was scheduled to have a surveyor – that we were going to try to get in there, but we never made it.

Yeah, there was a coup, a very bloody coup.

Right, right.  But that mission had a goal to make sure that their military forces had good health, and that they had a military ration.  The initial armed forces conference that dealt with an opportunity of getting them together, first in Iran to talk about the Iran-Pakistan findings, and trying to encourage a Turkey, Iran, Pakistan collaboration on an interchange of scientists.  You know, the idea that, well, boy, we could get them to sit down and do this.  Each one tried to out-host the other; they really put on a show.

Well you had six, that I know of, in all: Iran, Turkey, Pakistan, U.S., Spain and Vietnam.

Yeah, yeah.

So it must have worked, right?

Well, it did.  Even though Spain wasn’t in the CENTO agreement, we invited Spain to come to one, but always got clearance, and then they in turn wanted to have it.  Again, it was the first time a large number of these people had any chance to present any of their findings to a scientific audience.  We always had guys like Bill Darby or Dr. Youmans, or Dr. [R. W.] Engel from VPI.  Somebody would be on board that would present updating, whether it was on food enrichment or was on a specific nutrition problem, and it was a give and take.  It was a small scientific—

The biggest benefit that you can recall was the fact that these foreign nutrition experts got the chance to have a place in the sun, and talk among themselves.  It just wasn’t the U.S. one-on-one, but rather it was cooperative.

Yeah, and if you look at that as we got them going, we kept dropping out – [there was] less and less American participation and it was usually only on their request.  The one that I really remember was the one about Berry – did you hear the story about Berry giving his—?  We were going to Turkey and he was to give the opening address and he decided he was going to give it in Turkish.  So he hired a Turkish expert in Washington, D.C., and every night this kid would come over to his house and teach Frank Turkish.  Frank insisted – I was the only one that knew it, and I was going along, obviously.  I didn’t tell anybody.  We always had instantaneous translation.  The audience had at least 100 Iranians in the hall, and then about 50, 60 other participants and, of course, when Frank gets up all Americans sit there without earphones on and all the Turks are putting on earphones, and he gives that damn talk in Turkish.  The Americans are grabbing and the Turks take off the earphones and they can’t believe it.

It came off well then?

Oh man, when he got done they clapped and clapped, I’m telling you.  They didn’t quit clapping for fifteen minutes.  He could have run for mayor of Ankara and got elected.  But he was a scholar anyway, because the sucker knew Greek.  He could speak Greek.  I can remember going to the Greek Embassy and with our ambassador and they had a reception for Berry because Berry had treated the Queen of Greece for some thoracic [surgery] – he was a thoracic surgeon [who is] now in New York.  And, man, when they knew he hit the country—

Queen Frederika was his patient?

Yeah.  One of them or one of their kids or somebody, but, boy, they put on a big shindig for us.  And of course, I don’t know Greek, but there’s Berry – all the Greeks are around him and the ambassador’s over in a corner.  I go on over – they had left the ambassador because Berry could rattle in Greek.  But when he pulled this one in Turkey, oh, that tickled him.

What about the Far Eastern symposium?  Were they connected with these somehow or is that just a totally different series?

They were different, because one, the travel stuff.  And although we usually got the money together to make sure we could travel, the pinch was on.  We couldn’t travel all the guys from Europe and all the guys from the Far East, so we decided to set up the Far East as a separate unit because they had more common problems.  I mean, they were all rice-eaters, they all had about the same kinds of nutrition problems.  They were different than the [problems] that Iran and Pakistan and Turkey had.  At that time, too, we were really bending over to make sure that they brought in all their civilians, so it was civilian and military.  Again, it was primarily because it was a—  We also invited the Japs to attend.

Talking about fading out of the picture, there was a published report on the Manila conference, which I think it was the last.  You seemed to be the star of the show on many of these conferences, but [at Manila] you were just sort of listed as [attending].

I think the intent was to let them run their own show.

By this time, had the committee itself been dissolved?


So there was no U.S. group officially to correspond with.

But we still supported that one.

Then there was also a series of annual Mid Eastern conferences in which the ICNND was just a participant but not a sponsor.

Right.  That was primarily again – a lot of those were organized either jointly with AID or with some of the other [agencies].  Some of them were defense.

Do you ever feel that you were overextended, that you raised any hopes for sponsorship of various things that you couldn’t deliver on because you ran out of money?  Is there anything that you regret?

Well, I regret that we didn’t have a government that had enough sense to say that this was a low-cost, effective program.  [We] could have done a lot more, a hell of a lot more, if we had just had some basic support, and I’m not talking big money.  I think [that] had they been willing to put something like a ten million dollar budget down and said, “Now look, we’re really going to try to help these people help themselves.”  I still think that they’ve slipped cogs; our AID program stinks.  They’ve vacillated back and forth; they’ve encouraged American industry to go into these countries.  I’m not against industry one damn bit, but I’m saying, man, that is not going to be the solution.  It’s not going to be the solution unless you can get the people to help themselves.

I’ve seen time after time – not that I’m cynical because I had a hell of a good tour and one that I enjoyed – but you can see the rich get rich and the poor get poorer.  In country after country where we have fouled up, I think [it would be different] if we could have had a little bit more hearing from AID, (spells) A-I-D.  I’m saying A-I-D because they’re the ones that really have the assignment.  Agriculture never had enough vision – USDA never had enough vision to try, and politics were against them to say, “Let’s honestly get in there and help them to help themselves.”  They took the attitude of, “My God, if you show them how to raise wheat, that may compete against our wheat.”  Well, that’s nonsense.  You know, you just aren’t going to get there; you’re not going to serve the world or help the hunger program by taking that action.

I often cite the one really successful program that was a foreign aid program, [which] was Taiwan, and yet you never hear them talk about it.  Well, that was successful because, Jesus, the Taiwanese had enough sense not to let [themselves] get pushed around.  They set a priority.  Their priority was: we’re going to train our people and we’re going to send thousands over [to U.S. universities] in all disciplines, and by God those students are going back home.

They’re still doing it.  I was teaching at a college in Mississippi and that was the biggest foreign student contingent, and the Taiwanese are still coming.

They went in and they got a consulting firm supported by AID, J. C. R. White Company.  Dave [David B.] Hand was on it.  They said, “We need help in food technology.  We need to build plants. We need help in surveying our land foot-by-foot as to what the hell we can grow.  We need help on land reform.”  Now, whether you like land reform or not, it’s one of them that worked.  You know, they did take away land; they took it away from the native Taiwanese and they said, “You’ve got one of five choices.  You can either get stocks in the rice, mushrooms, pineapple industry – I don’t know, five of them – in equivalent pay.  You can keep out so much land and then [for] the rest you’ve got to take stock.”  They bitched like hell, but it turns out that, Jesus, they never had a pineapple plant over there.  This was designed by Dave and some of the others.  They run Hawaii a hell of a close [second].

That’s right.  Now can you find Taiwanese pineapple in every supermarket.  That’s how it began?

Yeah.  And they [became] a net dollar importer of U.S. commodities, and it paid us back handsomely.  I think it had turned the corner when we had that meeting in Taiwan that they were now a net dollar importer of U.S. products.  The other [thing] was, they made their own fertilizer and they were one of the key suppliers of fertilizers [in] the whole bloody Far East.  They didn’t have a pound of fertilizer when they first went in there.  They busted our mushroom market.  Well, you can say, “That’s bad,” but, hell, they were buying more and more other commodities from us.  You know, I think the disgusting thing is that AID, our foreign program, vacillates.  Every time somebody else came in, they got to shift the program.  I’m old now and I’m getting cynical and by goddamn it, if they don’t help those people, the subsistence farmer, to be a productive citizen and to feed himself and to take care of his family right, it’s hopeless.

It’s interesting what you say about the Kennedy administration, because the popular image vis-a-vis Latin America is exactly the opposite.  You know, we had Alliance for Progress and everybody knows that Alliance for Progress didn’t work, but at least everybody credits Kennedy with this bold promise of a new, reformed USAID.  It wasn’t what it was cracked up to be then?

I think if you go back, the record will show that they just disemboweled the USAID staff by getting rid of all the technical assistance, and went to the economic side saying “Well, we’ll give you long-term loans.”  Well, I’m not against a long-term loan, but I want somebody to show them how the hell to use that loan or to make sure that they are using the loan right.  Everybody would take long-term loans.  I’ve got a son who was an ag-economist and he wanted to go to AID, and I said, “Man, you’ve got to be crazy.”  Well, he wouldn’t listen to me.  He went anyway, and he got an assignment in Costa Rica.  I was with PAHO [Pan-American Health Organization] then and I’d stop by there and talk to the minister of agriculture.  I knew the minister of health, and I’ll have to admit that, damn it, I think my kid did more good – (laughs) not because he’s my kid – but that program that he’s working on did more damn good than any bloody thing I ever did for all six Central American countries; and it was a simple one.

That AID mission director had finally been sold that, Jesus, what they need – not only [had he been] sold, but he’d been hand-led by the Secretary of Agriculture – saying, “I want help to set up a rural loan association for the farmer.  I want to train some extension people like you guys got in the United States in agriculture.”  So our AID mission underwrote a twelve million dollar program to establish rural credit and Eddie [Schaefer] had his hand in it, and to work jointly, the rural credit had to be dependent upon technical assistance to that farmer.  When we’d get technical assistance to the farmer [with] stringent guides, the guy [would] do it.  [We’d] show them how to raise it and if he’s going to get a loan he has to get a loan for either fertilizers or getting this stuff to market,[and] raising the right kind of stuff.  Well, I think that program has been damn successful.

They were getting ready to do it in Nicaragua when that coup happened.  I’ve been in a bitter battle with our damn senator from Nebraska, Zerinsky, who heads the Foreign Agriculture Senate Committee.  That son of a bitch had never been out of the country before nor does he know Spanish.  He runs down to Nicaragua [and] negotiates a seventy million dollar program – seventy-eight million! – which is more than AID is putting into all of the other six countries put together, to assist the current junta.  I’m trying to tell the dumb-dumb that if he just listened to the National Security Council, he knows damn well [that] they made a commitment – they were going to buy Russian MiGs.  What they needed, goddamn it, was a program that would again get down and help that subsistence farmer.  He said, “Oh no, they’re going to do that.”  I said, “Bullshit, unless you can show me that they’ve really got a structure to use it, they aren’t going to do it.”  Now he was successful in getting it through [committee]; I don’t know whether – the bill hasn’t passed in Congress.

It became an election issue.  I remember [President Ronald] Reagan criticized the Nicaraguan deal, so we may see a change.

Well, I hope to hell it is.  I rode his ass so damn much because he also was on [Senator George] McGovern’s committee and they voted to cut down the NET program.  This is Nutrition Education and Training Funds that United States, USDA, had passed and Congress had enforced in spite of [President Jimmy] Carter.  It was only because GAO was standing by with a sledge hammer over their head and said, “Hey, you’re defying the intent of Congress; you’d better implement the programs.”  It was one of the laws that I helped write.  I wrote the goddamn thing for Hubert Humphrey in 1971 and it said we were going to allocate – the original law said a dollar per school child per year to be used for nutrition education and using the school lunch program as a teaching tool.  So it finally came through in the Ag Bill in ’77 at fifty cents.

Was this something that came out of the U.S. National Nutrition Survey?


You got into school lunches there.

Right.  And this was a follow up to it saying, man, they need a reawakening on nutrition education – because I was appalled at the lack of knowledge by teachers and by students on nutrition and on diet.  And Zerinsky has the swing vote in the committee and they’re voting to cut it in half.  He’s doing this under the guise of balancing the budget.  I said, “You silly ass, we’re talking about twenty-seven million dollars a year; you’re cutting it down to twelve million, more than half.  Don’t give me the fact that that fifteen million is going to balance the budget, not when you turned around and gave Nicaragua eighty-seven million [dollars] that you just frittered away.”

Well, he got so damn mad at me, I’m keeping the letter, because someday I’m going to stick it up his ear.  He sent me back an answer and I told him, “You know, I’m a government bureaucrat; don’t give me that damn standard crap you send out.  I’m [going to] ask you some questions and I want your opinion.”  He said, “Why don’t you get another job so you’re not dependent upon the taxpayer’s money?”  (Laughs)  I wrote back and I said, “Dear Senator: You blew your cool.  You’re the sucker that’s on the taxpayer’s money.”  (Laughs)  I said, “I’m retired.”  (Laughter)

Well, I think the thing that I’m talking about is that, damn, we’ve got a different level of sophistication, but, again, everybody wants to talk about preventive medicine and I know that Bob Shank sees my point.  Man, the place to start is with those kids.  Let’s help them learn how to take care of themselves and to lead a more healthy life.

The kids, no matter where they are.

Yeah, whether they’re here or whether they’re there.  Our program overseas, too, was saying that, boy, the most treasured commodity you’ve got are the children.  And until you can get – you can’t just talk a program for the children, you’ve got to talk a program for the family.  I think one of the things that our program never got enough credit for was the fact that we really collaborated with UNICEF [United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund] and W.H.O. [World Health Organization] and F.A.O. [Food and Agriculture Organization], and did it damn near in spite of them.  Because the guys would always look at me like “You’re military; just ignore them.”  Dave said, “We’re going to send our guys over and we want a briefing before we go into the country, and I’d like to set up a chance so you could debrief them when they get out of the country.  We want to know what programs you’ve got in the country, [and] how can we help you.  Do you want to join the team?”  [They would say,] “Oh, we can’t join the team.”

But you look at those Far East conferences and ,God, everyone of them has got a U.N.-W.H.O. guy attending, and invariably it’s “Oh, we can’t come.”  [We’d say], “Come on man, we’re not talking defense,” and they’d come.  I’ve always had to pay their way, you know – that was usually the bribe – and put them on the program because they’re on the programs.  But we never got the – not that I wanted it – but never got the recognition.  When this report, “World Hunger,” came out, the basic data used was out of those thirty-three country surveys.  I helped work on that, and we sat down—

There’s a brief recognition, about a sentence.

Yeah.  I worked on it with _____(?).  We sat down and estimated the number of children on these countries and projected it, saying – well okay – it was a random sample.  We knew it wasn’t random, but we’d [show] how many kids there were under [normal] stature by 20 percent, and this is an indication of malnutrition.  Now just because the goddamn World Bank always doubled it!  But, I forgot, we said it was something like 300 million children that were malnourished.  Then somebody would say 400 million and somebody would say half a billion, and then somebody says one billion.  But the original reports came out and they were based on that finding and then the findings we had on anemia.  We never get credit for the fact that it was through NIH and the ICNND that we funded the program that W.H.O. and F.A.O. did on problems of anemia and vitamin A – worldwide problems.  Hell, they were done – most of the damn money came from us, and it tied right in with what the hell we were doing.  We had pointed up the vitamin A problems right from the scratch.  And just—  I got—  Hubert Humphrey was Vice President in ’64, right?  He won the election in ’64?


His last shot [in a] speech before the Senate, before he became Vice President – I wrote that speech for him – and that speech was on _____(?).  He introduced a bill to insist that all skim milk powder would be enriched with vitamin A and D – that we shipped overseas.  I wrote the background statement on that, and I nearly shit I saw it because, you know, I was a scientist and I’d hedge and I’d say “approximately” this [number].  We found on the continuing survey we had done in East Pakistan that [we] estimated that fifty thousand children ran the risk of becoming blind per year.  [In Sen. Humphrey’s statement] it was “Fifty thousand are blind every year,” and he probably overshot it.  This was strictly on the vitamin A bit, and we had done our homework, boy.  Bob [Shank] was involved in that.

Yes.  He tells me that there was some flack from the U.S. dairy industry.  Can you explain that a little bit?

Oh, yeah.  They didn’t know what the hell they were—  We were insisting that they ought to do it free.

Add the vitamin supplement?

Yeah, vitamin A and D in all their skim milk powder.  They didn’t want to do it because they said, “Jesus, I got people that are going to use skim milk instead of buying our milk.”  Well, shit on that, at that time they were distributing a billion pounds of skim milk – a billion – and Hubert Humphrey put in the bill – he reimbursed the companies for the first year.  [The government would] buy the enrichment – it didn’t take much of an adapter – and _____(?) and buy all the vitamin A and D, so that it didn’t cost them anything, and then they finally quit bucking.  But they were scared [that] this was tankering, this was tankering with the standards on milk and skim milk.  Skim milk had a standard that the Army had bought years ago that [said] they didn’t have to add A and D.  And we were just saying, goddamn it – they wouldn’t do it for [poor people in] the United States.  You know when they did it in the United States?  (Laughs)  We found some Bitot’s spots and some A problems in the Texas survey, and that came out in 1968, in the summer.  I went down and raised hell, and the damn secretary decided he had the power to do it.

[You went] down to Washington?

Washington.  I was in H.E.W. then and went over and said, “Son of a bitch, if you don’t do it, we’ll blast you right out of your seat because we’re going to let it out to the press that you’ve got the same damn problems here in the United States and you won’t have the courtesy to make sure that every damn pound of skim milk that you’re giving to the poor has A and D added.”  We didn’t have any evidence for sure that it was due to that, but there was no point in [delaying].

And that was enough to scare an Undersecretary?

We got him.  We got it in there.  They could do it.  Well, Bob [Shank] did some of the key work on showing that vitamin A could be absorbed if it was in a fat-free diet, because we had some problems; but we had done work on stability along with Les Teply [Lester J. Teply], in UNICEF.  We had some of the damn product down in the hot part of Brazil for six months and studied the stability of vitamin A and knew it was stable.  Of course, when we got ready to go before Agriculture they had all these questions, you know, answer them: one, two, three.  Man, we had done our homework, and they couldn’t _____(?).  And I can still remember Hubert’s – geez, he got sacked – henchman.  I forget his damn name – Herb Waters.  Herb Waters got involved in some other illegal shenanigan.  But Herb called me up to—

He was an aid to Hubert Humphrey?

Yeah, he was one of Hubert Humphrey’s campaign managers when he came out of Minnesota and then he was about number two or three in the USAID program.  He got involved in this milk thing because AID is the one that had to insist on them distributing.  He called up and he said, “The last _____(?).  Arnie, can’t you drop that enrichment down in half?”  I said, “Herb, goddamn it, we’ve been working our butt off for this and if they can go half, they can go the whole thing.  The answer is ‘No.’ ”

A typical politician’s approach – compromise.

Well, that was really an outcome of the ICNND surveys, you know, that business on enrichment and the fact we had pointed up blindness in kids due to vitamin A deficiency.  In our testing, you could prevent this for five cents a year.  You could pay for all of the vitamin A necessary, if you could have got it to the kids.  It always sounds good, but it was pretty hard to argue the monetary side of it.  Not only that, Jesus, it was the basis for the biggest program now on vitamin A prevention, is sponsored by the Helen Keller International Foundation in Bangladesh and Indonesia, in which they put out a vitamin A capsule.  If you go around, it’s like inoculating them; you got to do it every six months, that’s the hell of it.  You just break the capsule up and drop the Vitamin A on the kid’s tongue and if you do that twice a year, it’s enough to keep them from getting blind.  That was an interim [solution].  Now, you’ve got to get in there and teach them.  Every one of these damn countries have foods that have vitamin A in it, but you’ve got to get the country to use it; you’ve got to get the mother to give it to the child.  They’ll give it to the older children, then they’ll eat it.  Or things like mangoes are good sources of vitamin A, but they don’t know this and they weren’t giving that to the kids.  Any yellow or green vegetable or fruit is usually a pretty good source of vitamin A.

Even apart from nutrition in food, I think you describe in one place the problem of just getting across the need to boil water.  People didn’t understand what you were talking about.  They would boil a little bit of water, toss it in, and think that they were pleasing you.

Yeah.  Well, you know this is where you need to get programs down there and really work with the village.  I’m convinced that programs need to be patterned around showing and doing – where they really get so they understand what they’re doing, and why they’re doing it, and they can see a benefit from it.  We had help through UNICEF and we had Peace Corps kid that we had identified, a gal and a boy, over in Bangladesh that did a little film on the right distribution of the available foods within the family.  It was all done in Farsi.  And it was done in a village setting.

This was in Iran?

No.  Not Farsi.  I mean—


Bengali.  We got it so they would show this every time they had a movie in the square or they’d show it if they had some other teaching film.  It was [about] things like [what to do if] they’d have some eggs.  The old man, dad, always got the egg.  And man, if you could just get him to give that child one egg a week, it made a hell of an impact on riboflavin, vitamin A – a good protein source.  [Then] show them that on the other vegetables and meats and stuff, that they needed to give children some first priority on some of these higher-nutrient foods.  I don’t know how much good it does, but somewhere along the line – their problems are probably no damn different than ours.  You’ve got to get into the education system early and keep after it and keep after it and keep after it.  It’s got to be practical, you know; you can’t talk [about] some fancy food that they haven’t got or haven’t got available or can’t buy.  It’s got to be at the level where they can do it, where they can see; they can either raise it or they can make a difference in distribution.

Well, the committee was dissolved in ’65 and yet I’m told it was succeeded for two years, until 1967, by the Nutrition Section of the Office of International Research.  This was supposed to be doing essentially the same thing, but there must have been some differences.  Could you describe them?

Well, I think primarily, at that stage, even NIH had quit funding.  At one stage of the game, we were getting something like 250 to 300 thousand dollars from NIH to support the programs.  Then we had some director changes in which they didn’t consider surveys or epidemiology as research.  You know, we went through this cycle that got everything had to be basic bench research; it had to be—

Or it wasn’t research.

Yeah.  I spent half my time arguing whether it was research or not.

This was after ’65 or before ’65?

It started before, but [it was] basically about ’65 when it hit the fan.  We had the ARPA [Advanced Research Projects Agency] money.  The ARPA money – although the committee was abandoned, the ARPA money stayed with us, and we were one of the few government organizations that at that time that didn’t have to depend upon annual funding.  That made some of them mad because we had that overall project.  I was project officer.

So you moved from executive director of one organization to another.

To the other, but did the same thing.

Did you remain at the same headquarters?

Oh, yeah.

Was it called Stone House?  It was in Bethesda, Maryland.

Yeah, it was in Bethesda, Maryland, and this was a big home that had been purchased and converted, and we had the annex.  We had a little place in the annex, but it was nice.  Right now it’s the Fogarty Center, a conference center.

I’ve seen that.  The current NIH manual, what do they call it?

The directory, yeah.

The annual directory gives the chronology, but they don’t mention ICNND.  They do talk about the Fogarty Center.  I just wondered why.

The Fogarty Center – that was set up under a special Congressional appropriation to dedicate it to [John E.] Fogarty, but at least that has an international flavor.  You know, it’s precisely for international health research and that got its start, believe me, primarily through the PL-480 – you know, the Public Law 480 funds in which I headed the first NIH teams that went out of there to India, to Pakistan, and Burma, Egypt.

Were you instrumental in the writing of the law?

In rewriting it.

Who [wrote it]?

The architects of that bill, 480LR – both Hubert Humphrey and Karl Mundt.  Karl Mundt from South Dakota – he was a Republican arch-conservative, and Hubert—  But both of them were fundamentally South Dakotans, and so am I.  I got invited to the first anniversary of the PL-480 law.  There were only about thirty of us there, and Humphrey got up to explain the law and all the good it had done and then opened it up for comments.  I said I thought it was good law except for the damn fine print that negated a lot of the good that it could do, and Hubert says, “What do you mean?”  And I told him.  I said, “Geez, it absolutely restricted using any of these funds to move the food away from the port” and the problem, believe me, was distribution in the country.  Secondly, in the research portion, it didn’t enable you to use any of that money if you could, [for travel by] scientists to the country and back or American scientists to the country and back.  So he said, “Rewrite it.”  I thought he was kidding.  I went back.  Of course, being a government worker, you’re not supposed to go to those goddamn things unless you had approval from your bosses.

Meaning conferences?

Yeah.  They probably wouldn’t have bitched about the fact that that was a personal invite, but they sure as hell were going to bitch that I was going to do something for a senator without going through the bureaucracy.  So about ten days later, I get a phone call from Hubert’s legislative assistant.  He said, “Say, Arnie.  Hubert tells me you’re going to redraft that law.”  And he said, “Where the hell is it?”  (Laughs)  I said, “God, you’re kidding; you’re not serious?”  He said, “Yes, he’s serious.”  So I said, “Damn it, I’ll do it.”  So I did it.  I took it up to him, and by God, he introduced it and it’s in the law from that time on.

There was a certain proportion that could be used to move the stuff out of the docks, and we sure as hell had free wheeling and dealing on using PL-480 money, which you know, was sitting there in the coffers.  For example, Pan Am, TWA or anybody that was flying through there had expenses and they could use that to buy a ticket.  You could use Pakistani money to buy a damn ticket to fly Pakistanis to the United States and back, and I could get them to buy tickets for us, my staff, to fly over there or any university prof that I wanted to send over.  So it helped.

I guess you got along pretty well with Hubert Humphrey.

Yeah, I did.  I liked him.

I guess he was easy to like, even his legislative enemies.

Well, you know that sucker, he introduced, (to me) he introduced more health legislation and did more good – he may have been branded a liberal, and if that’s being liberal then I’m liberal – than any senator I know of.  I mean, he had his finger in more legislation than any other senator.

Well, how, basically, is the Fogarty Center and its program different from what you did?

Well, one, they don’t have the kind of funding and the program support directly.  They sit there and wait for suggestions and for exchange of staff and students.

And the ICNND was by contrast much more activist?


It went out and sought the problems?

Right.  Offered help.

Offered help to the right diplomatic channels?

The right channels.  And, of course, we focused in on fundamentally nutrition, but nutrition just cuts the whole board.  You know, you’ve got to have the people in agriculture, you’ve got to know something about the population and transportation and food processing and health.

But the program of the Fogarty Center is more narrow?


Now in 1967, the nutrition section was reorganized as the nutrition section of the National Center for Chronic Disease Control, and its focus was turned definitely, by this time, to domestic problems.  You were still with this program, and, in fact, in what capacity within the national nutrition program?

Well, I was again [in] the same damn thing, but now they decided to put it under, more or less under the aegis of the Public Health Service.  Some of that is not in print, but in ’66 I was one of seven guys that were put on a special task force by the Surgeon General to investigate what the Public Health Service was doing in the field of food hazards and nutrition.  They added “and nutrition” because they put me on the damn committee and I said, “I’m [not] going to serve on that damn thing unless you’ll consider that nutrition is part of food hazard.”  They were talking about chemical and bacterial contamination of food and I’m saying – the nutrition side – if the food is missing in certain nutrients, [the food] is a hazard.  So they did; they changed the name, and we met every other week for two days.  I don’t give a damn where I was.

Through ’66 and ’67?

It was the latter part of ’65.  No, it was the early part of ’66; we finished the report in ’66, and it was a scathing report.  It was called the Faulkner Report, (spells F-a-u-l-k), because he was our chairman.  It was submitted to the Surgeon General and, boy, it was classified secret.  It was critical as hell of the Public Health Service.  And that wasn’t all my doing, believe me, but on nutrition it came out that it was lip service.  I mean, there weren’t any programs that they were really supporting.  There weren’t any training programs, there weren’t any real emphasis on doing surveys so you could find out what the hell the problems were.  And one of the guys criticized was the C.D.C., the Center for Disease Control, not Chronic Disease Center.

In Atlanta?

The Atlanta group was criticized, and criticized damn hard.  It was the usual thing where we interviewed guys down on the bench to get their ideas.  Why the hell was Public Health Service always putting out a fire?  There would be an outbreak of this and an outbreak of that, and here would be an immunization problem – instead of planning research and getting some positive programs going, and encouraging young scientists to get in the program.  It turned out that, shit, everything was such a—  Goddamn, it was a dictatorship.  You know, the guy said, “I know what’s right and that’s it.”  Let me tell you that those seven guys – I was the last guy to get axed.  This was kind of vicious.

So this led to your—

Well, it led to the—  One of the recommendations was that there ought to be a focal center for nutrition in the Public Health Service.  One of their outs was – the Surgeon General bought it – was to move us into the Public Health Service.  Now where?  I said, “Boy, it sure as hell had not better be C.D.C., because one, I wouldn’t work for that bastard.”  That came back to roost on me, but I meant it anyway.  This was [David J.] Sencer.  His name was Sencer; he finally got axed.

They assigned my unit to the Chronic Disease Center, and then as you go down the history, you’ll find – we got shifted to the C.D.C., the Communicable Disease Center.  Well, it used to be Communicable Disease Center, and one of our bitches was that Congress had recommended that they abolish the Public Health Service and we were saying, “Man, do it.  Surgeon General, you better do it.”  Sencer, the Director of C.D.C., [said], “I’m changing the name of C.D.C.”  Instead of Communicable Disease Center, [it became] Center for Disease Control.  It doesn’t sound like much, but he said, “Nutrition’s part of that.  I’ll take nutrition.”  About that time, they had all those goddamn changes in the front office in H.E.W.  (Cant’ remember that whole shit that—)  They changed the guy that was in charge of Health Services and Mental Health Administration.  Damn, I don’t know if he came in from Missouri or where.  He went back to Missouri; he was a little, bald-headed guy.

By this time, I had been given the job to set up that ten-state survey.  It wasn’t ten states – [I] was given the job to do the survey which was mandated by Congress.  That job was given to me by Wilbur Cone, who was Secretary of H.E.W., and I got along fine with Wilbur.  Well, I knew what the hell we were getting into; we had a hornet’s nest by the hands.  We took off.  Then in ’69 [we] reported to Congress that there were problems, you know.  And these guys were sitting back and saying—  Then I had gotten in a hell of argument with Sencer down in the Texas survey, where we had uncovered the fact that, Jesus, these school kids weren’t immunized.  They called him [Sencer] in, and the Survey Director was Bill [William J.] McGanity, who was Dean of the [University of Texas] Medical School in Galveston, and we made damn sure I got there.  Well, I got there and here’s old Sencer sitting across the table from me.  He said, “That wasn’t your assignment; you weren’t supposed to touch immunization.”  I said, “Screw you, [it’s] no damn different than any place else.  We’re underwriting the survey, it’s being run by Texas along with my people.  They wanted to ask [about] immunization records and we got it in there – we got approval from Bureau of the Budget to ask that question.  The answer says that, Jesus, most of these kids – 95 percent – have not been immunized for diphtheria and polio.  We’re just saying, ‘Hey, you guys, what the hell are you doing?’  The law says that they’re all immunized.  They have to be when they go to school.”

Well, he got furious.  Long story short.  They had the first outbreak of polio in something like eight years – nine cases.  They had an outbreak of diphtheria and they had four deaths from diphtheria, right exactly in the areas that we had pinpointed.  Man, all hell busted loose.  Well, he and I weren’t friends before and we weren’t friends then.

And goddamn it, after – ’69, the White House Conference in December of ’69—  In ’70 I’ve got a – I think it was my last mission overseas, the last trip I took overseas.  While I’m gone, they transfer my unit down to Atlanta.  I came home and I said, “What in the hell is this?  What in the hell were you—?” I said, “Damn it, at least you owed it to me.  Number one, you’re moving that whole unit down, you’re going to stymie the report on the ten-state survey by two years, because that means this is going to be the third damn computer they’ve thrown us on.  And I quit; I’m not going to have a damn thing do with it.”  I said, “Secondly, I wouldn’t work for that son of a bitch.”  And I made that mistake and somebody interviewed me from the press, and I said, “I wouldn’t work for that son of a bitch,” and, man, it hit the paper.  (Laughs)  My wife’s never forgiven me.  So I went up to him and I said, “Furthermore, bastard, you can’t take my rating.”  I had a 208G rating that the Director at NIH had given me and that was a congressionally-approved rating.  It was a plum, and he wanted that, too.  He’d get me down and then he could probably try to can me.  When the guy said, “Well, what do you want?”  I said, “Goddamn you, I’m going to go on a two-year assignment to PAHO [Pan-American Health Organization] and you’re paying my way.”  He said, “Well I don’t think Dr. Sencer’s going to like that.”  I said, “I don’t give a shit what Sencer likes.”  Well, he called up and said, “He’ll give it to you for one year,” and I said, “Two years.”  I got it for two years.

That was probably a mad way to bow out, but I never regretted it.  It enabled me to retire long before I was sixty.  I kept the two years – actually, two years and I stayed on with PAHO one more year.  I would have stayed there except that this job opened up.  It was a chance to do what I want to do – try to get government to support [nutrition programs].  We actually had the appropriation through Congress.  First damn time there’s a line item that says: nutrition program – ten million dollars.  It was primarily based on the fact we testified that we wanted to set up five centers, at a million dollars apiece, and assure that their funding for x years, that would do what this unit’s doing.  Except we don’t quite have a million.  But, well, we’ve got a million now with our other grants and stuff.  The other five [million] was to finish that damn survey and support the states to continue to monitor the nutrition problems.  We didn’t get that through, but at least—

Who cut it?

It went through, and then the minute that happened, boy, then they all got on like vultures and C.D.C. got money to set up a lab.  And I’m saying, “You don’t need a lab, for Christ sakes.”  We used the Army medical nutrition lab and did it on a reimbursable basis and they did all our micro-vitamin As, all the irons, folates, and B12s.  It cost us eleven thousand dollars for that whole damn ten-state survey.  They’ve got a fantastic lab, and you don’t need to build another one.  Well, he convinced them that, geez, they needed to have a lab at C.D.C.  Then they set up HANES [Health and Nutrition Examination Survey] survey.  Well, I testified against that because, Jesus, you’re going to start another survey before you’ve even finished analyzing the first one.  And you’re going to wind up—  No, goddamn, I’ve just given a report on HANES 1.  Finally all the tapes have been cleaned up, and that survey was done 1971-74.  This is now 1980, damn near 1981, and finally, the clean tapes are available.  HANES 2 was done in 1976 to ’78.  The tapes aren’t even out on that one yet.  But there’s no point in yelling about sour grapes.

Well, I think perhaps that this is a good place to conclude the interview.  It’s been a pleasure hearing your views on a variety of subjects, and I think it’s certainly informative for my own interests in the ICNND.


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