www.gmwatch.org.Another profile from the new directory at
The Scientific Alliance is a lobby group which appears to have won establishment acceptance. It recently, for example, funded a debate, held in conjunction with the Royal Institution (RI), on Science meets Politics. Speakers included Sir John Krebs of the Food Standards Agency and several Members of Parliament. The debate was chaired by Baroness Susan Greenfield of the RI.
The Scientific Alliance website seems designed to project a sober respectability. Its colours are muted. The prose style is generally measured and its logo combines a microscope with a pair of scales. But just how balanced are the views of the Scientific Alliance and just how honest is the Alliance about where science meets politics in its own background and agenda?
For text with links
Scientific Alliance - GM WATCH profile
The Scientific Alliance claims to offer a rational scientific approach to the environmental debate and says that it was formed 'in response to the growing concern that the debate on the environment has been distorted by extreme pressure groups'. However, the Alliance is seen by many as a corporate-friendly front group forwarding its own extreme anti-environmentalist agenda. It is also perfectly prepared to attack the scientific consensus on issues that do not fit with that agenda - for example, climate change.
The founders of the Scientific Alliance were Mark Adams and quarryman Robert Durward, the director of the British Aggregates Association. Durward says he is 'a businessman who is totally fed up with all this environmental stuff... much of which is unjustified, such as the climate change levy. We also have the aggregates tax, which will put the UK quarry industry out of business.'
Durward and Adams established the Scientific Alliance in 2001. Two years later The Scotsman newspaper reported that on contacting the Alliance to ask about Durward's role, 'after some uncertainty, the switchboard it shares with a number of other firms denied any knowledge of Mr Durward's existence. Matthew Drinkwater, the one person responding to calls to its offices, could also be contacted by ringing the offices of Foresight Communications.'
Foresight Communications is a PR firm established by Mark Adams in January 2001. As well as The Scientific Alliance, its client list includes the British Aggregates Association and the New Party for Britain (also known as the People's Alliance). The New Party - also the name of Oswald Mosley's first party - is so right-wing that the Tory leader in Scotland, where it operates, has called it 'fascist and undemocratic'. Like the Scientific Alliance, this 'People's Alliance', was established by Durward and Adams.
According to The Scotsman, Durward has spoken out on many issues, including the 'witch-hunt' against drink drivers, the 'media-fuelled circus of Kyoto', and the 'bluster emanating from the collective witch-hunt referred to kindly as the green movement'. He has also written, 'Perhaps it is now time for Tony Blair to try the "fourth way": declare martial law and let the army sort out our schools, hospitals, and roads as well. Who knows, they might even manage to put the 'great' back into Britain.'
The website of the Scientific Alliance seems designed to downplay any sense of extremism. Its colours are muted. The prose style is generally measured and its logo combines a microscope with a pair of scales. However, a careful reading of the views it projects reveals something less than balance.
On organic farming, for instance, the Scientific Alliance says:
'Many scientists maintain that the organic movement follows ideological principles which are not supported by science. Indeed, Dr Patrick Moore, one of the founders of Greenpeace, has argued that if all farming were to be organic, productivity would be so low that almost all forests around the world would have to be destroyed to make way for agricultural land. If the whole world went organic, it could support only 3-4 billion people, with a high risk of pest and disease epidemics.'
Organic farming, then, if widely adopted, would bring ecological catastrophe, mass starvation and in all probability pest and disease pandemics. Not mentioned is the fact that, since leaving Greenpeace nearly 20 years ago, Patrick Moore has spent much of his time countering environmental concerns as a paid front man for Canada's lumber industrialists.
As well as running a website, the Scientific Alliance regularly organises conferences on environmental issues. In November 2002 it organised a conference on GM called Fields of the Future. The conference chairman was Lord Taverne of Sense about Science, and Tracey Brown of Sense about Science helped to find speakers for the event. In 2003 Bill Durodie, who like Brown is part of the Living Marxism network, joined the Scientific Alliance Advisory Forum.
One of the speakers at Fields of the Future was Professor Brian Thomas from Horticultural Research International. An article based on Thomas's speech appeared on both the Scientific Alliance website and that of Spiked, a website run by the former editor of the magazine Living Marxism (later LM). Tracey Brown and Bill Durodie are also Spiked/LM contributors.
Mike Wilson of Horticulture Research International serves on the Alliance's Advisory Forum, as do a number of other leading GM proponents, including Tony Trewavas, Philip Stott, Vivian Moses of CropGen, and Martin Livermore - a PR consultant formerly with Dupont, who is also a Fellow of the International Policy Network. Moses and Wilson are also part of Sense About Science.