Scientific Alliance

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Group.png Scientific Alliance   Powerbase Sourcewatch
Formation 2001
Website http://www.scientific-alliance.org

Scientific Alliance claims to offer a rational scientific approach to the environmental debate "in response to the growing concern that the debate on the environment has been distorted by extreme pressure groups".[1] However, the Alliance is seen by many as a corporate-friendly front group forwarding its own extreme agenda. It is also perfectly prepared to attack the scientific consensus on issues that do not fit with that agenda - for example, climate change.

History

The founders of the Scientific Alliance were Mark Adams and quarryman Robert Durward, the director of the British Aggregates Association, another client of Foresight. 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."[2] Two years after its launch 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."[3]

Scientific Alliance's phone number was also the contact telephone for both the BAA and Cloburn quarry in Lanarkshire. The domain name for the Scientific Alliance was also registered to Cloburn quarry.[4]

Activities

The Alliance is anti-environmental, anti-organic and pro-GM. It is also pro-nuclear power and dismisses climate change. It runs conferences along with other corporate front groups. Its three stated policy areas are: Energy and Climate change, Transport/Infrastructure and Land Use/Agriculture.[5]

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 Dick Taverne of Sense about Science, and Tracey Brown of Sense about Science helped to find speakers for the event. In 2003 Bill Durodié, who like Brown is part of the Living Marxism network, joined the Scientific Alliance Advisory Forum.[6] One of the speakers at Fields of the Future was Professor Brian Thomas from Horticulture 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.

Advisory panel

The Scientific Alliance maintains an Advisory Forum[7] which in April 2009 included the following:

A former member of the Advisory Forum is Mike Wilson.

Networks

Some of the key links of past and present Scientific Alliance Advisory Forum members are as follows:

Martin Livermore is the Director of the Scientific Alliance. He is a PR consultant, formerly with Dupont, and also a Fellow of the International Policy Network.
Professor Michael Wilson formerly of Horticulture Research International is advisor to Lord David Sainsbury's company Diatech.
Professor Vivian Moses of King's College London runs the pro-biotech front group CropGen and is therefore linked to Lexington Communications
Mike Wilson and Vivian Moses are also part of Sense About Science.
Wilson, Moses, Livermore and other leading GM proponents, including Tony Trewavas, ex-living Marxists Bill Durodie and Philip Stott serve on Alliance's Advisory Forum
Dr. Sallie Baliunas, George Marshall Institute Senior Scientist, is also associated with Global Climate Coalition; the right-wing Hoover Institution; ESEF; Anapolis Center, and the American Enterprise Institute. Also the Wise Use group, the Committee for A Constructive Tomorrow and Tech Central Station

Foresight Communications is a PR firm established by Mark Adams in January 2001. Besides Scientific Alliance and British Aggregates Association, its client list[8] includes the New Party for Britain (also known as the People's Alliance). The New Party - also the name of Oswald Moseley'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 drunk drivers, the 'media-fuelled circus of Kyoto',[9] 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.'[10]

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 environmentalism

The Alliance shows a bias towards big business and free trade and against environmentalism in much of its literature.

In their newsletter of 17 August 2007, they state, "Big Environmentalism represents vested interests every bit as much as does the business lobby. Their motives may be different but they are no purer. At heart, they want power and influence so that they can shape policy to their liking. They are politicians by any other name, but they remain unelected. Despite the good things the movement has helped to achieve in the past, their influence now is surely too strong if we want rational, balanced policymaking to be the norm."[11]

Pro-nuclear activities

At the Labour Party Conference in 2004, the Alliance held a pro-nuclear meeting with the Nuclear Industry Association[1].

In a letter to the editor of the Financial Times, Mia Nybrant of the Scientific Alliance finds "worrying that the British government has chosen to ignore the advice of many eminent scientists on the issue of nuclear policy, including those of the Royal Society and the Royal Academy of Engineers". She considers the government's decision to abandon fuel reprocessing evidence of its "neglectful attitude to the nuclear programme and highlights genuine problems with its energy policy". She believes that "a comparatively efficient and emissions-friendly alternative has yet to be discovered". She also laments the "blind faith" of the "anti-nuclear argument" which relies on the "ability of innovation to make renewables economically viable."[12]

Against organic farming

On organic farming, 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.[13]

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 a letter to The Times in August 2007 entitled "Eating green", Martin Livermore states:

We should not forget that all farming, including organic, makes an enormous impact on the environment. Transport is but one small component of this. Freer trade in agricultural produce has benefited many poor farmers in developing countries. Let’s not sacrifice their livelihoods at the altar of narrow environmentalism."[14]

Supporting nanotechnology

In February 2010 an article in support of nanotechnology by Martin Livermore, director of the Scientific Alliance, and Ulrich Adam, Associate Director and Head of the Food and Consumer Affairs Practice at Hill & Knowlton’s Brussels office, appeared in Food Navigator.[15] The introduction sets the tone for the article:

Nanotechnology holds great potential and is being used increasingly in food and consumer products. So far, the connotations have mostly been positive. However this promising start is now at risk of being reversed. There is a very real danger that a scare – real or imagined – involving nanotechnology will hit the headlines, evaporating the current positive image of the ‘nano’ label.[16]

Characteristically, Livermore is reassuring about nanotech, which is a far from risk-free technology[17][18]:

Let us be clear that there is no evidence at all that the current generation of nano-products is causing any kind of health problem. Nor is the nightmare ‘grey goo’ scenario – in which self-replicating nano-bots consume the world's biosphere – any more than another science fiction dystopia. Then again, neither are there any credible concerns about the safety of properly regulated GM crops, and look what environmental activists were able to make of that.[19]

Equally characteristically, Livermore seems more concerned about public perception of risk than about the actual safety of the technology for consumers:

... governments and scientists are trying to engage the public to ensure that there is not a future consumer backlash against nanotech, as underlined by the public consultation launched by the European Commission in December 2009. The Commission has promised to review all relevant legislation in the next two years.[20]

Contact Details

Address: St John's Innovation Centre, Cowley Road,Cambridge,CB4 0WS, UK

Tel:+44 (01223) 421242

E-mail:info@scientific-alliance.org



References

  1. Andy Rowell, "Hard rockers: The views of the green lobby should be challenged, according to a new alliance", The Guardian, 11 July 2001, accessed 28 April 2009
  2. Andy Rowell, "Hard rockers: The views of the green lobby should be challenged, according to a new alliance", The Guardian, 11 July 2001, accessed 28 April 2009
  3. Gethin Chamberlain, "The rich recluse masterminding Britain's new party", The Scotsman, 22 January 2003, accessed 28 April 2009
  4. Gethin Chamberlain, "The rich recluse masterminding Britain's new party", The Scotsman, 22 January 2003, accessed 28 April 2009
  5. See Gaia Technology website, accessed 28 April 2009
  6. Scientific Alliance Advisory Forum website
  7. Advisory Forum, Scientific Alliance website, accessed 28 April 2009
  8. Foresight Communications website
  9. The Scotsman website
  10. The Scotsman website
  11. Ibid.
  12. Mia Nybrant, letter to the editor, Financial Times, September 1, 2003
  13. GM and Organic: Our View, Scientific Alliance website, version archived 16 Apr 2003, accessed in web archive 16 Mar 2010
  14. Gaia Technology website
  15. Martin Livermore and Ulrich Adam, nanotechnology/?c=LOn9W9EEHyZNwm9oapzHOg%3D%3D&utm_source=newsletter_daily&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Newsletter%2BDaily Maximising potential and minimising risks of nanotechnology, Food Navigator, 18 Feb 2010, accessed 16 Mar 2010
  16. Martin Livermore and Ulrich Adam, nanotechnology/?c=LOn9W9EEHyZNwm9oapzHOg%3D%3D&utm_source=newsletter_daily&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Newsletter%2BDaily Maximising potential and minimising risks of nanotechnology, Food Navigator, 18 Feb 2010, accessed 16 Mar 2010
  17. Elder A, Gelein R, Silva V, Feikert T, Opanashuk L, Carter J, et al. 2006. Translocation of inhaled ultrafine manganese oxide particles to the central nervous system. Environ Health Perspect 114: 1172–1178.16882521
  18. Stephen Daniells, Defining nano: Size does matter, Food Navigator, 7 Jul 2009, accessed 16 Mar 2010
  19. Martin Livermore and Ulrich Adam, nanotechnology/?c=LOn9W9EEHyZNwm9oapzHOg%3D%3D&utm_source=newsletter_daily&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Newsletter%2BDaily Maximising potential and minimising risks of nanotechnology, Food Navigator, 18 Feb 2010, accessed 16 Mar 2010
  20. Martin Livermore and Ulrich Adam, nanotechnology/?c=LOn9W9EEHyZNwm9oapzHOg%3D%3D&utm_source=newsletter_daily&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Newsletter%2BDaily Maximising potential and minimising risks of nanotechnology, Food Navigator, 18 Feb 2010, accessed 16 Mar 2010