Good Epidemiology Practices

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This stub is a work-in-progress by the journalists's group. We are indexing the millions of documents stored at the San Francisco Uni's Legacy Tobacco Archive [1] With some entries you'll need to go to this site and type into the Search panel a (multi-digit) Bates number. You can search on names for other documents also.     Send any corrections or additions to

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

Good Epidemiological/Epidemiology Practices (GEP) was an attempt at standardising the reporting of epidemiological studies in a way that set the standard of 'proof' so high that it was almost impossible for most research on possible harmful substances in the environment to be proved unsafe. This became a major project of the tobacco industry (led by Philip Morris)

The proposal was to develop the new fake standard along the line of the chemical industry's Good Laboratory Practices (GLP). They would then present the completed new standard at a conference dominated by industry-friendly scientists, have it ratified, then presented to Congress and Parliaments in Europe, as a now-accepted standard of the epidemiology profession. The aim was to pass legislation that would deny researchers the ability to determine whether their work had proved certain substances potentially safe or dangerous,

This is a split entry.
This Good Epidemiology Practices entry.
The Index of archived GEP documents
Some 'Smoking Gun' Documents

Chemical Manufacturer's Association

The original GEP draft was created by Dr George L Carlo using an earlier draft standard that he (and/or other scientific dissemblers) had developed for the chemical industry. However the tobacco industry Science & Technology (S&T), Corporate Affairs (CA), and Scientific Affairs (SA) executives (led at Philip Morris by David Bushong, Jan Goodheart, Matt Winokur, and Thomas Borelli made considerable changes. This project became blended with a parallel attempt to extend the Sound Science Operations (mainly TASSC) from the US base into Europe. (known as the Euro-TASSC project')

Sound-science/junk-science projects were developed to discrediting any scientific studies which were antithetical to the tobacco industry's interests. They were always run with allies from other poisoning and polluting industries because it was important for the tobacco industry to hide behind coalitions of industries. This meant that the tobacco-centred messages attacking the conduct of scientific research (for manipulating legal-phrasing) were only every one voice among many, and expressed in general terms. They therefore created joint anti-science defensive operations with food and alcohol companies (the big tobacco companies all had food and alcohol subsidiaries) attacking claims of residual pesticides on food; with energy and mining companies (asbestos and global warming claims); with Big Pharma; and with the chemical industry (DDT, Agent Orange).

It is important to appreciate that some published science was always 'junk' and some standards used by scientists and laboratories was 'unsound' -- so not all the claims were false. Clever PR always slips the false information into the stream of good or reliable information so the falsity goes unnoticed. And these were clever manipulators of science.

Joint funding therefore amplified the tobacco industry's ability to generate propaganda, and it could be directed against the value of certain types of biological research techniques in general (meta-analysis, epidemiology). Rivalry between scientists from different disciplines also generated support for 'junk-science' claims within the scientific world, especially as it became widely known among the scientific community that scientists could be 'bought' like politicians. Before long, they were able to claim support for their 'junk-science' claims from legitimate scientific advisors. This gave the "junk-science claims some status with the media which relished the sensationalism.

The extra funding generated from this variety of industries and large companies, then meant that they could comfortably buy whatever support services (scientists, PR, polling, political bribes, think-tanks) they needed.


The original 'sound science' project was The Advancement of Sound Science Coalition set up for Philip Morris by the PR company APCO. It was initially run by the ex-New Mexico Governor Garrey E Carruthers, with professional lobbyist Steven J Milloy as the behind-the-scenes operator. Milloy eventually took over and became well established in the media (particularly with Murdoch's Fox News and on-line) as the "junk-science" arbiter and spokesman through a massive media promotional program handled by Burson-Marsteller. It also appeared on the relatively new internet, where it was widely disseminated. Milloy turned out to be a very clever, often funny, commentator with a cruel and rather ruthless streak,

This ploy proved to be so successful in providing pre-emptive attacks on passive smoking's health-concern claims in the US -- and also on the emerging threat of global warming -- that the tobacco industry created a similar organisation initially called Euro-TASSC. The Institute of Economic Affairs in London was contracted to create a subsidiary known as the European Science and Environment Forum (ESEF) which provided similar junk-science arbiter services for the European media. This operation was run by Roger Bate who had previously worked as environmental projects manager at the Institute of Economic Affairs (IEA), and also spent some time with the American Enterprise Institute (AEI) in the US. (Both were interlinked through Antony Fisher and the ]]Atlas Network[[) Bate never achieved the celebrity status of Steven Milloy, however.

Demise of TASSC/ESEF

The successful operations of the junk-science/sound science projects lasted until the early release of tobacco industry documents through what was then known as the Galen Library at the University of San Francisco. As the first million or so documents were scanned and put on-line, it soon became obvious to journalists that TASSC and ESEF were actually tobacco industry fronts. They were eventually closed down.

Steve Milloy and the science executive of Philip Morris, Thomas J. Borelli who had run the scam, then set up a joint operation managing a mutual fund known as The Free Enterprise Action Fund [2]

Whereas "ethical investment" funds avoid investments in firms that are accused of damaging the environment or of other negatively regarded behaviours, the Free Enterprise Action Fund sought out such investments, based on Milloy's claim that such criticisms are typically based on political bias or junk science. The fund ceased operations in 2009 and was merged into the Congressional Effect Fund.[Wikipedia]