European Science and Environment Forum
This article is part of the Center for Media & Democracy's spotlight on front groups and corporate spin.
The European Science and Environment Forum (ESEF) is a defunct organization that existed in the 1990s. It billed itself as "an independent, non-profit-making alliance of scientists whose aim is to ensure that scientific debates are properly aired, and that decisions which are taken, and action that is proposed, are founded on sound scientific principles."
Like other "sound science" front groups, its real mission is to disparage the science upon which environmental safety regulations are based, and it was initially a creation of the tobacco industry, which promoted the idea of "junk science" and overregulation.
The ESEF was linked, via shared staff (Julian Morris and Roger Bate), to the Institute of Economic Affairs and later the International Policy Network and the Sustainable Development Network. The IEA itself has links to the Adam Smith Institute and FOREST, the UK smoker's rights organisation, and Roger Bate continued to work for the IEA in London, while officially being the Director of the ESEF in Cambridge.
In 1996, Roger Bate approached R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company for a grant of £50,000 to fund a book on risk, containing a chapter on passive smoking . However, the request was denied and the money was never received. In 1997, the ESEF published What Risk? Science, Politics and Public Health, edited by Roger Bate which included a chapter on passive smoking; the book's publication was carefully supervised by Philip Morris.
The 'European Science and Environment Forum' is defunct. It was formed in 1994 by Roger Bate, Dr John Emsley and Professor Frits Böttcher. Later it was run by Bate with Julian Morris and Lorraine Mooney, and linked to the International Policy Network and the Sustainable Development Network.
Some have called it a European version of Steve Milloy's The Advancement of Sound Science Coalition (TASSC), a front group created to assist the tobacco industry in its fight against regulation of secondhand cigarette smoke.
As with TASSC, it argued that government and safety regulations were not based on "sound science." The idea was to broaden the attack-front against the regulators by placing tobacco regulation into a larger bundle of corporate "sound science" issues. These included the "ban on growth hormone for livestock; ban on [genetically-engineered bovine growth hormone] to improve milk production; pesticide restrictions; ban on indoor smoking; restrictions on use of chlorine; ban on certain pharmaceutical products; restrictions on the use of biotechnology."
APCO Worldwide, the same PR firm that created TASSC, participated in the planning and development of ESEF. Burson-Marsteller, another long-time PR firm for Philip Morris, tried to take control. Their main advice to Philip Morris was that companies outside the tobacco industry should be recruited to support Euro-TASSC (as a way to hide the tobacco lobbying), including makers of "consumer products (food, beverages, tobacco), packaging industry, agrichemical industry, chemical industry, pharmaceutical industry, biotech industry, electric power industry, telecommunications."
A full-scale turf war broke out between Burson-Marsteller and APCO over the question of which PR firm should handle the European campaign. Jim Lindheim of Burson-Marsteller laid claim to the account by stressing his firm's already-proven expertise at defending tobacco science in Europe. "We have the network, much of which is already sensitized to PM's special needs," he stated. "We have a lot of experience in every country working with scientists. . . . We've got a large client base with 'scientific problems' whom we can tap for sponsorship." 
APCO's Margery Kraus responded by reminding Philip Morris regulatory affairs director Matthew Winokur that Burson-Marsteller's long history of tobacco industry work was public knowledge and therefore might taint the endeavor.
"Given the sensitivities of other TASSC activities and a previous decision not to have TASSC work directly with Burson, due to these sensitivities in other TASSC work, I did not feel comfortable having Stig (Carlson) or anyone else from Burson assume primary responsibility for working with TASSC scientists," Kraus stated.
As for experience in handling scientific problems, she pointed to APCO's work for "the following industries impacted by science and environmental policy decisions: chemical, pharmaceutical, nuclear, waste management and motor industries, power generation, biotech products, packaging and detergents, and paint. They have advised clients on a number of issues, including: agricultural manufacturing, animal testing, chlorine, dioxins, toxic waste, ozone/CFCs, power generation, coastal pollution, lead in gasoline, polyurethanes, lubricants."
Eventually RJ Reynolds Tobacco was brought in to help with the funding and APCO and Burson-Marsteller joined forces. British-American Tobacco (BAT) also came on board, and effective control gradually passed over to European tobacco and food interests.   The question then became whether to create a new organisation or submerge the new 'sound-science/junk-science' propaganda program in an existing organisation like that created to run the Heidelberg Appeal (ICEF) or whether to found a completely new organisation like TASSC. A conference was held in Brussels in mid 1994 to settle all of these questions. 
Roger Bate, a long-time employee of the the IEA (Director of the Environmental Unit), headed the group  and through all of these individual and institutional channels, ESEF was effectively linked into the growing international science-denial network which railed against claims of climate-warming, ozone-depletion, passive-smoking, and other environmental and health activism.
Dr John Emsley, Science Writer in Residence at Imperial College (London Uni) and Professor Fritz Bottcher, director of Global Institute for the Study of Natural Resources (in The Hague) also lent their names to the organisation, as did lobbyists like Australian Peter Toynbee, the Director of Coal Research Association, and Robert Nillson, a tobacco industry 'consultant' from Stockholm University 
In its mission statement published in 1994 on its original website , the ESEF described itself as a non-partisan group of scientists and claimed, To maintain its independence and impartiality, the ESEF does not accept outside funding from whatever source, the only income it receives is from the sale of its publications.
Almost immediately, it took on a crusade to fight UK and European regulations against passive smoke and workplace smoking, along with global warming and restricted use of pesticides and herbicides. It fought mainly to discredit the World Health Organisation, while attempting to rebuff the science used by the USA's Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).
Lorraine Mooney was brought onto the ESEF staff from the IEA to write editorials, letters to the editor and op-ed pieces   . Bate wrote many of these also, especially for the European Wall Street Journal. 
The organisation also worked with the Weinberg Group (another contractor/science-lobbyist organisation which ran special conferences for the tobacco industry) in promoting Risk Management ideas (essentially the preeminent role of economic factors, to counter the application of the precautionary principle). 
In February 2002, the President of the George C. Marshall Institute, William O'Keefe, and Philip Stott jointly released a European Science and Environment Forum study, "Climate Change and Policy: Making the Connection". The press release issued listed Stott as the lead contact, stated that the report was “based on the work of a group of science and policy experts convened by the American George C. Marshall Institute” and thanked the “International Policy Network for supporting the publication of this report”. (Frederick Seitz was at the Marshall Institute at this time)
ESEF, Stott’s release stated, was “ a Cambridge-based science and policy think-tank, focuses on clearly communicating scientific facts on major public policy matters while challenging the misuse of science in the policy debate”. In the release Stott stated that “in the UK, it is a media myth that there are only a few scientists who disagree with the view of 'global warming' on which the Kyoto Protocol is predicated”.
In the preface to the report – which was a repackaging of a report released the previous year by the George C. Marshall Institute - Stott argued that more effort was needed gathering data before climate science uncertainties would be resolved. “It is clear that the mandatory, command-and control, economics and politics of the Kyoto Protocol are not justified. Indeed, as the authors rightly conclude, ‘…actions must not be predicated on speculative images of an apocalyptic vision of life by 2100’”, Stott wrote.
In 1998 the Academic Members of ESEF included: Bruce N. Ames, Sallie L. Baliunas, Robert C. Balling, Jack Barrett, C.J.F. Böttcher, Peter Dietze , Tor Ragnar Gerholm, Gerhard Gerlich, Sherwood Idso, Helmut Metzner, Patrick J. Michaels, William Mitchell, Harry N.A. Priem, Michel Salomon, S. Fred Singer, Willie Soon, Wolfgang Thüne, and Gerd-Rainer Weber, while Richard S. Courtney and Michael Gough were Business Members. . The list immediately identifies this group as affilliated with Singer's Science and Environmental Policy Project (SEPP) and the Heidelberg Appeal group, ICSE (run by SEPP and Michel Salomon).
Bate also directed and presented the BBC2 Counterblast programme 'Organic Food: The Modern Myth' (BBC2, 31 Jan 2000) in his role as Director of the European Science and Environment Forum.
A delegation of representatives from ESEF attended the United National Framework Convention on Climate Change Conference of Parties in Milan in December 2003.
- Lorraine Mooney, Director
- Paolo Ghislandi, ESEF Associate
- Fabio Leoncini, ESEF Associate
- Mario Daviddi, ESEF Associate
- Luciano Grugni, ESEF Associate
Articles and Resources
Related SourceWatch Articles
- Environmental Risk proposal", Legacy Tobacco Documents Library, 7 August, 1996
- European Science and Environment Forum, "Climate Science and Policy: Making the Connection”, Media Release, 25 February 2002.
- Philip Stott, "Preface to Climate Science and Policy: Making the Connection”, European Science and Environment Forum, January 2002.
- Stewart Fist, APCO, Philip Morris and TASSC (explanatory notes on Philip Morris documents), accessed December 2003
- "Pro-GM scientists and the right", Norfolk Genetic Information Network, accessed April 2004.
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