Philip Stott is professor emeritus of biogeography at the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), University of London. He also edits the Journal of Biogeography.
He also edits his own campaigning website Anti-Ecohype which contains a number of his articles on topics such as climate, sustainability, biotechnology and forests. More recently, this website has been superseded by a 'blog' EnviroSpin Watch. At one time Prof Stott also ran a separate 'Pro-Biotech' website. He is a regular panelist on a 'critical environmental programme' (his description) - BBC Radio 4's Home Planet.
Although he presents himself as an expert debunker of environmental myths, Stott does not appear to have had a single paper published in a scientific journal in the fields in which he most frequently applies this 'expertise', eg climate change or tropical ecology. His views are also generally at odds with the scientific consensus on such issues. (see Jeff Harvey's comments on Prof Stott's lack of relevant scientific credentials)
In a letter to The Guardian on climate change, Stott attacked the scientific consensus as the problem, saying, 'It is surely time in the UK for a more adult scientific openness about the limitations of our current knowledge.' Yet in the case of biotechnology he seems unwilling to acknowledge any limitations or uncertainties. In fact, according to Stott, genetic engineering can already be confidently declared 'an advance vital for human development' and indeed, 'essential for human survival', being the 'finest of all human adaptations'. These quotations come from an article which he describes as 'one of my more balanced pieces' (personal communication).
Prof Stott also claims to use the tools of post-modernism to expose the 'religious' zeal underlying environmental concerns. Despite this anxiety to 'deconstruct' the language of what he terms 'eco-hype', he shows no comparable interest in unpacking the language of 'techno-utopianism' or of 'sound science' myth making. On the contrary, his own writings on biotechnology are full of religious zeal and what can only be termed 'bio-hype'. Here's Prof Stott on the human genome project, 'Today, we shall truly ''eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil'' (Genesis 1.17), for two teams of scientists... have come together to announce the decoding of the alphabet of human life. And ''we shall be as gods".' In another essay Stott talks of 'that Holy Grail of the human genome, our very own alphabet of life' and continues, 'We are truly standing on a great peak and a new country lies at our feet.' (Biotechnology: Mary Shelley or Galileo?)
Prof Stott displays an extreme antipathy towards those with concerns about genetic engineering and presents them as extremists with semi-clandestine political agendas. Asked in an interview to account for the current resistance to GM foods in Europe, he claimed, 'the real reason for the hysteria is indeed the exploitation of the fears... by extreme environmental groups, who often have little interest in the 'science', but who have social agendas of their own. These groups want to 'stop-the-world-and-get-off' and they will abuse and misuse 'science' to achieve their ends. They are avowedly anti-capitalist, anti-development, anti-science, sometimes even anti-farming, and most certainly anti-American, and they want to position America, and its biotech companies, as the 'Great Satan.' Many were at Seattle and Washington DC for the WTO and World Bank protests, and they regularly visit St Louis in small numbers to attack Monsanto, DuPont, etc.'
Ironically, Stott's vision of extremists with underlying agendas exploiting the GM debate fits many of those with whom Philip Stott aligns himself. He serves on the Advisory Forum of the Scientific Alliance, whose founder describes himself as 'a businessman who is totally fed up with all this environmental stuff' and has suggested Tony Blair introduces martial law. He has also founded a People's Alliance - aka The New Party (the name of Oswald Mosleys first political party), which is so far to the right it has been labelled 'fascist'.
Stott contributes articles to Spiked, an online 'magazine' to which he has a link from his EnviroSpin Watch blog. Spiked is part of a semi-clandestine network of political extemists with a record of defending terrorism and denying war crimes.
Stott also regularly collaborates with a small coterie of right wing contrarians, including Matt Ridley and Julian Morris, centered principally on the Institute of Economic Affairs (IEA) and the