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 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 Durwards 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 Mosleys 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.
'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