Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI)

'Advancing the principles of free enterprise and limited government' is the declared mission of the Washington DC based Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI), launched in 1984 and claiming 'the largest free-market environmental policy program in Washington'. However, according to PR Watch, CEI in reality is 'a well-funded front for corporations' that attacks environmental, health and safety regulations.

CEI's President and Founder is Fred Smith. Its staff include Gregory Conko who is CEI's  Director of Food Safety Policy. Via Conko CEI has played a key role in CS Prakash’s AgBioWorld campaign .   

The launch-pad for Prakash’s campaign was a petition supporting the use of GM agriculture in developing countries. Prakash presented this as a Third World scientists’ rallying point for fellow academics. However, CEI in its annual report (2000) says that it played 'a key role in the creation' of the petition as part of a wider campaign against 'death by regulation' - the same CEI campaign that has been directed against government efforts to discourage smoking because, according to the CEI, 'there are things more valuable than health'. More recently, Greg Conko has been acknowledged in AgBioWorld press releases as the co-founder of AgBioWorld

Among CEI's long list of known sponsors are Philip Morris, Pfizer, Dow Chemicals and Monsanto. In 2000 CEI had a turnover of $3M+ a year with another million in assets.            

CEI's 'Adjunct Scholars' include Henry Miller of the Hoover Institution and Fran Smith of Consumer Alert. Fran Smith is also on CEI's Board of Directors. She is also the wife of CEI's President and Founder.  Another CEI 'Adjunct' is Roger Bate of the International Policy Network - a group whose Washington address is the same as that of the CEI.

Kendra Okonski of IPN also used to work for CEI. When ABC-TV's 20/20 program presenter John Stossel came under fire in August 2000 for citing nonexistent scientific studies in a 20/20 report attacking organic foods, Okonski organised a Save John Stossel website for the CEI to help Stossel keep his job. 

Another CEI 'Adjunct' is Ronald Bailey, the science editor of Reason magazine and the first recipient of CEI's Warren T. Brookes Fellowship in Environmental Journalism.    

In March 2001, CEI joined the American Council on Science and Health, Steve Milloy, Dennis Avery, and Consumer Alert in an open letter criticizing Starbucks for its decision, in response to protests, to stop serving milk products from cows treated with Monsanto's genetically-engineered bovine growth hormone (rBGH aka BST), which is banned in all the main industrialised countries in the world other than the United States. 'Your action is unfounded, and harms consumers and the environment', they stated. The CEI's Kendra Okonski , wearing her 'counter protest' hat, organised a counter-demonstration outside Starbucks in Washington.

In March 2002 CEI, exploiting the concerns raised by September 11, co-sponsored a conference for journalists and corporate executives on 'eco-extremism' with CDFE-connnected PR firm Nichols Dezenhall. (You too might be a te

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