Institute of Economic Affairs (IEA)

The Institute of Economic Affairs (IEA) was founded in the 1950s by Anthony Fisher out of a fortune made from intensively farmed broiler chickens (Buxted Chickens).  An article about this London-based 'think tank' in The Sunday Times states, 'The oldest and biggest daddy of them all, the Institute of Economic Affairs, exists to propagate the ideas of free markets and privatisation. It has been going for nearly 50 years, and advises governments all over the world on ways to denationalise and bring in market systems.'  

Given a founding father who was both a pioneer of factory farming and an extreme free marketeer, it is hardly surprising  that the IEA has consistently promoted the view that deregulated intensive farming and unfettered 'free trade' are of great benefit to the environment. But it wasn't until the 1990s that the IEA started seriously to focus on environmental issues.   

In 1990 the IEA* warned that 'green' policies would lead to an 'ecological hell' and a plummeting standard of living. In 1993 the IEA launched its Environment Unit.  Its director was Roger Bate. A formal launch came in March 1994 to coincide with the publication of the Unit's first book 'Global Warming: Apocalypse or Hot Air?'. The book was co-edited by Roger Bate and Julian Morris. Morris had been a Research Fellow at the IEA since 1993 and in July 1998 became the Environment Unit's co-director. 

In August 1999, Bate and Morris published 'Fearing Food; Risk, Health and the Environment'. According to the press release, 'The book shows that intensive agriculture is good for health and the environment, and is essential if the world's population is to be fed without converting vast areas of biodiverse ecosystems into cropland, which would be necessary if organic agriculture, with its lower yields, were used.' It contained a chapter by Dennis Avery of the Hudson Institute, 'The Fallacy of the Organic Utopia', and one defending GM crops co-written by John Hillman from the Scottish Crop Research Institute and Michael Wilson of Horticulture Research International.

Bate and Morris are affiliated to a series of organizations, other than the Institute of Economic Affairs, several of which they founded themselves. Fearing Food was said to be a publication of the European Science and Environment Forum (ESEF), which Bate both co-founded (1994) and directed (the original ESEF website was registed by Morris). However, a press release announcing the book, headed 'Londoners demand regulation of potentially deadly organic food', was sent out in the name of the IEA.

A year later, Morris appeared in his role as director of the IEA's Environment Unit in a ‘Couterblast’ programme on BBC 2 TV (broadcast 31 January, 2000). The programme was written and presented by Bate in his role as Director of ESEF. No mention was made of Bate's IEA affiliation and the same went for several other IEA intimates, such as IEA Media Fellow Richard D North. The Counterblast series is intended by the BBC to allow 'members of the public' to air their views.

In June 2000 the IEA hosted An Occasional Lecture at their offices in London, entitled 'Frankenfood and Monarch Butterflies'. It was given by CS Prakash of the AgBioW

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