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Sense about Science

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to the LM group series:

Sense about Science is a "charitable trust, founded in 2002, to promote an evidence-based approach to scientific issues in the public domain. The trust works with organisations, experts and opinion formers to encourage this approach, particularly in areas of controversy".



The trust describes its objectives as follows [1]:

  1. To advance the education of the public in any branch of scientific research (including social science) and to disseminate useful information about such research.
  2. To promote (for the benefit of the community) the understanding of, and to stimulate interest in, the creation, presentation and use of scientific research.

It has a very close relationship with the Royal Society. For example, it has set up a Working party on peer review which meets at the RS, and is chaired by a member of the RS. The working party also includes members of the Institute of Ideas. [2]

In October 2003, a series of largely unfavorable GM articles in the media followed the results of Farm Scale Evaluations of three GM crops. The group co-ordinated a letter to the Times written by Derek Burke of its Advisory Council and signed by 113 other scientists, complaining that the government had had remained silent instead of making the case for genetic engineering. "Genetic engineering of plants has been reduced to a matter of consumer preference; the public has been misinformed; and the efforts of scientists to communicate about genetic engineering have been misused," they complained. [3] [4].

Tony Blair subsequently told the Commons that he had not ruled out the commercialisation of GM crops in Britain [5]. The group has also planted a variety of pro-GM stories in the media, including the Broom's Barn trials.

The trust shared the same phone number as Global Futures [6], and is related through this organisation and common personnel, to the libertarian Institute of Ideas and the LM group. The domain name was registered by Rob Lyons, the web master of right wing e-zine Spiked Online, edited by the prominent LM partisan Mick Hume.


Both are former employees of Regester Larkin, a Risk management PR company.


Charity Commission registration

Sense about Science was registered as charity number 1101114 with the Charity Commission for England and Wales on 9 December 2003. The legal objects, which describe what the charity has been set up to achieve, are registered with the Commission as follows:

1: To advice the education of the public in any branch of scientific research (including social science) and in particular by the dissemination of such research and useful information about such research. 2: To promote (for the benefit of the community) the knowledge and understanding of the public of, and to stimulate the interest of the public in, the creation, presentation and use of scientific research. [7]

Board of Trustees

Advisory council


Sense about Science publishes a donor llist online [8]. Financial contributions, for both core and project-related costs, have been received from:

  • Association of the British Pharmaceutial Industry (ABPI)
  • Amersham plc
  • Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC)
  • The Biochemical Society
  • Blackwells publishing
  • British Petroleum plc
  • Mr J. Browning
  • Mr D. Brydon
  • Prof A. Dixon
  • Dixons Group plc
  • The Society for Endocrinology
  • The Society for General Microbiology
  • GlaxoSmithKline
  • Halifax Bank of Scotland
  • Health and Science Communication Trust
  • International Service for the Acquisition of Agri-biotech Applications (ISAAA)
  • John Innes Centre
  • The John Innes Trust
  • Mr. J. Moynihan
  • Mr M. Livermore
  • Oxford GlycoSciences plc
  • Pfizer plc
  • Royal Pharmaceutical Society of Great Britain
  • Blackwells Publishing
  • Dr M. Ridley
  • Social Issues Research Centre
  • Unilever plc.

Help with equipment and facilities has been received from:

Has funded pro--GM research such as a survey on the cost of vandalism to sugar beet trials at Broom's Barn GM research centre.

Contact details

60 Cambridge Street

Tel: +44 (0)1795 591975
Fax: +44 (0)20 7592 9684
Email: enquiries AT

Articles and resources

Related SourceWatch articles


External resources

  • Spinwatch profile of Sense About Science
  • The Science Council

External articles

  • George Monbiot, "Invasion of the Entryists: How did a cultish political network become the public face of the scientific establishment?", The Guardian, December 9, 2003
  • David Derbyshire, "Fluoride, fluoride everywhere...", Daily Telegraph, 29 May 2003
  • Andy Rowell and Bob Burton, "Rising Rhetoric on Genetically Modified Crops", PR Watch, Volume 10 No 1, First quarter 2003.
  • Sense about Science - GM Watch profile, November 7, 2003
  • Andy Rowell, The alliance of science, The Guardian, March 26, 2003
  • "The Royal Society: best of British science or corporate rentboy?", GMWatch Newsletter Number 6, 8 February 2003
  • Sense about Science, List of donors, accessed 9 September 2004
  • Robin McKie, "Trust chemicals, beware of nature: From make-up to medicine, scientists warn that people are wrong to think natural must be best", 'The Observer, January 22, 2006.
  • Andy Rowell, "LobbyWatch: SMC complaint", April 2007. (This is an edited version of a submission made by Andy Rowell to the board of the Science Media Centre).
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