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Gregory Conko

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This article is part of the Tobacco portal on Sourcewatch funded from 2006 - 2009 by the American Legacy Foundation. Help expose the truth about the tobacco industry.

Gregory Conko is Director of Food Safety Policy at the Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI) where "where he specializes in issues of food and pharmaceutical drug safety regulation, and on the general treatment of health risks in public policy". [1](While CEI describes itself as a "public interest group" it is a conservative, corporate-funded advocacy group).

Conko now frequently travels around the world advocating the benefits of genetically engineered crops. According to his biographical statement, "he frequently participates in international meetings on food safety and trade as a credentialed Non-Governmental Organization representative."

After completing a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science and History at American University in 1992, Conko landed a job as a 'Research Associate' with the Capital Research Center. In 1993 he and Dr M. Bruce Johnson and Stuart Nolan co-authored the book Patterns of Corporate Philanthropy: Executive Hypocrisy. The book was described in CRC promotional material as documenting "a worsening trend in corporate public affairs giving, which favour liberal over free-market public policy groups by a margin of over three-to-one". [2]

The following year Conko was listed in a background document on CEI as 'Development Associate'. [3] One of the CEI funders listed as contributing more than $10,000 was Philip Morris.

In August 1998, a letter to the editor by Conko was published in the Washington Post, who by this time was described as 'policy analyst'. In it Conko complained about government regulations preventing the tobacco industry from advertising what he termed 'safer' cigarettes.

In the letter he pointed out that tobacco control advocates argue that there is no such thing as a safe cigarette and have consistently argued against what they consider misleading and deceptive marketing strategies claiming some cigarettes are 'light' or 'mild'.

Conko then complained "the free market may well have produced better information and safer cigarettes, but the market was not free. It was, and continues to be, a captive of government regulators and political activists who believe that consumers are unable to evaluate advertisement claims with a health dose of skepticism. We should remember that the next time someone suggest a ban on truthful information in advertising". [4] (emphasis in original).

According to his biographical note, he served as a Principal Investigator for the California Council on Science and Technology’s 2002 report Benefits and Risks of Food Biotechnology, commissioned by the California state legislature and Governor Gray Davis.

According to his CEI biographical note, Conko is also "the Vice President and a member of the Board of Directors of the AgBioWorld Foundation, a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization which he co-founded with Tuskegee University plant genetics professor C.S. Prakash."

"The AgBioWorld Foundation provides information to teachers, journalists, policymakers, and the general public about developments in plant science, biotechnology, and sustainable agriculture," his biogrpahical note states.

With Henry Miller Conko co-authored "Cloudy horizons in a brave new world", an article on the European Science and Economic Forum website which suggests that concerns about the safety of GM food are only because of "trade protectionism" and "anti-science fearmongering".

Miller and Conko argue against the adoption of the precautionary principle, which would insist on safety testing of GM foods before they are released, on the grounds that "This erects an almost insurmountable barrier against new products because nothing can be proved totally safe - at least, not to the standard demanded by anti-technology extremists."

Conko's writings have been published in Spiked as well as Nature Biotechnology, Transgenic Research, Regulation, European Affairs, the Financial Times, the Wall Street Journal Europe, the Los Angeles Times, and the National Post of Canada.



  • Gregory Conko and Henry Miller, The Frankenfood Myth: How Protest and Politics Threaten the Biotech RevolutionPraeger, 2004 (forthcoming).

Articles by Conko

  • Gregory Conko, "Real Patient Protection}', Monthly Planet [previously known as CEI UpDate, December 1, 1996.
  • Gregory Conko, "Pension Reform Not So Simple", Monthly Planet, February 1, 1997.
  • Gregory Conko, "Playing Politics With ATMs", Monthly Planet, August 1, 1997.
  • Gregory Conko, "Thalidomide's Latest Victims", Monthly Planet, September 1, 1998.
  • Gregory Conko, "A National Survey Of Neurologists And Neurosurgeons Regarding The Food And Drug Administration", Studies, October 5, 1998.
  • Gregory Conko, "Neurologists Say FDA is Still Too Slow", Monthly Planet, November 1, 1998.
  • Gregory Conko, "FDA Modernization After One Year: Drug Approval is Still Too Slow", On Point, November 9, 1998.
  • Gregory Conko, "The Risks Of Risk Reporting", Monthly Planet, February 1, 1999.
  • Gregory Conko, "The Green Man's Burden", Monthly Planet, January 1, 2000.
  • Gregory Conko and Henry Miller, "Inside Track--Cloudy Horizons in a Brave New World: Miller and Conko", Financial Times, March 7, 2000.
  • Gregory Conko, "Effects of GM Confused with Those of Farming Practices", Financial Times (letter to the editor), September 6, 2000
  • Gregory Conko, "From Montreal To Miami: Greg Conko Speech on Trade and Biotech Food", October 10, 2000.
  • Gregory Conko, "Biotech After the Recall: Is More Regulation Needed?", November 14, 2000.
  • Gregory Conko and Henry Miller, "[http://www.cei.org/gencon/019,02007.cfm Precaution Without Principle}', Nature Biotechnology, April 1, 2001.
  • Gregory Conko, "Throwing Precaution to the Wind: The Perils of the Precautionary Principle", Monthly Planet, September 1, 2000.
  • Gregory Conko, "Defining 'Free Trade' Down: Environmentalism and Trade in the Clinton and Bush Administrations", Speeches & Presentations, April 3, 2001.
  • Gregory Conko, "Hope, Not Hype, in the Golden Grains", Monthly Planet, April 15, 2001.
  • Gregory Conko and Kendra Okonski, "Free Trade, Anyone? (Or, A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Business Forum)", Monthly Planet, April 16, 2001
  • Gregory Conko, "CEI Comments Before FDA on Bioengineered Foods", Press Release, May 4, 2001.
  • Gregory Conko and Henry Miller, "The Perils Of Precaution", June 1, 2001
  • Henry Miller and Gregory Conko, "Dangerous GM Gets Off Scot-Free", August 1, 2001.
  • Henry Miller and Gregory Conko, "Precaution (Of A Sort) Without Principle", November 1, 2001.
  • Gregory Conko, "Behind The Headlines: What Laymen Should Know About Everyday Issues In Science And Health", April 19, 2002.
  • C.S. Prakash and Gregory Conko, "Battling Hunger With Biotechnology",Op-Eds & Articles, May 1, 2002
  • Gregory Conko, "The Precautionary Principle: Protectionism and Environmental Extremism by Other Means", June 20, 2002.
  • Gregory Conko and C.S. Prakash, "Blessed Are The Poor With Spirit", June 25, 2002
  • Gregory Conko and Gregory Conko, "Away From Rationality",EnviroWire, July 3, 2002
  • Henry Miller and Gregory Conko, "[http://www.cei.org/gencon/003,03152.cfmFeds Ladle On-Unfocused Rules For Biotech Foods
  • Henry Miller and Gregory Conko "Science vs. Presumption In Assessing Risk", August 1, 2002
  • Gregory Conko and CS Prakash, “GM in perspective”, Spiked Online, September 16, 2002.
  • Gregory Conko , “Mandatory labelling is a bad idea”, Spiked Online, February 27, 2003.
  • Gregory Conko, The Benefits of Biotech, Regulation, Vol. 26, No. 1, pp. 20-25, Spring 2003.
  • Henry Miller and Gregory Conko, Bootleggers and Biotechs, Regulation, Vol. 26, No. 2, pp. 12-14, Summer 2003.
  • Gregory Conko, "The Benefits of Biotech", August 1, 2003.
  • Gregory Conko, "Running away from safety', Washington Times, September 25, 2003.
  • Gregory Conko, "Safety, Risk and the Precautionary Principle, October 20, 2003
  • Gregory Conko and Henry Miller, "United Nations Day of Shame", October 24, 2003.
  • Gregory Conko, "Cloning Translating Into Big Business and Safety Issues", Transcript, November 3, 2003.
  • Gregory Conko and Henry Miller, "EU Theatrics Obscure Anti-Biotech Agenda", November 25, 2003.
  • C.S. Prakash and Gregory Conko, "Guest Editorial', BioScience News and Advocate, December 15, 2003.
  • Gregory Conko, "Regulating Genetically Modified Foods: Is Mandatory Labeling the Right Answer?", February 12, 2004.
  • Gregory Conko, "Eat, Drink and Be Merry: Why Mandatory Biotech Food Labeling is Unnecessary", Cascade Policy Institute,

Contact information


External links

  • Competitive Enterprise Institute, "CEI Expert Biography: Gregory Conko", undated, accessed March 2004.
  • Competitive Enterprise Institute, "Competitive Enterprise Institute", Bates No 2046558088/8099, 1994 (approximately March), page 6.
  • T. J. DiLorenzo and D.T. Oliver, "California's proposition 99 pork-barrell for anti-smoking groups", Capital Research Center, Bates Number: 2085577662/7667, July 1994, page 5.
  • Gregory Conko, "Smoking: The market wasn't free", Washington Post, Bates No 2075821056/1057, August 21, 1998.
  • http://www.gmwatch.org/profile1.asp?PrId=31
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