GEP (Doc Index)

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This stub is a work-in-progress by the journalists's group. We are indexing the millions of documents stored at the San Francisco Uni's Legacy Tobacco Archive [1] With some entries you'll need to go to this site and type into the Search panel a (multi-digit) Bates number. You can search on names for other documents also.     Send any corrections or additions to

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Good Epidemiology Practices (GEP) was a scam project run by Philip Morris disinformation staff during the late 1980s and early 1990s. It was based on a laboratory standard designed by the chemical industry, known as Good Laboratory Practices (GLP) which had been accepted as a standard for research laboratories, and become widely accepted around the world. The tobacco industry also realised the value of straight-jacketing the statistical output of epidemiology by creating artificially-high barriers, and a science entrepreneur named George L Carlo helped with the preliminary design work. He had previously worked for Dow Chemicals.

Carlo's research company Health and Environmental Services (HES) floated the idea to Philip Morris that such a standard could be formulated for epidemiology which could be specifically designed to make it difficult for the anti-smoking activists to claim that most of the ETS research established harm. They planned to raise the level of 'significance' for a finding to a relative risk ratio of 2 -- meaning the statistics would need to work out to double the risk of some disease condition before it was seen as an important guide to legislative action. They were also planning to attack meta-analysis, which was a technique used by small university studies, when they didn't have the millions of dollars of tobacco industry funding behind them. The tobacco industry hated meta-analysis.

The value to the tobacco industry of GEP would be that, with the right selection of participants in panels at a few special international conferences, a GEP standard could be constructed which was too high for most adverse research to pass muster. Therefore, by lobbying legislatures around the world to treat GEP as the minimum required before health regulations could be enacted to protect non-smokers, it would be possible to block laws and regulations about public smoking.

This is a split entry.
The normal Good Epidemiological Practices entry.
The Index of archived GEP documents
Some 'Smoking Gun' Documents

This idea was taken up by an in-house lawyer at Philip Morris, David Bushong and over a few years an enormous amount of funding and effort was put into creating a GEP standard. They then planned and funded a group of corruptable scientists to attend two different closed conferences in an attempt to establish GEP as an scientific standard.

This project was run initially through the Corporate Affairs (media and propaganda) side of Philip Morris, with input from the Science & Technology group which had divisions in New York and Switzerland. It also relied on the success of the Washington lobbyists to get it before Congress. This became a highly favoured project of the Corporate Affairs group at Philip Morris -- and they widened it to include other tobacco companies. A lobbyist organisation, Federal Focus Inc. which was linked to George Carlo and run by two of his friends and associates, Thorne Auchter and James Tozzi was hired to organise and publish the conference proceedings.

Outline of GEP Evolution

1994 Mar 10 Matt Winokur at the Philip Morris Corporate Affairs headquarters has asked scientists in the USA and Switzerland for their opinions on the GEP project ...

I need the evaluation of the CMA's GEP criteria, and any further comments SA/S&T may have, prior to our next IARC task force meeting on March 29. Will you be able to have the consultant's evaluation by then?


[CMA = Chemical Manufacturer's Association which had established their own GEP project (borrowed by Carlo).
SA/S&T = Philip Morris's Scientific Affairs and Science & Technology divisions which preceded the WSA (both US and Europe).]
IARC task force = the industry's regular meeting to coordinate attacks on the credibility of the World Health Organisation's International Agency for Research into Cancer's research on smoking and health.

1994 Mar 15 Tom Borelli of Science & Technology (S&T) in the USA has written to his Swiss scientists associates:

I reviewed the criteria. It's not a bad place to start by [but] it lacks teeth and, as written, it does not have enough meat to help us on ETS.

However setting up our own standards is a good project for us and our consultants's program. It would be good offensive strategy for our consultant's to be out there trying to fix epidemiology instead of being critical all the time.

I will send you a copy of the Carlo survey on epidemiology standards as a possible starting point.

[ETS = Environmental Tobacco Smoke. The passive smoking problem as distinct from smoking-induced lung-cancer in smokers.]

1994 Mar 17 Helmet Reif, now at the head of Philip Morris science in Europe (EU and EEMA in Switzerland) is discussing GEP's progress with two of his Principle Scientists: Ruth Dempsey and Mitchell Ritter he believes:

The GEP is not bad , but too soft. However, it goes into the right direction and could serve as a piece of "constructive critique" of the existing approaches for our consultants.

He is also dealing with Matthew Winokur, Helene Lyberpoulo, Joanna Sullivan and Tom Borelli (all US) on the subject. [3]

1995 The European version of TASSC, known as the European Science & Environmental Forum]] (ESEF) was formed in 1994 by Roger Bate, Dr John Emsley and Professor Frits Böttcher originally under the name "Euro-TASSC. The funding came from Philip Morris, and the staff from the London Institute for Economic Affairs (IEA) which also ran the UK FOREST smokers-rights organisation.

ESEF was designed to run as a a public-interest sound-science arbitrator -- attacking any adverse studies in the health and environmental fields (not just smoking -- but very general) by labelling them junk science and maintaining that the science was ridiculous and shoddy. {Of course some of it was}. The aim was to generally discredit the scientific standards themselves, since this was a collaborative effort between a number of industries with similar problems.

Later the ESEF was run by Bate with Julian Morris and Lorraine Mooney, and it was linked to the International Policy Network and the Sustainable Development Network which were anti-green-environmental in nature. It evolved more into a science-denial organisation with support from the energy industry. This provided the tobacco industry with more cover at a time when they were being exposed as the main funders of scientific subversion.

1998 Apr 3 Edward Sanders in Lausanne is complaining to Cathy Ellis in New York that he has been lumbered with the GEP project, when he has been one of its most vocal critics. In the process he reveals how it has been set up. A MUST READ DOCUMENT. [4]