Gregory Conko

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Greg Conko is the Director of Food Safety Policy at the Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI) where he "specialises in issues of food and pharmaceutical drug safety regulation, and on the general treatment of health risks in public policy".[1]

He is described as being

particularly interested in the debate over the safety of genetically engineered foods and the application of the Precautionary Principle to domestic and international environmental and safety regulations.[2]

Although Conko's leading role in CS Prakash's AgBioWorld campaign has only lately been acknowledged by AgBioWorld, the CEI has been more open, describing him as

the Vice President and a member of the Board of Directors of the AgBioWorld Foundation, [which] he co-founded with Tuskegee University plant genetics professor CS Prakash.[3]

Given Conko's leading role in AgBioWorld, it would be interesting to know his exact relationship with Monsanto's PR team, particularly Jay Byrne - Monsanto's chief Internet strategist at the time AgBioWorld was established. Byrne has ackowledged giving AgBioWorld "advice and information" and both Monsanto and its Internet PR company the Bivings Group have played a covert role in shaping and supporting AgBioWorld's online campaigning. Monsanto is among the companies funding the CEI (see U.S. FACING TOUGH BATTLE FOR GE CROPS by Bob Burton, IPS-Inter Press Service April 1, 2004)

Conko's many publications include papers promoting GM foods and free trade and attacking the precautionary principle, co-authored with CS Prakash, Henry I. Miller, Fred Smith and Kendra Okonski. Among these is "Cloudy horizons in a brave new world", originally published on the European Science and Economic Forum website. In it Conko suggests that concerns about the safety of GM food are merely a cover for "trade protectionism" and "anti-science fearmongering".[4]

In March 2003 Conko took part in a debate on 'GM food: should labelling be mandatory?' held at the London office of PR agency Hill and Knowlton and organised by Spiked and the International Policy Network. Conko argued against any requirement to label GM foods, saying:

mandatory labelling will merely raise the cost of GM products, and add to many consumers' groundless fears about GM foods.[5]

In May 2003, Conko was at the press conference at which the US Trade Secretary formally announced a US WTO case against EU restrictions on GM imports. This was followed by a CEI seminar on the negative impact of the EU moratorium on the developing world, addressed by Conko, Norman Borlaug, CS Prakash, and TJ Buthelezi.

In April 2004 Conko went on a lobbying trip to Australia at a time when Australian States were considering large-scale GM crop trial proposals from Monsanto and Bayer. The trip was organised by the U.S. embassy and financed by the National Centre for Food and Agricultural Policy, which receives funding from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the Biotechnology Industry Organization, the Council for Biotechnology Information, CropLife America, the Grocery Manufacturers of America and Monsanto, as well as Aventis, Bayer, DuPont, and Syngenta.


  1. Liam Baldwin, "NZ must meet demand for GE produce", Straight Furrow, 6 April 2004, accessed February 2009.
  2. "Greg Conko Biography", AgBioWorld website, accessed February 2009.
  3. "Greg Conko Biography", AgBioWorld website, accessed February 2009.
  4. Gregory Conko, "Cloudy Horizons in a Brave New World", Financial Times, 7 March 2000, archived on the CEI website, accessed February 2009.
  5. Gregory Conko, "Mandatory Labelling Is A Bad Idea", Capitalism Magazine, 23 March 2003, accessed February 2009.