Peter Cotgreave

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Dr Peter Cotgreave (born 22 June 1968) is director of public affairs at the Royal Society[1] and chair of the Science Media Centre.[2] He is active in lobbying on science-related issues, being a member of the Parliamentary Affairs Committee of the Royal Society of Chemistry, the Science Board of the Institute of Physics, and the Board of the Science Media Centre.[3]


Cotgreave was reportedly born in North Wales and educated in Shropshire, graduating in biology from the University of York. He has a doctorate from the University of Oxford, where he studied the population biology of birds.[3] Cotgreave worked successively at the Université Claude Bernard in France, as a lecturer in Ornithology and Human Sciences at the University of Oxford, has also taught and examined for University College London, Florida State University and the Uganda Wildlife Service.[3] He was an honorary senior research fellow at University College London from 1998 to 2007 and Research Associate at the Royal Geographical Society's expedition Mkomazi in Tanzania in 1996-1997.[3]

For three years, Cotgreave worked as 'a Conservation Biologist and Development Officer at the Zoological Society of London, combining scientific research with a role liaising between the research arm of the organisation and the other sections of the Zoological Society.'[3]

Cotgreave was Director of Campaign for Science and Engineering for nine years[4] [3] having been appointed in 1998 and taking up the post in July of that year.[5][6] It was known until 2005 as Save British Science.

Working Party on peer review

Cotgreave was a member of the Working Party on peer review convened by Sense About Science (see Sense About Science for details of this project).


On biofuels: Cotgreave wrote in an article for The Guardian that he opposed a moratorium on biofuels because "there are examples of 'good' biofuels that can play an immediate part in tackling climate change."[7]

He downplayed a report that biofuels have contributed to the food crisis, arguing, "Biofuels may have played a part in rising food prices but, as the story also mentioned, estimates of the price increase caused by biofuels vary from 3% to 75%."[8]

On biofuels targets, he wrote, "The UK and EU should not scrap biofuels targets but seek to ensure that these are met through the use of sustainable crops that do not take food from people's mouths."[9]

On genetically modified (GM) crops: Cotgreave, in his role with the campaign group Save British Science (later renamed the Campaign for Science and Engineering or CaSE[10]), backed a report that he claimed concluded that "GM foods are unlikely to be a great risk to health". But Pete Riley, then GM campaigner for Friends of the Earth, had a very different interpretation of the same report: "Far from giving GM crops the green light, this report admits that there are gaps in our scientific knowledge and significant uncertainties about the long-term impacts of GM food and crops on our health and environment."[11]






  1. Royal Society (2012) Dr Peter Cotgreave, acc 26 Nov 2012
  2. Charity Commission (2012), Science Media Centre Trustees' Report and Accounts for period ended 31 March 2012, acc 3 Oct 2012
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 3.4 3.5 Royal Society Peter Cotgreave, accessed 26 November 2012
  4. Spiked Online (2005) If you could teach the world just one thing: Dr Peter Cotgreave, acc 26 Nov 2012
  5. Andy Coghlan Universities fear loss of academic freedom New Scientist June 20, 1998, This Week, Pg. 2424
  6. John Izbicki 'Word of Mouth' The Independent (London) July 23, 1998, Thursday EDUCATION; Page E4
  7. Peter Cotgreave, The energy debate needs to be rational - not shrill soundbites The Guardian, 16 Jul 2008, acc 26 Nov 2012
  8. Peter Cotgreave, The energy debate needs to be rational - not shrill soundbites The Guardian, 16 Jul 2008, acc 26 Nov 2012
  9. Peter Cotgreave, The energy debate needs to be rational - not shrill soundbites The Guardian, 16 Jul 2008, acc 26 Nov 2012
  10. CaSE (2012) Our history, acc Nov 26 2012
  11. George Wright, GM crops pose low health risk, says report, The Guardian, 21 July 2003, acc 26 Nov 2012
  12. DIUS Science and the Media Expert Group, 2010, retrieved from the Internet Archive of 21 January 2010 on 17 August 2013