Progress Educational Trust

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Progress Education Trust (PET) promotes genetics, assisted conception, embryo/stem cell research and related areas and is associated with the libertarian, anti-environmental LM network.


Progress Educational Trust was set up in May 1992 but it had its beginnings in late 1985, as a lobby group set up to oppose any restrictions on research using human embryos - the PROGRESS Campaign for Research into Human Reproduction. Once the future of such research was felt to have been secured, 'there was still an unmet need for public education in the field of human reproduction and genetics.' And so Progress Educational Trust was established to promote the benefits of reproductive and genetic science and 'extend the educational work of PROGRESS into schools, universities and the media.'


Like the Genetic Interest Group, PROGRESS is a 'pro genetics' lobby holding that genetic technologies 'offer an alternative to those who are unable - because of infertility or because they have a genetic disease in their family - to consider normal methods of having children.' According to its Director, 'our organisation exists to make sure that access to new technologies is not restricted by parliament or by doctors'.

Its one time Director, Juliet Tizzard sees IVF as a way of not just helping couples who can't conceive naturally but as a way of escaping the tyranny of nature. As she wrote in an article in LM, 'What would be so wrong with a woman using science to avoid having a baby just because nature dictates it?'[1] Genetic technologies are viewed in a similar light. According to Tizzard, 'the continued attacks on genetics in agriculture and - more worryingly - the promotion of negative attitudes even towards research may start to have their impact on applications of genetics in human medicine.' [2]

Tizzard appears to regard 'spin' as a valid way of overcoming public concerns:[3]

Three cheers for PPL Therapeutics! Not for their success in cloning pigs (although this is worth at least three cheers), but for their success with the media coverage of those five little piggies. Press coverage in the United Kingdom of the cloned pigs was almost universally positive... Perhaps PPL Therapeutics is just good at media spin. But maybe media spin isn't such a bad thing in science... those who raise concerns about science - whether environmental groups worried about GM crops, or church leaders worried about genetic testing - seem to have no lack of confidence about their own position. In fact, their approach to media relations often reeks of astounding arrogance. So, perhaps instead of spin doctors, what we need is spin scientists!


The principal activity is educational work in schools.


Alastair Kent of the Genetic Interest Group is on the Progress Advisory Committee, as is Fiona Fox, founding director of the Science Media Centre. The Editor-in-chief of BioNews was Juliet Tizzard. Tizzard started as the Administrator at PROGRESS in April 1998 and went on to become its Director.

As well as contributing articles to LM, Tizzard has also contributed to Spiked, and to seminars and conferences organised by the Institute of Ideas. She also wrote a chapter for the Institute of Ideas publication, Designer Babies: Where Should We Draw The Line? [4] Tizzard's views are in accord with those of the LM network, of which she is part, which argued in 1994 'for interfering with nature at every opportunity in order to improve the human condition' via infertility treatment and genetic engineering.[5] Living Marxism's science editor John Gillott at one time worked for the Genetic Interest Group which works closely with PROGRESS. Both Gillott and Tizzard were on the staff of the online clinical genetics resource Genepool.

Baroness Mary Warnock is Patron of the organisation.[6] The current director is Sarah Norcross.[7]

The Communications Officer is LM associate Sandy Starr while core LM associate Michael Fitzpatrick contributed to its schools pack [8] and one of their events was chaired by Sally Sheldon.[9]


Turnover is around £100,000 p.a. PROGRESS is principally funded by the Department of Health and the Wellcome Trust. AstraZeneca sponsors BioNews - its free weekly digest of news covering IVF, cloning, embryo research, preimplantation genetic diagnosis (pgd), gene therapy and prenatal genetic diagnosis.


Facebook: Progress Educational Trust


  1. Juliet Tizzard, 'Embryonic developments', LM 128, p. 17, March 2000.
  2. Juliet Tizzard, 'BLAIR'S 'U-TURN' ON GM FOOD COULD BE BAD NEWS FOR HUMAN GENETICS' BioNews 50, Week 21/2/2000 - 27/2/2000. Retrieved from the Web Archive of 28 Aug 2007, accessed 16 Oct 2013.
  3. Juliet Tizzard, Why shouldn't scientists indulge in media spin BioNews, Week 13/3/2000 - 19/3/2000. Retrieved from the Web Archive of 28 Aug 2007, accessed 16 Oct 2013.
  4. Institute of Ideas, Hodder and Stoughton, 2002.
  5. LM, 'Nature's not good enough', Living Marxism, Issue 66, April 1994.
  6. PET, Objectives, accessed 7 March 2011.
  7. PET, Sarah Norcross, accessed 7 March 2011.
  8. PET, "The genetics and sociology of the autism spectrum," Progress Educational Trust website, accessed 13 Mar 2011.
  9. PET, "Passport to Parenthood," Progress Educational Trust website, accessed 5 Mar 2011.