By Elizabeth M. Whelan, Sc.D., M.P.H., William M. London, Ed.D., M.P.H., and Leonard T. Flynn, Ph.D.
Posted: Wednesday, May 31, 2006
Publication Date: May 31, 2006
The following is a review, written in 1996, of: Our Stolen Future by Theo Colborn, Dianne Dumanoski and John Peterson Myers with a foreword by Vice President Albert Gore, published by: the Penguin Group (New York: first printing, March 1996). See also ACSH's tenth-anniversary, 2006 update about the book by William London.
Our Stolen Future, a book intended for a consumer audience, purports to be a "wake up call for concerned citizens." It claims that our modem technological society has caused public health havoc for both animals and humans. In particular, it suggests that the release of synthetic chemicals, particularly chlorinated compounds, into the environment is responsible not only for an increase in chronic diseases like cancer, but -- even more ominously -- for an increase in problems stemming from "hormone disruption." It is this emphasis on "hormone disruption" that distinguishes Our Stolen Future from other books of the "toxic terrorism" genre, including the first of the "series," 1963's Silent Spring.
In Our Stolen Future, authors Theo Colborn, Dianne Dumanoski and John Peterson Myers charge:
• that male and female reproductive problems are on the increase;
• that human sperm counts have declined;
• that there has been an increase in immune system abnormalities;
• that there has been an increase in a whole host of "social problems," including child abuse, lower IQ and SAT scores, impairment of motor abilities, crime, mental retardation and more, including the catch-all term "loss of human potential";
• that all of the above may be due to exposure to trace levels of synthetic chemicals in the environment that act as disruptors of estrogen and other hormones;
• that synthetic chemicals are "changing our destiny" and, as the cover suggests, are "threatening our fertility, intelligence and survival."
BACKGROUND OF AUTHORS
The authors of Our Stolen Future are profiled on the book's jacket. First author Theo Colborn is described as "a senior scientist with the World Wildlife Fund and a recognized expert on endocrine-disrupting chemicals. She received her Ph.D. in zoology from the University of Wisconsin at Madison." Second author Dianne Dumanoski is described as a science journalist for the Boston Globe. Third author John Peterson Myers is described as "director of the W. Alton Jones Foundation, a private foundation supporting efforts to protect the global environment and to prevent nuclear war" and as the holder of a Ph.D. in zoology from the University of California, Berkeley.
The book's foreword was written by U.S. Vice President Al Gore.
THE FUNDING OF THE BOOK
The book's authors acknowledge the "initial and constant support of...the W. Alton Jones Foundation, the Joyce Foundation, the C. S. Mott Foundation, the Pew Scholars Program, Pew Charitable Trusts, the Winslow Foundation and the Keland Endowment of the Johnson Foundation." These foundations have records of funding organizations and individuals who take radical environmentalist positions inconsistent with mainstream scientific perspectives on either risk assessment or the public health benefits associated with technology.
The Joyce Foundation has funded the Biotechnology Working Group, which seeks to halt new applications of biotechnology despite the belief of mainstream scientists that biotechnology yields safe and beneficial products. The Pew Trusts have funded Mothers and Others for a Livable Planet, the group founded by Meryl Streep that promoted the scientifically indefensible Alar scare of 1989.
Readers of Our Stolen Future should stop to consider how this book reflects the ideologies of its supporters (see this essay's Appendix).
PRIMARY POINTS MADE IN OUR STOLEN FUTURE AND RESPONSES FROM THE AMERICAN COUNCIL ON SCIENCE AND HEALTH
In Our Stolen Future Colborn, Dumanoski and Myers -- and Vice President Al Gore -- make a number of assertions, charges and suggestions about the existence of health and ecological problems and their alleged causes. In this paper ACSH will single out some of the authors' major points and offer brief responses.
Point #1: "Taken together, the pieces of the scientific patchwork quilt have, despite admitted gaps a cumulative power that is compelling and urgent. The pressing question is whether humans are already suffering damage from half a century of exposure to endocrine-disrupting synthetic chemicals. Have these man-made chemicals already altered individual destinies by scrambling the chemical messages that guide development? Many of those familiar with the scientific case believe the answer is yes" (pp. 170-171).
ACSH Response: This suggestion that humans may already have suffered damage is vague: The authors say nothing here about the doses of the chemicals to which people are exposed. Consumers should not confuse well-documented cases of obvious damage suffered through improper disposal, accidental spills or other misuse of chemicals with the speculated consequences of trace exposures.
The 1976 dioxin accident in Seveso, Italy -- an accident that involved 37,000 people -- is worth noting in this context. Although there were 193 recorded cases of the skin disease chloracne in the wake of the accident, the Institute of Occupational Health at the University of Milan concluded that there were "no increased birth defects due to dioxin exposure" in children born during the period from 1972 to 1982. Our Stolen Future acknowledges this (p. 206) but suggests the possibility of delayed effects on the endocrine, immune and nervous systems.
The alleged hazards of exposures to minute residues of synthetic chemicals have not been conclusively demonstrated. There are many chemicals in the environment -- natural chemicals as well as man-made ones -- that have the ability to alter the endocrine system. But systematic investigation of this area has just begun, and more research is clearly needed.
Dr. Stephen Safe, who holds the post of Distinguished Professor in the department of Veterinary Physiology and Pharmacology at Texas A&M University, provides a perspective on the relative dietary contribution of natural estrogenic chemicals compared to estrogenic industrial compounds. Dr. Safe noted in an article in the peer-reviewed journal Environmental Health Perspectives that the ratio of natural to synthetic "estrogen equivalents" is 40,000,000 to 1. Obviously, Mother Nature's estrogenic compounds will overshadow the potential effect of minute amounts of synthetics. In Dr. Safe's words, "dietary exposure to xenoestrogens [estrogens from outside the body] derived from industrial chemical residues in foods is minimal compared to the daily intake of EQs [estrogen equivalents] from naturally occurring bioflavonoids [particular food substances that have not been shown to be essential nutrients]."
On several pages, in passing, Our Stolen Future mentions the ubiquitous presence of natural estrogenic compounds. But the only extended discussion of the topic in the course of the book's 279 pages is offered on just a few pages (pp. 75-82). There the authors discuss hormone mimics that exist in many grains; in some vegetables, fruits and spices; and in coffee and whiskey. The plants discussed lace themselves with hormonally active substances to suppress the fertility of the animals -- including humans -- that feed on them.
The authors suggest (p. 82) that there is a "greater hazard" from man-made hormone mimics because "they can persist in the body for years, while plant estrogens might be eliminated within a day." But people eat every day -- and restock the natural hormone mimics -- while the traces of the more persistent synthetic mimics in their bodies gradually diminish.
Ironically, even the synthetic villains of the book -- PCBs, "dioxin" (actually poly-chlorodibenzodioxins, or PCDDs), the related polychlorinated dibenzofurans and chloro-fluorocarbons (CFCs) -- are now known to be naturally formed. In fact, since lightning-caused forest fires generate PCDDs and other chlorinated chemicals, it is logical to assume that humans have been exposed to these "synthetic" chemicals since time immemorial -- estrogenic effects included.
Point #2: "The most dramatic and troubling sign that hormone disruptors may already have taken a major toll comes from reports that human male sperm counts have plummeted over the past half century" (p. 172).
ACSH Response: There is no central source of data on sperm counts over the past few decades. Moreover, there is no scientific consensus that sperm counts in developed countries have fallen in recent years. Indeed, some studies report the exact opposite. The methodology of the British Medical Journal report cited in Our Stolen Future as evidence of a decline in sperm counts has received much criticism in the scientific literature. Virtually all studies of sperm health suffer from methodological problems -- problems that include the way subjects are selected and the number of samples taken. Reanalysis of the British Medical Journal report has even indicated increased sperm counts in 48 studies.
But even if there has been a real decline in sperm counts, there is no reason to view the decline as a dramatic or troubling sign that hormone disruptors in the environment are responsible. The authors of Our Stolen Future fail to consider the full range of factors beyond the traces of synthetic chemicals in the environment that might account for the purported decline in sperm counts. These other factors include various drugs, frequent ejaculation, changing styles of underwear, hot baths, recreational hot tub use, saunas, electric blankets, bicycle riding and sexually transmitted diseases and other infections. Anything that raises scrotal temperature can, at least in the short term, lower sperm counts.
Point #3: "Hormone systems do not behave according to the classical close-response model...[T]he notion of the classical dose-response curve, where the biological response to a foreign substance increases as the dose becomes greater" (page 205).
ACSH Response: The authors appear to agree with a long-held ACSH position when they state that "any study that assumes linearity is bound to yield confusing results" (page 205; emphasis added) because the response does not uniformly increase or decrease as the dose increases or decreases. But the Our Stolen Future authors go a step farther in arguing that "High doses may, in fact, produce less of an effect than lower doses. Such dose-response curves are common in hormone systems, where the response will increase with escalating doses at first, but then it typically peaks and decreases as the doses climb still further" (p. 205; emphasis in the original).
The authors note that this is "not fully understood," but they suggest that when cells are subjected to high doses of hormone mimics, they lose receptors and so cannot respond to the foreign substance until the dose declines. This reasoning provides a baffling problem for policymakers: Is the estrogenic effect of small amounts of synthetic chemicals more relevant than the effect of relatively huge amounts of natural dietary estrogens?
Should there be pregnancy warning labels on products containing soy -- which Our Stolen Future acknowledges as containing estrogenic substances -- or are the amounts of estrogens in soy too high to have an effect? The Our Stolen Future authors never make this suggestion in their "Defending Ourselves" chapter, even though they recommend changing one's lifestyle to avoid synthetic chemicals by such means as buying or raising organically grown produce. Moreover, beginning on page 222 the authors propose a research agenda that never explicitly mentions natural "hormone-disrupting chemicals" but instead highlights plastics and other synthetic chemicals.
Considering that the main focus of Chapter 6 is on how chemical pollutants become more concentrated as they move up the food chain, it would appear that the authors themselves have reservations about the claim that high doses produce less of an effect than low doses.
Point #4: According to Vice President Gore's foreword to Our Stolen Future, Rachel Carson's Silent Spring was "an eloquent and urgent warning about the dangers posed by manmade pesticides" and this new book is "in many respects its sequel."
ACSH Response: While Silent Spring did contain a scientifically based call for more carefully controlled use of pesticides, it was for the most part a polemic: a book filled with alarmist statements, fraught with innuendo of what might happen and overflowing with overstatements on risk.
Fredrick J. Stare, Ph.D., M.D, founded the Harvard School of Public Health's Department of Nutrition before collaborating with ACSH. Writing of Carson in Nutrition Reviews, Stare pointed out that "The examples she cites to show the lethal effects of pesticides are all examples of improper use."
According to Norman Borlaug, Ph.D., the "Father of the Green Revolution" in agriculture and a 1970 Nobel Prize recipient before joining ACSH's Board:
The gravest defect of Silent Spring was that it presented a very incomplete, inaccurate and oversimplified picture of the needs of the interrelated, worldwide, complex problems of health, food, fiber, wildlife, recreation and human population. It made no mention of the importance of chemicals such as fertilizer and pesticides for producing and protecting our food and fiber crops. Nor did it mention that by producing more food per unit of cultivated area more land would be available for other uses, including recreation and wildlife.
Point #5: From the foreword by Vice President Gore: "DDT and other chemicals now banned...presented serious health risks."
ACSH Response: When used as intended, DDT did not threaten wildlife or the environment and did not cause human disease. Indeed, DDT prevented more human death and disease than any other man-made chemical in all of recorded history.
MATTERS OF METHODOLOGY AND STYLE
While Our Stolen Future makes some explicit allegations about harm caused by trace chemicals in the environment, it doesn't build its case against chemicals by presenting incontrovertible evidence. Instead, it uses a more subtle approach to convince the reader that the available evidence provides a sufficient basis for major changes in lifestyle and chemical regulation.
The authors note on page 196 that "there are more questions than answers about the impact of hormone-disrupting chemicals on humans...it will never be possible to establish a definitive cause-and-effect connection with contaminants in the environment." Then, on page 197, they sound an alarm based more on ideology than on their accurate characterization of the state of the science: "The danger we face is not simply death and disease. By disrupting hormones and development, these synthetic chemicals may be changing who we become. They may be altering our destinies."
The Stolen Future authors do a nice job of describing inconsistent results in studies in several research areas, including studies investigating a link between DDE (a DDT breakdown product) and breast cancer. But when they do this, they offer the information with an alarming spin, suggesting that if it's not one chemical, it's others that should be of concern.
The book's narrative description of scientist-author Colborn's method for generating her hormone disruption hypothesis and the writing style of the book as a whole can easily seduce unwary reader. Thus, an analysis of just how the authors set out to persuade the reader is in order. A discussion of these aspects of the book and ACSH's analysis of the book's methodology and style follow.
The following excerpts from Our Stolen Future suggest how Colborn developed her ideas about trace environmental pollutants and human disease.
Colborn started with an assumption:
After two months of immersion in the wildlife literature and lengthy conversations with biologists working in the Great Lakes, she now had a strong gut feeling that the proclamations of recovery were premature. She had come to doubt that the lakes, were truly "cleaned up." (p. 14)
She then suggested a possible link:
The Great Lakes region appeared to be a good place to look for links between environmental contaminants and cancer. Colborn planned to scour the scientific literature and health statistics and ferret out any clue. If there was anything there, she was determined to find it. (p. 15)
But even though she was "determined to find it," no link was there:
The high cancer rates she had heard so much about appeared to be more myth than reality. After months of chasing the specter of cancer, she found herself at a dead end. (p. 19)
So Colborn went on what researchers call a "fishing expedition" -- she looked through large amounts of data for patterns to emerge:
Colborn had plowed through more than two thousand scientific papers and five hundred government documents...She wasn't sure where she was headed, but propelled by her curiosity and intuition, she was hot on the trail. She had found so many tantalizing parallels, so many echoes among the studies. Somehow she was certain, it all fit together, because she kept finding unexpected links...Colborn began entering the findings from the studies on a huge ledger sheet. (p. 25)
One page later, the emergence of a pattern is described:
Now the pieces were beginning to fall together...The conclusion was chilling...These were all cases of derailed development, a process guided to a significant extent by hormones. (p. 26)
THE SEDUCTION OF A MYSTERY-DETECTIVE STORY
The prologue of Our Stolen Future describes the book as a collaborative effort of the three authors, with the job of Dumanoski, the one journalist among them, "to take the complex science and transform it into a story that would be accessible to everyone, including those without scientific background." In fact, according to a prepublication copy, the book was written entirely by Dumanoski, apparently with feedback from her scientist coauthors.
Our Stolen Future is written as a "scientific" mystery-detective story with the first and third authors among its scientific detectives. The book depicts its sleuths as bold and persistent mavericks who overcome the resistance of other scientists -- scientists who are presented in the book as closed-minded and wrongheaded about the menace of various synthetic chemicals in the environment. According to the authors of Our Stolen Future, intrepid maverick scientists "had to break with convention to uncover this problem" (p. xii).
COMMENT BY ACSH
The maverick has long been a popular type of American hero (think of Tom Cruise's string of big-screen maverick heroes). Portraying two of the authors of Our Stolen Future as mavericks signals readers to view those authors as heroes -- as characters who, as the convention dictates, must be on to something important.
In the 1990 edition of The Writer's Handbook, mystery author P.D. James said of the genre:
It seems to me very reassuring to read a popular form of fiction which itself has a problem at the heart of it. One which the reader knows will be solved by the end of the book; and not by supernatural means or good luck, but by human intelligence, human courage, and human perseverance. (p. 197)
In its portrayal of two of the authors as heroes in a story format that suggests they will find a neat and logical solution to the central problem by the end of the book, Our Stolen Future uses a clever (and rather subtle) formal device to convince the reader to see the authors' hypotheses as facts. The conventional mystery-detective format dictates that at the end of the story the evidence should point unambiguously to a solution. It does not follow, however, that the evidence presented in Our Stolen Future points to what the book's author-sleuths see as an urgent need "for broad government action to eliminate synthetic chemicals that disrupt hormones."
In this faux mystery-detective story, "detective" Colborn identifies the culprit (synthetic chemicals in the environment) and then searches for a crime. The real-life Colborn engaged in what is known as data-dredging (also called "looking for the pony" in honor of the optimistic but misguided lad who dug his way through a pile of horse manure, all the while saying, "There's gotta be a pony in here somewhere"). Then, after finding no link between pollutants and cancer, Colborn looked for another pattern to emerge and eventually found one.
Colborn's "fishing expedition" is an acceptable method for generating hypotheses for future study. Hormone disruption effects should be investigated, as Our Stolen Future eloquently argues. But surely a distinction between high- and low-dose exposures must clearly be made. The Our Stolen Future authors do not consistently do this.
Through inductive reasoning, the authors conclude that even trace levels of various chemicals are altering our destiny. But just because a conclusion is appealing and makes for a good story doesn't mean it is valid -- especially when it relies on extrapolating beyond the materials reviewed and omitting findings that conflict with the authors' central thesis. A researcher who infers a causal link between exposure to trace levels of synthetic chemicals and a specific health or behavioral problem must consider a number of issues, including: (1) how strong the link appears to be; (2) how consistent the research literature is in pointing to the link; (3) how plausible the link is; and (4) what documentation exists that the problems specified follow exposure to the chemicals in question. Our Stolen Future can be questioned for its handling of each of these issues.
Our Stolen Future offers appealingly packaged speculative hypotheses as a basis for recommending legal and regulatory reforms -- reforms that would dramatically reduce the use of synthetic chemicals. A hypothetical "threat" -- as opposed to a real, established threat -- is a poor target for the authors' wished-for public policy reforms. Colborn and company fail to provide a sufficient factual basis for determining whether the sweeping policy "solutions" suggested by the principles they offer would provide net benefit or harm. The book does little to weigh the benefits these chemicals offer to health and society against their hazards.
Our Stolen Future is presented as a mystery-detective story in which the first author identifies synthetic chemicals as "culprits" and then struggles to find "crimes" to pin on them. The book raises the specter of health complications due to hormone disruption and presents this scenario as a major ongoing crime -- a crime that they want their readers to see as "stealing our future."
Our Stolen Future does not represent a mainstream scientific view of the significance of environmental estrogenic chemicals to human health. The book is an alarmist tract with a polemical style clearly crafted for its political, not scientific, impact. In a manner reminiscent of its inspiration, Silent Spring, Our Stolen Future presents an unbalanced picture of synthetic chemicals, which could easily have been made more balanced by discussion of the chemicals' positive impact on human health and the environment along with their negative impact.
Our Stolen Future calls for burdensome, costly and impractical legal and regulatory reforms to prevent and reduce exposures to synthetic chemicals. ACSH believes that neither new warnings about nor disruptive regulatory initiatives for estrogen equivalents in the environment are called for unless and until research shows the need.
Vice President Gore's foreword to Our Stolen Future unwittingly reveals the book's emphasis on innuendo. According to the foreword:
Our Stolen Future takes up where Carson left off and reviews a large and growing body of scientific evidence linking synthetic chemicals to aberrant sexual development and behavioral and reproductive problems. Although much of the evidence these scientific studies review is for animal populations and ecological effects, there are important implications for human health as well. (p. vi)
The Vice President doesn't explain what implications can legitimately be drawn from available evidence. Furthermore, with his use of words such as "Although scientists are just beginning to explore the implications of this research" (p. vi) and "The scientific case is still emerging, and our understanding of the nature and magnitude of this threat is bound to evolve as research advances" (p. vi), he goes on to reveal that the available evidence is far from conclusive.
In more straightforward terms, the Vice President might have said that conclusions about the health effects of synthetic chemicals in the environment are a matter of speculation. Such terms would not have been nearly as alarming, however.
The Vice President who pledged to reinvent government -- to make it less wasteful of taxpayers' dollars -- has endorsed a book that, based on questionable hypotheses, calls for unreasonably stringent government regulation of synthetic chemicals, and especially chlorinated compounds. The economic and public health impact of implementing policies based on the principles espoused by the authors of Our Stolen Future -- and by Vice President Gore -- should be carefully considered. As ACSH has noted in the past:
If chlorine and its chemical derivatives are banned, the expense to the American people in finding replacements will cost billions of dollars and result in the loss of hundreds of thousands of jobs. The loss of useful products -- plastics, pharmaceuticals, even safe drinking water -- will be a needless tragedy. We will have taken a giant step backward in our standard of living. (From Chlorine and Health, August 1995)
APPENDIX: FUNDING SOURCES FOR OUR STOLEN FUTURE
W. Alton Jones Foundation
--"The goal of the foundation is to protect the earth's life support system from environmental harm and to eliminate the possibility of nuclear warfare." The foundation has identified the following as a field of interest:
Sustainable Society Program -- emphasis on protecting the global environment:
includes climate protection, including work on forests and energy; maintaining biological diversity, particularly through programs that address the root causes of habitat destruction, that anticipate the impacts of human activities, and that find sustainable alternatives; energy as it relates to climate change, air toxics and the depletion of non-renewable resources; toxic contamination of human and natural systems.
Grants include: Environmental Law Alliance Worldwide ($550,000 to establish an international network facilitating access to scientific and legal databases for public-interest lawyers working on environmental protection); Environmental Defense Fund ($200,000 over 2 years to further efforts to decrease the production of greenhouse gases); Pesticide Action Network North America Regional Center ($120,000 over 2 years to expand education efforts and publications on pesticide issues); Public Citizen Foundation ($45,000 to examine the extent of pesticide hazard in ten school districts around the country); Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement ($35,000 for a series of tours of Iowa farms to promote environmentally sound reduced-chemical or chemical-free farming); California Rural Legal Assistance Foundation ($25,000 to educate California's farmworkers on the hazards of pesticides).
The Joyce Foundation
--"Seeks to address issues of critical regional importance including the conservation of natural resources, the improvement of urban educational systems, the development of a prosperous and equitable economic base, the revitalization of the electoral process and the broader acceptance of cultural diversity."
One of the foundation's primary goals is a healthy environment in the Great Lakes region. The vitality of the region depends on finding ways to encourage sustainable use of its soil, water and air. The foundation will support efforts to develop and promote environmental policies that conserve the natural resources of the region and minimize the production of pollution and its transfer across the media of soil, water and air. The foundation has a preference for approaches that prevent environmental contamination or damage from occurring rather than merely containing it or cleaning it up. The foundation is very interested in mechanisms that distribute the costs and benefits of environmental protection equitably and that are economically efficient, and looks for projects and approaches with a strong basis in science.
Grants include: Environmental Defense Fund ($485,000 over 3 years for research, policy and education activities as part of a biotechnology program and for a project to reduce fossil-fuel combustion through market incentives); National Wildlife Federation ($375,000 over 3 years for research, policy and education activities of the National Biotechnology Policy Center); Natural Resources Defense Council ($474,445); Union of Concerned Scientists ($440,000); Public Voice for Food & Health Policy ($90,020); Greenpeace ($20,000 to promote "Eco-Clean," a dry-cleaning method that does not use chemical solvents).
C. S. Mott Foundation
--"Supports community improvement through grants for expressing individuality; expanding personal horizons; citizenship; volunteer action; counteracting root causes of alienation; community identity and stability; community renewal; environmental management; fostering institutional openness; better delivery of services; and training in improving practices of leadership."
Environment -- Aim is to support efforts toward a sustainable global environment with the natural resource base necessary for supporting life systems over the next century and beyond; strengthen the preservation and management of the land and water resources of the Great Lakes region; seek ways to reduce existing and future threats from toxic substances to humans, their community and the natural environment and probe new environmental fields, particularly those offering unusual opportunities for contributions to the state of the art on global and/or national environmental problems.
Grants include: Environmental Defense Fund ($75,000 for the Toxic Chemicals Program, which seeks to assure that chemicals are introduced, used and disposed of in the safest manner possible); Institute for Energy and Environmental Research ($40,000 toward research, analysis and publications focusing on changes needed to reduce rates of global warming and atmospheric ozone depletion); Rodale Institute ($100,000 to "continue support for innovative research and demonstration project in Midwest, aimed at helping farmers make transition from heavy reliance on chemical inputs to more resource-efficient farming system that are more profitable and less damaging to the environment"); Land Stewardship Project ($40,000 to conduct on-farm research through organized networks of Midwestern farmers making a transition to sustainable agriculture, to produce and disseminate educational materials relating to specific sustainable agriculture practices, and to develop educational/consulting services designed to help farmers in Great Lakes states become better mangers of sustainable agriculture operations).
Pew Charitable Trusts
--"In the nineties, the work of the trusts will be aimed at supporting new leadership and creative efforts at all levels of society, to address some of the most critical environmental problems facing the nations and the world; global warming and climactic change, environmental pollution, deforestation and the loss of biodiversity and overpopulation."
According to Jonathan Adler, writing in Environmentalism at the Crossroads (Capital Research Center, Washington, DC, 1995, pp. 88-89):
Although the Pew family was fiercely conservative -- the New Republic labeled Joseph N. Pew Jr. the leading "Roosevelt hater" in 1944 -- the Pew Trusts give little money to support the free-market principles Joseph Pew Jr. espoused. The Pew Trusts are reportedly the largest environmental grant-maker, donating $35 million to green causes in 1993 alone; their leadership in the field extends from conceiving projects to attracting funding from other private foundations. In 1994 Pew Charitable Trust environmental grants included: American Oceans Campaign ($100,000); Environmental Defense Fund ($140,000 over 18 months); Center for Resource Economics ($300,000 over 3 years); Conservation Law Foundation ($600,000 over 2 years); Humane Society of the United States ($120,000 over 2 years); Mothers and Others for A Livable Planet C$245,000 over 2 years); National Wildlife Federation ($240,000).
In 1988, the Foundation established an annual Pew Scholars Program in Conservation and the Environment, which annually awards ten three-year $150,000 fellowships. This program "was established in response to a critical need to identify and support a new generation of scholar-scientists who would apply their special knowledge and skills directly to pressing environmental problems..." Yet, despite this description, Pew fellowships have been given to numerous environmental activists. They include Michael J. Bean and David S. Wilcove of the Environmental Defense Fund, Theodora S. Colborn of the World Wildlife Fund, Johanna H. Wald of the Natural Resources Defense Council, Victor M. Sher of the Sierra Club Legal Defense Fund and Carl Safina of the National Audubon Society. Another Pew Scholar is the radical Reed F. Noss, who established the Wildlands Project -- an effort to "restore" over half the United States to its "natural" condition -- with Earth First! founder Dave Foreman.
Pew Scholar Michael J. Bean, chair of the wildlife program at the Environmental Defense Fund, currently directs the Pew Scholars Program and sits on the advisory committee that evaluates applications. The committee also includes anti-natalist Paul Ehrlich, author of The Population Bomb; sustainable-development guru Herman E. Daly, author of Steady-State Economics; and representatives of the Conservation Law Foundation, World Wildlife Fund, and World Resources Institute.
--Gives to "resident homes for the purpose of assisting women alcoholics"; also gives funding support for ecology and the environment. Member of the Environmental Grantmakers Association. Theresa Heinz is on the Board of Trustees.
Keland Endowment of the Johnson Foundation
--No information available.
See also: ACSH's tenth-anniversary update on Our Stolen Future.