ngin - Norfolk Genetic Information Network
12 June 2002


1. Guardian letter from Gary Bivings
2. Comment on Gary Bivings' letter
3. AET & Bivings


1. Bivings: we condemn online vandalism

The Guardian, Letters
Wednesday June 12, 2002,3604,735781,00.html

The allegations made against the Bivings Group in two recent columns (The fake persuaders, May 14, and Corporate phantoms, May 29) are completely untrue.

The "fake persuaders" mentioned in the articles - Mary Murphy and Andura Smetacek - are not employees or contractors or aliases of employees or contractors of the Bivings Group. In fact, the Bivings Group has no knowledge of either Mary Murphy or Andura Smetacek.

The article says that someone in our office appears to have "hacking skills" and accuses "biotech lobbyists" of launching "hacker" attacks. The Bivings Group does not hack into servers on behalf of anyone. As a victim of hacking attacks in the past, we strongly condemn anyone who resorts to this sort of online vandalism. We are aware of no "biotech lobbyists" engaged in such activities.

The articles claims that the Bivings Group is the author of several websites and "bogus citizens' groups" which have been coordinating campaigns against environmentalists, including a fake scientific institute, Centre for Food and Agricultural Research. We deny that. The article also says that we set up the Alliance for Environmental Technology (AET). The Bivings Group has long worked for AET, which is a legitimate trade association representing the pulp and paper industry. The AET website clearly discloses who funds the organisation. The Bivings Group has no involvement with Centre for Food and Agricultural Research and AgBioWorld.

F Gary Bivings
President, Bivings Group, Washington, DC


2. Comment on Gary Bivings' letter

In the letter above from Gary Bivings, the head of an internet PR agency contracted to Monsanto, it is stated (para 2) that "the Bivings Group has no knowledge of either Mary Murphy or Andura Smetacek" - the eómail aliases used to attack Berkeley scientist Ignacio Chapela and to smear other Monsanto's critics on the net.

Anyone can check the veracity of Gary Bivings' claim by going to the following url:

Here you will find a message posted by 'Mary Murphy' on June 9, 2000 from her usual hotmail address but with the additional identifying details: ( is a domain owned by The Bivings Group, who were formerly known as Bivings Woodell Inc.

In fact, Bivings' head of online PR has acknowledged to Newsnight, as reported in its programme last Friday, that one of the e-mails in question was sent by someone "working for Bivings" or "clients using our services" [programme transcript at]

As we have previously noted, by including the phrase "clients using our services" in the admission, Bivings appears to be directly implicating the client most directly relevant to the e-mails in question - Monsanto.

Gary Bivings' statement in his lettr to The Guardian that "The Bivings Group has no involvement with the Centre for Food and Agricultural Research and AgBioWorld" is also open to question. The website is registered as follows:

Domain Name: CFFAR.ORG
Administrative Contact, Billing Contact:

The e-mail address <etheodorou@EARTHLINK.NET> is clearly different to the contact name. At the following url:, the name "emmanuel theodorou" is listed with other early signatories to a petition supporting agbiotech launched by Prof CS Prakash who edits the AgBioView list. Interestingly, Theodorou's name appears to have been omitted from the current version of the petition.

The following information is provided by E Theodorou:

NAME: emmanuel theodorou
POSITION: director of associations
ORGANIZATION: bivings woodell, Inc.
DEPARTMENT: advocacy and outreach

There is even less doubt about Bivings' connection with AgBioWorld. We received an error message while searching the AgBioView archive which showed it was trying to connect to a database held on Biving's main 'apollo' server. The archive has subsequently been closed down and it is reasonable to speculate as to the reason for that.

A report on AgBioWorld's website design which we commissioned concluded that it appeared to have a common author with Bivings' Alliance for Environmental Technology (AET) website.

Gary Bivings also complains in his letter that "The AET website clearly discloses who funds the organisation". George Monbiot, however, never said otherwise. What he did say was that 'the Alliance for Environmental Technology" sounded like a citizens' group which it certainly isn't. It's an international association of chemical manufacturers seeking to promote the use of chlorine dioxide in the paper industry - a highly controversial process as paper bleached with chlorine dioxide emits dioxin and other organochlorides into air and water. (See item below for more on AET)

The evidence for Bivings' involvement in an internet dirty tricks campaign has been sufficient to warrant mention not only in articles in a whole series of publications on both sides of the Atlantic but even on the BBC's flagship news and current affairs programme, Newsnight.

Following the limited admission of involvement made by Bivings to Newsnight, The Bivings Group must now stop its unconvincing denials and start to come clean about the work it has been doing for Monsanto. Still more importantly, Monsanto, which claims to abide by watchwords such as "transparency", "integrity" and "respect", must now apologise for what has been going on - not least to all the individuals and organisations that this disgusting campaign has sought to brand as terrorists or otherwise discredit and attack.


AET & Bivings

The following is taken from a listserv for those concerned about dioxin pollution. The "AET", which is referred to, is the Alliance for Environmental Technology. According to the Holmes website on PR companies, AET was founded by F Gary Bivings, the co-founder and President of Bivings Woodell, Inc.

Subject: From bivwood's web site client list...
Date: Thu, 26 Sep 1996 22:32:57 -0400 (EDT)

Here is who sent out the email storm (over 120 messages) to about 50 or so people who frequently post messages on dioxin-l; apparently, Bivings Woodell keeps a list of anti-dioxin/anti-pollution activists who post here.

User "AET" (anybody know any industry/PR goons with those initials) apparently mistakenly sent all of that email he/she has been tracking on dioxin-l to a list that Bivings Woodell, Inc (Wash, DC) has been keeping on us (including yours truly), instead of sending it internally within Bivings.

I'll bet you that "AET" had a few stiff drinks tonight....

This is the consumate "Internet gaffe" of the year!!!

Note the nifty phony Internet address ""

Also, check out how user AET used a numerical description of their domain site instead of the designator ""

Also, check out the messages with ";;;;;;;;;;;;;" in the subject line..... apparently some Bivings employees are into pornsites.

Arn't you glad they sent that nifty pornography information to you.... and let everyone know that you were getting it.

For those on dioxin-l who didn't get the email storm, count yourselves as lucky!!!!

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