American Council on Science and Health

American Council on Science and Health (ACSH)


ACSH is a New-York-based 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization founded in 1978 by Dr. Elizabeth Whelan and Frederick J. Stare. ACSH describes itself as an “education consortium” founded by a group of scientists “who had become concerned that many important public policies related to health and the environment did not have a sound scientific basis.” [1], [2]

ACSH's mission is to “ensure that peer-reviewed mainstream science reaches the public, the media, and the decision-makers who determine public policy […]”  [1]

Although it has taken a position against the dangers of tobacco, describing itself as having advocated for smoking cessation, ACSH has taken an apologetic stance towards most health and environmental products produced by major industries. (See some examples of recent ACSH publications). The Council has received funding from numerous corporations including ExxonMobil, Coca-Cola, Kellogg, General Mills, Pepsico, and the American Beverage Association. [3]

Consumer advocate Ralph Nader once described ACSH as “a consumer front organization for its business backers. It has seized the language and style of the existing consumer organizations, but its real purpose, you might say, is to glove the hand that feeds it.” [4]

According to analysis by PR Watch, “Although the American Council on Science and Health styles itself as a 'scientific' organization, it does not carry out any independent primary research. Instead, it specializes in generating media advisories that criticize or praise scientists depending on whether they agree with ACSH's philosophy. It has mastered the modern media sound byte, issuing a regular stream of news releases with catchy, quotable phrases responding to hot-button environmental issues.” [5]

Dr. Gilbert Ross & Racketeering

Dr. Gilbert Ross, ACSH's Senior Director of Medicine and Public Health, was “convicted of racketeering, mail fraud and conspiracy,” and was “sentenced to 47 months in jail, $40,000 in forfeiture and restitution of $612,855” for defrauding the Medicaid system, reports United Press International.  [6][7], [8]

A judge who sustained the exclusion of Dr. Ross from Medicaid for ten years found Dr. Ross to be a “highly untrustworthy individual.” [9]

Stance on Climate Change

October 1, 1997

“[I]f global climate change occurs as gradually as the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has predicted, policymakers can safely take several decades to plan a response, and scientists will have enough time to develop cost-effective and anti-climate-change strategies. Implementation of current proposals for mitigation measures–measures to stabilize the concentration of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere–would be both costly and ineffective.” [10]

January 1, 1998

“[T]here is no scientific consensus concerning global warming. The climate change predictions are based on computer models that have not been validated and are far from perfect.” [11]

ACSH on Chemicals, DDT, Heavy Metals & Pesticides

February, 2016

“Although this is obviously not a comprehensive report, it is safe to say that DDT’s reputation as a deadly poison is not based on real evidence. In fact, it’s the opposite.” [12]

February, 2013

There is no evidence that BPA [bisphenol A] in consumer products of any type, including cash register receipts, are harmful to health.” [13]

December, 2010

Exposure to mercury “in conventional seafood causes no harm in humans.”  [13]

November, 2001

“The scientific evidence is clear. There has never been a case of ill health linked to the regulated, approved use of pesticides in this country.” [14]

ACSH on Fracking

June, 2016

“Fracking doesn’t pollute water or the air. There have been zero confirmed occurrences of ground water contamination from more than one million wells accessed in the last 50 years,” said past ACSH president Dr. Elizabeth Whelan. “And unlike coal or oil, natural gas obtained from fracking produces almost no smog or asthma-causing particulates. That is helping lower the disturbingly high asthma rates among children in the U.S.” [15]

April, 2013

Fracking “doesn’t pollute water or air.” [16]

ACSH on Secondhand Smoke (2012)

December, 2012

There is no evidence that exposure to secondhand smoke involves heart attacks or cardiac arrest.” [17]


ACSH displays the following statement on funding on their website:

ACSH accepts unrestricted grants and donations on the condition that it is solely responsible for the conduct of its research and the dissemination of its work to the public. The organization does not perform proprietary research, nor does it accept support from individuals or individual corporations for specific research projects.” [18]

According to an archive of their website (as of 2012), ACSH received financial support “from about 300 different sources, including foundations, trade associations, corporations and individuals.” [19]

In 2013, the investigative news magazine Mother Jones released leaked documents on ACSH funding that found “ACSH depends heavily on funding from corporations that have a financial stake in the scientific debates it aims to shape” including major corporations and the tobacco Industry (original documents available here): [20], [21]

  • “According to the ACSH documents, from July 1, 2012, to December 20, 2012, 58 percent of donations to the council came from corporations and large private foundations. ACSH's donors and the potential backers the group has been targeting comprise a who's-who of energy, agriculture, cosmetics, food, soda, chemical, pharmaceutical, and tobacco corporations. ACSH donors in the second half of 2012 included Chevron ($18,500), Coca-Cola ($50,000), the Bristol Myers Squibb Foundation ($15,000), Dr. Pepper/Snapple ($5,000), Bayer Cropscience ($30,000), Procter and Gamble ($6,000), agribusiness giant Syngenta ($22,500), 3M ($30,000), McDonald's ($30,000), and tobacco conglomerate Altria ($25,000). Among the corporations and foundations that ACSH has pursued for financial support since July 2012 are Pepsi, Monsanto, British American Tobacco, DowAgro, ExxonMobil Foundation, Phillip Morris International, Reynolds American, the Koch family-controlled Claude R. Lambe Foundation, the Dow-linked Gerstacker Foundation, the Bradley Foundation, and the Searle Freedom Trust.”[20]
  • ACSH planned to receive a total of $338,200 from tobacco companies between July 2012 and June 2013. Reynolds American and Phillip Morris International were each listed as expected to give $100,000 in 2013, which would make them the two largest individual donations listed in the ACSH documents.” [20]

SourceWatch reports that ACSH stopped recording their funding sources early in the 1990s.  The following values are based the Conservative Transparency Project as well as from publicly available 990 forms. [22], [23]

See the attached spreadsheet for details on ACSH funding by year (.xlsx).

Donor Total
John M. Olin Foundation $915,500
F.M. Kirby Foundation $672,000
ExxonMobil Foundation $665,000
DonorsTrust $567,574
The Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation $300,000
Sarah Scaife Foundation $280,000
Earhart Foundation $212,000
Exxon Mobil $140,000
PhRMA $100,000
Searle Freedom Trust $100,000
Claude R. Lambe Charitable Foundation $95,000
Donors Capital Fund $89,500
The Randolph Foundation $73,920
Dodge Jones Foundation $67,500
Schwab Charitable Fund $45,500
American Petroleum Institute $37,500
The Samuel Roberts Noble Foundation $27,500
Legett Foundation $25,500
Kickapoo Springs Foundation $24,000
Armstrong Foundation $15,000
JM Foundation $15,000
David H. Koch Charitable Foundation $6,000
The Opportunity Foundation $5,500
Gilder Foundation $5,000
Tepper Family Foundation $2,050
Eric Javits Family Foundation $1,500
John William Pope Foundation $1,000
National Philanthropic Trust $1,000
Grand Total $4,490,044

Koch Funding

ACSH received at least $101,000 in combined donations from Koch-related foundations between 1986 and 2009.  Note that values prior to 2000 were not available for verification. [24]

Year Claude R. Lambe Charitable Foundation David H. Koch Charitable Foundation Grand Total
1986 $5,000 $5,000
1987 $1,000 $1,000
2005 $45,000 $45,000
2006 $30,000 $30,000
2008 $50,000 $50,000
2009 -$30,000 $-30,000
Grand Total $95,000 $6,000 $101,000

Exxon Funding

According to ExxonSecrets, ACSH has received $165,000 from ExxonMobil since 1998. [25]

Early Funders (1984)

ACSH's early corporate supporters included the following: [26]

ALCOA Foundation Kraft General Foods (now part of Altria Group)
Allied Signals Foundation, Inc. Licensed Beverage Information Council
American Cyanamid Company Thomas J. Lipton Foundation, Inc.
American Meat Institute M&M Mars
Amoco Foundation, Inc. Merck Company Foundation
Anheuser-Busch Foundation Mobil Foundation, Inc.
Archer Daniels Midland Company Monsanto Fund
Ashland Oil Foundation National Agricultural Chemicals Association
Boise Cascade Corporation National Dairy Council
Bristol-Myers Fund, Inc. National Soft Drink Association
Burger King Corporation National Starch and Chemical Foundation
Campbell Soup Company Nestlé
Carnation Company Samuel Roberts Nobel Foundation, Inc.
Chevron Environmental Health Center Northwood Institute
Ciba-Geigy Corporation NutraSweet Company
Coca-Cola Company John M. Olin Foundation Inc.
Consolidated Edison Oscar Mayer Foods
Cooper Industries Foundation Pepsico Foundation Inc. (Pepsi-Cola)
Adolph Coors Foundation Pfizer Inc.
Crystal Trust Pillsbury Company
Shelby Cullum Davis Foundation PPG Industries Foundation
Dow Chemical Canada, Inc. Procter & Gamble Fund
Dow Corning Corporation Ralston Purina
E.I. Du Pont de Nemours & Company Rohm & Haas Company
Ethyl Corporation Salt Institute
Exxon Corporation Sarah Scaife Foundation, Inc.
FMC Foundation Schultz Foundation
Ford Motor Company Fund G.D. Searle Charitable Trust
Frito-Lay Joseph E. Seagrams & Sons, Inc.
General Electric Foundation Shell Oil Company Foundation
General Mills, Inc. Stare Fund
General Motors Foundation Starr Foundation
Gerber Products Company Sterling Drug, Inc.
Rollin M. Gerstacker Foundation Stouffer Company
Hershey Foods Corporation Fund Stroh Brewery Company
Heublein, Inc. Sugar Association, Inc.
ICI Americas Inc. Sun Company, Inc.
Johnson & Johnson Syntex Corporation
Johnson's Wax Fund, Inc. Union Carbide Corporation
Kellogg Company Uniroyal Chemical Co.
Ester A. and Joseph Klingenstein Fund, Inc. USX Corp.
David H. Koch Charitable Foundation Warner-Lambert Foundation
Kraft Foundation Wine Growers of California

990 Forms

Annual Reports

Key People

Board of Trustees (2016)

As of February, 2016, ACSH listed the following people on their “Board of Trustees”: [6]

  • Nigel Bark (Chairman)
  • Steven Modzelewski (Vice Chairman)
  • James E. Enstrom
  • Jack C. Fisher
  • Thom Golab
  • Herbert I. London
  • Fred L. Smith Jr.
  • Daniel T. Stein
  • Stephen T. Whelan

Staff (2016)

As of February, 2016, ACSH listed the following staff members on their website: [6]

  • Cheryl E. Martin — Director of Development
  • Jonathan (Josh) Bloom — Director of Chemical and Pharmaceutical Sciences
  • Lila Abassi — Director of Medicine
  • Hank Campbell — President
  • Ruth Kava — Senior Nutrition Fellow
  • Gilbert Ross — Senior Director of Medicine and Public Health
  • Erik Lief (Media Contact) — Communications
  • Ana Marcelo (Media Contact) — Executive Assistant to the President

Founders Circle

As of February, 2016, ACSH listed the following individuals in their “Founders Circle: [6]

  • Elizabeth M. Whelan (1943 - 2014)— Founder of the American Council on Science and Health
  • Fredrick J. Stare (1910 - 2002) — Founder, Harvard Department of Nutrition
  • Norman E. Borlaug (1914 - 2009) — Father of the “Green Revolution,” Nobel Laureate

Past Staff (2011)

As of December, 2011, the following additional staff were also listed on the ACSH Website: [27]

  • Judith A. D'Agostino — Executive Assistant to the President.
  • Margareta Becker — Accountant.
  • Jody Manley — Director of Development and Media.
  • William McCain — Development Assistant.
  • Alyssa Pelish — Director of Publications.
  • Lana Spivak — Director of Public Health.

Past Scientific Advisors (2011)

As of December, 2011, the following Scientific Advisors were also listed on the ACSH Website: [28]

Other People (2011)

Source: [29]


February, 2016

The American Council on Science and Health (ACSH) advocates for the use of DDT as a solution to the outbreak of the Zika virus:

“Perhaps there is one legitimate solution: DDT. While it is not perfect (some resistance to the chemical may have emerged in the past), it may represent the best chance to hold this epidemic at least partly in check,” writes ACSH's Senior Director of Medicine and Health, Gilbert Ross. [30]

September, 2015

ACSH's Dr. Gil Ross praised the “CAS Speakers Series” in a blog post titled “Billion Dollar Green Campaigns Kill Poor Children.” Ross said the CAS series was created “to use facts to counter the perceived tendency of college students to follow the environmentalist mantra without too much thought … the concept of being afraid of genetic engineering is akin to looking under the bed for hobgoblins such as Godzilla, awakened by the atomic tests of the Cold War.” [31]

November 8, 2005

The American Council on Science and Health (ACSH) awarded author Michael Crichton its 2005 “Sound Science Prize” for “his defense of sound scientific principles and critiques of junk science” in his novel State of Fear. [32]

James Hansen, who had been quoted in the book, critiqued Crichton's use of the “scientific method,” and said that the book's primary purpose was to “
discredit concerns about global warming.” [33]

“Crichton writes fiction and seems to make up things as he goes along. He doesn’t seem to have the foggiest notion about the science that he writes about. Perhaps that is o.k. for a science fiction writer,” Hansen writes. [33]

State of Fear was further critiqued by the scientists at RealClimate who also point out how James Hansen had been quoted largely out of context in the book. [34]

Chris Mooney, who examined Crichton's footnotes in an article in the Boston Globe, interviewed climatologist Douglas Hardy who said that Crichton was distorting his work:

Crichton is doing ''what I perceive the denialists always to do,'' says Hardy. ''And that is to take things out of context, or take elements of reality and twist them a little bit, or combine them with other elements of reality to support their desired outcome.'' [35]

March 27, 2009

The American Council on Science and Health released a report titled “Jerry M. Cuttler and Myron Pollycove. [36

ACSH claims the report “dispels some of the most common fears about nuclear energy” and describes nuclear as a “safe and highly efficient source of energy” [37]

October 14, 1997

Published a position paper entitled “Global Climate Change and Human Health” (PDF). The paper presents the following position statement on the health effects of projected climate change:

  • “Nearly all of the potential adverse health effects of projected climate change are significant, real-life problems that have long persisted under stable climatic conditions. Bolstering efforts to eliminate or alleviate such problems would both decrease the current incidence of premature death and facilitate dealing with the health risks of any climate change that might occur.”
  • “Policies that weaken economies tend to weaken public health programs. Thus, it is likely that implementation of such policies would (a) increase the risk of premature death and (b) exacerbate any adverse health effects of future climate change.” [10]

ACSH suggests we avoid implementing policies that would “impair economies”:

“The optimal approach to dealing with prospect of climate change would (a) include improvement of health infrastructures (especially in developing countries) and (b) exclude any measures that would impair economies and limit public health resources.”  [10]

The report contends that implementing proposals designed to mitigate climate change would “significantly weaken the global economic system” and that the optimal approach to dealing with the prospect of adverse climate-change–related health effects would be largely adaptational.“ [10]

ACSH Contact & Location

As of June 2016, the American Council on Science and Health (ACSH) listed the following contact information on its website: [38]

American Council on Science and Health (ACSH)
110 East 42nd Street, Suite 1300, New York, NY 10017
212-362-7044 | Toll Free: 866-905-2694 | Fax: 212-362-4919
e-mail: [email protected]

Related Organizations

Note that of the Organizations listed as funders of ACSH in 1984 many reduced or stopped their funding when ACSH adopted its position against tobacco.

According to ACSH, “ACSH's warnings about cigarette smoking resulted in the loss of substantial contributions from food manufacturers that had been acquired by tobacco companies. A metal pipe manufacturer withdrew its support after ACSH defended the safety of the proper use of plastic pipes.” [19]


  1. About the American Council on Science and Health,” ACSH. Archived February 11, 2016. WebCite URL

  2. ACSH challenges animal tests as cancer indicator in humans,” ACSH, April 11, 2005. Archived February 11, 2016. WebCite URL

  3. Publications,” ACSH. Archived February 1, 2016.

  4. Mark Megalli, Andy Friedman. Masks of Deception: Corporate Front Groups in America. (Essential Information), 1991, p. 23.

  5. ACSH Fears Nothing but Fear Itself” (PDF)PR Watch, Fourth Quarter 1998, Volume 5, No. 4. Archived February 11, 2016. Archived .pdf on file at DeSmogBlog.

  6. Meet the Team,” ACSH. Archived February 16, 2016. WebCite

  7. RE: In the Matter of Gilbert Ross, M.D.” (PDF - Mail Correspondence), State of New York Department of Health, March 1, 1995. Archived February 19, 2016. Archived .pdf on file at DeSmogBlog. 

  8. Martin Donohoe. “Corporate front groups and the abuse of science: The American Council on Science and Health (ACSH),” Spinwatch, June 25, 2010. Archived February 19, 2016. WebCite URL

  9. Department of Health and Human Services, Departmental Appeals Board, Civil Remedies Division, In the Cases of Gilbert Ross, M.D. and Deborah Williams M.D., Petitioners, v. The Inspector General” (PDF), June 16, 1997. Docket Nos. C-94-368 and C-94-369. Decision No. CR478Retrieved from U.S. Department of Health & Human Services. Archived February 19, 2016. Archived .pdf on file at DeSmogBlog.

  10. “Global Climate Change and Human Health” (PDF); A position paper by the American Council on Science an Health. Archived August 15, 2000 at Archived .pdf on file at DeSmogBlog.

  11. Elizabeth Whelan. “'Global Warming’'Not Health Threat,” PRI Review, January 1, 1998. Archived February 22, 2016. WebCite URL

  12. Josh Bloom. “How Poisonous is DDT?ACSH, February 11, 2016. Archived February 11, 2016. WebCite URL

  13. The Top 10 Unfounded Health Scares of 2012,” American Council on Science and Health, February 22, 2013. Archived February 22, 2016. WebCite URL

  14. TASSC: The Advancement of Sound Science Coalition,” p. 9. Legacy Tobacco Documents Library, University of California, San Francisco. November 21, 2001. Bates No. 2048294227-2048294237. Archived .pdf on file at DeSmogBlog. 

  15. FRACKING: A SAFE AND EFFICIENT PATH TO ENERGY INDEPENDENCE,” ACSH, June 13, 2014. Archived June 19, 2016. WebCite URL

  16. Elizabeth Whelan. “Fracking Doesn’t Pose Health Risks,” The Daily Caller, April 29, 2013. Archived February 22, 2016. WebCite URL

  17. Richard Craver. “The Effects of the Smoking Ban,” Winston-Salem Journal, December 12, 2012. Archived .pdf on file at DeSmogBlog. WebCite URL 

  18. Fund the Facts: How you can support science and health research,” ACSH. Archived February 12, 2016. WebCite URL:

  19. FAQ,” American Council on Science and Health. Archived February 3, 2012. Archived .pdf on file at DeSmogBlog.

  20. Andy Kroll and Jeremy Schulman. “Leaked Documents Reveal the Secret Finances of a Pro-Industry Science Group,” Mother Jones, October 28, 2013. Archived February 19, 2016. WebCite URL

  21. American Council on Science and Health Financial Summary,” Mother Jones. Archived .pdf documents on file at DeSmogBlog.

  22. American Council on Science and Health,” SourceWatch. Accessed February 11, 2016.

  23. American Council on Science and Health,” Conservative Transparency. Data retrieved June 29, 2016.

  24. American Council on Science and Health (ACSH): Koch Industries Climate Denial Front Group,” Greenpeace USA. Archived March 14, 2017. URL

  25. ExxonSecrets Factsheet: American Council on Science and Health.

  26. American Council on Science and Health Seventh Annual Report,” American Council On Science and Health,  July 1, 1984. Retrieved from Truth Tobacco Industry Documents library. Archived .pdf on file at DeSmogBlog.

  27. ACSH Staff,” American Council on Science and Health. Archived November 15, 2011. Archived .pdf on file at DeSmogBlog.

  28. Scientific Advisors,” American Council on Science and Health. Archived November 9, 2011. Archived .pdf on file at DeSmogBlog.

  29. Sidney Shindell, M.D., LL.B., and Jack Raso, M.S., R.D. “the american council on science and health presents: global climate change and human health” (PDF). Archived August 15, 2000 at Archived .pdf on file at DeSmogBlog.

  30. Gilbert Ross. “Stopping Zika Virus in Its Tracks, by Unleashing DDT,” American Council on Science and Health, February 2, 2016. Archived February 19, 2016. WebCite URL 

  31. Gil Ross. “Billion Dollar Green Campaigns Kill Poor Children,” Science 2.0, September 28, 2015. Archived February 19, 2016. WebCite URl:

  32. (Press Release) “Michael Crichton Accepts Award from ACSH,” American Council on Science and Health, November 8, 2005. Archived May 8, 2010. Archived .pdf on file at DeSmogBlog.

  33. James Hansen. “Michael Crichton’s 'Scientific Method'” (PDF), Retrieved from Columbia University, 2005. Archived February 19, 2016. Archived .pdf on file at DeSmogBlog.

  34. Michael Crichton’s State of Confusion,” RealClimate, December 13, 2004.

  35. Chris Mooney. “Checking Crichton's footnotes” (Page 2), The Boston Globe, February 6, 2005. Archived March 22, 2005. Archived .pdf on file at DeSmogBlog.

  36. Nuclear Energy and Health, And the Benefits of Low-Dose Radiation Hormesis” (PDF), Dose-Response, 7:52-89, 2009. Accessed February 11, 2016 from Scribd. Archived .pdf on file at DeSmogBlog.

  37. Report: Time to Lose Irrational Fear of Nukes,” ACSH, March 27, 2009. Archived February 11, 2016. WebCite URL

  38. Contact ACSH,” American Council on Science and Health. Archived June 29, 2016. WebCite URL

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