It All Started in the Kitchen
On March 9, 1984, Fred Smith launches the Competitive Enterprise Institute, with his wife Fran Smith and Cesar Conda as the original members of CEI's board of directors. Similar to the Silicon Valley entrepreneurs who launched their companies from their garages, CEI's first offices were in Fred and Fran's kitchen. After the first few months, Fred had spent a few thousand dollars, but received far less in contributions, and was getting worried. Fran said, “But Fred, that was part of your business plan.” “Yes,” he answered, “but now it's actually happened.”
Advocating for Faster Care, and Less Government During the Fight Against AIDS
Activists from the AIDS Coalition to Unleash Power (ACT UP) stage a massive protest at the headquarters of the Food and Drug Administration, calling on the agency to speed up approval of medications to treat HIV/AIDS. CEI sides with the protestors. Fred Smith states: “This is essentially an issue of human freedom pitted against the bureaucratic quest for caution and neat statistics. Morally, it’s not even a close contest. The real question is why Reagan’s appointees, with their alleged devotion to individual rights and deregulation, are on the wrong side of the barricades here.”
Nourishing America through New Technologies
CEI advises the Food and Drug Administration to approve recombinant bovine Somatotropin, a bioengineered growth hormone for dairy cows that boosts milk production. We argue that mandatory labeling of dairy products from cows given rbST is inappropriate, but that the First Amendment allows individual producers the right to label dairy products as produced with or without the use of rbST. The FDA policy ultimately reflects this position.
Working Worldwide for Sensible Climate Policies
In December, three Competitive Enterprise Institute experts travel to Kyoto, Japan to present the free-market position as United Nations delegates debate the global warming treaty that later bears the city’s name. Subsequently, CEI publishes the book "The Costs of Kyoto: Climate Change Policy and Its Implications," edited by then-Director of Environmental Studies Jonathan H. Adler.
Looking Toward the Future with Scientists in Biotechnology
In November, CEI holds a seminar during the tumultuous World Trade Organization Ministerial Meeting in Seattle, Washington (later known as the “Battle in Seattle”) with leading scientists supporting biotechnology.
Protesters and Seattle police officers face off in downtown Seattle in November 1999. (Harley Soltes / The Seattle Times)
Protests against the 1999 World Trade Organization Ministerial Conference, Seattle, Washington, U.S. Image Credit: Seattle Municipal Archives. CCA 2.0 Generic
Dismantling the Myths Surrounding Food Science
Gregory Conko co-authors a book on bioengineered foods with the Hoover Institution’s Dr. Henry I. Miller, "The Frankenfood Myth: How Protest and Politics Threaten the Biotech Revolution," which Barron’s picks as one of its "Best Books of 2004."
Supreme Court Battle Won
The Supreme Court strikes down key elements of the Public Company Accounting Oversight Board’s structure as unconstitutional on separation of powers grounds in Free Enterprise Fund v. PCAOB. A majority of justices agreed that the then-current structure of the PCAOB fails to adhere to constitutional provisions governing removal of important officers. CEI attorneys Hans Bader and Sam Kazman serve as co-counsel for the plaintiff. Then-Circuit Court judge Brett Kavanaugh calls the case “the most important
separation-of-powers case regarding the President’s appointment and removal powers to reach the courts in the last 20 years.”
Setting the Record Straight On Agrochemicals
Senior Fellow Angela Logomasini authors the study “Rachel Was Wrong: Agrochemicals’ Benefit to Human Health and the Environment” on the 50th anniversary of the publication of Carson’s celebrated but wrongheaded book “Silent Spring.” Angela argues that agrochemicals have not caused the “sinister” ills Carson predicted. In fact, it is her anti-chemical legacy that now poses a global risk both to food supply and the environment.
A Vision for Freedom
Kent Lassman (center) joins the Competitive Enterprise Institute as president and CEO, succeeding Lawson Bader (left) and founder Fred L. Smith Jr. All three presidents in CEI's history shared ideas at the first policy summit at the Anderson House in Washington, DC. After nearly eight years on the corner of 19th and L Streets, CEI movies into a newly-renovated space several blocks east at 1310 L Street.
Influencing Administrative Policies through Sound Research
CEI launches a TV ad campaign urging President Trump to withdraw the U.S. from the Paris Climate Agreement, followed by a study by Senior Fellows Marlo Lewis and Christopher C. Horner titled “The Legal and Economic Case against the Paris Climate Treaty.” President Trump later announces that the United States will be withdrawing from the Paris Climate Agreement.
Eliminating Never Needed Regulations to Help with Recovery
In 2020, CEI reacted to the COVID-19 crisis by launching the Never Needed campaign to identify unnecessary or harmful regulations standing in the way of response to or recovery from the pandemic. Since March, policy makers from the President down to the state and local levels have repealed or suspended many rules and regulations to aid the recovery and foster resilience in our economy.
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