Richard Tren

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Richard Tren is Director of the Washington D.C.-based pro-DDT lobby group, Africa Fighting Malaria (AFM).[1]. He is also an adjunct fellow with the Competitive Enterprise Institute. [1]A brief biographical note from 2002 described him as being "instrumental in founding" AFM and that he was an "an independent environmental economist based in Johannesburg" who had "been researching the issue of water in South Africa, a water-poor country."[2] A 2004 biographical note stated that he was both a director of AFM and a "frelance writer."[3] He is a council member of the Free Market Foundation, a South African think tank.[4] This is a position he has held since at least 2005.[5]

Between 2002 and the end of 2003 he was also a columnist for Tech Central Station, a conservative website established by James Glassman and published by the PR firm, the DCI Group. Tren's columns flagged opposition his to the Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants[6], the Kyoto Protocol on global warming[6] and opposition to the use developing countries governments issuing compulsory licences to allow the use of generic drugs as an alternative to expensive patented drugs.[7][8] Other columns have been in support of free trade policies and critical of groups, such as Oxfam, which support fair trade policies.[9] He has also had opinion columns published in the Wall Street Journal supporting the brand-name drug companies[10][11] and Business Day in South Africa, the Business Standard in India.

He also also co-authored books critical of World Bank opposition to the tobacco industry in developing countries[12], restrictions on the use of insecticide such as DDT in malaria control[13] and in support of privatized water supply.[14]

While Tren has argued that malaria requires urgent action, he has also sought to downplay concern that global warming will extend the range of malarial mosquitoes. In October 2008 Tren was a presenter at the Liberty Institute Conference on Climate Change in New Delhi in parallel with the eighth meeting of member parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. In its 2003 annual report, AFM wrote that the seminar was held in "order to explain the uncertainties surrounding the climate change science and to highlight that there is no simple link between climate change and infectious diseases. Historical evidence suggests that it is mankind’s activities that have by far the greatest effect on diseases such as malaria and dengue fever. The relationship between climate and these vector borne diseases is highly complex and the claims that higher temperatures and rainfall will increase the incidence of vector borne diseases are simplistic and unhelpful."[15]


A biographical note at the end of a report he co-authored with Roger Bate in 2001 states that "he was born and grew up in South Africa, but received most of his higher education in the UK. After reading economics at St. Andrews University in Scotland he went on to study at L’Universita Luigi Bocconi in Milan in 1993, and then worked in the financial sector in London for two years. Mr. Tren obtained his MSc in Environmental and Resource Economics from University College London and then returned to South Africa, where he has since worked on a wide range of research projects. Mr. Tren has worked on several water-resource projects for research institutions and for the South African government. He has recently become a research fellow of the Environment Unit at the Institute of Economic Affairs.[16] Another version of the report published in the same year featured a slightly different version of his biographical note, stating that he "works as a consultant and has completed research projects for, among others, the Institute of Economic Affairs (where he is a Fellow), the South African government and numerous private companies and organisations."[17]

In 1999 Tren co-authored a report, published by the Institute of Economic Affairs, which was critical of a World Bank report supporting tobacco control. The one sentence biographical note at the front of the report stated that Tren was from "RJT Environmental Economics" and was a "consultant to SA Government, South Africa."[18] The report was cited approvingly in an internal British American Tobacco set of background notes. Referring to the World Bank report, the BAT notes stated that it "has already been criticised by the renowned academics and economists Professor Deepak Lal, Richard Tren and Hugh High in a the UK's Institute of Economic Affairs document, Smoked Out: Anti-Tobacco Activism at the World Bank."[19]

A biographical note states that he "has been the Director of AFM since its inception in 2000, and in 2006 was appointed as the chairman of the AFM board. Richard is South African, though he moved to AFM's Washington, DC office in January 2006. He has published widely on the political economy of malaria control as well as on other topics of healthcare and development."[20]

The biographical note appended to a pro-DDT column by Tren, originally published by the United Press International in November 2002, states that "Mr Tren has a close association with G&G and G&G plays a role in Africa Fighting Malaria."[21]


In the period between 2003 and 2005, despite all the columns written by Tren as a director of AFM, the IRS returns indicate that he was paid nothing. However, with Tren's move to Washington D.C in 2006. he took on the role of being both a board member and a director and was paid $59,167.[22] As Director and Chairman in 2007, Tren was paid $82,916.[23]


  • "Reducing the power of government to allocate resources by ensuring that individuals and corporations have full control over their own resources appears to be the obvious solution to so many economic and social problems in South Africa, not least of which is water allocation. Recognising the rights of water users to secure title over their resource, and allowing them to trade that resource, could be the single most important step that government could take to ensure efficient and equitable water use." -- Roger Bate & Richard Tren February 2002.[24]
  • "Generic drugs can certainly play an important role in any health system, but if AIDS patients in 10 years time are going to have any effective drugs (generic or otherwise), then the research-based drug companies will have to be encouraged to develop new treatments and vaccines. This means respecting intellectual property and providing a more conducive regulatory environment. It also means encouraging economic growth in other ways--and a good way to start is to create a culture that protects property rights, starting with those of the poor--so that a market for their products actually develops in Africa, India and China. It does not mean imposing price restrictions or threatening compulsory licensing--such actions will only act as disincentives to the development and marketing of new drugs." -- Richard Tren, Africa Fighting Malaria, July 2002.[25]
  • "Addressing health needs in poor countries like India, Zimbabwe and Botswana is no easy task -- and it certainly will not be helped by undermining patents under the guise of protecting public health. The best way of ensuring improved health and health-care systems in developing countries would be for them to grow wealthy. Wealth creation, technology transfers and the confidence of investors, however, will be undermined by moves to weaken the IP regime, which will simply keep countries poor and unhealthy longer." -- Barun Mitra, Liberty Institute, India and Richard Tren, Africa Fighting Malaria, September 2002.[26]
  • "Public-private partnerships have many advantages, but when governments interfere with pricing and profitability, it results in a distortion of the market. This stops the private sector from building sustainable water systems and creating wealth. While there might be a public-health benefit from clean water and sanitation, general government subsidies benefit the wealthy at the expense of the poor, who end up paying exorbitant prices for water that is trucked into townships and villages. A preferred alternative to subsidies might be to give poor people vouchers for water and sanitation services. If governments are serious about providing clean water, they should vest more control in water users and suppliers through property rights, eliminate harmful water subsidies and remove power from bureaucrats who hand out favors." -- Richard Tren and Kendra Okonski, March 2003.[27]
  • "The climate change controllers are proposing a restrictive agenda that undermines liberty and centralises control over energy use and economies in general. It is understandable that this is being championed by leftist environmental groups; through the Kyoto Protocol they can achieve the type of socialist planned economy that so disastrously failed mankind and harmed the environments of the countries that previously centralised all decision-making. In advocating the control of earth’s climate they show themselves to be motivated by the desire to control rather than by any genuine concern for mankind or the natural environment. -- Richard Tren, December 2003. 9This is from a review of Kendra Okonski's book, Adapt or Die – the science, politics and economics of climate change, Profile Books, 2003.[28]
  • "ITNs [insecticide treated bed nets] can be effective, but promoting them to the exclusion of IRS [indoor residual spraying with pesticides such as DDT] is dangerous and costs lives. ITNs do not provide the same kind of protection that IRS does." -- Richard Tren, April 2004.[29]

Books and Reports by Tren

Contact Details

Richard Tren
1050 17th St NW # 520
Washington, DC 20036
Tel: +1 202 223 3298
Fax: +1 202 223 3646

Articles and Resources

Related SourceWatch Resources


  1. "Richard Tren", LinkedIn, accessed January 2009.
  2. Richard Tren, "The Cost of Free Water", undated, accessed May 2005.
  3. "Beware the bitter pill that may destroy all other pills", Free Market Foundation, February 10, 2004.
  4. Free Market Foundation, "Patrons, Council, Advisors & Committees: Council", Free Market Foundation website, accessed January 2009.
  5. Richard Tren, "Abolish exchange controls now", Free Market Foundation, November 15, 2005.
  6. 6.0 6.1 Richard Tren, "Deathly Bans", Tech Central Station, April 29, 2002.
  7. Richard Tren, "Doctors Without Principles," Tech Central Station, June 13, 2002.
  8. Richard Tren, "Doctors Without Principles," Tech Central Station, June 13, 2002.
  9. Richard Tren, "Fair Trade? For Whom?", Tech Central Station, September 11, 2003.
  10. Richard Tren, "Free the Industry, Not the Drugs", Wall Street Journal, July 11, 2002.
  11. Barun Mitra and Richard Tren, "Protecting Patents, Saving Lives", Commentary, Wall Street Journal, September 26, 2002.
  12. Richard Tren and Hugh High, Smoked Out: Anti-Tobacco Activism at the World Bank: A review of: Curbing the Epidemic: Governments and the Economics of Tobacco Control, World Bank, 1999, 1999.
  13. "Richard Tren", Tech Central Station, September 2003. (This is not only available in the Internet Archive).
  14. Roger Bate and Richard Tren, The Cost of Free Water: The Global Problem of Water Misallocation and the Case of South Africa, Free Market Foundation, February 2002.
  15. Africa Fighting Malaria, "Africa Fighting Malaria Annual Report", January 2003, page 5.
  16. Roger Bate and Richard Tren, When Politics Kills: Malaria and the DDT Story, 2001, Competitive Enterprise Institute, page 52. (Pdf)
  17. Richard Tren and Roger Bate, Malaria and the DDT Story, Institute of Economic Affairs, 2001, page 8.
  18. Richard Tren and Hugh High, Smoked Out: Anti-Tobacco Activism at the World Bank: A review of: Curbing the Epidemic: Governments and the Economics of Tobacco Control, World Bank, 1999, 1999.
  19. WHO Framnework Convention on Tobacco Control: Q&As (not for external publication)", British American Tobacco, March 9, 2000. Bates Number 325035614-325035620.
  20. "Board & Staff", Africa Fighting Malaria website, accessed January 2009.
  21. Richard Tren, "The Malaria Fight Continues", November 11, 2002.
  22. Africa Fighting Malaria, Form 990: 2006", Guidestar, page 5.
  23. Africa Fighting Malaria, Form 990: 2007", Guidestar, page 5.
  24. Roger Bate & Richard Tren, "Trading in water will lead to its efficient use and most equitable allocation", Free Market Foundation (South Africa), February 2002.
  25. Richard Tren, "Free the Industry, Not the Drugs", Wall Street Journal, July 11, 2002.
  26. Barun Mitra and Richard Tren, "Protecting Patents, Saving Lives", Commentary, Wall Street Journal, September 26, 2002.
  27. Richard Tren and Kendra Okonski, "How to Solve the Water Conflict", Wall Street Journal, March 27, 2003.
  28. Richard Tren, "Silly season heats up", Free Market Foundation, December 23, 2003.
  29. Richard Tren, "Where DDT Works," Tech Central Station, April 26, 2004.

External links

Articles by Richard Tren


  • Richard Tren, "Ending Patents Not the Cure", Business Day, (South Africa), March 5, 2001.
  • Richard Tren, "We need greater patent protection and greater profits, not less", Business Day, March 5, 2001.
  • Richard Tren and Julian Morris, "Vacines Key to Healthy Africa", Business Day, May 14, 2001.
  • Roger Bate and Richard Tren, " TRIPS and Healthcare: Rethinking the Debate: Malaria and Patents", International Policy Network, July 2001.
  • Richard Tren and Julian Morris, "Patents not real villain in blocking access to drugs", Business Day, November 9, 2001.