Hoover Institution fellow: GMO concerns are excessive and unfounded

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Recent debate over government regulation and genetically modified organisms (GMO) raise just as many concerns about how certain regulations limit agriculture as how a lack of regulation could affect consumers.

One researcher, Henry I. Miller, a Robert Wesson Fellow in Scientific Philosophy and Public Policy at the Hoover Institution at Stanford University, regularly argues that concerns over GMO foods and the need for such strict government regulation is excessive and unfounded.

For example, the recent decision by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit in San Francisco to overturn the Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) approval of sulfoxaflor for use as a pesticide on citrus crops, led Miller to argue that the concerns are unfounded. He said research from the EPA has shown that the "new pesticide does not pose ‘unreasonable risk’ to people or the environment, and regulators concluded that using sulfoxaflor according to the label instructions would not cause ‘unreasonable adverse effects’ on bees, and that overall, sulfoxaflor’s potential benefits outweighed the risks compared to the available alternatives with respect to both safety and ability to control target pests.”

His concern not only rests with what he said are misleading presumptions that guided the court's decision, but also with the multi-billion dollar agricultural industry it affects.

Miller recently told Crop Protection News that government regulations hinder other food industries, as well as important needed research to increase future food production.

“Once highly touted, genetic modifications of animals such as chickens that produce less environmentally harmful manure and pigs with muscles that have a higher ratio of protein to fat are no longer on the horizon,” Miller said.  

As for regulations to protect consumers, Miller argues that “genetic modification by means of selection and hybridization has been with us for millennia, and the techniques employed along the way, up to today, are part of a seamless continuum… . With the exception of wild berries, wild game, wild mushrooms, and fish and shellfish, virtually everything in North American and European diets has been genetically improved in some way.”

In many recent cases involving GMOs, Miller finds government restrictions unnecessary, since the years of research conducted has proven otherwise, he said. 

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