In yesterday s New York Times, former ACSH trustee and FDA researcher Drs. Henry Miller, currently at the Hoover Institution, and Jayson Lusk of Oklahoma State University, discuss the various reasons why GMO wheat would be a major advance for the American (and the world s) people. They point out that while two of the big three agricultural products corn and soybeans have long had their yields enhanced and their prices to the consumer lowered by genetically-engineered resistance to insects and/or herbicides, wheat has not been included.
The reasons for this needless and destructive exclusion have nothing to do with science or health as is often the case with issues involving GMO foods.
Why has wheat lagged behind? One reason is that, back in the mid-1990s, corn and soybean farmers avidly embraced the nascent biotechnology revolution, snatching up new, genetically engineered seed varieties. But wheat farmers balked at the potentially higher prices of these new seeds and feared that anti-genetic engineering views held by some of our trading partners would hurt exports, according to Drs. Miller and Lusk.
And although companies are working to create forms of genetically-engineered wheat, the federal government poses an obstacle. The federal government must first approve it, a process that has become mired in excessive, expensive and unscientific regulation that discriminates against this kind of genetic engineering. And this is in spite of the fact that the scientific consensus on genetically engineered crops is that they are as safe as non-genetically engineered crops. However, because of this, wheat farmers and the population as a whole are missing out on the important benefits of genetic engineering.
Drs. Miller and Lusk conclude, Given the importance of wheat and the confluence of tightening water supplies, drought, a growing world population and competition from other crops, we need to regain the lost momentum. To do that, we need to acquire more technological ingenuity and to end unscientific, excessive and discriminatory government regulation.
Read the full op-ed here.