Why ‘GMO’ is a meaningless term and how to fix that

By Henry I. Miller* and Dr. Frank Young**
Fox News -> Opinions, March 29, 2018

There’s a saying in French, plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose, the more things change, the more they stay the same. We were reminded of that on the 30th anniversary of an op-ed about genetic engineering that we published in the Wall Street Journal when one of us (Dr. Young) headed the U.S. Food & Drug Administration and the other (Dr. Miller) was his special assistant. The article began this way:

Defining the terms “biotechnology” and “genetic engineering” isn’t an easy task, since the terms don’t represent natural groupings of processes or products. They connote something different to individual commentators, journalists, organizations, congressional staffers and members of the public. The terms are ambiguous, the source of much confusion and little advantage, and we would do well to return to more specific and descriptive terms.

Why GMO is a meaningless term and how to fix that

Those vague, problematic terms have now morphed into “genetic modification” and “genetically modified organisms,” or “GMOs,” but our observations remain equally valid. Imprecise, confusing terminology still leads to fuzzy thinking about alterations of the genomes of plants, animals and microorganisms. And that has given rise to unwarranted, draconian regulation of this non-category that has been costly in terms of foregone advances in many sectors of R&D worldwide …

Read the full article here ->
Why GMO is a meaningless term

* Henry I. Miller, a physician, molecular biologist and former flu virus researcher, is the Robert Wesson fellow in scientific philosophy and public policy at Stanford University’s Hoover Institution. He was the founding director of the Food and Drug Administration’s Office of Biotechnology. Twitter: @henryimiller

** Dr. Frank Young, a physician and molecular biologist, has held a number of senior academic and government positions; he headed the FDA from 1984 to 1989.”

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