Henry I. Miller

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This article is part of the Tobacco portal on Sourcewatch funded from 2006 - 2009 by the American Legacy Foundation.

Henry I. Miller is senior research fellow at the Hoover Institution, a conservative think tank. Prior to joining the Hoover Institution, Miller worked for 15 years at the U.S. Food and Drug Administration where he was an outspoken advocate of agricultural biotechnology, including genetically modified organisms (GMOs). Miller was the founding director of the FDA Office of Biotechnology (from 1989-1994).

Miller on Biotechnology

Henry I. Miller (Source:Hoover Institution)

With Jayson Lusk, professor of agricultural economics at Oklahoma State University, Miller wrote an op-ed for the New York Times in February 2014 entitled "We Need G.M.O. Wheat."[1] Among the article's claims:

"Monsanto recently said that it had made significant progress in the development of herbicide-tolerant wheat. It will enable farmers to use more environmentally benign herbicides and could be ready for commercial use in the next few years. . . .
"As a result, wheat farmers missed out on perhaps the most important benefit of genetic engineering: the development of crops that can survive droughts or grow with lower-quality water."[1]

But reports -- such as the environmental advocacy group Food and Water Watch's July 2013 report "Superweeds" -- have found that as weeds developed resistance to the herbicides GMO crops are bred to resist, "farmers applied more herbicides, and total herbicide use increased by 81.2 million pounds (26 percent) between 2001 and 2010."[2] And reports have also found -- as did a September 2013 Nature article -- that "creating genetically modified organisms (GMOs) has so far delivered little in the way of improved drought resistance."[3]

With Gregory Conko, Miller wrote an article for the European Science and Environment Forum website suggesting that concerns about the safety of GM food are only because of "trade protectionism" and "anti-science fearmongering." In his book, The Frankenfood myth: how protest and politics threaten the biotech revolution (co-authored with Conko), Miller explains criticism of biotech as follows:

"Demands were made for governmental protection against unseen, unlikely, and often largely imaginary risks. The products of the new biotechnology often were regarded as though they were mysterious and alien substances transported here from another galaxy, instead of the result of precise and well-understood scientific processes."[4]

In the same book, Miller refers to biotechnology as "the closest thing to a free lunch in the technological firmament."

Miller and Conko argue against the adoption of the precautionary principle (PP), which would insist on safety testing of GM foods before they are released, on the grounds that "this erects an almost insurmountable barrier against new products because nothing can be proved totally safe - at least, not to the standard demanded by anti-technology extremists."

Miller spreads his message through the Heartland Institute, a Chicago based corporate funded think tank.

The 2004 article "Science Debunks Precautionary Principle"[5] quotes Miller as saying: "A large number of people in poor nations have food allergies," (milk, wheat, and nuts) "Biotechnology can remove the allergens ... so people in developing countries can enjoy some of these foods."

Tobacco industry document information

A 1994 memo written by the Apco Associates PR firm (now called Apco Worldwide) for Philip Morris (PM) discusses plans to create a European branch of the PM-backed "junk science" front group The Advancement of Sound Science Coalition. The memo states,

Specifically, we recommend that a European TASSC be formulated to do the following:

  • Preempt unilateral action against industry.
  • Associate anti-industry "scientific"studies with broader questions about government research and regulations • Link the tobacco issue with other more "politically correct" products.
  • Have non-industry messengers provide reasons for legislators, business executives and media to view policies drawn from unreliable scientific studies with extreme caution.

The memo specifically cites Henry I. Miller as a "key supporter" who might be willing to assist in the execution of the project:

For example, Dr. Henry I. Miller, Visiting Fellow and Visiting Scholar of the Institute of International Studies of the Hoover Institute of Stanford University, is one example of a key supporter with strong academic and international credentials who might assist us in this project.

[2][Italicized emphasis added.]

An undated TASSC newsletter (called "The Catalyst") contains an article stating that TASSC member-scientist Dr. Henry Miller, ("a visiting scholar from the Hoover Institution)," helped draft the 5 Guiding Principles of TASSC. Listed along with Miller as another TASSC member who helped draft the Guiding Principles is James E. Enstrom, a scientist whose work was cited in The U.S. Government's racketeering case against Big Tobacco as having assisted the tobacco industry in perpetrating fraud and deception upon the American public.


According to a a biographical profile in a 2003 report he co-authored, Miller's research "focuses on the relationship between science and regulation, the often-excessive costs of government regulation, models for regulatory reform, and federal and international oversight of genetically engineered products. As a consultant, he advises defendants' and plaintiffs' counsel and companies on a wide spectrum of regulatory strategies and problems."[6]

According to the profile Miller "is a prominent academic researcher, author and regulatory consultant. He graduated from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology with a Bachelor of Science degree in Life Sciences and attended the University of California, San Diego, receiving the M.S. and M.D. degrees. After completing training in internal medicine as a Clinical Fellow in Medicine at Harvard Medical School, Dr. Miller spent several years as a Research Associate at the National Institutes of Health, helping to refine and employing the recombinant DNA ("gene-splicing") techniques that were then emerging".

"Dr. Miller joined the FDA in 1979 and served in a number of posts involved with the new biotechnology. He was the medical reviewer for the early recombinant DNA-derived drugs evaluated by the FDA and was instrumental in the rapid approvals of human insulin and human growth hormone (the marketing approval of the former in five months was an FDA record at the time)," his profile states.

"He served at both the Center for Drug Evaluation and Review (CDER) and the Center for Biologics Evaluation and Review (CBER). Dr. Miller later served as Special Assistant to the FDA Commissioner, with responsibility for biotechnology issues (1984-89); and from 1989-94, he was the founding director of the FDA's Office of Biotechnology. During his government service, Dr. Miller wrote and lectured frequently on the regulatory requirements for biotechnology products, and participated frequently on various expert and policy panels as a representative of the FDA or the US government. As the FDA's contact person for the Securities and Exchange Commission, he reviewed the accuracy of claims made by companies in their prospectuses about the likelihood and timing of drug approvals," his profile states.

"Dr. Miller's primary contributions have been in four areas: as a federal official, crafting and implementing science-based regulation of the new biotechnology, and explaining these policies to regulated industry, the scientific community, and the public; as a member of international panels and experts' groups, moving consensus toward the scientific view of risk and its regulation; making science and technology and their regulation more widely understood, via articles in newspapers and magazines; and performing research on and analyses of various issues related to science and technology," his profile states.


Miller is:


He has written a number of books including:

  • Policy Controversy in Biotechnology: An Insider's View', R.G. Landes Co. and Academic Press, 1997;
  • To America's Health: A Proposal to Reform the Food and Drug Administration, Hoover Institution Press, 2000.
  • The Frankenfood Myth: How Protest and Politics Threaten the Biotech Revolution, Henry Miller and Gregory Conko, Praeger, 2004.

Articles and resources

Related SourceWatch articles


  1. 1.0 1.1 Jayson Lush and Henry I. Miller, We Need G.M.O. Wheat, New York Times, February 2, 2014.
  2. Food and Water Watch, Superweeds: How Biotech Crops Bolster the Pesticide Industry, organizational report, July 2013.
  3. Michael Eisenstein, Plant breeding: Discovery in a dry spell, Nature 501, S7–S9, September 26, 2013.
  4. Henry I. Miller and Gregory P. Conko, The Frankenfood myth: how protest and politics threaten the biotech revolution, Praeger, 2004.
  5. [1]
  6. Bonner Cohen, John Carlisle, Michael Fumento, Michael Gough, Henry Miller, Steven Milloy, Kenneth Smith and Elizabeth Whelan (eds), Fear Profiteers: Do ‘Socially Responsible’ Businesses Sow Health Scares to Reap Monetary Rewards?, , [[National Center for Public Policy[[ and Junkscience.com, undated bu approx 2000, pages 82-83.

External articles

Articles by Miller