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.

This article is part of the Food Rights Network, a project of the Center for Media and Democracy. Find out more here.

Henry I. Miller is the Robert Wesson Fellow in Scientific Philosophy and Public Policy at the Hoover Institution,[1] a conservative think tank. Miller helped found the tobacco industry front group The Advancement of Sound Science Coalition (now defunct) and has been affiliated with other pro-corporate advocacy organizations such as the Competitive Enterprise Institute and the American Council on Science and Health.

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).[2] According to 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."[3]

Attack on Dr. Mehmet Oz Over Conflicts of Interest

In April 2015, a group of doctors including Miller published a letter calling on Columbia University to remove Dr. Mehmet Oz from the faculty of its College of Physicians and Surgeons. The letter accused Oz of "disdain for science and for evidence-based medicine," "baseless and relentless opposition to the genetic engineering of food crops," and "an egregious lack of integrity by promoting quack treatments and cures in the interest of personal financial gain."[4] Signatories to the letter included Miller as well as Gilbert Ross, Acting President and Executive Director of ASCH.

The letter did not disclose ACSH's funding from corporate sources that profit from the products and industries ACSH defends, such as GMO crops, fracking, and e-cigarettes (see American Council of Science and Health for more information), nor did it mention Miller's involvement in an industry-funded political campaign against GMO labeling in California.[5]

Oz, who became a prominent media figure through a series of appearances on the Oprah Winfrey Show and later through his own tv program, "The Dr. Oz Show," has been accused of using his show to push dubious health products, including facing criticism from Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-MO) during a 2014 U.S. Senate hearing examining diet-product ads.[6]

Miller on GMOs

Henry I. Miller (Source:Hoover Institution)

Miller wrote an op-ed for the New York Times in February 2014 entitled "We Need G.M.O. Wheat," with Jayson Lusk, professor of agricultural economics at Oklahoma State University.[7] 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."[7]

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."[8] 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."[9]

Miller wrote an article for the European Science and Environment Forum website (with Gregory Conko of the Competitive Enterprise Institute) 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 (also 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."[10]

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 that is part of the State Policy Network.

The 2004 article "Science Debunks Precautionary Principle"[11] 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."

Involvement in Corporate Campaign Against GMO Labeling Referendum

Top Contributors to "No on 37." Source: California Secretary of State campaign finance data/PRwatch.org.

Miller was a prominent spokesperson for a campaign against GMO labeling in California.

In 2012, a group called "No on 37" -- which was funded largely by the "Big 6" GMO and pesticide corporations BASF, Bayer, Dupont, Dow Chemical Company, Syngenta, and Monsanto -- spent an estimated $41 million campaigning against a California ballot referendum that would have required the labeling of GMO foods.

"No on 37" spent $14.7 on television advertising in the final weeks before the election, including an ad in which Miller told voters that Prop 37 "doesn't make sense." The ad spun the law's labeling exemptions as "arbitrary" "special interest" loopholes that would result in an "illogical" and "ill-conceived" law, as the Center for Media and Democracy reported. For instance, the ad discussed exemptions for animal products, but there were no genetically modified cows, pigs, or chickens on the market.[12]

Stanford Has Ad Featuring Miller Pulled off the Air

The "No on 37" ad originally listed Miller as "M.D., Stanford" and showed Stanford University buildings in the background. The campaign had to pull that version off the air at the request of Stanford University and re-do it because "the Stanford ID on the screen appeared to violate the university's policy against use of the Stanford name by consultants," according to the Los Angeles Times. Stanford spokesperson Lisa Lapin said the university "doesn't take any positions on candidates or ballot measures, and we do not allow political filming on campus." She noted that the ad's filmmakers were also removing campus buildings from the ad.[13]

Despite Stanford's statement, the "No on 37" campaign sent out mailers featuring "Henry I. Miller, M.D., Stanford University" a week after pulling the television ad.[14][15]

Defense of Tobacco Industry

Defense of Nicotine, E-Cigarettes

In a 2012 article for the Hoover Institution criticizing the FDA's approach to tobacco products, Miller wrote that nicotine "is not particularly bad for you in the amounts delivered by cigarettes or smokeless products." Arguing that the FDA should focus on reducing "tobacco-related diseases," he also criticized the agency for issuing a warning about e-cigarettes in 2009, downplaying the FDA's concerns about carcinogens and toxic chemicals it found in some e-cigarette cartridges.[16]

"Key Supporter" of Tobacco Industry Front Group

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.[17]

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.[17]

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.


Current (as of April 2015):[1][2]


  • Trustee, American Council on Science and Health (now referred to as "ASCH friend")[18]
  • Research Associate, National Institute of Health
  • Medical Reviewer, US Food and Drug Administration
  • Special Assistant to the FDA Commissioner (1984-1989), US Food and Drug Administration
  • Founding director of the FDA's Office of Biotechnology (1989-1994), US Food and Drug Administration
  • Contact Person for the Securities and Exchange Commission, US Food and Drug Administration
  • Director, Consumer Alert

Ties to Climate Change Denial Movement

Miller serves on the scientific advisory board of the George C. Marshall Institute,[2] an oil-industry funded organization that Newsweek has called "a central cog in the denial machine."[19]

Other Controversies

Defense of DDT and Pesticides

Miller has advocated for restoring the use of DDT as "an old, cheap, and safe way" to prevent the spread of malaria.[20] In 2014, he wrote that "honeybee populations are not declining" and defended the use of neonicotinoid pesticides,[21] which are currently under study for possible links to demonstrably declining bee populations.[22]

Suggests Radiation Exposure from Fukushima "Could Actually Have Benefitted" People

In March 2011, three nuclear reactors at the Fukushima Daiichi plant in Japan melted down after being hit by a tsunami. The meltdown was the worst nuclear disaster since the Chernobyl meltdown in 1986, releasing hundreds of tons of radioactive material[23] and forcing the evacuation of tens of thousands of people.[24]

In December, Miller published a piece in Forbes characterizing much of the concern over the health risks of radiation exposure as "uninformed, misleading speculation" and suggesting that many of the people exposed in the Fukushima disaster "could have actually benefitted from it."[25]

Authored Books

  • 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

Articles by Miller


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 Hoover Institution, "Henry I. Miller," organizational profile, accessed April 22, 2015.
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 Competitive Enterprise Institute, "Henry I. Miller," organizational profile, accessed April 22, 2015.
  3. 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 but approx. 2000, pp. 82-83.
  4. Henry I. Miller et al., "Letter to Lee Goldman, M.D., Dean of the Faculties of Health Sciences and Medicine, Columbia University," posted on Vox, April 17, 2015.
  5. Rebekah Wilce, "California GMO Labeling Supporters Confront $41 Million Opposition and 13-Point Poll Slide," PR Watch, October 25, 2012.
  6. Bill Briggs, "Physicians to Columbia: Dump Dr. Oz for Hawking 'Quack Treatments'," NBC News, April 17, 2015.
  7. 7.0 7.1 Jayson Lush and Henry I. Miller, We Need G.M.O. Wheat, New York Times, February 2, 2014.
  8. Food and Water Watch, Superweeds: How Biotech Crops Bolster the Pesticide Industry, organizational report, July 2013.
  9. Michael Eisenstein, Plant breeding: Discovery in a dry spell, Nature 501, S7–S9, September 26, 2013.
  10. Henry I. Miller and Gregory Conko, The Frankenfood Myth: How Protest and Politics Threaten the Biotech Revolution, Praeger, 2004.
  11. Duane Freese, "Science Debunks Precautionary Principle," Heartland Institute, February 1, 2004.
  12. Rebekah Wilce, "California GMO Labeling Supporters Confront $41 Million Opposition and 13-Point Poll Slide," Center for Media and Democracy's PRWatch, October 25, 2012.
  13. Marc Lifsher, "TV ad against food labeling initiative Proposition 37 is pulled," L.A. Times, October 4, 2012.
  14. Joseph E. Sandler, "Re: Use of Stanford University Name & Affiliation in Political Advertisement," letter, October 10, 2012.
  15. Stacy Malkan, California Right to Know, "DDT Doctor Caught Misrepresenting Stanford AGAIN," press statement, October 16, 2012.
  16. Henry I. Miller and Jeff Stier, "The Cigarette Smokescreen," Defining Ideas, Hoover Institution, March 21, 2012.
  17. 17.0 17.1 Legacy Tobacco Documents Library, "THOUGHTS ON TASSC EUROPE," archived document, accessed April 2015. Italicized emphasis added.
  18. American Council on Science and Health, "The Buzz About a Bee-pocalyse Is a Honey Trap," organizational blog post, July 23, 2014.
  19. "Global Warming Deniers Well Funded," Newsweek, October 12, 2007.
  20. Henry I. Miller, "Re-Booting DDT," Project Syndicate, May 5, 2010.
  21. Henry I. Miller, "Why the Buzz About a Bee-pocalypse Is a Honey Trap," The Wall Street Journal, July 22, 2014.
  22. Daniel Cressey, "Bee studies stir up pesticide debate: The threat that neonicotinoids pose to bees becomes clearer," Nature, April 22, 2015.
  23. Associated Press, "Japan nuclear plant suffers worst radioactive water leak," August 20, 2013.
  24. Hiroko Tabuchi and Keith Bradsher, "Japan Nuclear Disaster Put on Par With Chernobyl," The New York Times, October 2, 2013.
  25. Henry I. Miller, "Can Tiny Amounts Of Poison Actually Be Good For You?," Forbes, December 21, 2011.