Michael Hansen, PhD, has been following the GMO scene since the 1980s—before there actually were GMO crops. He is a Senior Staff Scientist with Consumers Union, the policy and action division of Consumer Reports, and through that group he has for over twenty years tightly focused on the evolving science of genetic engineering of foods, its politics and labeling. He has testified at hearings in Washington, DC, in several states and in Canada, and has prepared comments on many proposed US governmental rules and regulations concerning food safety issues.
Hansen’s long experience brings considerable insight into the GMO battle, and sheds quite a bit of light on why the US has been so woefully behind the rest of the world, in which some thirty nations have banned GMOs or at the least have enacted mandatory labeling. He also sees us now at a tipping point—at which industrial agriculture’s long-term influence is considerably weakening.
In the Beginning
“When I first came to Consumers Union back in 1985, I knew that genetic engineering was going to be an issue,” Hansen told Organic Connections. “It took quite a while to get Consumers Union interested. I guess in the US the first big thing we did here at Consumers Union would have been in 1989 or 1990, when we published a little book called Biotech: Benefit or Threat? It was about recombinant bovine growth hormone (rBGH) and the issues it was raising, which had to do with, besides health impacts on the cow, the potential health impacts of drinking milk from cows that had been treated with rBGH.”