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Gregory Conko

Former Senior Fellow at the Competitive Enterprise Institute

Expert Bio

Gregory Conko now serves as the Executive Director of the Competitive Enterprise Institute, where he helps lead the organization’s strategic planning and manages its day-to-day operations. He previously spent over a decade as a senior fellow at CEI, conducting research and advocacy on food and drug regulation, biotechnology policy, and public health. Conko was a co-author of The Frankenfood Myth: How Protest and Politics Threaten the Biotech Revolution, as well as the 2013 American Council on Science and Health study, Food and You: A Guide to Modern Agricultural Biotechnology. He has also contributed to academic journals, newspaper articles and television and radio programs. He is a member of the board of scientific and policy advisors for the American Council on Science and Health and has been recognized by several organizations for his leadership in biotechnology. Conko received his JD from the George Mason University School of Law.

Studies, Articles and Answers

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Q: Why is it, that with the vast insurmountable demand, consumers have not been simply given what they ask for. "GMO LABELING" so that they can have the freedom you would expect in a free country to choose. And why would the industry not also "Respect those

Answered By Gregory Conko - Nov 19, 2013

A: Some consumers wish to avoid foods with genetically engineered ingredients, so food producers have increasingly responded to this market demand by labeling food products that do not contain them. There are many thousands of voluntarily labeled, non-GE foods available in grocery stores throughout the country, in stores as varied as Whole Foods Markets and Walmart. From just 2000 to 2009, nearly 7,000 new food and beverage products were introduced in the United States with explicit non-GE labeling. And those numbers continue to grow.   In addition, groups ranging from Greenpeace to th [...]

GMOs in Groceries Health & Safety Labeling


Q: You claim that GMO foods are essentially the same as non-GMO and therefore safe without proof. On the other hand, they are so different that you patent them. Which is it--are they the same or very different?

Answered By Gregory Conko - Dec 13, 2013

A: Critics of biotechnology often ask: If genetic engineering is simply one of many tools for modifying plants at the genetic level and not fundamentally different from other breeding methods, why can new biotech varieties be patented?  The short answer is: Any new plant variety with a unique combination of traits can be patented, no matter what breeding method is used to develop it.  In fact, many more non-genetically engineered plant varieties have been patented than genetically engineered ones.   The United States Supreme Court confirmed in the landmark 2001 case, J.E.M. Ag S [...]

Business Practices GMOs & Farmers


Q: What role does “profit” play in determining which genetic traits will be commercialized?

Answered By Gregory Conko - Sep 10, 2013

A: To be successful, plant breeders must serve the needs of farmers, and their goal is to develop products that will perform well in the marketplace. Commercial breeders set out to produce varieties that will not only recover the costs associated with development, testing, and seeking regulatory approval, but also generate the profits that let them stay in business. Conducting the extensive testing needed to develop and secure approval for genetically engineered varieties is costly and time-consuming, though. And this substantial expense forces commercial seed companies to focus on traits and cr [...]