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Crony Capitalism Strikes the Salmon Industry

These chinook salmon could stay off the market thanks to crony capitalism. Image source: ca.govThe piece I co-authored with Hoover Institution fellow Dr. Henry Miller has appeared on The Hill’s Congress blog. The article lambastes lawmakers from both parties, including infamous porker Rep. Don Young (R-AK), for trying to reverse a case of the Food and Drug Administration’s regulatory regime for once not stifling innovation. 

The case involves Atlantic salmon genetically engineered to grow all year, instead of just the warmer months, in order to get them to market faster. The salmon don’t contaminate the gene pool and the FDA calls them “as safe as conventional Atlantic salmon.” Yet politicians from states with competing salmon, like Alaska’s Young and California’s Rep. Lynn Woolsey (D), are trying to keep the FDA from approving the more efficient salmon. Unfortunately, as Dr. Miller and I explain in the piece, this is yet another case of crony capitalism:

While existing big business benefits from barriers to entry by innovators, everyone else loses. Innovative industries face preposterous, discriminatory regulatory obstacles and consumers pay higher prices for scarcer (and often inferior-quality) goods. And others who might be tempted to invest in or create new technologies or products get the message: Even with a superior product, you can be blindsided by cynical and perfidious political forces as you near the goal line.

In the House, Young and Woolsey have passed a measure as part of the FDA’s appropriations bill stipulating that it can’t use any of its funding to approve the salmon, despite the agency being at the end of its regulatory review. In the Senate, look for a similar measure being pushed by Sen. Mark Begich (D-AK) and six other senators from mostly west coast states to come up sometime after the August recess. We submitted the piece to The Hill’s Congress Blog for this very reason; it is regularly frequented by lawmakers and their staffs and it seems they could use an education on this issue, especially in advance of a Senate vote.

You can read the whole piece at The Hill’s Congress blog


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