Food & Health

Food & Health


Richard Williams, Robert Graboyes, Adam Thierer | Oct 21, 2015
A new paper for the Mercatus Center at George Mason University shows why the current system of medical device approval discourages technological innovation and ultimately affects patient choice. The approval process could be improved by introducing competition for approval—a process that already exists in the European Union.
Sherzod Abdukadirov | Oct 01, 2015
At the turn of the 21st century, biofuels appeared to be a solution to mounting concerns over greenhouse gas emissions, climate change, skyrocketing fuel prices, and dependence on foreign energy. When Congress passed the Energy Policy Act (EP Act) in 2005 with a renewable fuel standard (RFS) provision mandating producers to add ethanol to gasoline, it is unlikely that lawmakers thought the act would increase hunger and social unrest in the world’s poorest countries. However, unintended consequences frequently accompany even the most well intentioned policies.
Diana Thomas, Devon Gorry | Aug 17, 2015
A new study for the Mercatus Center at George Mason University finds that regulations intended to improve the quality of child care often focus on easily observable measures, such as group sizes or child–staff ratios, that do not necessarily affect the quality of care but do increase the cost of care. These regulations can have unintended consequences, including increasing the cost of child care while decreasing the wages of child care workers. Eliminating regulatory standards that do not affect the quality of care while focusing on those that do, such as teacher training, will improve the quality of child care while making it more affordable to low-income families.
Dima Yazji Shamoun, Edward J. Calabrese, Jaap C. Hanekamp | Jul 01, 2015
This paper proposes that generic cancer risk assessments be based on the integration of the Linear Non-Threshold (LNT) and hormetic dose–responses since optimal hormetic beneficial responses are estimated to occur at the dose associated with a 10−4 risk level based on the use of a LNT model as applied to animal cancer studies.
Sherzod Abdukadirov | Apr 28, 2015
This paper argues that health advocates are too quick to blame consumers for the ineffectiveness of information disclosure policies. Using the NFP as an example, the paper shows that information disclosures are often poorly designed and fail to actually inform consumers. They often fail to account for how consumers perceive and interpret information or for the differences in their socioeconomic backgrounds. Thus, it may not be consumers’ behavioral biases but rather poor policy design and implementation that is responsible for the NFP’s ineffectiveness. Consequently, the paper argues that nutrition labels should follow smart disclosure principles, which emphasize information salience and usability.
Omar Ahmad Al-Ubaydli, Patrick McLaughlin | Nov 12, 2014
RegData is a new database that quantifies federal regulation. It analyzes the text of federal regulations to create novel and objective measures of the accumulation of regulations in the economy overall and across different industries in the United States. In addition, RegData measures the degree to which different groups of regulations, such as those from a particular agency, target specific industries.

Testimony & Comments

Todd Nesbit | May 18, 2015
A new public interest comment by economist Todd Nesbit, written for the Mercatus Center at George Mason University, demonstrates that the proposed rule fails to show a need for the rule, fails to properly assess the benefits of the rule, and does not consider alternatives to the rule. The regulatory impact analysis should be improved to account for these failures.
Sean Mulholland | Feb 16, 2015
Under the authority of the Clean Water Act (CWA) of 1972, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is proposing new technology requirements for all new and existing dental practices that use dental amalgam, which is the main source of mercury discharges into publicly owned treatment works (POTWs). The proposed rule would require dental offices to use amalgam separators and best management practices (BMPs) for capturing mercury and other metals before they are discharged into POTWs.
Michael L. Marlow | Jun 27, 2014
This public interest comment estimates the range of annual benefits (costs avoided) associated with e-cigarette use as $15.6 billion to $49.2 billion and that 2.4 million to 6.4 million smokers may potentially become ex-smokers by using e-cigarettes. Estimates are based on a range of quit rates from the current literature and assume all smokers interested in quitting use e-cigarettes. Even a fraction of estimated benefits (costs saved) are substantial. These estimates indicate the FDA is jeopardizing public health by not estimating benefits associated with e-cigarettes using data from readily available studies on their efficacy as harm-reduction tools.
Todd Nesbit | Mar 04, 2014
It is not clear based on the FDA’s analysis whether its proposed rule is in the best interest of society. FDA makes no attempt to estimate the benefits of the regulation, and the analysis of the costs is very likely biased downward due to questionable assumptions and omissions. Further, changes of behavior are only selectively considered—discussing them when logically leading to benefits but dismissing the costs associated with those changes in behavior.
Richard Williams | Jun 20, 2011
This comment analyzes the Food Safety and Inspection Service’s proposed rule concerning mandatory inspection of catfish and catfish products.
Richard Williams | Jun 09, 2009
In this Public Interest Comment, Managing Director of the Regulatory Studies Program Richard Williams suggests that the benefit/risk approach is the best method to assess the risk of methyl mercury…

Research Summaries & Toolkits

Speeches & Presentations

Mercatus Regulatory Studies


The FSMA mandates a HACCP-like approach for all food. There is no evidence that this approach is likely to result in any significant progress in lowering the rate of foodborne illness. In view of the experience of the last 20 years, neither increasing the FDA’s resources nor causing the food industry to spend more (in fact, much more) using this approach appears to be the answer.



Richard Williams | September 08, 2015
Richard Williams explains some of the problems with the Food Safety and Modernization Act on the Steve Gruber Show in Michigan.

Recent Events

Please join the Mercatus Center at George Mason University for the first of a two-part series reviewing the basic features of the Regulatory Flexibility Act and related amendments and how regulatory flexibility analysis is intended to work in the context of federal rulemaking.


Media Clippings

Keith Hall | Aug 08, 2013
Keith Hall, a researcher at George Mason University’s Mercatus Center, finds that nearly all jobs created in the past few months have been part-time gigs.
Keith Hall | Aug 07, 2013
Moody’s Mark Zandi and the Mercatus Center’s Keith Hall, have suggested that the law’s effects can be seen in recent jobs data, after a few months of high part-time job creation.
Jerry Ellig | Jul 30, 2013
Jerry Ellig discusses White House efforts to shape behavior…
Tyler Cowen, Alexander Tabarrok | Jun 12, 2013
His goal is to put online in the next 5 to 10 years an entire series of courses that cover the basic sweep of his field.
Donald J. Boudreaux | Jun 27, 2012
Don Boudreaux explains how industrial capitalism has been the greatest anti-pollutant.
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