McHughen is a molecular geneticist with an interest in crop improvement. His research focuses on using biotechnology and molecular genetic technology to develop improved crops contributing to more environmentally sustainable farming systems. He is also interested in analyzing products of biotechnology for their effects on the environment and on health.
He helped develop Canada’s regulations covering the environmental release of plants with novel traits and US regulations governing transgenic plants and has first hand experience with issues from both sides of the regulatory process, covering both recombinant DNA and conventional breeding technologies.
He received his D.Phil. in Plant Science at Oxford University in 1979.
On Genetically Engineered Food
McHughen helps non-scientists understand the environmental and health impacts of both modern and traditional methods of food production. His award-winning book, Pandora’s Picnic Basket; The Potential and Hazards of Genetically Modified Foods (Oxford University Press, 2000), uses understandable, consumer-friendly language to explode the myths and explore the genuine risks of genetic modification technology.