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Organic Consumers Association

Obama Puts GMO Booster in Charge of Food Safety

Genetically modified foods are not safe. The only reason they're in our food supply is because government bureaucrats with ties to industry suppressed or manipulated scientific research and deprived consumers of the information they need to make informed choices about whether or not to eat genetically modified foods.

Now, the Obama Administration has put a two notorious biotech bully in charge of food safety! Former Monsanto lobbyist Michael Taylor is the senior adviser to the Food and Drug Administration Commissioner on food safety.

About Michael Taylor

Michael Taylor is a lawyer who has spent the last few decades moving through the revolving door between the employ of GMO-seed giant Monsanto and the FDA and USDA. Taylor is widely credited with ushering Monsanto's recombinant bovine growth hormone (rBGH) through the FDA regulatory process and into the milk supply -- unlabeled. A Government Accounting Office (GAO) investigated whether Taylor had a conflict of interest and or had engaged in ethical misconduct in the approval of rBGH. The report's conclusion that there was no wrongdoing conflicted with the 30 pages of evidence that Vermont Congressman Bernie Sanders (I-VT) described as proof that "the FDA allowed corporate influence to run rampant in its approval" of the drug.

Taylor is also responsible for the FDA's decision to treat genetically modified organisms as "substantially equivalent" to natural foods and therefore not require any safety studies. The "substantially equivalent" rule allowed the FDA to ignore evidence that genetically engineered foods, including soy, are in fact very different from natural foods and pose specific health risks.

In November 2008, Tom Philpott reported that Taylor was among President-Elect Obama's "team members" looking at energy and natural resources agencies, including USDA. In March 2009, President Obama announced the creation of a White House Food Safety Working Group to improve and coordinate the government's approach to the nationwide food safety crisis. Agri-Pulse reported that Taylor was "the leading candidate to staff the White House [food safety] working group." While anti-GMO activists, including the Organic Consumers Association, protested -- OCA members sent 13,435 letters to USDA Sec. Tom Vilsack, who co-chairs the Food Safety Working Group with HHS Sec. Sebelius -- Taylor laid low. He was nowhere to be found at the White House Food Safety Working Group's May 13th Listening Session. But, the rumor proved true. On July 7, 2009, the FDA announced that Taylor had joined the agency as senior adviser to the commissioner.

As Philpott describes in a July 8th article, Taylor's food safety agenda is to "shift much more of the burden for funding food-safety operations to the state and local level" and to promote HACCP (Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point) systems where the points in a process that pose the most risk are identified and “fixed” with remedies like ammonia washes and irradiation. Taylor's approach -- putting a few bandaids on an industrialized food system gone wrong -- is in direct conflict with organic practices and is likely to unduly burden small producers.

Taylor has long been hostile to real food safety. While working as a lobbyist, Taylor authored more than a dozen articles critical of the Delaney Clause, a 1958 federal law prohibiting the introduction of known carcinogens into processed foods, which had long been opposed by Monsanto and other chemical and pesticide companies. When Taylor rejoined the federal government, he continued advocating that Delaney should be overturned. This was finally done when President Clinton signed the so-called Food Quality Protection Act on the eve of the 1996 elections.

Taylor is featured in the documentary,  The World According to Monsanto, which you can watch on OCA's Millions Against Monsanto page.

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