Obama food safety chief and former Monsanto lawyer Michael R. Taylor today defended the FDA's sting operations and armed raids against raw milk producers, including Pennsylvania Amish farmer Dan Allgyer, who is facing an injunction for selling milk across state lines. None of Allgyer's milk was contaminated. The agency's actions are likely to put him out of business.
"We believe we're doing our job," Taylor said at a presentation at the Ogilvy Washington public affairs group. He promised to "keep doing our public health job," and described his agency's campaign against raw milk producers as based on a "public health duty" and "statutory directive."
Taylor said he had a "quibble" with the notion that the agency is spending too much of its resources targeting boutique raw milk producers even as huge contamination outbreaks have occurred among large Iowa egg farms and elsewhere.
The FDA is in the midst of writing the critical regulations that will implement the Food Safety Modernization Act Congress passed last year with applause all around from the Obama administration, Democrats and Republicans despite ferocious opposition from small-farm advocates. The sweeping new law gives the agency extraordinary powers to detain foods on farms. It also denies farmers recourse to federal courts.
On July 3, the agency will issue its new rule to detain any food it believes is unsafe, or, more critically, "mislabeled." In Allgyer's case, the entire FDA case rests on a technical violation of a ban on interstate commerce in raw milk and alleged mislabeling.