Jill Richardson points out that Obama is considering Michael Taylor — former Monsanto Vice President for Public Policy — to head his new Food Safety Working Group. Are you kidding me? The conflict of interest should be glaringly obvious even to a five-year old. Why not ask Whimpy to start a hamburger delivery service?
From Food Politics, p. 101: (Courtesy of Jill Richardson)
Mr. Taylor is a lawyer who began his revolving door adventures as counsel to FDA. He then moved to King & Spalding, a private-sector law firm representing Monsanto, a leading agricultural biotechnology company. In 1991 he returned to the FDA as Deputy Commissioner for Policy, where he was part of the team that issued the agency’s decidedly industry-friendly policy on food biotechnology and that approved the use of Monsanto’s genetically engineered growth hormone in dairy cows. His questionable role in these decisions led to an investigation by the federal General Accounting Office, which eventually exonerated him of all conflict-of-interest charges. In 1994, Mr. Taylor moved to USDA to become administrator of its Food Safety and Inspection Service… After another stint in private legal practice with King & Spalding, Mr. Taylor again joined Monsanto as Vice President for Public Policy in 1998.
Here’s what Taylor said recently, according to Agri-Pulse:
The changes in food safety regulation that seem most likely to find favor in Congress, with Obama’s support, were described recently by Michael Taylor, the former deputy commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration and administrator of USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service who served on the Obama-Biden transition team at agriculture. Taylor, who some consider the leading candidate to staff the White House working group, told a National Chicken Council committee meeting last month that the reform likely would mean “fixing agencies where they sit” rather than creating a new independent agency.
FDA is in “bad shape” and the FSIS meat and poultry inspection system is “obsolete,” Taylor said. “We’re spending a lot of government money to do inspections that could be done by someone else,” he said. “We need to complete the transformation of FSIS as a food safety agency, away from inspection to a science-based public health agency.” Taylor recommends that FDA have authority to require food manufacturers to write and follow food safety plans, improve its controls on imported foods and collect fees from industry to pay some of the cost.
Natasha Chart with Change.org adds, “Taylor is the reason milk from rBGH/rBST cows doesn’t have to be labeled. Bovine growth hormone is perfectly safe, after all. Except for cows, or humans who drink its breakdown products in milk.”