Filed under: General Health
There was a very interesting article in the Washington Post recently (thanks Andrew).
The FDA has appointed Michael Taylor as the new deputy commissioner for foods. This is a brand new position that will vastly increase the importance of food in an agency that always seems to have its focus on the drug aspect of its office.
The House passed a bill last year that grants powerful new authority to the FDA in ensuring food safety. The goal is to implement new laws that prevent foodborne-illness outbreaks, rather than just reacting to them.
This sounds all well and good, as long as George and his crew actually crack down on the actual problems with food safety: the CAFO’s and giant commercial food conglomerates. The problem is that Michael Taylor has some very suspicious ties to the food industry that certainly makes me very leery.
He started his career at the FDA as a staff attorney, and then moved on to the law firm that represents the evil food corporation Monsanto (watch Food, Inc and you will despise everything about Monsanto). This is only the tip of the iceberg concerning his conflict of interests. He worked there for a decade before returning to the FDA.
Upon his return to the FDA, this time as the deputy commissioner for policy, the FDA approved Monsanto’s bovine growth hormone (that pretty much every major dairy producer has or will be abandoning due to consumer concern – 20 years later). Taylor was somewhat responsible for the policy that stated that milk from cows given bovine growth hormone did not have to be labeled as having received that treatment (this is no longer the case, thankfully). Think his decisions there had something to do with his previous ties to Monsanto? Certainly makes me wonder.
Fortunately there is some good news in the hiring of Michael Taylor. He has worked for the USDA and required meat and poultry producers to implement new measures to help prevent bacterial contamination, though of course these industries fought tooth and nail against them. While at the FDA he also required seafood and juice manufacturers to also implement new procedures to help prevent bacterial contamination.
Unfortunately after his stint at the USDA where it seems he did some good, he went to work directly for Monsanto as vice president for public policy. That is most troubling to me, as so many people who have worked for Monsanto are already in high places in the FDA, USDA and other agencies that control policy. It is a complete in-bred nightmare where the concerns don’t seem to actually be for public safety and quality food production, but seem to be to appear concerned for public safety and quality food production, so as to make Monsanto and companies like it boat-loads of money.
Monsanto was the 2009 Forbes company of the year. That is how much money they make by destroying our health, whether they want to believe it or not. Here is an interesting article on Monsanto corn causing organ damage in mammals.
Now many people are hoping he repeats some of the great things he has done. Marion Nestle among them (directly from the article) – ”He is the quintessential revolving door,” said Marion Nestle, a professor of nutrition, food studies and public health at New York University. Taylor’s support for BGH and Monsanto’s other genetically modified products at the FDA was “questionable,” she said. “On the other hand, when he went to USDA, what he did there was absolutely heroic. He’s been very strong on food safety.”
Maybe he will really help to turn things around, but I tire of seeing people in high positions who have such blatant ties to these giant food conglomerates (Clarence Thomas anyone?). I guess only time will tell.
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