New FDA Deputy: Controversial Choice?

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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Posted on April 28th, 2010 by Brian St. Pierre


  1. Jeff Brewster Says:


    Speaking of corn, I know that it is common for many to consume maltodextrin in commercially formulated peri-training drinks. Given that there’s a widespread problem with GMO corn, do you think that it’s better to opt for pairing something like a whey powder derived from milk from grassfed cows (especially A2 milk from a breed like Jerseys, as in DFH Whey Cool, a powder you’ve mentioned in the past) with something like buckwheat groats or a “pudding” made from cinnamon, some raisins, and a bit of quinoa mixed with coconut milk?

    It seems like adding some more nutritious options in terms of carb source would be just as effective at restoring glycogen levels while also being more favorable on other fronts as compared to a dextrose/maltodextrin blend.

  2. Zach Says:

    God do I despise the FDA. If those bastards had any morals they wouldn’t let Mansanto get away with 99% of the awful things they do to those animals. This guy won’t make a legit difference, I doubt anybody can make a legit difference with the current system. The only way anything good will ever happen to the food system is if PETA and Al-Qaeda join forces and start using brute force, now that would be freakin’ sweet.

  3. Brian St. Pierre Says:


    I agree 110%. For the vast majority of people who exercise there is absolutely no need whatsoever for things like maltodextrin, waxy maize, etc. Unless you are doing another glycogen depleting bout within 8 hours, speed of glycogen resynthesis is irrelevant. There are tons of whole-food options you can combine into excellent post-workout shakes/meals that will give vastly more nutrition.


    I certainly think the system is broken as well, but lets not go crazy and start wishing Al-Qaeda (or even PETA for that matter) on anyone.

    PS – I do love animals, I own two, but I just think PETA goes overboard.

  4. Glenn Says:

    Brian, good post, but what’s that line about Clarence Thomas supposed to mean?

  5. Brian St. Pierre Says:


    Mainly because Clarence Thomas worked for Monsanto in the 1970′s, then as a Supreme Court Justice wrote the majority opinion in allowing plants (like Monsanto’s Round-Up Ready soybean) to be patented. This has created a monopoly in the soybean industry and is a major part of the destruction of the American farm system.

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