Posted by Dave on September 2, 2011
If you thought the Obama administration was going to keep you and your family safe from food safety outbreaks and hold the worst abusers accountable, think again. Under President Obama, factory farm operators are getting away with serious food safety violations while raw milk dairy farmers and distributors across the country have been subjected to armed raids and hauled away in handcuffs.
When Barack Obama ran for President he promised to end the “revolving door” between agribusiness lobbyists and government and to “regulate” factory farms. Unfortunately his decision to break both these campaign promises has left America’s food supply more vulnerable to food safety outbreaks and let the highly consolidated industrial meat and factory farm industry off the hook despite growing problems.
Michael Taylor Poster Child for the Revolving Door
One of the key players in the Obama administration most responsible for these problems is former Monsanto attorney and chief super lobbyist Michael Taylor, who rejoined the FDA in July 2009 and was later named the Deputy Commissioner of Food.
The decision to name Taylor was one of the most controversial appointments of the Obama administration, one which Food Democracy Now! opposed at the time and still does because of the fact that Michael Taylor is the ultimate “revolving door” candidate and has a long and sordid track record of making bad decisions that consistently put corporate profits over people’s health.
In his previous governmental incarnations, Monsanto’s Michael Taylor was responsible for:
- Implementing the pseudo-scientific theory of “substantial equivalence” that allowed the rapid approval of GMOs without proper safety testing for humans and the environment and keeps them from being labeled.
- Helping Monsanto devise the legal constructs to get the synthetic GMO hormone rBGH approved by the FDA and then guiding its approval during his tenure at the FDA in the 1990s.
- Drafting the agency’s draconian rBGH labeling laws that made it illegal for farmers and dairy companies to properly label their milk rBGH free.
Today Michael Taylor is back at the Food and Drug Administration at the Number 2 spot, as an “advisor” to Commissioner Margaret Hamburg. In this role as the Food Safety Czar, Taylor is responsible for implementing the day-to-day policies that govern the food safety laws for the U.S. and unfortunately he has kept his big agribusiness ways intact.
If you care about family farms or your family’s health, having this man in charge of your food’s safety should greatly concern you.
Click here to automatically sign the petition to ask President Obama to fire Michael Taylor from his job as Food Czar at the FDA. America can't afford another bad decision and your own and your child's health may just depend on it.
Besides implementing the rules for the recently passed Food Safety Modernization Act, which was signed into law last year after a great deal of controversy, Michael Taylor seems focused on entirely the wrong aspects of food safety enforcement.
Rather than making sure that food safety inspections are done properly at our nation’s largest factory farms, where antibiotic resistance has run amuck, Michael Taylor has been leading a departmental jihad against small raw milk dairy producers. So far several dairy farmers have been subject to a year-long undercover sting operation from the East Coast to California.
In a speech in front of a DC PR firm, Taylor described the agency’s actions again raw milk producers as part of the FDA’s “public health duty” and justified them as a “statutory directive”.
Incredibly, Michael Taylor and FDA inspectors have not arrested or fined Jack DeCoster for his recent infractions, but raw milk producers have been targeted with a vengeance. While Food Democracy Now! recognizes the inherent risks that are involved in food production, it’s time that the U.S. government start responsibly looking into the real origins of our nation’s largest food safety recalls and stop harassing family farmers trying to survive in the excessively consolidated food and agricultural sectors.
These recent arrests and the abject failure of the Obama administration to hold factory farm operators and the true food safety culprits accountable signals that the time has come to clean house of useless bureaucratic relics of a bygone age, which Obama promised to end. Sadly, it looks like agribusiness still controls our government agencies, even in an era that was supposed to usher in hope and change.
Here at Food Democracy Now! we believe it’s time for Change. And a housecleaning at the FDA is a good place to start!
While the increasing food safety outbreaks have been a problem for some time, a recent Des Moines Register investigation on the year anniversary of the DeCoster egg recall, brings the urgency of this matter to the forefront once again.
Now, barely two weeks after President Obama returned to the Heartland to tout his commitment to improving rural and agricultural policies, Register’s scathing investigation that lays bare this administration’s continued failure to correct severe breakdowns in the oversight of our nation’s food supply.
While last year’s recall was at the hands of legendary food safety, human rights and environmental “habitual violator” Jack Decoster, the Register’s investigation, found many of the state’s major producer’s are not even meeting minimum federal standards designed to protect consumers from disease.
Thanks for participating in food democracy,
Dave, Lisa and the Food Democracy Now! Team
1. “Obama Food Safety Czar Defends Armed Raids on Amish Farmers, Raw Milk Producers”, Reason, 6/10/2011.
2. "DeCoster Gets Warning, Hillandale Sales OK'd", Food Safety News, 10/19/2010.
3. "Obama Unveils 'Real Leadership for Rural America Agenda', Vote Smart, 10/16/2007.
4. "Monsanto's man Taylor returns to FDA in food-czar role", Grist, 7/8/2009.
5. “You’re Appointing Who? Please Obama, Say It’s Not So!”, Huffington Post, 7/23/2009
6. "Noted Food Safety Expert Michael R. Taylor Named Advisor to FDA Commissioner", Food and Drug Administration press release, 7/8/2009.
7."Meet Michael R. Taylor, J.D., Deputy Commissioner for Foods", Food and Drug Administration website.
8. "Food safety chief defends raw milk raids", San Francisco Chronicle, 6/7/2011.
9. “Register investigation: Egg farms rack up violations: FDA finds unsanitary conditions, keeps key data secret”, Des Moines Register, 8/27/2011.