The revolving door between FDA employment and private enterprise – greased at the hinges with millions of dollars in cash and connections – virtually assures us that the system will fail us, that industry-sponsored “science” will be tainted and people will continue to cross back and forth from promoting industry profits to “serving” in government. Many FDA executives, scientists or lawyers move through this revolving door to lobby for the same private contractors or drug companies they were once entrusted to regulate or “watchdog.” The story of Michael R. Taylor is a perfect – and perfectly sad – example of this conflict of interest in action and how it comes to affect us all.
Taylor has moved from Monsanto (once as a lawyer and lobbyist, once as vice president of public policy) to FDA (as deputy commissioner for foods) and back again twice. The sweet arrangement works this way: At Monsanto, he first helps promote Monsanto products and research to FDA; then he “quits” his Monsanto job and goes to work for the FDA. While there, he fortuitously (for him and Monsanto) finds that his own company’s research and products are all to the good, in fact so good that they need to be fast-tracked to approval without proper testing or public input. He also finds while working for the government that Monsanto must be protected from organic competitors with fear campaigns and political machinations designed to stop organic (or non GMO) competitors from labeling their foods for consumers. Yes, Mr. Taylor uses his government “service” employment not only to rubber stamp his own company’s research but also to undercut Monsanto’s competition. He must have been born under the right stars, because it just so happens that by dumb ‘ole luck he is able to steadily ascertain, when he works for FDA, that Monsanto products are safe and that anyone who disagrees with this assessment, by virtue of their own independent research, is a crackpot or worse, an alarmist and an enemy of progress.
One might reasonably ask why, if gargantuan Monsanto moneymakers like recombinant bovine growth hormone (rbGH) and genetically-modified (GMO) foods are so good and so safe, why does Monsanto then need to move their man into government “service” to “verify” their findings and get their products approved? Pay no attention to that man behind the curtain.
Mr. Inside and Mr. Outside
In Las Vegas in the 70’s and 80’s the Chicago mob had Mr. Inside (Lefty Rosenthal) and Mr. Outside (Tony Spilotro) working together from both ends of the casino business to skim profits from the chocolate center. Monsanto can do the same thing with one guy, Michael Taylor, and they don’t even have to pay his salary when he’s working for FDA, and they don’t even have to skim. (Presumably both Lefty and Tony were always on the payroll.) There’s no need to skim profits in this gig; the profits are all “above board.” It is all perfectly legal, and perfectly dreadful.
The FDA’s web site claims that Mr. Taylor is leading FDA efforts to
* develop and carry out a prevention-based strategy for food safety
* plan for new food safety legislation
* ensure that food labels contain clear and accurate information on nutrition
Says Mr. Taylor on FDA’s web site at the announcement of his new position in 2010:
“We look forward to working in new ways within FDA and with partners in other government agencies, the consumer community, and the food industry to tackle the important challenges – and the unprecedented opportunities – we currently face.”
New ways indeed! If this sort of thing were happening when FDR was president, Taylor or somebody else would be in jail by now for what has been done to our food under the neoliberal guise of helping feed the world with greater yields and fewer pesticides – two of the oldest, most disingenuous and tiresome lies of GMO promoters.
A French publication offers one good story on Monsanto’s GM corn causing tumors in rats.
There are hundreds more out there for anyone caring to do the research. But beware of any studies done by “agri-business” concerns. They tend to be done by people of Michael Taylor’s ilk; as such, they virtually always find that the GMO foods they have been paid by his industry paymasters to study are safe.
Jeffrey Smith, author of “The Seeds of Deception” writes of Mr. Taylor:
“The person who may be responsible for more food-related illness and death than anyone in history has just been made the US food safety czar. This is no joke.”
It is helpful to look closely at Mr. Taylor’s story and easy movement from public to private sector and back again to understand that nearly every government agency and concern is compromised in this exact same way. We need to figure how to get money out of politics, and especially out of the FDA.
Also visit: Millions against Monsanto