Sunday, July 19, 2009

GMO foods and the FDA

Speaking of the FDA, I see Michael Taylor has returned to the FDA, now appointed as 'senior advisor to the commissioner' of the Food and Drug Administration. I have some concerns based on what I have read about Mr. Taylor and his career.

After finishing his law degree, he began his career at the FDA in 1976 as a staff attorney for about 5 years. He left them for 10 years of private law practice, and returned to the FDA in 1991 as Deputy Commissioner for Policy.

That didn’t last long. In 1994 he served Administrator of the Food Safety and Inspection Services at the U.S. Department of Agriculture. (What do the USDA food inspections actually provide to us?) Mr. Taylor's previous work includes
Vice President for Public Policy at Monsanto Corp - the giant chemical company responsible for 'Roundup' and genetically engineered seeds. He also served as Senior Fellow at Resources for the Future where he focused on food safety as a global health concern and the impact of U.S. agricultural, trade, and development policies on poverty and hunger reduction in Africa.

Mr. Taylor became Professor Taylor in 2007, joining the School of Public Health and Health Services at George Washington University. There he taught
PubH 209: Policymaking at the Food and Drug Administration, Department of Health Policy.

His faculty page bio says: "Since joining SPHHS in 2007, Professor Taylor has promoted efforts to strengthen the FDA, especially by enhancing the agency's authority, resources and management structure. 'No federal agency touches as many lives as intimately as the FDA, or works on a wider range of challenging public health policy issues,' says Mr. Taylor. 'The goal of my research and teaching is to bring these issues to life and equip students with a framework for understanding and analyzing them.' "

In recent years, he has also directed his longstanding interest in food systems and problems of food security to agriculture-led economic growth in rural Africa."

Interestingly enough, my understanding of our new policy on aid to Africa is that it includes the use of Monsanto’s GMO seeds. Monsanto is the world's leading supplier of the herbicide 'Roundup' and is also the top producer of genetically engineered seeds. Michael Taylor was a senior lobbyist for Monsanto.

I'm all for teaching/helping farmer's grow their own crops to feed their own people, but to teach them something that demands they buy seeds every year from the teacher doesn't seem right. Monsanto's GMO seeds are engineered to be sterile in the next generation, which means farmer's must purchase new seeds every year instead of saving seed they have grown.

Monsanto and others would have us believe GMO crops would insure food safety. My question is "safe for what?" Safe for human and animal health, or safe for corporate profit?

Why on earth was one of the former top GMO lobbyists appointed to the FDA?

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