Was it a conflict of interest when former Monsanto Vice President Michael Taylor was named as the “Food Czar,” aka the Deputy Commissioner of Foods for then-new President Barack Obama’s FDA?
One thing’s for sure: it was an incredible betrayal to the millions of people who got behind Obama’s campaign in large part because he really seemed to “get it” like few other political candidates before him; as evidenced by his emphatic promise to label GMOs (that of course never came to fruition even though 90 percent-plus Americans routinely support mandatory labeling, a right afforded in over 60 countries across the world).
Now, after years of hand-wringing, frustration and anger from the general populace toward Taylor’s appointment, the “Monsanto Man” is finally set to step down, on (approximately) June 1 of this year according to a new article from the website Food & Water Watch.
“Our magnificently diverse food system is full of challenges and opportunities, and I plan to continue working toward its success, especially in settings where people lack regular accesses to sufficient, nutrition and safe food,” Taylor wrote in a letter to friends according to the article. “I suspect our paths will cross again.”
To the countless people who petitioned against the clear conflict of interest of hiring Taylor and other strongly pro-Monsanto people to be put in charge of the food system, his final comments sound like more of the same, like Taylor never quite got the message: “safe food” and “diverse food system” read like classic GM industry PR talking points. The U.S. food system remains heavily dominated by mostly genetically engineered commodity crops like corn and soy which are heavily subsidized by U.S. taxpayers.
It is not known whether Taylor will rejoin the government or FDA at some point but as the above article mentions he has strong ties to Monsanto:
As a young lawyer at the firm of King & Spalding, he worked with Monsanto as a client before joining FDA. When he left government the first time after working for both FDA and USDA, he did a stint as vice president for public policy at Monsanto before doing additional academic and think tank work.
Dr. Stephen Ostroff, the FDA’s acting commissioner, will take over Taylor’s duties according to the article, bringing a Western medicine-based background to the agency.
Ostroff has been with the FDA since 2013 as chief medical officer in the Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition and was also the senior public health adviser to FDA’s Office of Foods and Veterinary Medicine. He has “consulted for the World Bank and public health projects in South Asia and Latin America.” In addition, he will be working with new head of the FDA Robert Califf, who has extremely strong ties to Big Pharma.
What this could mean for Monsanto and GMOs remains to be seen, but with pro-Monsanto Congresspeople continuing to secretly push bills that would deny our right to mandatory labeling, it’s important to continue to follow these developments.
Check out the Food & Water Watch article on Taylor by clicking here, and you can also watch a segment on Taylor during which he was grilled by a French journalist about a “conflict of interest” by clicking on this link (his response is quite emblematic of the entire Monsanto-friendly era ushered in by Obama and other establishment members from both political parties, and its distinct lack of accountability).