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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
July 22, 2009
9:48 AM

CONTACT: Organic Consumers Association

Ronnie Cummins (218) 226-4164
Alexis Baden-Mayer (202) 744-0853

Former Monsanto Lobbyist Chosen for Food Safety Post

Organic Consumers Association: Taylor Should Resign

WASHINGTON - July 22 - The Obama Administration is putting two notorious biotech bullies in charge of food safety. Former Monsanto lobbyist Michael Taylor has been appointed as a senior adviser to the Food and Drug Administration Commissioner on food safety. And, rBGH-using dairy farmer and Pennsylvania Agriculture Secretary Dennis Wolff is rumored to be President Obama's choice for Under-Secretary of Agriculture for Food Safety. Wolfe spearheaded anti-consumer legislation in Pennsylvania that would have taken away the rights of consumers to know whether their milk and dairy products were contaminated with Monsanto's (now Eli Lilly's) genetically engineered Bovine Growth Hormone (rBGH).

The Organic Consumers Association is urging its members to contact President Obama, USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack, and Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius (oversees FDA) to demand Michael Taylor's resignation, and express their opposition to Dennis Wolff's appointment.

"Genetically modified foods are not safe," said OCA director Ronnie Cummins. "The only reason they're in our food supply is because government bureaucrats with ties to industry suppressed or manipulated scientific research and deprived consumers of the information they need to make informed choices about whether or not to eat genetically modified foods." .Since Agri-Pulse first reported in March 2009 that Michael Taylor was the leading candidate to staff the White House Food Safety Working Group, Organic Consumers Association members have sent 17,380 letters to the Obama Administration asking that the working group be kept free of former industry lobbyists and supporters of genetically engineered foods.

About Michael Taylor

When he wasn't working for Monsanto directly, Michael Taylor worked within government -- and against food safety -- to:

* Force unlabeled dairy products produced with untested genetically modified bovine growth hormone on unsuspecting consumers;

* Eliminate safety testing for genetically modified foods by suppressing evidence of their health risks and making a blanket decision to adopt industry's position that genetically modified foods are "substantially equivalent" to natural foods; and

* Weaken a 1958 federal law known as the Delaney Clause that prohibited the introduction of known carcinogens into processed foods.

About Dennis Wolff

Aside from having absolutely no experience in meat inspection, the chief food safety responsibility of the USDA, Dennis Wolff should be rejected for any post within the Obama Administration for the hostile position he has taken, as Pennsylvania's Agriculture Secretary, against consumers' right to know what is in our food. According to the Oregon Physicians for Social Responsibility, Wolff:

* Tried to ban all labeling of dairy products that didn't use genetically engineered growth hormone (rBGH or rBST). This was an outright violation of freedom of speech of the dairy processors and the farmers who supplied them.

* Said that consumers were "concerned or confused" about the labeling and said his department received "many calls" about it. Yet when a New York Times reporter asked him about this, Wolff couldn't provide any surveys showing consumers were confused and could not come up with the name of ONE CONSUMER who had complained.

* Held one meeting of the so-called Food Labeling Advisory Committee and said they recommended the labeling ban. Yet the committee never voted on anything and never made any recommendations specific to dairy. Moreover, the group most affected by the rules and most opposed to them, the PA Association of Milk Dealers, was never even invited to the meeting.

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The Organic Consumers Association (OCA) is an online and grassroots non-profit 501(c)3 public interest organization campaigning for health, justice, and sustainability. The OCA deals with crucial issues of food safety, industrial agriculture, genetic engineering, children's health, corporate accountability, Fair Trade, environmental sustainability and other key topics. We are the only organization in the US focused exclusively on promoting the views and interests of the nation's estimated 50 million organic and socially responsible consumers.



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