The Progressive


A project of Common Dreams

For Immediate Release

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


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

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

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.

The Organic Consumers Association (OCA) is an online and grassroots 501(c)3 nonprofit public interest organization, and the only organization in the U.S. focused exclusively on promoting the views and interests of the nation's estimated 50 million consumers of organically and socially responsibly produced food and other products. OCA educates and advocates on behalf of organic consumers, engages consumers in marketplace pressure campaigns, and works to advance sound food and farming policy through grassroots lobbying. We address crucial issues around food safety, industrial agriculture, genetic engineering, children's health, corporate accountability, Fair Trade, environmental sustainability, including pesticide use, and other food- and agriculture-related topics.