Much has been made of czars in the current administration; however, one czar in particular should have people from both political sides a little nervous. In a case of sheer duplicity, the first family started a garden at the White House, and then the President appointed Michael Taylor the Food Safety Czar. For those not familiar with Michael Taylor, he was in the FDA during the Clinton administration and was primarily responsible for getting the growth hormones rbGH/rbST injected into cows to increase production. Prior to his stint in the FDA, he spent time at a law firm that represented Monsanto. After leaving the FDA in 1998 he went to Monsanto as the VP of Public Policy and is now back in the FDA. He has also been a formidable proponent of GMO, genetically-modified organisms, in food and may have led the effort to cover up a number of important scientific studies that showed GMO food is not safe.
According to a FDA press release on July 7, 2009 announcing his appointment, he will have the following responsibilities:
1. Assess current food program challenges and opportunities
2. Identify capacity needs and regulatory priorities
3. Develop plans for allocating fiscal year 2010 resources
4. Develop the FDA’s budget request for fiscal year 2011
5. Plan implementation of new food safety legislation.
The press release from the FDA is more telling in what it does not say than it what it does say:
"'I am honored and grateful that Commissioner Hamburg has asked me to return to the FDA in the position of Senior Advisor to the Commissioner,' Taylor said. 'I am looking forward to working with her, Principal Deputy Commissioner Joshua Sharfstein, and all of the FDA’s dedicated and talented people.'
Taylor has had a long and distinguished career in public service. He began at the FDA in 1976 as a litigating attorney. He served as the FDA’s Deputy Commissioner for Policy from 1991 to 1994, overseeing the FDA's policy development and rule-making, including the implementation of the Nutrition Labeling and Education Act, as well as issuance of new seafood safety rules.
From 1994 to 1996, he served at the U.S. Department of Agriculture as Administrator of the Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) and Acting Under Secretary for Food Safety. During that time, he spearheaded public health-oriented reform of the FSIS. Since 2000, Taylor has worked in academic and research settings on the challenges facing the nation’s food safety system and ways to address them.”
Based on the press release, we have a person with a long, storied career as a public servant who has dedicated his life to food safety. In reality, we have a former Monsanto executive who has single-handedly redefined food safety in this country and made it less safe. Now he is in charge of cleaning up the mess he helped create. Maybe sometime in the last 10 years he had an epiphany and now realizes the error of his ways, but more likely this is part of an ongoing effort to have corporate agriculture further control the food chain with Washington DC aiding and abetting the crime.