Former Monsanto exec Taylor not fit to serve in Obama’s FDA

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Illustration by Jeromy Velasco

Imagine this: corruption, conflicts of interest and hypocrisy. Sounds like a bad daytime television show.Think again. It’s just another day at the White House.

A recent viral petition challenges Obama’s 2009 appointment of Michael Taylor, former vice president of public policy at Monsanto, a multinational agricultural biotechnology corporation, as food safety adviser to FDA commissioner Margaret A. Hamburg. Since its creation a little more than a week ago, more than 226,000 people signed a petition on signon.org to revoke Taylor’s appointment.

Monsanto proponents argue that the company’s work saves lives and increases agricultural efficiency. With products such as “drought-resistant” wheat sold to countries hard hit by the weather, some feel Monsanto’s intentions are genuine. However, it is using euphemisms to sugar-coat the poisonous nature of these genetically modified ingredients.

Monsanto?
The Natural Society, a group that delivers news on natural healing, voted Monsanto as Worst Company of 2011, due to Monsanto’s role in a litany of dirty deals. Chemicals such as Agent Orange, which was manufactured as a weapon during the Vietnam War, and the deadly pesticide Roundup, are also Monsanto products.

Another one of their claims-to-fame has been pioneering genetically modified organisms, GMOs, as a staple of the American diet.

“It has been estimated that upwards of 70 percent of processed foods on supermarket shelves – from soda to soup, crackers to condiments –- contain genetically engineered ingredients,” said the Center for Food Safety, a nonprofit advocacy group that promotes sustainability and speaks against harmful food technologies.

“Human health effects can include higher risks of toxicity, allergenicity, antibiotic resistance, immune-suppression and cancer,” according to Center for Food Safety. The Center says that, “the use of genetic engineering in agriculture will lead to uncontrolled biological pollution, threatening numerous microbial, plant and animal species with extinction, and the potential contamination of all nongenetically engineered life forms with novel and possibly hazardous genetic material.”

Global

Monsanto’s work is toxic. No smoke and mirrors here. Monsanto’s sole contribution to society is death, wrapped up in a shiny package, marketed with buzz words like, “drought-resistant crops.” At what cost?

Michael Taylor
During his time with Monsanto in the 90s, Taylor oversaw the integration of genetically modified organisms into the U.S. food supply. He went to great lengths to block testing to weigh any potential safety risks to the population or the environment.

According to a recent Washington Post article, between 1991-94 he also managed Monsanto’s policies with the infamous GM bovine growth hormone, rBGH, or simply put: dairy, literally, on steroids. Monsanto lobbied to ban labels advertising dairy as being rBGH-free to prevent competition from organic dairy farmers, but failed. Consumers can pick up a gallon of milk today in the grocery store and can be more informed to make healthier decisions based on labels declaring certain dairy rBGH-free.

NPR reported about the “Green Revolution” implemented in India, where policymakers in the U.S. convinced India into opting out of their “antiquated” farming practices and switch to using high-yield crops, pesticides and irrigation practices. Now, there are throngs of Indian farmers who are broke from the infrastructure set up to farm the “right way.” They’re falling ill from the exposure to the toxic chemicals and the soil is depleted of its nutrients from the accelerated crop lives.

Taylor’s work with the Rockefeller and Bill and Melinda Gates foundations to infiltrate African markets pushed GMO seeds into their food supply, as well, according to the Organic Consumers Association.

In a paper titled “American Patent Policy, Biotechnology and African Agriculture: The Case for Policy Change,” Taylor says: “The Green Revolution largely bypassed sub-Saharan Africa. African farmers often face difficult growing conditions, and better access to the basic Green Revolution tools of fertilizer, pesticides, improved seeds and irrigation certainly can play an important role in improving their productivity.”

He goes on to describe natural African farming as “archaic, near-subsistence agricultural economies” that need a “market-oriented approach and the promotion of thriving agribusinesses.”

Going into developing regions of the world such as India or Africa and “transforming” their agricultural practices with frakenseeds will only drive them into gripping debt and disease from their toxic crops.

Obama’s buddy at the FDA

The July 2009 appointment of Taylor as a food safety adviser for the FDA is a slap in the face to the American people. This is a blatant conflict of interest to employ a former executive of one of the most reprehensible companies responsible for illness, refuse and the breakdown of a cornerstone of American culture — agriculture.

It’s no surprise that there’s been an upsurge in peoples’ unrest with Taylor’s position. The ardent response to the signon.org  petition is a litmus test to the collective turbulence. It’s obvious: Don’t put people like Taylor in a position of power, who’s integrity and values are (in theory) diametrically opposed to the FDA, an organization designed to protect the public. Now that’s a concept!

Obama’s choice to let in a fox in the hen house is just another affirmation of where loyalties lie. The best interest of the people? What’s that again? Social responsibility? That’s cute.

Perhaps, it’s a boon to both Monsanto and the FDA. Lull the public into a false sense of security, appoint a good ol’ boy and just like that; no more pesky regulatory policies holding Monsanto back. It’s a win-win.

Lucky us, more synthetic compounds, self-producing pesticide produce and genetically manipulated products!

Mmmm! It’s what’s for breakfast!

Thanks, Obama!


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  • http://profile.yahoo.com/BCZB6ATKSD24KKTNKXUNOCWMIQ peter

    TheAntiV.
    The reason these things were invented is to make money! And in the case of Monsanto at least, to dominate the world food supply. India, with some wisdom, made a law to hold Monsanto responsible for any resultant damage that using their chemicals and seeds might cause. 5.5 million Indian farmers are currently suing Monsanto! 250,000 Indian farmers have committed suicide over Monsanto wrecking their land and lives with another going every half hour! Google it!
     Despite this horror, they are pressing on regardless. That cancer rates have dropped in some countries has been attributed by the involved proffessions to better screening  technology, the fall in tobacco consumption and advances in treatment. To try to claim it could be in any way due to the use of GMO’s which have been shown to be detrimental to health and environment speaks volumes, is pathetic and even laughable!

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Diane-De-Baun/100000474378559 Diane De Baun

    Farmers save their seeds, say from corn every year and it saves them money and has been doing it for generations.  With these Gmo seed from Monsanto they either have a terminator factor or they are licensed like software for only one year.  And if they are blown into your field from another farmer using them or however they get over there, they come and check and charge you.  The have broke farmers!
    This isnt naturally cultivating and cross breeding of seeds, they put round up tolerant genes and genes from unnatural plant organisms in this.  This is very very different than what agriculture has been doing for centuries.  Look at the lastest research on GMOs feed to rats who develop tumors, huge tumors for GMO plants with roundup in them.  At first they produce more crops then in dramically goes down, and weeds become resistants and need stranger and worse pesticides.
    10,000 Farmers in India have committed suicide because of using gmo cotton seeds which sometimes grew and sometimes didnt, they couldnt pay the seed loan back, they lost their land, they killed themself.NOt only that, traditionally they feed the remains of the cotton plant to their animals, thousands die, many the next day!

  • NoneYa

    I find it…curious…that someone always makes the same, tired, false statement that “Man has been genetically engineering crops…blah, blah, blah…every time and in almost the exact same words, when a article like this is posted. (Hybrid crops, in which a farmer fertilzes the female flower of a plant with the pollen of another in the hopes of combining the best qualities of both plants, or simply saving only the seeds from the best plants of the season is most certainly not the same as forcing the DNA of two completely different species together by use of a gene gun…in a lab. And what man has always been able to do is being destroyed by GMOs and Big Ag: to save seed and profit from his own labors. I wonder how many people get the warm fuzzies about terminator seeds? How will sterile seeds feed the world?) And they always “grew up on a farm” and always make subtle or not-so-subtle accusations that those who oppose GMOs or pesticides “just don’t understand the science”. Very curious that these same GMO/pesticide apologists always make the same arguments in the same way every time an opposition piece is printed.

  • sad news
  • Bluetech

    I wonder how much the PR firms seeding this thread with doubts and half truths are getting paid?  Must be a great jog to sit around and be a troll.

  • Nicole Sail

    One of the biggest reasons for genetic engineering of crops is that the harsh poisons used to kill weeds also tend to kill the crops themselves. Scientists genetically alter the crops’ DNA so they will resist damage from the herbicides. Most of the attention to date has been on the creation of Roundup Ready seeds—that is, seeds and crops that can withstand the herbicide Roundup from Monsanto. According to USDA figures, 94 percent of soybeans and more than 70 percent of corn and cotton planted in the US contain the Roundup-resistant gene.
    Not at all surprisingly, weeds are becoming increasingly resistant to Roundup, creating “superweeds” which are “galloping through the Midwest.” So Dow AgroScience created a strain of corn that has been genetically engineered to withstand a different class of herbicides—those containing 2,4-D, a known carcinogen.
    Dow is now seeking to freely use this 2,4-D-resistant corn. GE modification to create resistance means they will be free to use ever-increasing amounts of the herbicide, with no limits whatsoever.
    These new herbicide-resistant crops will be planted alongside conventional and organic crops. This increases the potential for cross-contamination, and for the spillover of toxic herbicides into the groundwater and neighboring farms.
    The manufacturer of this seed will of course reject our use of the term“Agent Orange Ready” seed. But don’t be deceived. 2,4-D was a principal ingredient of Agent Orange—and it is the toxic pesticide that these new seeds are designed to survive.

    • Mata

      You clearly are ignorant when it comes to science in agriculture. Round-up is nothing new. Herbicides as well as pesticides have been used for a while now. you said:

      Dow is now seeking to freely use this 2,4-D-resistant corn. GE modification to create resistance means they will be free to use ever-increasing amounts of the herbicide, with no limits whatsoever.

      This statement is wrong. Significantly less spraying of these chemicals has resulted from the planting of GM crops. This is the consensus from scientific literature and I encourage you to read it. This article has been poorly written and is wrong on many fronts with wording that comes across as deceitful to the reader. Of course herbicides are deadly… they kill WEEDS! 

      You may think your “rBST free” milk did not use rBST, but there is no way of knowing that! The milk is identical and there is no way of chemically determining the two apart. There is no oversight on the labels so dairy farms can write whatever they want on those labels. The entire reason why it was decided to not contain “rBST free” labels was because the FDA has no means of enforcing it. 

      Living in America is great. We have some of the most rich land and we have benefited from years of science in agriculture. The first generation of GM crops have only shown to benefit farmers since consumers have no use for herbicide resistance and such. However, if we as consumers scare ourselves out of a promising technology that has yet to benefit us we are doing a world of disservice. We may point fingers at Monsanto for threatening a monopoly of our food supply but this was created by ourselves for having such strict regulation on a technology that has proved itself to be safe for the last couple of decades. In order to prevent big business from controlling our food systems, we must make the regulatory process affordable for smaller companies so they, too, can compete in seed market. 

      • Matthew

        When you say that the milk from both sources are chemically identical, you are wrong. They both contain the same chemicals, this is true, but in different ratio’s. Milk produced by cows injected with rBGH has increased levels of Insulin-like Growth Factor 1, which is naturally occurring in all of us, but which is also known to increase the risk of cancer at high levels of concentration by ramping up cell division beyond an appropriate rate.

        True, if you looked at two samples of milk – one produced with rBGH and one without – you could only say with certainty that one has higher levels of IGF-1, but you could not say with absolute certainty that the higher levels are because of the use of rBGH. I think if you were to infer, based on the chemical evidence before you, which one was produced with rBGH you’d probably be right 999,999 times out of 1,000,000.

        • Butch

          The study you refer to comes from Consumers Union, a weak source in the scientific community that undergoes no peer review. 

      • Matthew Again

        On September 30, 2010, a U.S. court of appeal found based on studies presented that there is a “compositional difference” between milk from rBSG-treated cows and untreated milk.

  • David the small-L libertarian

    Life expectancy in the U.S. keeps going up and up yet Monsanto is killing us.  Sure.

    • guest

      That’s good anecdotal evidence…
      It seems that people are living longer but with more health problems. 

    • Matthew

      Americans have some of the highest rates of cancer and other chronic health problems in the world. Fibromyalgia, multiple sclerosis, diabetes, asthma, autism, cancer, etc. Life expectancy of a person eating organic foods compared to those eating foods that were sprayed with dangerous pesticides over and over again, or compared to those eating corn that has been modified using radioactive bombardment to produce the pesticide BT internally… My position is that if it is toxic enough to kills bugs in the short term, it is toxic enough to harm people in the long term.

      • Terry

        Sounds more like a personal opinion than a scientific study. The logic behind humans being big bugs is far from reality. BT is able to specifically affect pests and has no effect on humans. 

        • RV

          Not a personal opinion, there’s plenty of science behind it. Bt absolutely does affect humans. The very fact that it was found in 83 percent of Canadian women whose blood was analyzed during an investigative study (results published in Canada in 2011) exposes one of the great lies told by Monsanto, which swore up down and sideways that the Bt in its GE crops would pass through the human digestive system without a trace. (Bt was also found in the umbilical cord blood of their fetuses). Whoops. That’s what happens when you unleash experiments into the food supply without adequate testing, first.

          Scientific report after scientific report is adding to the mountain of hard evidence, and soon even the millions Monsanto spends
          lobbying Congress (2 million this quarter alone) will not be able to
          suppress the truth.

          Good news! Monsanto is closing down operations in Britain, thanks to opposition to GMO foods. Perhaps they were too embarrassed by the signs they were required to post in the company cafeteria, assuring everyone who ate there that they would not be served anything containing GMO ingredients…

          • RV

             correction: although the Monsanto-pulling-out-of-britain story has been going viral the past couple of days, it appears to be a mistaken reprint of a story from 2003. The original publisher, Britain’s Daily Mail, mistakenly assigned a 2012 date to the story in its archives (or something like that, they are apologizing for it now). So, the good news is, Monsanto DID close its wheat-growing facility in GB in 2003. The bad news is, Monsanto is still contaminating Europe in other ways.

          • Terry

            I am aware of the 2011 study, but there is no direct evidence the bt toxin present in the umbilical cord blood came from corn. 

          • RV

             on the contrary, the genetic markers Monsanto uses to “copyright” its product identified the Bt in the Canadian women’s blood as coming from Monsanto’s Bt corn.

          • RV

            This whole exchange with “Terry” is bringing to mind that the strategy currently being used by Monsanto and other Corporate BioTech companies to prolong their ability to poison America and destroy our health for generations to come is not new — it has all been done before, by Big Tobacco. For decades, probably closer to 50 years, Big Tobacco was able to forestall attempts to educate consumers about the risks of smoking, citing arguments like “links between smoking and cancer have not been proven” (long after they HAD been proven) etc. It is not coincidental that today’s Biotech is using yesterday’s Big Tobacco techniques, since the same Madison Avenue PR firms are being employed, and they’re playing by the same gamebook.

            For those still reading this thread who have a genuine desire to learn more, I recommend Robyn O’Brien’s excellent TED presentation. O’Brien authored The Unhealthy Truth: How Our Food Is Making Us Sick and
            What We Can Do About It

            Here’s the YouTube link:

            If the link doesn’t work, search You Tube on keywords
            TEDxAustin Robyn O’Brien 2011

            Believe me, it’s an eyeopener.

    • RV

       You are out of date — for the first time in our nation’s history, life expectancy is now falling. The main reason it went up during the past century was due to lower infant death ratios (meanwhile, 100 years ago adults who lived beyond childhood lived longer healthier lives than adults do today). Now, thanks to what used to be adult-onset diseases like diabetes, high blood pressure and heart disease afflicting children as young as the cradle, for the first time, young parents now have a statistical probability of outliving their offspring.

      Repeat: If you are the young parent of a baby born in the USA this year, the odds are that you will outlive your child.

      That is how dramatically the quality of our food supply has fallen, and how dramatically nutrition affects us during the first five years of our growth. The nutrition consumed by American children 20-30 years ago was that much better than the nutrition young children consume today.

      Welcome to the Brave New World of GMO-antibiotic-toxins-contaminated food supply.

      As Wendell Berry says, we have a food industry that does not care about our health, and a health industry that does not care about our food (and now we reap the consequences).

      The good news is, it is easy to avoid GMO’s, and if you are willing to spend a few minutes in the kitchen in stead of buying all your meals at the take-out window, it does not cost more, either. Just look for the certified organic label, and buy WHOLE foods, not processed. Our family eats nothing but organic and non-GMO food, and our monthly food budget is probably half the average American family’s. Because we cook at home. What a concept!

  • Gitmoslave

    Monsanto has been in bed with the gov’t always.  Dem and Rep.  They don’t care.  Also not to mention Monsanto is PROUD to say it serves no GMO foods in its OWN cafeterias.  That should telly you something.  GMO is not crossbreeding, but work on the DNA level.

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/TFQC7I5CCNAG66KJYD373M5E2U BigMac

    Man has been “genetically engineering” crops since the dawn of time. Nothing Monsanto does is new. “70 percent of all food has been modified in some way” should tell you all you need to know. The reality is that America is able to feed the world.

    • UseYourNoodle

      That is a most ignorant comment, “BigMac”.

      • http://profile.yahoo.com/TFQC7I5CCNAG66KJYD373M5E2U BigMac

        How is that ignorant? I grew up on a farm. Nothing in this article shows how anything Monsanto does is toxic in any way.

    • Hunter A.

      Where is the dislike button? What has been done since the dawn of time is selectively choosing the dominant seeds of each crop to further strengthen that particular type of maize, soy or cotton.  What monsanto does is makes their seeds last only one season causing the farmers to have to buy new seed each season and makes their crops resistant to Roundup.  Dump a bunch of roundup in your cereal bowl or your salad and see what happens to you.

      • http://profile.yahoo.com/TFQC7I5CCNAG66KJYD373M5E2U BigMac

        That is just crazy talk. There is no Roundup in your cereal. I have never heard of any crop that sprouts every year from the same seed. A field needs replanting every season. If farmers were forced to do without pesticide and chemical fertilizer their yield would be reduced to a fraction. The world would literally starve to death.

        • RV

           wrong wrong wrong. Organic farming produces higher yields without damaging the soil. Consensus among the world’s scientists agrees that organic farming is the best way to feed the world, for generations to come. See the United Nations report. American-style industrialized farming is a killer — killer of soil, killer of the environment, killer of water tables, killer of farmers. Get a clue. Don’t believe Corporate Ag’s commercials. They have the money to buy billions in advertizing, but truth is NOT on their side.

          • http://profile.yahoo.com/TFQC7I5CCNAG66KJYD373M5E2U BigMac

            If Organic farming really produced higher yields it would be used exclusively. Isn’t that common sense?

          • robert seven

            Yes, that is common sense, but, in case you haven’t been paying attention, big business/gov’t rarely uses common sense. They use whatever creates the most profit, without regard for the diversity of life on Earth. There is amazing work being done in the areas of sustainable/permaculture forms of food production….REALLY exciting stuff. Check out the work of one such individual, Bill Mollison, and know that there are thousands more like him, working hard to make it nice, first and foremost, for the love and nourishment of the web of life…..

          • TheAntiV

            The funny thing about those chemical fertilizers and pesticides is that they were invented for a reason, and that’s to increase food production. Organic farming on the other hand tends to be inefficient.  The current acre of farmland produces 200% more wheat than it did 70 years ago. The same goes for meat and poultry. The chemicals did that for us.
            Take them away, and suddenly you’re getting less food per acre of land. According to Norman Borlaug , we could feed 4 billion people if we went all organic. This sounds great except maybe to the 2.5 billion people who would be left without anything to eat.
            Despite all the claims that chemicals used in farming are bad for us, it turns out Cancer rates have dropped by 15% since farmers began using these chemicals. How is that possible? Well it’s mainly due to people being able to afford more fruits and vegetables, because the chemicals allow more to be grown. That’s one reason the average life expectancy in the US went up by almost 10 years between 1950 and 2000.As for the environment, it turns out organic farming has its own issues. Because it is much less efficient, there is actually a shortage of organic food available. This leads to people having the food shipped in from much further away. We’re no scientists, but we think that doing things like shipping organic milk 900 miles over the highway in a truck belching diesel fumes is probably canceling out any environmental benefits you might have gained from going organic.Not to mention all the manure organic farming uses. This results in a greater risk of contamination. Although organic produce only accounts for one percent of the food supply, it accounts for eight percent of the E. coli cases in the U.S.

          • William Ross

             Hey AnitV, you wrote:

            “The funny thing about those chemical fertilizers and pesticides is that
            they were invented for a reason, and that’s to increase food production…” 

            Actually, what Monstanto invented was Agent Orange, to poison the Vietnamese people, no? Then they realized that we could use it on our own crops, in the same airplane-dispersal method, in a slightly modified form and make even more money.

            Monsanto does not give one flying anything about food security or they would not have concealed the evidence that their modified Agent Orange was killing off the pollinators that we depend on for sustainable agriculture.

            So get it straight… Monsanto is in it for profit and has no regard for food security. Think how Romney’s “Bain” exploited and then destroyed the steel mill and you get the picture.

            I’m very disturbed that both Obama and Bono have been duped into seeing Monsanto as wearing the white hats this late in the game. Tsk, tsk. Maybe Obama won’t get my vote after all (though I would die before voting for Romney).

            As to Cancer rates going down? You did not cite your source. But last I heard, Cancer is doing pretty well. Ditto for Diabetes, Asthma, Alzheimer’s etc.

            And as to Organic foods having to be shipped long distances, well, there are a great many systemic problems in our food supply that will require a great deal of revamping of our current pathetic situation, including the fact that GMO is loose in the environment making it extremely difficult to grow non-toxic plants. GMO has been unleashed and is aggressive, biologically polluting the whole Earth.

        • Croupier

           you should watch Food Inc.  If that does not evoke some form of resentment towards Monsanto and the like then you just well be a lost cause.  Certainly not the first nor the last.

  • Nicole Sail

    Thank you for your well written article. Very discouraging indeed. I’m glad this is getting so much attention now. We need to get Michael Taylor out of there and let it be known to Pres. Obama that this is unequivocally unacceptable. No less than our future (our health and the health of our planet) is at stake.