Thursday, February 2, 2012

Protests Over Monsanto FDA Conflict of Interest Goes Viral

Earlier this week, the Washington Post featured a story on the rise in online protests over the appointment of former Monsanto executive Michael Taylor as President Obama’s senior adviser to the FDA.

The article points out that Michael Taylor currently holds the position of deputy commissioner for foods at the FDA. This position is responsible for overseeing food labels and ensuring they contain clear and accurate information, as well as the development of strategies for food safety and planning new food safety legislation. This is the first time anyone has held this position at the FDA.

Michael Taylor’s resume at Monsanto is highlighted by his policy development related to Monsanto’s genetically engineered bovine growth hormone (rbGH/rbST).

There is a new online movement calling for Obama to cut ties with someone so obviously vested in the success of Monsanto and the bioengineering industry. Click here to sign the online petition.

A couple of humorous sidebars on this story:

You have to check out this video where an 11 year old rips Monsanto and Big Food. There is nothing quite as simultaneously disarming and delightful as a child speaking truth to humble a multinational conglomerate.

The article also notes that on Monday, Monsanto announced that it was giving up on its plans to sell GMO Franken-corn in France. The move was characterized as a major defeat for Big GMO, as six EU countries have banned the cultivation of GMO maize.  I wonder if anyone considered this for the headline of that story: France Finally Stops the Invasion of an Evil Empire. (Sorry, couldn’t resist. We love you France.)


The absurdity of this situation and clear lack in judgment is almost rendering me speechless. Almost being the operative word here.

I think what strikes me most about this article is the relative hopelessness of our situation in the US, versus Europe. The European people and their government leaders are actually in agreement on the subject of preventing the genetic engineering of their food supply.

In the United States, 99% of the corn and soy grown is genetically modified. Over 90% of the market share in the seed industry is owned by six companies: Monsanto, BASF, Dow, DuPont, Bayer, and Syngenta.

The relationship between Monsanto and the FDA has been called a “revolving door”, and the lobbying efforts and dollars spent in Washington are staggering. And all of these efforts are geared towards two primary goals: 1) fooling the American people into thinking their food is safe and cheap and 2) driving profits for the shareholders.

It is time that we demand honesty, transparency and decency from our leadership—both corporate and political. If you agree with me, please take action. Sign the petition, but more importantly—don’t support Big GMO. Make living beyond organic a priority in your life as we work together to help shape the future of food production in our nation and world.