Various groups are calling on the FDA to "fire Monsanto Mike," but give Taylor a chance to reduce outbreaks like he did at the USDA.
USA Today has picked up the various Internet petitions -- SignOn, FoodDemocracyNow, CredoAction, etc. -- to fire Mike Taylor, the head food safety person at the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
When the FDA hired Mike Taylor nearly three years ago, I wrote a long post reviewing his complicated employment history: Monsanto, the FDA, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), Monsanto, private sector, university, the FDA -- a classic example of the revolving door.
He was at the FDA, although recused, when the agency approved genetically modified (GM) foods and denied labeling.
But at the USDA, he was a public health hero to food safety advocates. He was responsible for installing food safety oversight systems that have greatly reduced contamination outbreaks from meat and poultry. He was hired at the FDA to do the same thing, which is why I thought his appointment made sense at the time. I thought he ought to be given a chance.
He has now become the flashpoint for public anger at the FDA over issues that include GM foods but go well beyond them:
- Failure to require labeling of GM foods.
- Failure to recognize the scaled-down safety needs of small farmers.
- Failure to enforce and punish food safety violations by large producers.
- Unfair enforcement of food safety procedures against small producers.
- Clamping down on raw milk producers.