Monday, October 12, 2009
The New Secretary of Agriculture is a Fan of Factory Farms, GM Crops and More
Former Iowa Governor Tom Vilsack is now the Secretary of Agriculture, an appointment that took place despite massive public outcry. What was needed for an effective Secretary of Agriculture was someone who would develop and implement a plan that promotes family-scale farming and a safe and nutritious food system with a sustainable and organic vision.
What we got was yet another politician who’s already made room in his bed for the industry lobby. As the Organic Consumers Association (OCA) points out:
* Vilsack has been a strong supporter of genetically engineered crops, including bio-pharmaceutical corn
* The biggest biotechnology industry group, the Biotechnology Industry Organization, named Vilsack Governor of the Year. He was also the founder and former chair of the Governor’s Biotechnology Partnership.
* When Vilsack created the Iowa Values Fund, his first poster child of economic development potential was Trans Ova and their pursuit of cloning dairy cows.
* The undemocratic and highly unpopular 2005 seed pre-emption bill was Vilsack’s brainchild. The law strips local government’s right to regulated genetically engineered seed (including where GE can be grown, maintaining GE-free buffers or banning pharma corn locally)
* Vilsack is an ardent supporter of corn and soy-based biofuels, which use as much or more fossil fuel energy to produce them as they generate, while driving up world food prices and literally starving the poor.
* Overall, Vilsack’s record is one of aiding and abetting Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations (CAFOs) or factory farms and promoting animal cloning.
You may also be interested to know that Vilsack is widely regarded as a shill for biotech giants like Monsanto (he even reportedly often travels in Monsanto’s jet)!
The New Senior Advisor for the FDA is a Former Monsanto VP!
Michael Taylor, a former vice president of public policy and chief lobbyist at Monsanto Company, is the new senior advisor for the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
Who is Michael Taylor? He is the person who “oversaw the creation of GMO policy,” according to Jeffrey Smith, the leading spokesperson on the dangers of GM foods. Smith continues:
“If GMOs are indeed responsible for massive sickness and death, then the individual who oversaw the FDA policy that facilitated their introduction holds a uniquely infamous role in human history. That person is Michael Taylor. He had been Monsanto’s attorney before becoming policy chief at the FDA. Soon after, he became Monsanto’s vice president and chief lobbyist.”
The FDA policy being referred to is the 1992 GMO policy, which stated:
“The agency is not aware of any information showing that foods derived by these new methods [genetic engineering] differ from other foods in any meaningful or uniform way.”
In reality, there was major concern among FDA scientists that GM foods were in fact different than natural foods, and that their creation could prompt unknown and unpredictable health problems.
Along with being a key player in the initial pushing of GM foods onto Americans’ plates (without any required safety studies), Taylor also oversaw the policy regarding Monsanto’s genetically engineered bovine growth hormone (rbGH/rbST).
This growth hormone, which has been banned in Canada, Europe, Japan, Australia and New Zealand because of cancer risks and other health concerns, was approved in the United States while Taylor was in charge at the FDA. Smith writes:
“Taylor also determined that milk from injected cows did not require any special labeling. And as a gift to his future employer Monsanto, he wrote a white paper suggesting that if companies ever had the audacity to label their products as not using rbGH, they should also include a disclaimer stating that according to the FDA, there is no difference between milk from treated and untreated cows.”
Taylor’s white paper, which again was untrue as even FDA scientists acknowledged differences in the rbGH milk, allowed Monsanto to sue dairies that labeled their products rbGH-free.
Dennis Wolff, Another Monsanto “Yes Man,” May be the Next Under-Secretary of Agriculture for Food Safety
In another ironic turn of events, it’s rumored that Pennsylvania Agriculture Secretary Dennis Wolff may be appointed the new Under-Secretary of Agriculture for Food Safety — the top food safety post at the USDA.
Wolff declared that labeling products rbGH-free was against the law, and ordered all such labels to be removed from Pennsylvania. Fortunately, due to consumer demand Pennsylvania’s Governor Ed Rendell stepped in and stopped the ban on rbGH-free labels (although he did require such claims to include Taylor’s FDA disclaimer that there is no difference between milk from treated and untreated cows).
As Jeffrey Smith explains:
“Rumor has it that the reason why Pennsylvania’s governor is supporting Wolff’s appointment is to get him out of the state — after he “screwed up so badly” with the rbGH decision. Oh great, governor. Thanks.”
Not only did Dennis Wolff attempt to ban rbGH-free labels, but OCA points out that he has “also worked to deprive communities the right to ban toxic sewage sludge, factory farms, and GMOs.”