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Dangerous Food and Crony Capitalism

Dangerous Food and Crony Capitalism

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Published by William J Greenberg
The revolving-door between Monsanto and the Clinton, Bush and Obama USDA and EPA has left us vulnerable to the machinations of Agribusness.
The revolving-door between Monsanto and the Clinton, Bush and Obama USDA and EPA has left us vulnerable to the machinations of Agribusness.

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Published by: William J Greenberg on Nov 13, 2013
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06/10/2014

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Monsanto’s Friends in High Places
By Hunter LewisMises.orgNovember 11, 2013
 Editor’s Note: The following is adapted from Hunter Lewis’s new book
Crony Capitalism in America[http://www.amazon.com/dp/0988726726/ref=as_li_ss_til?tag=lewrockwell&camp=213381&creative=390973&linkCode=as4&creativeASIN=0988726726&adid=0JWHX4F79DJDY2X9F3MM&&ref-refURL=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.lewrockwell.com%2F%3Fpost_type%3Darticle%26p%3D462180%26preview%3Dtrue]
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Many companies hope to send an employee into a government agency to influence regulation. How much better if the employee can actually shape government regulation to promote and sell a specificproduct! Monsanto seems to have accomplished this — and much more.Michael Taylor is among a number of people with Monsanto ties who have worked in government inrecent years. He worked for the Nixon and Reagan Food and Drug Administration in the 1970s, then became a lawyer representing Monsanto. In 1991, he returned to the FDA as Deputy Commissioner forPolicy under George H. W. Bush, and helped secure approval for Monsanto’s genetically engineered bovine (cow) growth hormone, despite it being banned in Canada, Europe, Japan, Australia, and New Zealand.This was only a start for Taylor. He also did not like some producers advertising their milk as bovine-growth-hormone-free. That seemed to put Monsanto’s product in an unfavorable light. So in 1994 he wrote a guidance document from within the FDA requiring that any food label describing the productas bovine-growth-hormone-free must also include these words: “The FDA has determined … nosignificant difference has been shown between milk derived from [BGH] and non-[BGH]supplemented cows.”It apparently did not concern Taylor that this new pronouncement by the FDA was unsupported by either Monsanto or FDA studies. A private company making any such unsupported claim could have been charged with fraud. But since it came out of the FDA, milk producers would place themselves atlegal risk by not printing it on their label.Taylor moved to the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) in the mid-1990s. During this period, hetried to persuade the FDA and Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to take a further step and make itillegal for dairies to make any claim to a bovine-growth-hormone-free product. Failing in that, hereached out to state governments to make such a claim illegal at the state level. This was finally  blocked by a court decision in Ohio that there was indeed a “compositional difference” between BGHand non-BGH-treated milk. Long before this 2010 ruling, Taylor had returned to Monsanto as a vicepresident, and then returned to President Obama’s FDA, first as Senior Advisor on Food Safety and
Dangerous Food and Crony Capitalism – LewRockwell.comhttp://www.lewrockwell.com/2013/11/hunter-lewis/dangerous-food-and-...1 of 411/12/2013 9:49 PM
 
then Deputy Commissioner for Foods.[1] [http://mises.org/daily/6580/Monsantos-Friends-in-High-Places#note1]Taylor’s story, however, is not just about milk, or even mainly about milk. During his second posting atthe FDA, as Deputy Commissioner for Policy 1991–1994, Agency scientists were grappling withquestions about the overall safety of genetically engineered foods (often labeled Genetically ModifiedOrganisms). As Jeffrey Smith notes,[Internal] memo after memo described toxins, new diseases, nutritional deficiencies, and hard todetect allergens. [Staff scientists] were adamant that the technology carried “serious healthhazards,” and required careful, long-term research, including human studies. …The Agency, under Taylor’s and later under others’ leadership, simply ignored these findings. Nohuman studies were required. GMO foods were allowed to enter the food supply unregulated by theFDA and barely regulated by the USDA, which views them as an important US export product. By 2012, in the US, 90 percent of sugar beets (representing half of overall sugar production) was GMO, 85percent of soybeans (which are to be found in 70 percent of all supermarket food products), and 85percent of corn, including the corn used to make high fructose corn syrup, a sweetener used in mostsoft drinks and processed foods.The few scientists trying to conduct independent research on GMO often found their careers damaged.Most food research, conferences, and fellowships are funded by “Big Food” companies includingMonsanto, which has a chilling effect. Even sympathetic colleagues may be reluctant to back those who dare speak out.Those who persevered in conducting independent research, often abroad, reported worrisome findings. An Austrian study found that mice fed GMO corn seemed fine in the first and second generations, but by the third were sterile. A Russian study of hamsters fed GMO soybeans found a similar result. Couldhuman beings exhibit a similar, delayed response? No one knows. Another, unrelated study showedthat the pesticide used in large quantities on engineered Roundup Ready crops is toxic to male testiclecells and threatens both testosterone synthesis and sperm count. At the same time that the FDA tries to remain as silent as possible about GMOs, the US Department of  Agriculture and other parts of the US government are doing everything they can to promote them. TheUSDA under both George W. Bush and Obama has sought to accelerate what is already an automaticrubberstamp for new GMO products, to “deregulate” them (including grasses such as alfalfa thatcannot be restricted to the planted area), and to provide immunity from lawsuits over the spread of GMO crops to adjoining organic farms. Immunity from lawsuit was especially ironic. For years, GMOproducers had threatened, intimidated, sued, and in every imaginable way attempted to bully adjoining farmers. If any of the patented seeds drifted and were found on the neighboring farm, thatfarmer would be charged with “theft.” The clear message: buy the patented seeds or face destructionthrough legal costs. Remarkably, courts were buying this specious argument. But finally the persecuted began to counter-sue successfully, and the USDA immediately rushed to provide legal immunity to theGMO producers in the form of an insurance policy that organic farmers would have to buy and that would be their only available form of compensation.[2] [http://mises.org/daily/6580/Monsantos-Friends-in-High-Places#note2] Although we have chosen to focus on the remarkable revolving door career of Michael Taylor at the
Dangerous Food and Crony Capitalism – LewRockwell.comhttp://www.lewrockwell.com/2013/11/hunter-lewis/dangerous-food-and-... of 411/12/2013 9:49 PM
 
FDA and Monsanto, because it has potentially affected the future health of hundreds of millions of people, stories like his are not uncommon. A
Chicago Tribune
article from 2012 is headlined:Chemical Firms Champion New EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) Expert. It describes how Todd Stedeford worked at the EPA from 2004–2007 under the George W. Bush administration, then joined chemical firm Albemarle Corp. While at Albemarle, which makes flame retardants, he defendedchemicals used in many products and even suggested that the standard set by the EPA for flameretardants was 500 times too high. Having returned to the EPA in 2011, under President Obama, he isnow “in charge of a … program studying whether dozens of industrial chemicals, including flameretardants, are too dangerous.[3] [http://mises.org/daily/6580/Monsantos-Friends-in-High-Places#note3] One must ask: what was the EPA thinking when it made this appointment?Bill Ruckelshaus, twice EPA head, once said that “at EPA you work for a cause that is beyondself-interest. … You’re not there for the money, you are there for something beyond yourself.”[4][http://mises.org/daily/6580/Monsantos-Friends-in-High-Places#note4] But on leaving the EPA, hehimself became a Monsanto director. Meanwhile the Geneva-based Covalence group placed Monsantodead last on a list of 581 global companies ranked by their reputation for ethics.[5] [http://mises.org/daily/6580/Monsantos-Friends-in-High-Places#note5] A look at some Monsanto representatives and their positions in government:MONSANTOUS GOVERNMENTSuzanne Sechen, worked on Monsanto-fundedacademic research A primary reviewer for bovine growth hormone in FDA Linda J. Fisher, VP, lobbyist for MonsantoAssistant Administrator at EPMichael Friedman, MD, Sr. VP, GD Searle,subsidiary of Monsanto Acting Commissioner of FDA Marcia Hale, international lobbyist, MonsantoAssistant to President under President ClintonMichael (Mickey) Kantor, directorSecretary of Commerce and US Trade Representativeunder President Clinton William D. Ruckelshaus, directorHead of EPA under both Presidents Nixon and Reagan 
Notes
[1] [http://mises.org/daily/6580/Monsantos-Friends-in-High-Places#ref1] http://www.anh-usa.org(October 12, 2010).[2] [http://mises.org/daily/6580/Monsantos-Friends-in-High-Places#ref2] Ibid., (September 11,2012).[3] [http://mises.org/daily/6580/Monsantos-Friends-in-High-Places#ref3] MichaelHawthorne,
Chicago Tribune
(September 10, 2012).[4] [http://mises.org/daily/6580/Monsantos-Friends-in-High-Places#ref4] Oral History interview,Ruckelshaus article, http://www.wikipedia.org.[5] [http://mises.org/daily/6580/Monsantos-Friends-in-High-Places#ref5]
Dangerous Food and Crony Capitalism – LewRockwell.comhttp://www.lewrockwell.com/2013/11/hunter-lewis/dangerous-food-and-...3 of 411/12/2013 9:49 PM

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