Say Yes to Food Safety – No to Taylor & Olsterholm

Currently America is in the middle of a record food safety crisis and it could get a whole lot worse.   Former Monsanto executive Michael Taylor and irradiation proponent Dr. Michael Osterholm could be named to top food safety spots in the new Administration.

Ask Secretary Vilsack to say no to Taylor and Osterholm.

1. Michael Taylor, a former Monsanto executive, whose career literally fits the definition of the revolving door between government, lobbying and corporate interests. Before serving on the Obama ag transition team, Taylor made a name for himself rotating in and out of law firms, Monsanto, the USDA and FDA. While at the FDA he helped write the rules to allow rBGH into the American food system and our children’s milk.  Now we’ve learned that Taylor may be in line to run an office in the White House on food safety!

2.  On Monday, Secretary Vilsack is set to announce the appointment of Dr. Michael Osterholm, a food safety expert, to lead the Food Safety agency at the USDA. According to Food & Water Watch, Osterholm has been “a zealot in promoting th[e] controversial technology (of irradiation) as the panacea to contaminated food.   Irradiation allows food processors to nuke disease from contaminated food at the end of the production line, while ignoring the root problems that create unsafe food.

For Osterholm, the recent peanut butter fiasco apparently was just another example of how irradiation could save the day. “Clearly it’s a problem where the raw peanut butter or paste is consumed and not cooked,” Osterholm said.  About the magnitude of America’s most recent food safety crisis, Osterholm said, “The recall has reached a level that is far beyond what’s necessary.”  Try telling that to the relatives of the nine people who died and to the over 600 sick individuals across the country.  The problem, Osterholm doesn’t take constructive criticism of his favorite technology lightly. In 1999 he wrote an editorial calling food safety advocates who questioned the safety of irradiation terrorists. We need a food safety system with some teeth – one that is independent of corporate interests.

Please cut and paste the below email and send it to Secretary Vilsack at the following address.

[email protected]

Dear Secretary Vilsack,

I ask that you take the lead in helping America protect the safety of its food supply by appointing a real reformer at the USDA Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) position and advising President Obama not to name Michael Taylor to any position in the administration.

Please appoint someone other than Michael Osterholm, who has proven to be too biased in favor of a single technology that has been ineffective in stopping food safety outbreaks and is something that most American consumers don’t want.

I took the President at his word when he said he would close the revolving door in this new administration and I know that you want to lead a new era at the USDA.

Please appoint true reformers to positions within the USDA to help you transform America’s food and farm system for the 21st century.

Thanks for your consideration.


Posted in Food Justice Blog Posts and tagged .


  1. Former Monsanto executive Michael Taylor and irradiation proponent Dr. Michael Osterholm are both cases of allowing the fox to guard the henhouse. Their backgrounds and beliefs are not what we need today. Excuse me! Irradiation as the answer to most of our food safety issues, but leave every other bad practice in place?! I hope you have a better plan. I DO NOT want Monsanto in charge of food safety in this country!

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  4. who so ever is appointed the head of FSWG doesn’t matter, the thing matters is that the person heads the FSWG should be fulfilling the responsibilities positively and should be making the food department so strong that there should be not a single complain about foodborne diseases.

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