This is a Call to Action for a
Non-Hierarchical Occupation of Monsanto Everywhere

Whether you like it or not, chances are Monsanto contaminated the food you ate today with chemicals and unlabeled GMOs. Monsanto controls much of the world's food supply at the expense of food democracy worldwide. This site is dedicated to empowering citizens of the world to take action against Monsanto & it's enablers like the FDA, USDA, EPA, GMA, BIO, and the processed food companies that use Monsanto's products.




[Breaking the Set] GMO Virus: Silent Killer? | Interview with Alexis Baden-Mayer

Posted: January 30th, 2013 | Filed under: Genetic Crimes, Press, Research, Video | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |


Abby Martin talks to Alexis Baden-Mayer, Political Director for the Organic Consumers Association, about a recent discovery by the European Food Safety Authority, which found a viral gene unsafe for human consumption in almost all GMOs.


Source: Breaking the Set Youtube Channel

The Garden Island: Walter Ritte, Andrew Kimbrell address Hawai‘i SEED event

Posted: January 20th, 2013 | Filed under: Press | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |
andrew kimbrell hawaii seed tour kauai The Garden Island: Walter Ritte, Andrew Kimbrell address Hawai‘i SEED event Wheat Walter Ritte University of Hawaii Syngenta sustainability sugar beets State Capitol Salmon RoundUp rice Public Land Development Corporation Proposition 37 PLDC pesticides Nancy Redfeather Molokai Lihue Kaua‘i War Memorial Auditorium Kauai Kaho‘olawe International Center for Technology Assessment India HI Hawaii SEED Tour Hawaii government GMOs GMO Labeling Gary Hooser Flavr Savr FDA Family Dupont Dr. Vandana Shiva Dow Chemical Dicamba Corporations Center for Food Safety California Bayer Andrew Kimbrell alfalfa Agent Orange 2 4 D

Walter Ritte, Andrew Kimbrell address Hawai‘i SEED event

By Laurie Cicotello – The Garden Island

LIHU‘E — Wendell Berry once said, “To live, we must daily break the body and shed the blood of Creation. When we do this knowingly, lovingly, skillfully, reverently, it is a sacrament. When we do it ignorantly, greedily, clumsily, destructively, it is a desecration. In such desecration we condemn ourselves to spiritual and moral loneliness, and others to want.”

Environmental attorney Andrew Kimbrell shared Berry’s quotation with a standing room only crowd on the final evening of the Hawai‘i SEED Tour event featuring Dr. Vandana Shiva Thursday at the Kaua‘i War Memorial Auditorium (see Saturday’s online edition for a full story about Shiva’s presentation).

Berry’s quotation resonated the most during the evening, with Dr. Shiva also paraphrasing it before announcing that she would return to Kaua‘i, “only when you have driven those criminals off this island.”

Opening the event for Dr. Shiva Thursday night were Kimbrell and Hawaiian activist Walter Ritte.

In introducing Ritte, emcee Nancy Redfeather of Hawai‘i noted his work in 1975 reclaiming Kaho‘olawe from the U.S. military, which was using it for target practice.

She also recalled watching him and his two sons testify to stop a company from doing biological drug testing in Hawai‘i and how they successfully blocked the effort.

“On Moloka‘i, we are fiercely protective of our natural resources,” Ritte said. “We have a cash economy and a subsistence economy and we need both to survive.”

He said some islands have lost one of those economies and people get by on a cash economy.

On Moloka‘i, though, he said, “We fiercely protect the environment because that’s how we feed our family. The skills that allow us to harvest these resources and feed our families are traditional skills. Monsanto is the No. 1 problem we have right now.”

He said Native Hawaiians are asking him ‘We have sovereignty and rights to take of, why are you wasting your time on GMOs?’

For him, the answer boils down to food sustainability.

“If we are not going to learn how to feed ourselves, we are never going to be independent, self-sufficient and sovereign, never. Never,” he said.

Ritte described having the doors shut on protesters last year during an anti-GMO rally at the State Capitol.

“It was a horrible feeling,” Ritte said. “These elected officials have joined the corporations. They have declared a war on our environment and this island has the most to lose, because it is the most beautiful island in all of Hawai‘i. You have the most to protect.”

He said his job for the evening was to instill in the audience the idea that talk alone would not solve problems.

“If we don’t do anything, we are going to lose. We need you to participate in government,” Ritte said.

He praised the efforts of the Hawai‘i SEED leadership in getting people involved on both leading a three-mile march from UH to the Capitol on O‘ahu and in filling the entire facility on Kaua‘i.

“It’s these women who have all this energy and commitment. Holy burning on my ballbearings, I cannot keep up with this group,” Ritte said to applause. “The leadership right now coming from Kaua‘i is ahead of any other island. No other island can fill rooms like this. The leadership is coming from your island. You guys are in the lead, just like you were on the Superferry.”

Ritte also addressed the issue of the Public Land Development Corporation, calling on Gary Hooser to take the lead on making changes. With the changes in House leadership, Ritte said the doors are open to affecting change statewide.

Ritte said yesterday marked the 120th anniversary of the overthrow of the Hawaiian monarchy. He said the issue needs to be made pono, to be corrected in order to move forward.

“If you build the foundation of how we’re going to protect our environment, using the most powerful laws in the state, it’s not going to be just the Hawaiians rising up. It’s going to be all of us joining up and rising up together because of the love we have for future generations,” he said.

In thanking the crowd for allowing him to share his mana‘o, he said, “We are all here because we love our environment and we love our Islands. We need to protect them come hell or high water.”

Along with Shiva was Andrew Kimbrell, who became the executive director of the International Center for Technology Assessment in 1994 and the executive director of the Center for Food Safety in 1997. As one of the leading environmental attorneys in the nation, he has authored several books on the environment, technology in society and food issues. In 1994, Utne Reader named him as one of the world’s leading visionaries.

Kimbrell opened his talk by paying homage to emcee Nancy Redfeather and her work in the legislature and to Jeri Di Pietro, president of Hawai‘i SEED.

He shared a story about Walter Ritte after he stopped the genetic engineering of taro. A group was sitting around trying to figure out the next step and Kimbrell suggested the company might try to patent taro, to which Ritte replied, ‘They can’t patent my older brother!”

The next thing Kimbrell knew, Ritte and his Hawaiian warriors chained themselves to a building where the Regents for the University of Hawai‘i was meeting to give up the patents they had on taro, which ultimately they did.

“To my knowledge, it’s the only time a patent holder has ever given up a patent, particularly under the threat of imprisonment,” Kimbrell said. “They say if you want something done, give it to a busy man. I say if you want anything done, give it to this man.”

Kimbrell said he met Dr. Vandana Shiva in 1989 at the first global warming conference for NGOs. He said the “beauty and nobility of her presence” immediately drew him to her.

He said that during that first meeting, Dr. Shiva said that in India, her people “have for millennia lived, more or less, in harmony with the world, but here in the West, in less than 150 years, you’ve created almost a terminal threat to the planet. So from now on at this conference, why don’t we call you the underdeveloped world?”

Kimbrell fired off a long list of products his group has stopped, including the Flavor Savor genetically engineered tomato to wheat, alfalfa, sugar beets, slo mo grass, rice, even biopharmaceuticals.

“Monsanto can be stopped. We were outspent 20:1 by Monsanto and won,” Kimbrell said to applause, adding that it’s not a matter of “if we’re going to have labeling, but when.”

He described writing Proposition 37 in California, and how they lost the proposition 51 to 49. He said Monsanto spent $50 million and only won by a narrow margin.

“I love suing Monsanto,” Kimbrell said in discussing gene and patent cases heading to the U.S. Supreme Court. “It never stops them from being passive aggressive cause we just get to sue them.”

He noted there are five major companies equal to Monsanto including Dow Chemical, DuPont, Syngenta and Bayer.

The crowd loudly tried to correct him, shouting out “Pioneer!” to which Kimbrell reminded them that Pioneer is a subsidiary of DuPont.

Monsanto, DuPont and Syngenta own 51 percent of the world’s seeds, he said.

The seeds are designed to withstand huge applications of pesticides, which the same companies sell, Kimbrell said.

He said the Big 5 put out 115 million more pounds of pesticides and “we get rid of 40 million pounds of pesticides,” but it creates an adaptation of super weeds through survival of the fittest and weeds that can’t be killed with RoundUp.

Dow Chemicals said took over and created 2,4-D resistant crops.

“2,4-D is one of the elements in Agent Orange. So then they start a chemical arms race because Monsanto says they are going to go with Dicamba,” Kimbrell said, adding that these crops are currently up for USDA approval.

Kimbrell said Dicamba is one of the most terrifying weed killers as well because it volatilizes. “That means that under certain warm and wet conditions, it comes back up in a cloud after it’s been sprayed and can move miles over an organic farm and kill everything there. We’ve had conventional farmers say they don’t want this thing, so our work is not done.”

He went on to say “one of the most troubling things for me” is that the FDA is currently finalizing the approval of genetically engineered salmon.

“The salmon was originally engineered with human growth genes to make it grow larger, faster, and now they put some pout genes to do the same thing,” Kimbrell said.

He added that researchers said it would take a very small number of these salmon to decimate all salmon.

“Sixty fish like this, if they are released into a population of 60,000 native salmon, can cause extinction in thirty generations,” Kimbrell said.

He said there are about 45 days left for people to contact the FDA and tell them not to approve the fish.

Kimbrell added that 1.25 million people so far have signed a labeling petition asking President Obama to label GMO foods and said it is the largest response the FDA has ever had.

Based on the passion shown for the petition, Kimbrell encouraged the audience to have passion for their convictions.

“People who make war just for making war will fight for any side and quit when they want, but if you’re a lover … If you are a lover of seas, if you are a lover of lands, if you are a lover of rivers, if you are a lover of animals, then you will fight. You will fight for that. Lovers are the best fighters.”

Kimbrell once got called out for being against progress, but offered that the question needs to be “progress toward what?”

“The U.N. just came out with a report that said the way we are going to feed the world is not through genetic engineering, is not through toxic inputs, is not through pesticides, is not through the 2,4-D and the Dicamba and the RoundUp that is in the dust on Moloka‘i and hurting and killing children on this island. We know it’s the toxic herbicides. That is not progress. That can never be progress,” Kimbrell said, adding the companies are destroying the Earth and making “zillions of dollars” in the process, all in the name of progress. “We’ll occupy progress,” he said.

He said biotech companies would like for people to remain passive consumers, but noted that Ritte said everyone is a creator capable of making decisions, “in the food we grow, the food we buy, the food we feed out children, the food we allow in our schools and in our communities is either going to progress this terrible mechanistic nightmare that’s now reached it’s endpoint in the actual engineering of the seed to be intolerant to these horrifying toxins and poisons or be organic and beyond, which is the fastest growing sector in American agriculture that is organic, local, appropriate scale, humane, socially just and biodiverse.”

Kimbrell encouraged the audience to be creators by getting involved to no longer be part of the desecration as described by Wendell Berry.

“Don’t just read a poem, write a poem. Don’t just listen to music, write music. Don’t just eat food, grow food. That’s the way to do it. Don’t just watch romantic movies, make love,” he said.

In the end, he encouraged the crowd to come together in the food movement.

“As you fight every battle here, I hope you all together, in cooperation, in love, can knowingly, skillfully, lovingly and most important reverentially, come together to create a new food future.”


Source: The Garden Island


Click here to watch Videos of Dr. Shiva, Walter Ritte, Andrew Kimbrell, and Makana

The Garden Island: Shiva brings anti-GMO message to Kaua‘i

Posted: January 19th, 2013 | Filed under: Press | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |
dr shiva the garden island dennis fujimoto The Garden Island: Shiva brings anti GMO message to Kaua‘i Walter Ritte University of Hawaii at Manoa United Nations Environmental Program United Nations Union Carbide The Garden Island technology Syngenta State Capitol Right Livelihood Award pollen pesticides Occupy GMO Nuremberg Trials neem tree Nancy Redfeather Monsanto Makana Mahatma Gandhi Laura Thielen Kaua‘i War Memorial Convention Hall Kauai Kapolei Salvation Army Ray Kroc Center Kanu I Ka Pono New Century Public Charter School Island International Forum of Globalization International Center for Technology Assessment HI Hawai‘i Public Seed Initiative Hawai‘i Island School Garden Network Hawaii SEED Tour Hawaii Green Revolution GMO Labeling gmo Global 500 Award Gary Hooser food endosulfan Dupont Dr. Vandana Shiva Dow Dalai Lama CIA China Central Intelligence Agency Center for Food Safety biotechnology biotech biopiracy biofuel Big Island Bhutan Bhopal bees Bayer animal feed Andrew Kimbrell agriculture Afghans

Shiva brings anti-GMO message to Kaua‘i

By Laurie Cicotello, The Garden Island

LIHU‘E — The Kaua‘i War Memorial Convention Hall was standing room only as more than 1,100 people showed up Thursday night to hear a presentation by environmentalist Dr. Vandana Shiva.

“Your island is truth speaking to the world,” Shiva told the crowd to thunderous applause.

Joining Shiva as part of a three-day Hawai‘i SEED Tour was environmental attorney Andrew Kimbrell and Hawaiian rights activist Walter Ritte of Moloka‘i.

“Dr. Shiva is like the Dalai Lama of Agriculture,” Ritte said of the Indian philosopher, physicist, environmental activist and eco-feminist who has authored more than 20 books. As a leader in the International Forum of Globalization, Shiva fights for changes in the practices and paradigms of food, according to her biography.

Shiva met with residents of the Westside for dinner ahead of time to discuss a pending class action lawsuit over the continued experimental use of pesticides by biotech companies in the area.

Because of the experiments taking place with pesticides and genetically engineered seeds on the Westside of the island, Kaua‘i is considered ground zero internationally in the fight to stop biotech companies such as Monsanto, Dow, DuPont, Bayer and Syngenta from creating more products and patenting more seeds.

Organizers are also working to have Hawai‘i become the first state to label foods containing genetically modified organisms.

In assisting grassroots organizations in the green movement worldwide, Shiva has been featured in several documentaries and received the Right Livelihood Award and the Global 500 Award of the United Nations Environmental Program. She has been called one of the five most powerful women in Asia.

Along with Shiva was Andrew Kimbrell, who became the executive director of the International Center for Technology Assessment in 1994 and the executive director of the Center for Food Safety in 1997. As one of the leading environmental attorneys in the nation, he has authored several books on the environment, technology in society and food issues. In 1994, Utne Reader named him as one of the world’s leading visionaries.

Sponsored by Hawai‘i SEED, The Center for Food Safety and Navdanya, the evening discussing the elimination of genetically modified organisms, along with the labeling of GMO products, was the culmination of a three-day long Hawai‘i SEED Tour that had Shiva, Kimbrell and Ritte speaking to a sold out audiences at the University of Hawai‘i at Manoa and at the Kapolei Salvation Army Ray Kroc Center, along with legislative briefings and presentations in the State Capitol by Kaua‘i County Councilman Gary Hooser, Sen. Laura Thielen and others.

At the outset of the evening, vendors from around the island set up a seed giveaway featuring a local farming resource fair and silent auction to benefit Hawai‘i SEED.

Emceeing the Kaua‘i event was Nancy Redfeather of Kawanui Farm on the Big Island, who in her work as a teacher and gardener has helped create 65 school gardens through her work as program director for the Hawai‘i Island School Garden Network and is the director of the Hawai‘i Public Seed Initiative.

Opening the evening at the Kaua‘i War Memorial were students from Kanu I Ka Pono New Century Public Charter School, who greeted the audience with chant and poetry.

“There’s room for man’s need, but not man’s greed,” said one Kanu I Ka Pono student in her poem, paraphrasing Mahatma Gandhi.

Up next was performer Makana, who played a modified version of his “We Are the Many” anthem advising the crowd to “Occupy GMO.” He also performed a new song titled, “The Story of the GMO,” which addresses the history of the anti-GMO movement and closed the evening with an untitled “Song for Vandana,” that he was inspired to write while listening to Shiva’s presentation.

In introducing Dr. Shiva, Redfeather said Dr. Shiva has trained more than 650,000 farmers in India and is advising Bhutan on how to be come the first wholly organic country in the world.

“I was told you were a very small island with a very small population. It doesn’t look like it when you stand in this hall,” she said.

She said that the myth was that spraying pesticides has lead to the rise of GMOs.

Dr. Shiva said farmers were told they would never have to spray again, “we known through the practice in the rest of the world that in fact the spray increases and you talk about it. The GMOs are not a safe alternative to poisons. They are pushed by the poison industry to increase poison sales and monopolize the seed industry.”

In discussing the 1984 Bhopal disaster, Dr. Shiva said 3,000 people died in a gas leak from a Union Carbide plant and more than 30,000 people have died since then. She said the disaster didn’t stop after the explosion “as generations being born today are being born crippled.”

She said Bhopal isn’t the only poison tragedy in India. She said 1,000 people died in the past couple years in “the endosulfan tragedy,” when thousands of people were sprayed with pesticides that went into water and wells.

Dr. Shiva said India’s Green Revolution started off with chemicals that were designed for killing people in times of war. After World War II, these companies then turned the chemicals into pesticides and now have become a biotech.

“The explosive factories were redesigned to create fertilizer,” Dr. Shiva said, noting that the Oklahoma bombing, the Oslo bombing and every bombing in India were created using fertilizer bombs.

“We delivered sacks and sacks of fertilizer to the Afghans and now they are making bombs,” she said of the Central Intelligence Agency providing fertilizer to the country. “A century of war making and destruction is behind this.”

Her research for the United Nations also uncovered that nerve gas was being modified into modern day pesticides.

She addressed her plans to organize new Nuremberg Trials to go after the companies making nerve gas to kill people during World War II that are still making chemicals today.

“We are going to organize new Nuremberg trials and bring together everyone that has been harmed in the name of agricultural progress,” she said.

Dr. Shiva went on to say she was at a conference where people were talking about making seed saving a crime. She said one of the big fights being faced is to prevent the criminalization of seed saving by farmers.

“How could it be that the death industry can recreate itself as the life sciences industry?” she asked, adding that the companies position themselves as patient and diagnostician for a problem, with the problem being farmers saving seeds.

She said that growing up, her family used the neem tree for pest control, which causes bugs to reproduce slower. She said the neem tree is called the “village farmer,” and has more than 1,000 uses.

After Bhopal, Dr. Shiva delivered neem trees to the area and made posters that read, “No more Bhopals. Plant a Neem.”

She discussed other biopiracy cases such as basmati rice, which RiceTec patented and claimed to have invented along with how worldwide trade impacts the industry.

“Everything comes from China,” Dr. Shiva said of the U.S. being in a negative trade balance. “Patented seeds and GMO crops are the only things leaving. You have become the nerve center for this destruction.”

In the end, though, Dr. Shiva said the biotech companies have left us with bug-resistant super pests and super wheats.

“The GMO emperor has no clothes,” Dr. Shiva said. “We have the clarity to speak truth. We do not recognize patents on life.”

Monopolies and monocultures go together and have reduced to just eight commodities including animal feed, biofuel and human food last. She said it wastes communities by destroying them and imposes uniformity along with shipping them in trucks.

“Food is a waste system. It wastes the Earth, it wastes communities, it wastes potential, they ship it thousands of miles in trucks,” she said.

“Bees usurp pollen, weeds steal sunshine … everyone is a thief in their world because they are the thieves,” Dr. Shiva said of what the biotech companies are telling the world, “This is not about technology. This is about conquest. That’s why every time a religion has conquered, they destroyed sacred shrines and put in churches.”

She said people should live by the tenets of Gandhi, including satyagraha meaning fight for truth; swaraj meaning self-organized freedom; and swadeshi, meaning self-making as a rule of freedom; and the concept of lifting up everyone including the most vulnerable.

In the end, Dr. Shiva called on Kaua‘i’s residents to work on feeding themselves.

“You have so much water and biodivesity here on the Garden Island that it should be a garden and in reality feeding itself.”


Source: The Garden Island


Click here to watch Videos of Dr. Shiva, Walter Ritte, Andrew Kimbrell, and Makana

St. Louis Post-Dispatch: Court case draws Monsanto protesters to White House

Posted: January 10th, 2013 | Filed under: Press | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

OSGATA v Monsanto 18 St. Louis Post Dispatch: Court case draws Monsanto protesters to White House White House Washington Vermont U.S. District Judge U.S. Court of St. Louis Post Dispatch Sow True Seeds Rally Protest patent infringement OSGATA et al v. Monsanto Organic Food National Mall Naomi Buchwald Monsanto lawsuit GMO Labeling Genetic Contamination Demonstration DC David Zuckerman Daniel Ravicher contamination Carol Koury Bill Lambrecht Ashville

Court case draws Monsanto protesters to White House

By Bill Lambrecht blambrecht@post-dispatch.com 202-298-6880
January 10, 2013 12:30 pm

WASHINGTON • An appeal by organic farmers to a court ruling last year turned into a wide-ranging protest this morning with speakers skewering Monsanto Co. for its policies and demanding labeling of genetically modified food.

About 200 people, many from organic seed companies, rallied in a park directly across from the White House on a crisp, cloudless day amid construction for festivities surrounding the second inauguration of President Barack Obama on Jan. 21.

Protesters announced that another rally will take place on Jan. 21 with a march on the National Mall demanding that Obama follow through with what they say was his promise in 2007 to seek labeling of food with genetically modified ingredients.

The protest suggested an uptick in efforts to demand labeling, which was defeated in a California ballot initiative in November. Creve Coeur-based Monsanto spent at least $8 million in an industry-wide effort to sink the California proposition.

Vermont state Sen. David Zuckerman said at the rally that he is leading an effort in his state seeking legislation requiring labeling of genetically modified food.

Organic farmers, who are pressing a lawsuit against Monsanto, often complain that their products are threatened by wind-blown pollen from genetically altered crops.

“We want and demand the right of clean seed not contaminated by a massive biotech company that’s in it for the profit,” Carol Koury, who operates Sow True Seeds in Asheville, N.C., said at the rally.

The gathering was held in conjunction with an appeal heard today before a three-judge U.S. Court of Appeals panel in Washington. The suit questions the legality of Monsanto’s seed patents and seeks protection from patent-infringement suits against farmers in the event their fields are found to contain genetically modified seed.

The lawsuit was filed by the Public Patent Foundation on behalf of the Organic Seed Growers and Trade Association.

Last February, U.S. District Judge Naomi Buchwald in the Southern District of New York dismissed the suit, asserting that “there is no evidence to suggest that plaintiffs are infringing defendants’ patents, nor have plaintiffs suggested when, if ever, such infringement will occur.”

Buchwald said in her ruling that it was “hardly significant” that Monsanto had filed 144 patent-infringement cases over a 13-year period given the number of farms in the United States.

After the dismissal, a Monsanto lawyer called the ruling a victory for all farmers.

This morning, Public Patent Foundation’s Daniel Ravicher, a lawyer who presented the appeal, asked: “If our clients don’t have standing today to seek protection, when will they have standing? Do they have to wait to be contaminated?”


Source: St. Louis Post-Dispatch

Kenya bans importation of GMO foods

Posted: November 21st, 2012 | Filed under: Press | Tags: , , , , , , , , , |


kenya bans gmo foods Kenya bans importation of GMO foods Ministry of Public Health and Sanitation Kenya Import health government GMO Foods gmo Food Safety consumers Beth Mugo Public Health minister Beth Mugo subsequently directed all Public Health Officers at all ports of entry and all other government regulators to enforce the ban on importation of Genetically Modified Foods in the country.

This she says was following the decision made by the cabinet to ban the importation of GMO foods into the country due to inadequate research done on GMOs and scientific evidence provided to prove the safety of the foods until such a time that the country will certify that they have no negative impacts on the health of consumers.

“Consequently, the government has decided that until such an informed policy decision is made, all GMO food imports are completely banned. All relevant government agencies have according been instructed to immediately comply with this directive and enforce the ban on importation of all GMO foods.”

She urged stakeholders to verify the custom entry documents of food consignments to ascertain that their GMO certificate.

“The protection of the consumer and assurance to the public on the safety of food is extremely important in making decisions about food importation, distribution and consumption. Where there is apprehension and uncertainty with regard to the safety of food products, precautionary measure to protect the health of the people must be undertaken.”

She threatened legal action against those who do not comply with the directive.

” I am therefore, calling upon all stakeholders and government regulators involved in importation of GMO foods to take note of this directive that no importation of GMO foods will be allowed into the country until further advice by the Ministry of Public Health and Sanitation.”


Source: Kenya Broadcasting Corporation

Washington Post: Probe of 3 FDA Officials Sought

Posted: November 9th, 2012 | Filed under: Genetic Crimes, Press | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

probe of 3 FDA officials sought michael taylor Washington Post: Probe of 3 FDA Officials Sought Washington Post Toxic Susan Sechen Sidney Wolfe Senate Revolving Door Resignation Research Regulatory Capture recombinant bovine somatotropin rBST Public Citizen Health Research Group old news Monsanto Milk Michael Taylor Margaret A. Miller King and Spalding Jim OHara Jeremy Rifkin Jack M. Kress historical gmo George E. Brown Jr. GAO FDA Ethics drug David R. Obey David A. Kessler Cows Conflict of Interest Center for Veterinary Medicine bST biotechnology Bioethics Bill Goold Bernie Sanders Bernard Sanders

Probe of 3 FDA Officials Sought

Industry Ties Before Approval of Bovine Growth Hormone Are at Issue

By John Schwartz, Washington Post Staff Writer, April 19, 1994

Three members of Congress have called for a federal investigation into possible conflicts of interest involving three officials of the Food and Drug Administration, which approved a controversial genetically engineered Monsanto Corp. drug last year. All three agency officials had some ties to Monsanto before coming to the FDA, but an agency spokesman denied there was any misconduct.

In a letter Friday to the General Accounting Office, Reps. George E. Brown Jr. (D-Calf.), David R. Obey (D-Wis.) and Bernard Sanders (I-Vt.) asked the watchdog agency to conduct a 30-day review of the FDA’s approval of recombinant bovine somatotropin (bST), a substance that increases milk yields in cows.

“A troubling pattern of unanswered questions is emerging that suggests an altogether too cozy relationship between some FDA officials central to this food safety decision and their close dealings with the Monsanto Company,” Sanders said in a statement.

The letter- which cites an anonymous March 16 complaint ostensibly written by members of the FDA’s Center for Veterinary Medicine (CVM)- asks the GAO to probe the roles of three “key” FDA officials in the approval of the Monsanto drug.

The highest ranking is Michael Taylor, deputy commissioner for policy, a past FDA employee who rejoined the agency in 1991 from the Washington law firm King and Spalding, which represents Monsanto. Also named was Margaret A. Miller, deputy director of the agency’s office of new animal drugs. The letter characterized her as “a former Monsanto company employee” who wrote the FDA’s opinion on why milk from bST-treated cows should not require special labeling.

A third staff member, Susan Sechen, was described as a data reviewer at the FDA who had worked as a graduate student for a Cornell University professor who conducted Monsanto-sponsored research on bST.

Anti-biotechnology activist Jeremy Rifkin first made the charges about Taylor in February, when he petitioned the FDA to rescind the approval of bST and investigate the three staff members’ role in the agency’s policy.

On March 15, FDA Commissioner David A. Kessler sent Rifkin a four-page letter stating that “none of the activities of Mr. Taylor cited in your petition were in violation of any applicable law or regulation, or were otherwise inappropriate … I believe that Mr. Taylor’s behavior adhered to all applicable ethical standards.”

Kessler said that Taylor had not been “intimately” involved in Monsanto’s efforts to obtain approval, as Rifkin charged, and that he was involved in the FDA’s bST policy only in the final stages of review.

Kessler attached a nine-page memo by FDA ethics official Jack M. Kress supporting that position. Upon arrival at the FDA in the summer of 1991, Taylor recused himself for one year from taking part in any agency action dealing directly with Monsanto or any other King and Spalding clients.

Some longtime agency critics found the charges against Taylor misplaced. Sidney Wolfe, a physician who heads the Public Citizen Health Research Group here has filed complaints with the FDA about revolving door ethics issues concerning other officials. But he said yesterday that “It’s barking up a silly kind of tree to be going against Mike Taylor.”

Wolfe said that “as far as we’re concerned, he’s done a perfectly good job.” Wolfe compared Rifkin’s charges to saying that anyone who worked for a drug company and began working for the FDA should not be allowed to say anything about drugs in general- a stance that Wolfe characterized as “preposterous.”

As for the two other FDA employees named in the House members’ letter, agency spokesman Jim O’Hara said there was no impropriety. “As we have learned of these allegations, we have looked at them. The appropriate safeguards against conflict of interest have been taken,” O’Hara said.

Miller was no involved in the decision to approve bST, and Sechen’s involvement with the bST review was approved at the outset by the FDA’s ethics and program integrity division, which “determined that there was no a conflict of interest based on the information they were provided,” O’Hara said.

Although reluctant to comment in the face of a possible investigation, Taylor said yesterday that “I would welcome any scrutiny of my actions.”

Much of the material used in the lawmakers’ letter, including the anonymous CVM letter alleging Miller’s conflict of interest, came from Rifkin, a long-standing opponent of bST. Bill Goold, a spokesman for Sanders, said the search of scientific literature relied upon by Sander’s staff in drafting the letter came from Rifkin’s organization.

Rifkin has fought against the approval of bST for more than seven years as a part of an all-fronts assault against biotechnology. He called his ethical charges “a significant scandal” that he said showed moral weakness at the top of the organization. “We want Kessler’s resignation,” Rifkin said yesterday. He said that the nine-page ethics memo by FDA’s Kress was “people in government trying to protect their own.”

Sanders and Obey have previously taken stands against the approval of bST and its use without consumer labels that identify the milk as coming from cows treated with the drug.

But many Capitol Hill staff members were surprised to see Brown- who chairs the Science, Space, and Technology Committee- as a signer of the letter.

Sources familiar with the process said key committee staff members felt they had been end-run by activists. One congressional aide said staff members who normally would be informed of such an action were unaware that Brown had signed the letter.

“George’s issue is with the process of approval. He wants to make sure people are squeaky-clean,” the aide said. Brown did not see the FDA response to the Rifkin petition before signing the Sanders letter, an aide said. Obey said yesterday that he had seen the FDA response and “I’m frankly not impressed.”

Some acquaintances of Taylor were incredulous that the official would be the object of ethical scrutiny. “There’s no more ethical person in this town than Mike Taylor,” said Wayne Pines, a former FDA official who now consults with companies on FDA matters. “Mike would never get involved in a situation in which there’s a conflict- that’s such a no-brainer.”


Source: Washington Post, April 19, 1994


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