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.
About a dozen protesters calling themselves Occupy Monsanto spent several hours near Monsanto’s headquarters in Creve Coeur, Missouri as shareholders voted on members for the company’s Board of Directors.
The protesters called for more transparency in the multinational company’s operations especially in labeling, research and business practices.
Adam Eidinger who owns 75 Monsanto shares read his speech to the protesters before heading to the meeting to address shareholders with a statement on behalf of Pesticide Action Network, the company, which submitted the study on potential risks of using GMOs.
RT: You are a Monsanto shareholder, so you’re obviously interested in the company making a profit. But you are planning to speak on behalf of the company which submitted the study on the potential risks of Monsanto products. Why are you doing this?
AE: Well the resolution we had would have required a report to be written that could be shared with researchers and scientists across the globe about the risks that they know – the company knows already – about their genetically modified crops. Which many safe food activists believe make us more reliant on herbicides and chemicals that the company also sells. And these chemicals may be what’s causing higher rates of cancer in industrialized nations across the globe.
We know how it caused tumors in rats that were fed in long term studies last year. Dr. Seralini’s study was a topic during this shareholder meeting, I brought it up. I was able to speak during the meeting.
And this meeting was closed to the public, as you said. And one of the things we are asking for is in the future this to be live-streamed. People around the world care about what’s going into the food. They may not want to own Monsanto stock.
I only bought the stock so I could speak at this shareholder meeting.
RT: A Chinese economist has criticized Monsanto for controlling the country’s soybean market and trying to do the same with corn and cotton in the country. How is this impacting local farmers?
AE: It devastates local farmers time and time again. We’ve seen countries where Monsanto has introduced ‘patented’ technologies, I like to call it. And they only provide hybrid seeds to farmers who then loose bio-diversity, loose varieties that have actually adapted to that area.
What we need on this planet is better distribution of food and we need better organic methods to be shared with farmers, not more reliance on chemicals and pesticides.
And now, it was quite alarming at this shareholder meeting, there are these new technologies where they are going to be modifying insects and viruses and introducing these novel viruses into the environment to handle pests, to kill pests.
We wonder why bee populations around the world are plummeting – it’s because of these chemicals and possibly because of this new technology.
RT: In 2009, Monsanto was accused by the US Justice Department of breaking anti-trust rules. But in 2012 the inquiry was closed without taking any enforcement action. Why?
AE: I think Monsanto is a perfect example of regulatory capture where an industry captures the levers of government, levers of our democracy that are supposed to protect us from companies that would profit over our health being impacted in a really negative way. I mean people may be allergic to these crops, to the chemicals that are used on them, and they are trying to avoid them. And in America they have no right to know if the food has been genetically modified or not. And that is something I brought up at the meeting, if you want to be transparent you ought to label the food.
So yes, you have people at the FDA like Michael Taylor who is the head of food safety who also was the vice-president of Monsanto for a decade and prior to that worked at the FDA as well. So it’s a revolving door, he was at the FDA, went to work for Monsanto and now he’s back at the FDA. It’s clear that secretary of state Clinton, she emphasized giving these hybrid seeds to Africa, yet there’s no proof this is going to help African farmers. I think quite the contrary – they are going to become dependent on buying seeds from the United States when they should be able to save their seeds and develop their own varieties in Africa.
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.”
At 11:30am, former Monsanto executive, “Food Safety Czar” Michael Taylor will be answering questions at the Food Safety Summit “Town Hall” forum. The GCU is calling for Taylor’s immediate resignation because a former Monsanto lobbyist, who profits from the increased use of pesticides & genetically engineered foods, should not be determining food safety & labeling standards in America.
The Town Hall, as the forum is being called, is NOT open to the general public. Food Safety Summit attendees have paid at least $350 to attend. Occupy Monsanto’s 99%ers will take to the sidewalks dressed in Genetic Crimes Unit bio-hazmat uniforms to highlight the grave implications of chemical and genetic contamination in America’s food supply.
ABOUT MICHAEL TAYLOR
For over 30 years, Michael Taylor has been a part of the toxic revolving door between the public sector & the private sector. Starting 1976, Taylor became a staff attorney for the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), where he was executive assistant to the Commissioner. In 1981, he went into private practice at King & Spalding, a law firm representing chemical company Monsanto, where he established and led the firm’s “food and drug law” practice. A decade later, on July 17, 1991, Taylor left King & Spalding, returning to the FDA to fill the newly created post of Deputy Commissioner for Policy. While at the FDA, he also oversaw the policy regarding Monsanto’s genetically engineered bovine growth hormone (rbGH/rbST), which is injected into cows to increase milk production. Taylor asserted that milk from injected cows did not require any special labeling and wrote the white paper suggesting that if companies have 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. Between 1994 and 1996 he moved to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), where he was Administrator of the Food Safety & Inspection Service and was influential in the approval of unlabeled genetically modified foods entering the American food supply. After briefly returning to King & Spalding, he then returned to Monsanto to become Vice President for Public Policy from 1998 to 2001. Taylor has been a professor at the University of Maryland’s School of Medicine and in 2007 he became a Research Professor of Health Policy at the George Washington University School of Public Health and Health Services. On July 7, 2009, Taylor once again returned to government as “senior advisor” to the FDA Commissioner and on January 13, 2010, he was appointed to another newly created post at the FDA, this time as Deputy Commissioner for Foods, which makes him the second highest-ranking official at the FDA. Under his current tenure at the FDA, he’s been involved in the approval of genetically engineered alfalfa and is currently in support of genetically engineered salmon. Since August of last year, two on-line petitions, which call for President Obama to rescind his appointment of Taylor to the FDA, have gathered over 500,000 signatures.