by Rich Murray
December 24, 2002
Welcome To The Revolving Door...
The "revolving door" - the interplay of personnel that assists the
industrial alignment of public service and regulatory authorities -
has led to key figures at both the US's
EPA having held important positions
Monsanto, or else doing so shortly
after their biotech related regulatory work for the government
An article in The Ecologist's famous 'Monsanto Files' by Jennifer
Doors - Monsanto and the Regulators', looked in detail at
As an instance, Ferrara noted the FDA's approval of Monsanto's
genetically engineered cattle drug rBGH which failed to gain
approval in either Europe or Canada despite intense lobbying and
accusations of malpractice:
"Michael R. Taylor, the FDA's
deputy commissioner for policy, wrote the FDA's
rBGH labeling guidelines.
The guidelines, announced in
February 1994, virtually prohibited dairy corporations from
making any real distinction between products produced with and
To keep rBGH-milk from being "stigmatized" in the
marketplace, the FDA announced that labels on non-rBGH products
must state that there is no difference between rBGH and the
naturally occurring hormone.
In March 1994, Taylor was publicly exposed as a former lawyer
for the Monsanto corporation for seven years.
While working for Monsanto, Taylor
had prepared a memo for the company as to whether or not it
would be constitutional for states to erect labeling laws
concerning rBGH dairy products. In other words Taylor helped
Monsanto figure out whether or not the corporation could sue
states or companies that wanted to tell the public that their
products were free of Monsanto's drug.
Taylor wasn't the only FDA official involved in rBGI-1 policy
who had worked for Monsanto. Margaret Miller, deputy director of
the FDA's Office of New Animal Drugs was a former Monsanto
research scientist who had worked on Monsanto's rBGH safety
studies up until 1989.
Suzanne Sechen was a primary
reviewer for rBGH in the Office of New Animal Drugs between 1988
Before coming to the FDA, she had done research for
several Monsanto-funded rBGH studies as a graduate student at
Cornell University. Her professor was one of Monsanto's
university consultants and a known rBGH promoter.
Remarkably, the GAO determined in a 1994 investigation that
these officials' former association with the Monsanto
corporation did not pose a conflict of interest.
But for those concerned about the
health and environmental hazards of genetic engineering, the
revolving door between the biotechnology industry and federal
regulating agencies is a serious cause for concern."
The following is
taken from the Edmonds Institute:
David W. Beier - former head of
Government Affairs for Genentech, Inc... chief domestic
policy advisor to Al Gore when he was Vice President.
Linda J. Fisher - former
Assistant Administrator of the United States Environmental
Protection Agency's Office of Pollution Prevention,
Pesticides, and Toxic Substances... now Vice President of
Government and Public Affairs for Monsanto Corporation.
Michael A. Friedman, M.D -
former acting commissioner of the United States Food and
Drug Administration (FDA) Department of Health and Human
Services... now senior vice-president for clinical affairs
at G. D. Searle & Co., a pharmaceutical division of Monsanto
L. Val Giddings - former
biotechnology regulator and (biosafety) negotiator at the
United States Department of Agriculture (USDA/APHIS)... now
Vice President for Food & Agriculture of the Biotechnology
Industry Organization (BIO).
Marcia Hale - former assistant
to the President of the United States and director for
intergovernmental affairs... now Director of International
Government Affairs for Monsanto Corporation.
Michael (Mickey) Kantor - former
Secretary of the United States Department of Commerce and
former Trade Representative of the United States... now
member of the board of directors of Monsanto Corporation.
Josh King - former director of
production for White House events. . . now director of
global communication in the Washington, D.C. office of
Terry Medley - former
administrator of the Animal and Plant Health Inspection
Service (APHIS) of the United States Department of
Agriculture, former chair and vice-chair of the United
States Department of Agriculture Biotechnology Council,
former member of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA)
food advisory committee... and now Director of Regulatory
and External Affairs of DuPont Corporation's Agricultural
Margaret Miller - former
chemical laboratory supervisor for Monsanto... now Deputy
Director of Human Food Safety and Consultative Services, New
Animal Drug Evaluation Office, Center for Veterinary
Medicine in the United States Food and Drug Administration
Michael Phillips - recently with
the National Academy of Science Board on Agriculture . . .
now head of regulatory affairs for the Biotechnology
William D. Ruckelshaus - former
chief administrator of the United States Environmental
Protection Agency (USEPA)... now (and for the past 12 years)
a member of the board of directors of Monsanto Corporation.
Michael Taylor - former legal
advisor to the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA)'s
Bureau of Medical Devices and Bureau of Foods, later
executive assistant to the Commissioner of the FDA... still
later a partner at the law firm of King & Spaulding where he
supervised a nine-lawyer group whose clients included
Monsanto Agricultural Company... still later Deputy
Commissioner for Policy at the United States Food and Drug
Administration... and later with the law firm of King &
Spaulding... now head of the Washington, D.C. office of
Monsanto Corporation. *
Lidia Watrud - former microbial
biotechnology researcher at Monsanto Corporation in St.
Louis, Missouri... now with the United States Environmental
Protection Agency Environmental Effects Laboratory, Western
Jack Watson - former chief of
staff to the President of the United States, Jimmy Carter...
now a staff lawyer with Monsanto Corporation in Washington,
Clayton K. Yeutter - former
Secretary of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, former U.S.
Trade Representative (who led the U.S. team in negotiating
the U.S. Canada Free Trade Agreement and helped launch the
Uruguay Round of the GATT negotiations), now a member of the
board of directors of Mycogen Corporation, whose majority
owner is Dow AgroSciences, a wholly owned subsidiary of The
Dow Chemical Company.
Larry Zeph - former biologist in
the Office of Prevention, Pesticides, and Toxic Substances,
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)..., now Regulatory
Science Manager at Pioneer Hi-Bred International.
* Margaret Miller, Michael Taylor, and Suzanne Sechen (an
FDA "primary reviewer for all rbST and other dairy drug
production applications" ) were the subjects of a U.S.
General Accounting Office (GAO) investigation in 1994 for
their role in the U.S. Food and Drug Administration's
approval of Posilac, Monsanto Corporation's formulation of
recombinant bovine growth hormone (rbST or rBGH).
The GAO Office found
"no conflicting financial interests with respect to the
drug's approval" and only "one minor deviation from now
superseded FDA regulations".
(Quotations are from
the 1994 GAO report)
"When people are trying to kill you and when they attack because
they hate freedom, other disputes from Frankenfood to bananas
and even important issues like the environment suddenly look a
George Bush's National Security
The Revolving Door
FDA and the Monsanto Company
by Edward Bonnette
February 11, 2013
According to the United States Food
and Drug Administration (FDA),
“[p]rotecting the public health by
assuring that foods are safe, wholesome, sanitary and properly
This responsibility entails regulating a
large number of companies producing this nation’s food, making
appointments to the high-level positions within the agency very
Most high-level FDA employees have a
background in either medicine or law, but one of the largest
private-sector sources is the Monsanto Company. Over the past
decades, at least seven
high-ranking employees in the FDA
have an employment history with the
Connections have led
many to speculate
whether any conflicts of interest exist within this revolving door
between the big food companies and the department charged with
At the forefront of this controversy is
Michael R. Taylor, currently
the deputy commissioner of the Office of Foods.
He was also the deputy commissioner for
Policy within the FDA in the mid ’90s. However, between that
position and his current FDA position, Mr. Taylor was employed by
Monsanto as Vice President of Public Policy.
During his employment with Monsanto, the
company was developing rBGH, a type of beef growth hormone. Mr.
Taylor advised the company on the possible legal implications of
using the hormone on cattle that could reach beef markets for human
However, when Taylor left Monsanto for
the FDA, he became one of the main authorities behind the FDA’s rBGH labeling
guidelines, posing potential conflicts of interest.
Also tied up in the rBGH debacle are
Margaret Miller and Susan Sechen. Miller, the deputy director of the
Office of New Animal Drugs at the FDA, and a former Monsanto
scientist, helped develop rBGH. Sechen, a data reviewer in Miller’s
department, worked as a graduate student on some of the initial
bovine drug studies.
These studies were conducted at Cornell
University and were financed by none other than Monsanto.
Other Monsanto alumni include,
commissioner of the FDA from 1981 to 1983, and consultant to
Searle’s public relations firm, which later merged with
Michael A. Friedman, former
acting commissioner of the FDA, later went on to become
senior Vice President for Clinical Affairs at Searle, which
is now a pharmaceutical division of Monsanto.
Virginia Weldon only
became a member of the FDA’s Endocrinologic and Metabolic
Drugs Advisory Committee, after retiring as Vice President
for Public Policy at Monsanto.
Well aware of its accused ‘revolving
door’ connection with the FDA and other government agencies,
Monsanto has issued several
press releases denying collusion
with the government.
In fact, it posted on its official
website that collusion theories relating to these agencies,
including the FDA,
"ignore the simple truth that
change jobs to find positions that match their experience,
skills and interests."
Monsanto’s statements help shed light on
the balancing act regularly occurring on Capitol Hill when
appointments to these top agency positions arise.
The importance of the food industry
cannot be overstated and, therefore, the pending question remains:
Do Americans want industry insiders
regulating it, or those from the academic realm?