Expert response from Cathleen Enright
Former Executive Director of the Council for Biotechnology Information
Thursday, 10/03/2013 16:47
You are likely referring to Michael R. Taylor, a lawyer who is currently deputy commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration for Foods and Veterinary Medicine. Taylor has spent most of his career of more than 35 years as a public official or college professor, and spent about 16 months working for Monsanto, a biotechnology company.
Opponents of biotechnology often raise the fact that some former EPA, FDA and USDA employees have gone to work for biotech companies, and some company employees have left to take jobs in the public sector. It is important to note that agricultural biotechnology is a specialized field that requires knowledge in science, risk assessment and public policy, and both the public and private sectors benefit when employers have access to the most competent and experienced people.
Furthermore, the Obama Administration has issued a policy statement making it clear that political appointees are not to interfere in scientific research. The policy states:
“The overriding intent of this policy is that political appointees must not exert undue influence over scientists in the conduct of scientific research. Recognizing that the nature of the scientific inquiry includes formulating and exploring questions, it is to be expected that scientists may have different perspectives and develop multiple approaches in their research. The existence of disputes in research is not inconsistent with scientific integrity or with a policy that political appointees must not exercise undue influence over scientific inquiry.”
As a former federal regulator, I was honored to serve with individuals from the private sector, who brought to their positions not only the expertise needed to make regulatory decisions based on the actual risk presented, using the best scientific information available, but also a moral center that never confused their duties in their regulatory positions with their roles in jobs they previously held.
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