But numerous consumer groups and academics rallied in Taylor’s defense. One rebuttal was signed by several consumer advocates and academics, including Michael Jacobson, executive director of the Center for Science in the Public Interest, and Carol Tucker-Foreman, a distinguished fellow at the Consumer Federation of America and a former assistant agriculture secretary. “The undersigned have diverse views regarding genetically engineered foods, but we are unanimous in our belief that Taylor is a valued deputy commissioner, and we regret that a factually untrue Internet smear campaign has attracted so much support,” they wrote in an online “open letter.”
“We acknowledge that Monsanto symbolizes a lot of things that many people (including some of us) don’t like about modern, industrial agriculture. But Mr. Taylor’s résumé is not reducible to his work at that company,” they continued. “Since joining the Obama administration, Taylor has been working extraordinarily hard to transform the FDA from a reactive agency that chases down foodborne-illness outbreaks after people fall ill, to a proactive public‐health‐based agency focused on preventing foods from becoming contaminated in the first place.
“We are confident that his leadership, formerly at USDA and now at FDA, has and will continue to reduce the number of Americans sickened, hospitalized, and killed by foodborne pathogens,” they concluded.