James “Jim” Jones has been selected by the Food and Drug Administration to serve as the first deputy commissioner for human foods, giving him a chance to direct and oversee reorganization efforts at the agency.

Jones comes to the position with more than 30 years of experience, mostly a lengthy stretch at the Environmental Protection Agency, time at a consumer products lobbying group and the development of his own consulting firm. In the new role, which he’s scheduled to begin Sept. 24, he will “lead the charge in setting and advancing priorities” for FDA's proposed Human Foods Program, which is expected to include program areas such as “food safety, chemical safety and innovative products, including those from new agricultural technologies, that will bolster the resilience of the U.S. food supply in the face of climate change and globalization, as well as nutrition to help reduce diet-related diseases and improve health equity,” according to an FDA release.

FDA's release said Jones was an “integral member” of the Reagan-Udall Foundation’s Independent Expert Panel for Foods, which suggested, among other things in a report detailing a proposed reorganization of the agency, establishing the position Jones will now fill.

“This makes him intimately knowledgeable of the agency’s challenges and opportunities, and the panel’s recommendations that the FDA is adopting in its proposal for a unified HFP,” FDA said in a statement.

FDA Commissioner Robert Califf said Jones’ “impressive career, extensive leadership experience and passionate vision for the future of the Human Foods Program make him an ideal selection for this pivotal position.”

Califf added he’s “confident that under Jim’s leadership, we will build a strong organization that will be integrated with other components of the FDA and focused on keeping the foods we regulate safe and nutritious, while ensuring the agency remains on the cutting edge of the latest advancements in food science and nutrition.”

Jones noted his EPA experience, which was heavily focused on the regulation of pesticides and other chemicals, and said it gives him a good background to work through the kinds of restructuring and changes the role will require him to navigate as FDA stands up the new foods mission area.

“As a former pesticide regulator, I have a deep understanding of the unique needs of government programs involved in upholding the safety of the U.S. food supply, as well as the important role that the agriculture community and state partners play in this paradigm,” Jones said in an FDA statement. “I am honored to serve the FDA and the country in this new capacity.”

Jones’ selection was welcomed by those who have been calling for the creation of the position.

Don't miss a beat! Sign up for a FREE month of Agri-Pulse news! For the latest on what’s happening in agriculture in Washington, D.C. and around the country, click here.

Roberta Wagner, senior vice president of regulatory and scientific affairs for the International Dairy Foods Association and herself an FDA veteran, said Jones’ “vast government leadership experience uniquely qualifies him to navigate the transformational change FDA needs to elevate, unify and shape the human foods program for the future.”

Brian Ronholm, director of food policy for Consumer Reports, said in a statement, “With his leadership experience and work on the Reagan-Udall Foundation report, he has extensive knowledge of what will be required to transform the culture at the FDA Human Foods Program into one that is transparent, accountable and focused on prevention.”

De Ann Davis, the senior vice president of science for Western Growers, pointed to Jones' “proven record of government leadership” and said the group was happy with his appointment.

“In 2011, with the passage of the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA), the intent of the U.S. Congress was clear: The FDA is to prioritize preventative actions over reaction,” she said. “We look forward to engaging with Jim as we collaborate on the critical need for the agency to deliver on its promises to aid consumers by setting a prevention agenda.”

Donna Garren, American Frozen Food Institute executive vice president of science and policy also welcomed Jones’ involvement in the Reagan-Udall report as it provides him an “in-depth understanding of what is needed to create a transparent, prevention-focused and accountable human foods program.”

Scott Faber, Environmental Working Group’s senior vice president for government affairs, said, “Jim Jones is the right leader at the right moment for the FDA.” He added that as a longtime leader of EPA’s Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention, “Jim has the leadership skills needed to address those challenges.”

For more news, visit Agri-Pulse.com.