Erik Olson Senior Strategic Director, Food & Agriculture and Director, Health Program
- Press Contact:
- Anne Hawke
Areas of Focus
Toxic chemicals, air toxics, pesticides, chemicals in food, agriculture, climate change, health.
Erik D. Olson has 30 years of experience in public policy and consumer advocacy. He currently is the Director of Health & Environment Program and Senior Strategic Director of Food & Health at the Natural Resources Defense Council, which he rejoined in December 2013. He is helping to manage and expand NRDC’s food and environmental health work (including toxic chemicals, air toxics, pesticides, chemicals in food, agriculture, and climate change and health), and is working with NRDC’s senior management and Executive Director on developing new strategic directions and approaches for its wide array of work. Previously, he served as Senior Director of Food Programs at The Pew Charitable Trusts he oversaw Pew’s food-related work including campaigns on food safety, food additives, school foods, and antibiotics and animal agriculture. He helped lead the coalition effort to enact the first major overhaul of the Food and Drug Administration’s food safety law in over 70 years, signed into law in January 2011. Prior to joining Pew, Erik was deputy staff director and general counsel for the U.S. Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works. Prior to his Senate tenure, Olson worked for 15 years at NRDC as advocacy center director, public health program director and senior attorney. He previously served for five years as counsel for the National Wildlife Federation’s environmental quality program. Prior to these positions, he was an attorney in EPA’s Office of General Counsel.
During this public interest career, he helped to lead successful legislative campaigns to overhaul the nation’s laws to protect drinking water and to safeguard the food supply and public health from pesticides. He also litigated environmental cases ranging from the Exxon Valdez litigation to major cases involving natural resource damages, drinking water, food safety, and other issues, and won precedent-setting decisions in several federal courts. In addition, he worked on food quality protection, toxic chemicals, hazardous waste, oil spills, Katrina impacts, and other health and environmental issues.
Olson graduated from the University of Virginia School of Law, where he was inducted into the Order of the Coif legal honor society and served as an editor of the environmental law journal, and from Columbia College of Columbia University, where he created an independent major in environmental biology and policy.