President Obama knows that agribusiness cannot be trusted with the regulatory powers of government. On the campaign trail in 2007, he promised: We’ll tell ConAgra that it’s not the Department of Agribusiness. It’s the Department of Agriculture. We’re going to put the people’s interests ahead of the special interests.
But, starting with his choice for USDA Secretary, the pro-biotech former governor of Iowa, Tom Vilsack, President Obama has let Monsanto, Dupont and the other pesticide and genetic engineering companies know they’ll have plenty of friends and supporters within his administration.
President Obama has taken his team of food and farming leaders directly from the biotech companies and their lobbying, research, and philanthropic arms:
former Monsanto Vice President, is now the FDA Deputy Commissioner for Foods.
former director of the Monsanto-funded Danforth Plant Science Center, is now the director of the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture.
This next guy should be of particular interest to Japanese concerned about Monsanto. As part of the US Trade office, he should have considerable influence over the terms of the TPP free trade agreement, if not a personal hand in the negotiations. We will remind readers that the US advocates the elimination of food labeling that would allow consumers to avoid genetically engineered food products.
Islam Siddiqui, currently the US Trade Representative’s Chief Agriculture Negotiator, was Vice President of CropLife America, the notorious lobbying group that represents pesticide and genetic engineering companies, including the six multinational corporations that control 75% of the global agrichemical market: Monsanto, Syngenta, Bayer, BASF, Dow and DuPont. CropLife is the group that infamously chided the First Lady for planting a pesticide-free organic garden at the White House.
Before CropLife, Siddiqui was a chemical farming and biotech booster in Clinton’s USDA. It was his bright idea in 1997-98 — rejected by the organic community — to allow GMOs, sewage sludge and irradiation in organic production. (The Organic Consumers Association spearheaded the successful campaign to save organic standards from Siddiqui.)
And, oh yes, we should also mention that Siddiqui was an Obama campaign donor and fundraiser.
former agricultural-development director for the pro-biotech Gates Foundation (a frequent Monsanto partner), served as Obama’s USDA Under Secretary for Research Education and Economics and Chief Scientist and is now head of USAID.
who, as President Obama’s Solicitor General, took Monsanto’s side against organic farmers in the Roundup Ready alfalfa case, is now on the Supreme Court.
corporate counsel to DuPont, has been nominated by President Obama to serve as General Counsel for the USDA.
There is little doubt in our minds that the Japanese will be allowed to stay out of the TPP agreement. Despite the rhetoric coming from PM Noda, we feel like the current negotiations have little to do with hammering out the terms of the agreement and more to do with figuring out how to market the agreement to the Japanese people. Politicians will no doubt promise benefits from the TPP that will never materialize in order to cram this down the people’s collective throats.