Thursday, December 24, 2009

Are you on Obama's Side?

Organic agriculture can feed the world, turn back climate change and make food production more resilient to droughts and floods. Organic agriculture can do it with biodiversity instead of biotech, greenhouse gas sequestration instead of emissions, natural pest management instead of toxic pesticides, humus-rich compost instead of fossil fuel fertilizers or sewage sludge, more family farmers and better conditions for farm workers.

The question of which agriculture model will dominate food production is a question we only have one opportunity to answer. Once a seed or animal variety is extinct or contaminated with foreign genes, we will never get it back. In an age when a billion people are stuffed while a billion people are starved, most people on the planet suffer from either poor nutrition, exposure to toxic ingredients, diet-related diseases, or all three. Agriculture is a life and death issue for all of us.

So, which side is the Obama Administration on? Well, who's in the Obama Administration?
Tom Vilsack, USDA Secretary

Organic Consumers Association network members sent 100,000 emails to President-Elect Obama opposing Tom Vilsack's appointment as USDA Secretary, because the former Iowa Governor was a leading advocate for Monsanto, genetic engineering, and factory farming.

Unfortunately, Obama was not moved by our protest. The reasons we opposed Vilsack were the reasons Obama appointed him. Obama lauded Vilsack for "promoting biotech."
Michael Taylor, Senior Adviser to the Food and Drug Administration Commissioner on Food Safety

We generated nearly 40,000 letters opposing former Monsanto lobbyist Michael Taylor's appointment as a senior adviser to the Food and Drug Administration Commissioner on food safety. Michael Taylor should not be a senior FDA food safety adviser. The Vice President for Public Policy at Monsanto Corp. from 1998 until 2001, Taylor exemplifies the revolving door between the food industry and the government agencies that regulate it.
Dennis Wolff, the Next Food Safety and Inspection Service Chief?

So far, we've been able to keep former Pennsylvania Agriculture Secretary Dennis Wolff (notorious for his support of Monsanto's controversial gene-altered Bovine Growth Hormone) out of the Administration, but he has been rumored to be in the running for Food Safety and Inspection Service chief. Dennis Wolff would be a poor choice to direct the Food Safety and Inspection Service. Wolff has no previous food safety experience and is best known for siding with Monsanto in support of its controversial gene-altered Bovine Growth Hormone.

Caroline Smith DeWaal, director of food safety at the Center for Science in the Public Interest would be a much better choice.

Now, President Obama has nominated two high-profile biotech advocates, closely connected to Monsanto and corporate agribusiness, to key USDA and trade positions.
Roger Beachy, Director of the National Institute of Food and Agriculture

On October 5, 2009, Roger Beachy, long-time president of the Danforth Plant Science Center (Monsanto's nonprofit arm), became the chief of the USDA's newly created National Institute of Food and Agriculture (a nomination that doesn't require congressional approval). Roger Beachy should not be steering the direction of US agricultural research. Beachy is a long time Monsanto collaborator who heads an institute which was established by Monsanto and academic partners with a $70-million pledge from the corporation. It's effectively a Monsanto front.

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