Hey, I know that I hoot and holler a lot about our country getting a better, more sustainable food supply. For those of you that are bothered by this, I’m sorry but it’s one of the things that I feel strongly about these days. I really believe that our countrymen have been put in a bad way because of a lousy food supply that is based more on corn than on natural elements. Seriously, take a read of any of Michael Pollan’s books and you’ll understand how incredible this change has been and how it has effected us as a people.
That’s why I joined the Food Democracy mailing list – so I could use whatever voice I have in this world to advocate on behalf of bringing our food system back to basics. Part of that change – and make no mistake about it, this is the change that I voted for – is removing from the government those organizations that have an interest in mass producing quick, low-cost sources of food. With that in mind, this is the latest e-mail that I received from Food Democracy:
Speak up to stop Big Ag.
President Obama has found himself with some strange bedfellows lately.
While on the campaign trail in Iowa, Barack Obama boasted, “We’ll tell ConAgra that it’s not the Department of Agribusiness. We’re going to put the people’s interests ahead of the special interests.”1 Despite that promise, it seems that ConAgra’s friends at Monsanto and CropLife are still finding their way into the USDA.
Last month, President Obama nominated two “Big Ag” power brokers–Roger Beachy and Islam Siddiqui–to key agency positions, putting agribusiness executives in charge of our country’s agricultural research and trade policy. Please join us in telling the President that this isn’t the change we voted for. We don’t want Big Ag running the show any more.
Siddiqui’s confirmation hearing is set for next week. Please help us reach our goal of 50,000 signatures to make a real impact.
Obama’s first agribusiness selection is Roger Beachy, to be head of the USDA’s newly created National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA). Beachy is the founding president of the Donald Danforth Plant Science Center in St. Louis, MO. It may sound innocuous, but the Danforth Center is essentially the non-profit arm of GMO seed giant Monsanto; Monsanto’s CEO sits on its board, and the company provides considerable funding for the Center’s operations.2
As the head of the USDA’s new research arm, formerly known as the Cooperative State Research, Education, and Extension Service (CREES), Beachy is responsible for deciding how U.S. research dollars will be spent in agriculture.3 Translation: more research on biotech, less research on how to scale sustainable and organic agriculture.
Unfortunately, Beachy has already started work at the USDA, but the next nominee—Islam Siddiqui—still must be confirmed by the U.S.Senate. Siddiqui, the Vice President of Science and Regulatory Affairs at CropLife America, was recently nominated to be the Chief Agricultural Negotiator at the Office of the US Trade Representative.4 Amazingly, when Michele Obama planted her “organic” garden on the White House lawn, Siddiqui’s CropLife MidAmerica sent the First Lady a letter saying that it made them “shudder”.5
During his career, Siddiqui spent over 3 years as a pesticide lobbyist, an Undersecretary at the USDA and a VP at CropLife. In defending Siddiqui, the White House has stated that he played a key role in helping establish the country’s first organic standards.6 What they neglect to mention, though, is that those original organic standards would have allowed irradiation, sewage sludge and GMOs to undermine organic integrity! The standards were so watered down that 230,000 people signed a petition for them to be changed, which they eventually were.7
Fortunately, the organic community stopped Siddiqui and his cronies then, and we need your help now to do it again. If Siddiqui’s nomination is allowed to go through, then agribusiness will continue to control the seeds, the science, and the distribution of global food and agriculture.
Please join Food Democracy Now! and a broad coalition of other groups, in calling on President Obama to keep his campaign promise of closing the revolving door between agribusiness and his administration.
Please click here to add your voice.
Thanks for standing with us and our coalition partners from across the country, including: The Pesticide Action Network (PAN), National Family Farm Coalition, Food & Water Watch, Farmworker’s Association of Florida, Institute of Agriculture & Trade Policy, Greenpeace and the Center for Food Safety in calling for President Obama to live up to his promises to put people’s interests ahead of special interests
As I’ve said in previous entries on this topic, it takes less than a minute to send a brief message to the White House. Please take some time and, if this issue interests you, send a message to the White House. I’m realistic. I know that changes today won’t effect the food supply tomorrow, but I do think that changes in the food supply will help future generations of my family and our country eat more natural foods and thus be healthier people.