Obama promised change but didn't say it was change from his own campaign promises. His administration recently nominated Islam Siddiqui for the post of Chief Agricultural Negotiator in the Office of the US Trade Representative.
So who is this guy? Currently, he is a VP at CropLife America, a corporate trade group that represents Monsanto, Dow Chemical, DuPont and Syngenta who has advocated for less truth-in-labeling and more hormone-treated meat.
This NY Times Op-Ed points out that Siddiqui's past accomplishments include proposals to allow genetically engineered crops, irradiated foods and sewage-sludge fertilizers to carry the "organic" label. As a Clinton Administration USDA appointee, Siddiqui pressured policymakers to allow frankenfoods into the EU or lose WTO funding. So why is Obama trying to send him back out to represent the US in WTO agri-trade deals?
Just when we need to return to more sustainable, natural and local agriculture policies (Rep. Kucinich recently won a paltry $.5 million for research into sustainable local food models), the President is continuing the contemptible revolving-door policies that have allowed corporate flacks to promote their former clients in trade deals.
Also a former lobbyist, Siddiqui is certain to favor an increase in the use of environmentally harmful agricultural chemicals and pesticides instead of natural alternatives like diversifying crop rotations. This is a slap in the face to Michelle Obama who started her own organic garden on the White House grounds and was mocked by some in Siddiqui's firm.
The Sierra Club, Organic Consumers Association, National Family Farm Coalition and more than 80 other groups have banded together to oppose Siddiqui's nomination and one petition has already raised over 38,000 signatures in protest.
This nomination comes on the heels of the appointment by the Obama Administration of another Monsanto darling, Roger Beachy as the new chief of National Food and Agriculture within the USDA in October. Beachy headed up a $70 million dollar research institute funded by Monsanto while trying to make it look separate.
Obama promised reform and more healthful sustainable practices in agriculture policy. He also promised more transparency and greather ethics in the White House, but he has since adandoned this, saying "make me". Obviously, Monsanto, Dow and DuPont have his ear now. Want to do something? Sign here: http://salsa.democracyinaction.org/o/642/campaign.jsp?campaign_KEY=27042