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Obama Nominates Controversial Agriculture Diplomat

This release is a bit outside of our normal scope of coverage, but it’s an important issue to understand. Please make your voice heard:

October 27, 200

CONTACT: Sustainable Agriculture Advocates

Marcia Ishii-Eiteman, Pesticide Action Network (415) 981-6205 ext 325

Katherine Ozer, National Family Farm Coalition (202) 543-5675

Alexis Baden-Mayer, Organic Consumers Association (202) 986-6186

Bill Freese, Center for Food Safety (202) 547-9359 x14

Jeannie Economos, Farmworker Association of Florida (407) 886-5151

Broad Coalition Decries White House Defense of Pesticide Lobbyist
Weak Defense of Siddiqui Contrasts with Clear Pro-GMO, Anti-Organic

WASHINGTON – October 27 – Sustainable agriculture advocates from
around the country today expressed deep disappointment with the Obama
Administration’s defense of nominating Islam Siddiqui, a former
pesticide lobbyist as our chief agriculture trade representative at
the office of the United States Trade Representative. An article in
yesterday’s Politico ["Ag Nomination Steams Greens"] noted the
controversy surrounding his nomination by environmental and family
farm groups.

Siddiqui is currently a vice-president at Croplife America. Croplife
is an agrochemical industry trade group representing Monsanto,
Syngenta, DuPont and Dow Chemical, among others. Croplife America’s
regional partner, Mid America CropLife Association, notoriously
“shuddered” at Michelle Obama’s organic garden and launched a letter
writing campaign in protest. Katherine Ozer, Executive Director for
the National Family Farm Coalition, said, “We are still baffled by the
White House nominating a pesticide lobbyist for this key position,
severely undermining their credibility and rhetoric about the need for
Americans to have access to local, healthy, sustainable food.”

The White House issued a defense of Siddiqui that unravels under
scruitiny, “During his time at USDA, Dr. Siddiqui led the first phase
of development for national organic natural food standards in the
United States.” Organic Consumers Association was formed in the wake
of this controversial first phase, and expressed surprise and shock
that the White House would use this to bolster the case for Siddiqui.
Alexis Baden-Mayer, political director for OCA, said, “Our
organization was formed in 1998 due to the massive backlash consumers
had against USDA’s initial controversial proposed regulations for
organic food that would have outrageously allowed for toxic sludge,
irradiated foods and genetically modified organisms to be labeled
‘organic.’ Only after an unprecedented 230,000 consumers wrote USDA to
protest the rules were they strengthened. This only confirms to us why
Siddiqui is the wrong choice for this position.”

Dr. Marcia Ishii-Eiteman, senior scientist at Pesticide Action
Network, noted the double standard of ostensibly advocating for more
sustainable food at home while Siddiqui’s appointment in fact advances
an agenda that undermines developing countries’ capacity to feed
themselves: “Putting a CropLife official and former paid lobbyist in
charge of U.S. agricultural trade policy sends the worst kind of
message to the world. This appointment tells the world that the U.S.
will continue to value the interests of our massive chemical pesticide
and biotech industry over any serious concern for public health, the
environment or the well-being of farmworkers and communities around
the world. We will be calling on the Senate Finance Committee to
reject this nomination.” Andrew Kimbrell, Executive Director of the
Center for Food Safety, added, “An Administration that nominates the
top salesman of the pesticide/biotech industry to represent U.S.
agricultural interests overseas cannot be taken seriously as an
advocate of sustainable agriculture. The U.S. should promote organic
and sustainable farming, not pesticides and GM crops.”

Farmworker groups fighting for years to regulate pesticide use were
also disappointed by the White House’s defense of Siddiqui. The
Farmworker Association of Florida, which represents 6,700 farm worker
families working in the tomato and citrus industries, remains
disturbed by the appointment. “Siddiqui’s role at USTR will not be
about promoting organic products, but eliminating trade barriers for
developing countries to accept toxic chemicals and pesticides,” said
Tirso Moreno, general coordinator for FWAF. “That is CropLife
America’s agenda. They continue to try to stop any international
attempts to help us regulate pesticide uses. Farmworkers have the
highest rate of chemical-related illnesses of any occupational group.
Our community suffers from nausea, liver damage, birth defects, and
cancer as a result of exposure to these poisons. For the health of
farmworkers around the world, we urge that his nomination be

About The Author

Paul Tukey

An international leader of the green movement, Mr. Tukey is a journalist, author, filmmaker, TV host, activist and award-winning public speaker, who is widely recognized as North America's leading advocate for landscape sustainability and toxic pesticide reduction strategies.

Number of Entries : 1023
  • Caroline Whitney

    I continue to be amazed how straight forward facts and consequences are continually thrown into the turbulent waters of political lobbying -that group of people and companies who have nothing more than the long term view of next week.

  • Gus W

    Why is stem cell research not okay but bioengineering frankenfoods okay? Today 70% of the food America eats contains high fructose corn syrup in some form. Are we getting healthier? No, we are failing this experiment which is why Europe and Asia have resisted GMO.

  • Scott Scholl

    Europe and Asia are not supporting GMO through daily eating habits. Americans are supporting GMO through daily eating habits. They don’t have a clue and eat anything and everything. Especially fast food. It is that simple. Grow a garden? Eat well? Interesting concept. If Americans don’t buy high fructose, GMO, etc it will go away.

    We also need to stop supporting all these foundations and organizations also. They are nothing but scams.

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  • Cyril

    I voted for Obama but he is starting to really disappoint me and slowly changing my opinion of him from a positive one to a negitive one.

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