Well, that didn't take long. The afterglow of Obama's Nobel Peace Prize win for "extraordinary efforts to strengthen international diplomacy and cooperation between people" has already faded. The President has stirred up controversy by nominating "Big Ag" lobbyists from Monsanto and CropLife USA to key agriculture posts—an upsetting turn of events given Obama's promise that lobbyists wouldn't receive positions in his administration.
True, the Monsanto and CropLife bigwigs aren't "registered" as lobbyists, but they represent the interests of their organizations. Roger Beachy, the president of the Danforth Plant Science Center (Monsanto's non-profit division), has been selected by Obama as chief of the USDA's National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA), and Islam Siddiqui, the VP of Science and Regulatory Affairs at CropLife USA, has been nominated as Chief Agricultural Negotiator for the U.S. Trade Representative's office.
This is puzzling news. A representative of a company with a stronghold on the GMO market is being put in charge of distributing almost $500 million in USDA grants and research funding. And CropLife, which admonished Michelle Obama for not using pesticides in the White House Garden, is going to be in charge of opening foreign markets to U.S.-grown (and pesticide-covered) crops.
Today's announcement is out of whack with the Obama administration's previous strides in food awareness—the "Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food" campaign, the White House organic garden, and participation in the local farmer's market. These appointments are a giant step backwards. Is this how Obama plans to wield his Peace Prize—by foisting our GMO and pesticide-ridden crops onto unsuspecting developing nations?
[Via Civil Eats]