Obama's Chief Agricultural Negotiator Nominee a Pesticide Pusher

The industrial agriculture complex has been doing back flips for the last few weeks, first because of the ascendance of Blanche Lincoln (ConservaDem-AR) to the high throne of the Senate Agriculture Committee, where she promises to pinch climate legislation
(or at the very least shove it aside until next year) and push a
southern Big Ag agenda in the Senate for rice and cotton interests.
Now, the White House has announced
Islam A. Siddiqui, current Vice President for Science and Regulatory
Affairs at CropLife America (you will remember the organization as the
one that sent the First Lady a letter
admonishing her for not using pesticides on the White House garden) as
nominee for Chief Agricultural Negotiator, who works through the Office
of the United States Trade Representative (USTR) to promote our crops
and ag products abroad.

Why does it matter if the Vice President from the trade association
representing pesticides and other agricultural chemicals takes over the
Office of Agricultural Affairs at the USTR? Well, because that office,
according to the USTR website
"has overall responsibility for negotiations and policy coordination
regarding agriculture." That means he would oversee the office
dedicated to:

Free Trade Agreements (FTA) and World Trade Organization
(WTO) Development Agenda (Doha) negotiations on agriculture, operation
of the WTO Committees on Agriculture and on Sanitary and Phytosanitary
(SPS) Measures, agricultural regulatory issues (e.g., biotechnology,
cloning, BSE, nanotechnology, other bilateral SPS issues, and customs
issues affecting agriculture), monitoring and enforcement of existing
WTO and FTA commitments for agriculture (including SPS issues), and WTO
accession negotiations on agriculture market access, domestic supports
and export competition, and SPS matters.

The Chief Agricultural Negotiator is essentially a 'spokesperson'
for American agriculture (perhaps the 'bad cop' to Secretary of
Agriculture Tom Vilsack's 'good cop') who is in charge of selling our
agricultural products abroad - products of a synthetic agriculture that
is dependent on too many oil inputs, too much water and a stable
climate to persist as the norm into the future. Here is an official job
description for the Chief Agricultural Negotiator from the website Progressive Government:

The Chief Agriculture Negotiator for the United States
conducts critical trade negotiations and enforces trade agreements that
relate to U.S. agricultural products and services. Also works to expand
the access for America's farmers and agricultural producers to overseas
markets and is responsible for directing all U.S. agriculture trade
negotiations anywhere in the world
. This includes
multilaterally in the World Trade Organization (WTO), regionally in the
Free Trade Area of the Americas, and bilaterally with various countries
and groups of countries such as Australia, Central America, Chile,
Morocco, and the South African Customs Union. The ambassador
also resolves agricultural trade disputes and enforces trade
agreements, including issues related to new technologies, subsidies,
and tariff and non-tariff barriers and meets regularly with domestic
agricultural industry groups to assure their interests are represented
in trade
. He or she also coordinates closely with U.S.
government regulatory agencies to assure that rules and policies in
international trade are based on sound science

What might a former employee of CropLife think is sound science? And
what might his agenda be for expanding our markets abroad? I'm sure
Siddiqui is already a regular at agricultural industry meetings, and
will be ready and willing to say just what they'd like to hear. (Before
CropLife, Siddiqui also served in the Clinton administration under
former Ag Secretary Dan Glickman, the Ag Secretary best known for
taking part in the sign-off of GM seeds as 'substantially equivalent'
to other seeds, thus an argument for why they should not be labeled.)

Here is a little bit more about CropLife from Sourcewatch:

The image [the pesticide industry] presents is one of a
hi-tech, efficient, responsible, and green industry that is already
thoroughly regulated to assure the safety of its products. While the
industry quietly pursues an anti-regulatory agenda to assure no
pesticides would be removed from the market, its trade association
claims its aim is to "promote increasingly responsible, science-driven
legislation and regulation."
In March 2004, CropLife poured funding into a campaign to defeat a
Mendocino County ballot initiative - known as Measure H - that would
make the country [sic] the first to ban genetically engineered crops.
In the lead up the the vote CropLife contributed over $500,000 - more
than seven times that of the initiative supporters - to defeat the
proposal. Despite the massive campaign against the initiative, the
bio-tech industry suffered a humiliating defeat. The measure passed by
a margin of 56% to 43%.

In other words, the Obama administration has chosen someone from an
organization dedicated at all costs to chemical-based agriculture to
represent our trade interests abroad. All in the name of selling more
Round-Up and GM seed, as well as siphoning off our excess commodities
to China for their growing CAFO industry, all for our own short term
economic interests.

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