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Mr. Islam Siddiqui: President Obama’s Agricultural Appointee Has a Troubled Industrial Past

November 18, 2009
Is this Pioneer GMO Cornfield Killing Monarch ...
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The New York Times ran an article that details President Obama’s  nomination of Mr. Islam Siddiqui for the position of chief agricultural negotiator in the office of the United States trade representative.  The major problem with this appointment is Mr. Siddiqui’s association with major chemical corporations like DuPont and Monsanto.  According to a condensed report of the New York Times article brought to us by the Organic Consumer’s Association, Mr. Siddiqui’s ties to the chemical industry greatly affect his decisions toward agriculture:

The White House has nominated Mr. Siddiqui for the position of chief agricultural negotiator in the office of the United States trade representative. He is presently a vice president at CropLife America, a coalition of the major industrial players in the pesticide industry, including Syngenta, Monsanto, Dow Chemical and DuPont. That job doesn’t seem to square with the Obama administration’s professed interest in more sustainable, less chemically dependent approaches to agriculture.

The Obama administration thus far has been a mess of contradictions if nothing else, and Mr. Obama’s appointees have evidenced the same confusing traits.  Obama says he is working for better environmental standards in China and yet he is allowing a corporate Monsanto and DuPont mouthpiece to be America’s chief agricultural negotiator?

You know you have it bad when the New York Times publishes an article against you, but Obama seems unfazed by his appointee’s political burns.  It’s a sign that troubles me, a sign that the country is headed in a direct swing in the opposite direction of this past election from Democrat to Republican again.  The Republicans couldn’t seem to understand public sentiment, and it appears President Obama has missed the message about his plunging popularity ratings and lack of public approval.  The backlash against Siddiqui is considerable, as he has made a number of assinine comments about the legalities of misleading the public on organics labeling and has been heavy-handed in his international approaches:

Another Washington wheeler-dealer using the revolving door between government and big business, Siddiqui formerly worked for Clinton’s pro-biotech USDA. Siddiqui gained notoriety in 1997-98 as an insider pushing for the infamous proposed USDA regulations for national organic standards that would have allowed toxic sewage sludge, irradiated foods, and genetically modified organisms to be labeled “organic.” At the time, Siddiqui explained:

Number one, there’s no prohibition in law against these two issues, both GMOs and irradiation. Number two, we know that Organics Board had recommended against those two items in the organic agriculture. There’s a considerable debate on these issues; it’s a public debate issue. So essentially, the department has felt that we want to open it up, we want to seek comments. And it could be any one of the three choices; either it could be allowed, it could be prohibited, or it could be allowed on a case-by-case basis, especially dealing with GMOs.

Another reason he gave was ” … some of the agencies within the U.S. government felt that we will be inconsistent in going to the EU and telling them to not require GMO contents being spelt out in ingredients.” As the special trade advisor to Clinton’s USDA Secretary Dan Glickman, Siddiqui threatened Europe with economic reprisals from the WTO is the EU wouldn’t allow GE food imports.

This appointment looks like it fits under a Bush-appointee member with the international threats, the urge to push the public into accepting GMO’s with the concept of a paternal legal argument, and basically ignoring public fall-out.  Great. The mass of contradictions and lack of attention to public opinion will most certainly lead to Mr. Obama’s downfall.

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