Roger BeachyRoger Beachy, director of the National Institute of Food and Agriculture

If Beachy had simply stayed chief of St. Louis-based Danforth Center, he’d be just another lieutenant in Monsanto’s empire. The nonprofit Danforth Center, which Beachy has led since its founding, is essentially Monsanto’s house research organization. But in 2009, President Obama plucked this career biotech champion from his Monsanto-funded perch and put him in charge of the US
DA’s $2 billion research budget. Any notion that he would keep an open mind to forms of agriculture that don’t toe Monsanto’s patent-friendly, industrial-scale line crumbled this spring. That’s when Grist’s Tom Philpott came face-to-face with him at an agriculture conference in Mexico and asked if he would consider funding research on organic farming. To paraphrase, not a chance. Moral of the story: Research shapes the future of agriculture, and our federal ag research budget is in the hands of a Monsanto man who’s openly hostile to organic ag.