I’m sure many of you have seen the various petitions zipping around the Internet encouraging opposition to President Obama’s nomination of pesticide lobbyist Islam “Isi” Siddiqui to the Office of the United State’s Trade Representative. The argument against him goes something like this:
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.
Nor does much of the rest of Mr. Siddiqui’s résumé. The White House has touted his role in the first phase of developing national organic standards. But those standards, as they first emerged in draft form in the Clinton years, were notoriously loose about allowing genetically engineered crops and the use of sewage-sludge fertilizers to be labeled as “organic.”
…Everyone wants a pesticide backup, much like an antibiotic when diseases get out of control. But there are other ways to control pests — more diversity in crop production and rotation, for instance — besides chemicals. The negotiator we need is someone who can represent a broad view of American agriculture.
The funny thing is I’m not quoting the text from any of the petitions, but rather from an editorial in today’s New York Times. Getting a paper of record sounding all the right notes on this nomination is certainly music to my ears. As Tom Philpott noted, this campaign against Siddiqui has been surprising for its speed as well as for the traction it’s gained. It will be interesting to see if any of this is brought up at Siddiqui’s hearing before the Senate Finance Committee tomorrow or if it motivates any Senator, whether on the committee or not, to block the nomination entirely.
h/t La Vida Locavore