98 Organizations Oppose Obama's Monsanto Man, Islam Siddiqui, for US Agricultural Trade Representative
- By Dr. Marcia Ishii-Eiteman, Senior Scientist, Pesticide Action Network, and Katherine Ozer, Executive Director, National Family Farm Coalition
February 22, 2010
Straight to the Source
A large coalition of groups – including the Organic Consumers Association – has been fighting since the fall to block Obama's nomination of CropLife/biotech industry rep and former pesticide lobbyist, Islam Siddiqui, to the position of Chief Ag Negotiator at the US Office of the Trade Rep. The nomination was approved by the Senate Finance Committee, but is stalled in the Senate. It could go to a Senate floor vote any day now. The coalition sent the following letter to the Senate on February 22, 2010. If you would like to send a letter to your Senator, please click here.
The following 98 organizations are writing you to express our opposition to the nomination of Islam Siddiqui as Chief Agriculture Negotiator at the office of the United States Trade Representative. Our organizations— representing family farmers, farmworkers, fishers and sustainable agriculture, environmental, consumer, anti-hunger and other advocacy groups—urge you to reject Dr. Siddiqui’s appointment when it comes up for a floor vote, despite the Senate Finance Committee's favorable report of his nomination on December 23, 2009.
Siddiqui’s record at the U.S. Department of Agriculture and his role as a former registered lobbyist for CropLife America (whose members include Monsanto, Syngenta, DuPont and Dow), has revealed him to consistently favor agribusinesses’ interests over the interests of consumers, the environment and public health (see attached fact sheet). We believe Siddiqui’s nomination severely weakens the Obama Administration’s credibility in promoting healthier and more sustainable local food systems here at home. His appointment would also send an unfortunate signal to the rest of the world that the United States plans to continue down the failed path of high-input and energy-intensive industrial agriculture by promoting toxic pesticides, inappropriate seed biotechnologies and unfair trade agreements on nations that do not want and can least afford them.
The United States urgently needs a trade negotiator who understands that current trade agreements work neither for farmers nor the world’s hungry. With farmers here and abroad struggling to respond to water scarcity and increasingly volatile growing conditions, we need a resilient and restorative model of agriculture that adapts to and mitigates climate change and that moves us towards energy-efficient farming.
The most comprehensive analysis of global agriculture to date, the International Assessment of Agricultural Knowledge, Science and Technology for Development (IAASTD) states unequivocally that “business as usual is not an option.” We need a new, sustainable model of biodiverse, ecologically-based agriculture that regenerates soil health, sequesters carbon, feeds communities, protects farmworkers and puts profits back in the hands of family farmers and rural communities. Siddiqui’s track record shows that he favors none of these solutions.
We call on the Senate to reject Islam Siddiqui’s nomination and reorient trade policy to serve the interests of family farmers, farmworkers, consumers and the planet.