Progressive Food Movement Not Thrilled with Obama’s Agriculture Pick



Seems that Iowa’s Tom Vilsack, the pick in question, has close ties
with Monsanto, top villain in the world of sustainable agriculture.  (And for good reason, like their misdeeds with seeds.  You don’t even have to be solidly anti-genetic modification to hate this company, given their success in ruining small farmers.)

The Organic Consumer Organization lists six reasons that Vilsack’s appointment is a "terrible idea".

Here in the NY Times another concern is addressed – that of Vilsack’s possible allegiance to corn subsidies.

Ethicurean is aware of the biotech and corn issues but doesn’t seem as alarmed.

Me, I’m prone to cut Obama a lot of slack, though I share the concerns and look forward to hearing Vilsack address these issues in his confirmation hearings.


  1. Iowa was the wrong place to look. He should have picked someone from upstate New York, Vermont, or Maine–where a new, sustainable form of agriculture is thriving.

  2. Not happy at all with this pick. I tend to cut him a lot of slack, too, but come on…it’s not THAT hard to find someone without ties to Monsanto. I’m with Michele–Iowa was probably not the best place to look if you’re interested in innovation and sustainability in food production.

  3. Yep, lots of slack for Barack. Tons, in fact. But this is a good reminder that he’s a blended human: half black and half white; half politician and half crusader for good causes.

  4. I’m definitely disappointed. But at the same time, Obama’s gift – contrary to Fox news – has always been that he brings in people from all sides and listens. Sometimes I think he listens too much to the side I disagree with, but I have to credit him for process.

    Nonetheless, a more independent view would have been appreciated here. Obama’s Illinois/Kansas roots are showing in this pick, rather than his Hyde Park or Hawaii roots.

  5. Absolutely no slack from me — he campaigned on Change, and here we have more of the same — corn subsidies, support of agri-business (i.e., Monsanto), and so far no suggestion that Vilsack will be reaching out to begin reforming the system. Maybe we should send him copies of Michael Pollan’s books.

    I am hopeful that Mr. Vilsack will prove to be better than we expect, so I can’t get too upset just yet but I will be watching for the Change We Can Believe In.

  6. I would guess Obama sees agriculture’s future in energy, not food, and that’s where this selection comes from. I don’t know much about any of this, so I will say very little.

    Apparently, the current future of biofuels is miscanthus, not corn. Did I read that here? I don’t remember.

  7. I think it was your post about “White House Greening” a few days ago where I said, ” I don’t hold out a lot of hope for gardening leadership at the national level. The leadership will have to take place at the local level.”

  8. What a disappointment!
    Anyone interested in trying to help organize a “Million Gardener March”?
    Or maybe a “March for Real Food”?
    or “March for Sustainable Farming”?

  9. Perhaps this apointment was political or a pay to play? I am disappointed and it does look like agribusiness as usual. No slack from me! We can’t let someone from America’s Cornhole dictate food/Ag policy. Our food policy is already broken, corn based ethanol is not a sustainable energy alternative.
    On the other hand Steven Chu looks like a good pick, and if we are to grow biofuels let them be perennials, not fertilizer/water/pesticide polluting annuals! Let us too grow healthy food!

  10. I am very nervous (being an Organic Farmer myself) about this pick, Monsanto is basically De Debil wit’ a Green Dress. I do not trust them, they have repeatedly put their own “Private Idaho” ahead of the rest of the World. This is a Bad Thing.

    I, like others here, am prone to cutting Pres Obama some slack. I note that his placement is as a result of his alternative energy research. This feels like a two-edged sword choice! Alternative energy really IS important, but I disagree with the direction Monsanto has taken, and this particular decision does a grave injustice to those who depend on pristine pollination practices for their organic fields. WOE betide any Organic Farmer down-up-or side-wind of a Monsanto Seed Farm! *sigh* Terrible choice.

    So, I pray, and I will hope that perhaps the other people in the cabinet will provide a check-and-balance to Mr. Vilsack.


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