December 18, 2008

Vilsack? Vilsuck.

Thanks to Tasteto.com…

Sorry, Michael Pollan and Alice Waters, the US Secretary of Agriculture position is likely going to the former governor of Iowa who has ties to GMOs and the bio-tech industry. So much for that garden on the White House lawn.

I found the below via a nice new blog discovery, Ethicurean. Bookmark ’em if you like what you read.


The New York Times’ Caucus blog is reporting that President-Elect Obama has settled on former Iowa governor Tom Vilsack as his Secretary of Agriculture.

While just a few weeks ago I wrote that Vilsack didn’t seem like the most horrible choice for AgSec, compared to some of the other names being floated (Hello, Dennis Wolfe and Collin Petersen!), that was before a Don Quixote of an Iowa activist named Dave Murphy launched a petition to plead with Obama’s transition team to consider six potential reformers for the position instead. Signed by some of the biggest names in the sustainable food world — Wendell Berry, Bill Niman, Michael Pollan, Eric Schlosser, Alice Waters, etc. — the FoodDemocracyNow.orgpetition today passed 54,000 signatures, thanks to publicity from the New York Times, Daily Kos, BoingBoing, and others.

Well, tough cookies. That’s not how politics works, apparently. (Right about now our favorite guest poster Steph Larsen is saying “I told you so.” But nicely.)

Read my previous post for more about Vilsack, which drew heavily on this in-depth look from The Center for Rural Affairs about Vilsack’s stances on subsidies, meat producer consolidation, and genetically modified foods. Our main concern about him is that he did nothing to stop the proliferation of or regulate CAFOs in Iowa as governor, and his pro-GMO background and ties to the biotech industry. The Organic Consumers Association has a list of his biotech shenanigans.

Well, we dared…for the rest, cliick here. Great blog.

And here’s the word via Grist.org, one of my favorite greensites:

Tom Vilsack is going to be secretary of agriculture, hmmm … Let’s see, ethanol proponent, enthusiastic supporter of GMOs and biotechnologies, and political debtor to agribusiness. Yup, it seems clear that Obama really took Michael Pollan’s “Farmer in Chief” piece to heart. Short of actually appointing, say, Monsanto’s chairman, it is hard to imagine a choice less likely to make real shifts in our food system.

But of course, as Rod Dreher and Carolyn Baker point out, so far there’s very little from the Obama administration that should make us feel secure that he will shift the status quo. Ultimately, Hillary, Geithner and the rest of the crew mostly can be described as people who did things not as badly as George W. Bush and his Cabinet, but that’s hardly saying anything of note.

For the rest of the above, go to Grist here.

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