Friday, November 14, 2008

Obama's Secretary of Agriculture

The one appointment that "foodies," "locavores," policy makers, farmers, food companies and manufactures and any other group interested in food, have their sites on is the Secretary of Agriculture. It can make or break the movement towards sustainability and set the agenda on a "status quo" route or a "change" route.

There is much speculation in the bloggersphere on this appointment, but it is hard to say how serious any of the names being kicked around are. This is a cross post from the Organic Consumers Union about the dangers of Govern Vilsack of Iowa:

  • Six Reasons Why Obama Appointing Monsanto's Buddy, Former Iowa Governor Vilsack, for USDA Head is a Terrible Idea
    OCA, November 12, 2008

Nov. 12, 2008

* Former Iowa Governor Tom Vilsack's support of genetically engineered pharmaceutical crops, especially pharmaceutical corn:

* The biggest biotechnology industry group, the Biotechnology Industry Organization, named Vilsack Governor of the Year. He was also the founder and former chair of the Governor's Biotechnology Partnership.

* When Vilsack created the Iowa Values Fund, his first poster child of economic development potential was Trans Ova and their pursuit of cloning dairy cows.

* Vilsack was the origin of the seed pre-emption bill in 2005, which many people here in Iowa fought because it took away local government's possibility of ever having a regulation on seeds- where GE would be grown, having GE-free buffers, banning pharma corn locally, etc. Representative Sandy Greiner, the Republican sponsor of the bill, bragged on the House Floor that Vilsack put her up to it right after his state of the state address.

* Vilsack has a glowing reputation as being a schill for agribusiness biotech giants like Monsanto. Sustainable ag advocated across the country were spreading the word of Vilsack's history as he was attempting to appeal to voters in his presidential bid. An activist from the west coast even made this youtube animation about Vilsack
The airplane in this animation is a referral to the controversy that Vilsack often traveled in Monsanto's jet.

*Vilsack is an ardent support of corn and soy based biofuels, which use as much or more fossil energy to produce them as they generate, while driving up world food prices and literally starving the poor.


adam said...

I agree with you that Vilsack is a poor choice for secretary of agriculture, however your information regarding biofuels, specifically ethanol is very misinformed. There is a lot of misinformation regarding the whole input vs. output and food vs. fuel debates. These are two of the greatest fuel myths being promoted in our media today. First of all, food vs. fuel. Corn is the number one ethanol fuel being promoted currently. the argument is that using this fuel reduces food availability. The truth is that 87 percent of our corn ends up as animal feed. Dried distillers grain which is what is left over after the distillation process is actually a more nutritious feed for cattle promoting quicker growth etc. As far as feeding the starving masses is concerned. World starvation is a distribution problem, not a supply problem. Energy input vs. output is probably the biggest myth. the handful of Scientists that promote this are like the handful that say that global warming is cyclical, they are completely discredited by the scientific community. Unfortunately lobbying groups like the API and others will fund these guys and continue push this outrageous myth. For more information on this in general go to and take a look at some of the information supplied there. Thanks

Kim G, said...

Adam -- Cattle were never supposed to eat corn, and it's hardly nutritious for them. You are correct that it makes them bigger --fatter is more like it. In fact, feeding cattle corn causes them to have bloat and other bacterial diseases, this is why most of your beef has antibiotics in it. You may know that corn goes to cattle, but perhaps you should ask yourself if it should be there.