Last fall, Equal Exchange joined with more than 80 other organizations, and 90,000 concerned individuals, to register our opposition to the appointment of Islam Siddiqui as Chief Agricultural Negotiator at the U.S. Trade Office. Read more here.
We wish to thank all our readers who signed the petition and voiced their concerns. Despite this widespread opposition, however, President Obama has gone ahead with the appointment.
For Immediate Release – March 31, 2010
Obama Installs Pesticide Lobbyist to Key Post
Siddiqui appointed during recess, overriding public protest and democratic process
SAN FRANCISCO – Overriding unprecedented public opposition to an agricultural trade nominee, President Obama quietly installed Islam Siddiqui as Chief Agricultural Negotiator at the US Trade Office, during the Senate recess. Siddiqui is a former pesticide lobbyist and vice president of regulatory affairs for CropLife America, a lobbying group representing the interests of pesticide and biotech corporations.
Last fall, Equal Exchange joined over 90,000 concerned individuals and 80+ groups in registering our opposition to Siddiqui’s appointment. Groups included family farmer and farmworker, anti-hunger, trade, faith-based, sustainable agriculture, consumer and environmental advocates. The number of organizations uniting in opposition to Siddiqui’s appointment has since grown to over 110.
Dr. Marcia Ishii-Eiteman, Senior Scientist at Pesticide Action Network, explains, “Our concern remains that Siddiqui’s aggressive promotion of transgenic crops around the world and his rejection of other countries’ use of the precautionary principle in restricting GMO imports make him a singularly poor choice for this important post. We join much of the American public in believing that his position at Crop Life should flatly disqualify him for public service in this sector. CropLife’s record includes pushing the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to allow testing of pesticides on children, lobbying to weaken the Endangered Species Act and Clean Water Act and doing everything in its power to undermine international treaties governing the use and export of toxic chemicals.
They are not good corporate citizens.” Ben Burkett, president of the National Family Farm Coalition and a Mississippi farmer comments, “Both Dr. Siddiqui and Congress now face a well-informed and concerned public. We will be closely monitoring Siddiqui at his new job, and evaluating whether his actions will truly benefit small-scale family farmers in the U.S. and abroad, workers, consumers and the environment or whether they will benefit large corporations such as Monsanto and Cargill and U.S. commodity group interests who have so
actively supported his nomination.”
Siddiqui’s nomination comes at a moment of heated global debate about the best way to feed the world’s 1 billion hungry people. Companies like Monsanto, which CropLife represents, claim that genetically engineered seeds will boost yields. However, decades of scientific research show that those promises have yet to materialize, while international experts involved in the World Bank and UN-sponsored International Assessment of Agricultural Knowledge, Science and Technology for Development (IAASTD) warn against genetic engineering as a solution to world hunger.
A lead author on the IAASTD report, Ishii-Eiteman adds, “The IAASTD highlights the need for better access to land, a focus on ecological techniques, building local economies, local control of seeds, and farmer-led participatory research. We hope that Siddiqui will soon adopt a new set of priorities to serve the public interest and support the food and livelihood security of farmers here and around the world.”
Pesticide Action Network (PAN) promotes the elimination of highly hazardous pesticides and offers solutions that protect the health of communities and the environment. PAN North America is one of five independent regional centers of PAN International, a worldwide network of more than 600 organizations in 90 countries. For over 25 years PAN has fought for environmental justice, sustainable agriculture and food sovereignty. For more information, visit http://www.panna.org.
National Family Farm Coalition (NFFC), founded in 1986, unites and strengthens the voices and actions of its diverse grassroots members to demand viable livelihoods for family farmers, safe and healthy food for everyone, and economically and environmentally sound rural communities. For more information, visit www.nffc.net.
Dr. Marcia Ishii-Eiteman, Pesticide Action Network North America,
(415) 981-6205, ext 325, email@example.com
Katherine Ozer, National Family Farm Coalition,
(202) 543-5675, firstname.lastname@example.org