Former Iowa Gov. Tom Vilsack has been chosen by President-elect Barack Obama for agriculture secretary, the LA Times reports Dec. 17. The Organic Consumers Association warned a month ago against choosing Vilsack, calling him “Monsanto’s buddy” and “a shill for agribusiness biotech giants.” The OCA delineates six reasons why appointing Vilsack “would be a terrible idea”:
* 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.
Note that Steven Chu, Obama’s pick to lead the Energy Department, is also a leading “biofuels” booster.