Saul Loeb/AFP-Getty Images
The Obama administration's schizophrenic approach to agriculture policy—making PR gestures toward sustainable farming with one hand while nudging ahead the agendas of agribusiness giants like Monsanto and Dow Chemical with the other—was on full display this weekend when the President used a recess appointment to install Islam Siddiqui as the chief agricultural negotiator in the Office of the United States Trade Representative.
"He was a singularly poor choice," said Dr. Marcia Ishii-Eiteman, senior scientist with the Pesticide Action Network North America. "He is the wrong person with the wrong background. We are surprised and very disappointed that President Obama recess-appointed him. There should have been a full Senate vote."
It's telling that Obama used the same cynical, behind-the-scenes tactic to secure the Siddiqui appointment that his predecessor used to place judges like Charles Pickering (blocked because of past decisions that some considered racist) on the federal bench.
Prior to his appointment, Siddiqui was a vice president and lobbyist for CropLife America, a trade organization representing major corporate players in the agricultural chemical industry. CropLife became known to the public when it berated Michelle Obama for putting in a (horrors!) organic kitchen garden at the White House.