President-elect Barack Obama named former Iowa governor Tom Vilsack as his Secretary of Agriculture. First, the good news. Vilsack's appointment drives some progressives nuts because he apparently supports biotech crops. The Organic Consumers Association asserted:
Vilsack has a glowing reputation as being a schill for agribusiness biotech giants like Monsanto.
On the other hand, both Obama and Vilsack have been enthusiastic supporters of federal subsidies for ethanol produced from corn. However, turning food into fuel contributed substantially to steep increases in global food prices earlier this year. In addition, recent scientific studies have shown that subsidizing corn ethanol causes more land to be plowed up which actually boosts greenhouse gas emissions. Mr. Obama has declared that "my administration will value science." Let's hope that means that he will direct his new Secretary of Agriculture to ask Congress to cut wasteful and environmentally-damaging corn subsidies.
Putting science ahead of ideology and politics on both issues would be a nice change.