The best of EcoWatch, right in your inbox. Sign up for our email newsletter!
200+ Groups Call on Senate to Reject 'Pesticide Industry Loyalist' as USDA's Top Scientist
By Andrea Germanos
Denouncing his "strong ties to corporate agribusiness and pesticide companies," more than 240 groups urged the Senate on Wednesday to reject the nomination of Scott Hutchins, President Donald Trump's pick for chief scientist at the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA).
"The election last week demonstrates that people across the country are tired of this administration's dangerous anti-science, pro-industry agenda," declared Tiffany Finck-Haynes, pesticides and pollinators program manager with Friends of the Earth. "We urge the Senate to listen to the American people and reject this pesticide industry loyalist who will put corporate profits over farmers, public health, and our environment."
If appointed Under Secretary of Agriculture for Research, Education, and Economics—a position with "broad implications for the future of American agricultural science and policy-making"—Hutchins would be the third Dow executive at the USDA, making the cozy relationship between the Trump administration and the agribusiness giant even more clear.
In a letter to Senate Agriculture Committee chairman Pat Roberts (R-Kan.) and ranking member Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.), the massive coalition opposed to Hutchins warns that by appointing someone that "spent over 30 years of his career working at Dow Agro Sciences with a focus on pesticides," the Trump administration has once more demonstrated its willingness to put its "unhealthy relationship" with Dow Chemical ahead of the "health and safety of the American public and our environment."
The letter from the coalition—which includes ActionAid USA, Family Farm Defenders and Interfaith Worker Justice—states:
Scott Hutchins has a history of defending the toxic pesticide chlorpyrifos. In 2001, Hutchins expressed disappointment that Dow needed to limit uses of the pesticide, complaining that the Food Quality Protection Act (FQPA) put Dow's organophosphates under scrutiny.
Hutchins encourages growers to use pesticides, even when less toxic alternatives are available. In a 2006 presentation, Hutchins claimed, "Integrative Pest Management does/should NOT advocate avoidance of technology." While many practitioners of Integrative Pest Management view the practice as a way to significantly reduce synthetic pesticide use and utilize them as a "last resort," Hutchins has co-opted the term to encourage pesticide application.
"Should Scott Hutchins gain control of USDA's research programs," the letter continues, "he could use the agency's infrastructure and grant making to advance his harmful vision of chemical intensive agriculture under the guise of ecologically sustainable practices."
According to Jim Goodman, board president of the National Family Farm Coalition, one of the signatory groups, "In nominating Scott Hutchins to the position of Chief Scientist at USDA, the Trump Administration has, again, proven that they are more interested in promoting the agenda and profit of industrial agribusiness over scientific integrity, the protection of public health, and the well-being of farmers, farm workers, and rural communities."
The Senate Agriculture Committee announced Tuesday that Hutchins' hearing would be held Nov. 28.
Reposted with permission from our media associate Common Dreams.
EcoWatch Daily Newsletter
By Charli Shield
At unsettling times like the coronavirus outbreak, it might feel like things are very much out of your control. Most routines have been thrown into disarray and the future, as far as the experts tell us, is far from certain.
By Elizabeth Henderson
Farmworkers, farmers and their organizations around the country have been singing the same tune for years on the urgent need for immigration reform. That harmony turns to discord as soon as you get down to details on how to get it done, what to include and what compromises you are willing to make. Case in point: the Farm Workforce Modernization Act (H.R. 5038), which passed in the House of Representatives on Dec. 11, 2019, by a vote of 260-165. The Senate received the bill the next day and referred it to the Committee on the Judiciary, where it remains. Two hundred and fifty agriculture and labor groups signed on to the United Farm Workers' (UFW) call for support for H.R. 5038. UFW President Arturo Rodriguez rejoiced:
By Julia Conley
A council representing more than 800,000 doctors across the U.S. signed a letter Friday imploring President Donald Trump to reverse his call for businesses to reopen by April 12, warning that the president's flouting of the guidance of public health experts could jeopardize the health of millions of Americans and throw hospitals into even more chaos as they fight the coronavirus pandemic.
By Melissa Kravitz Hoeffner
Over six gallons of water are required to produce one gallon of wine. "Irrigation, sprays, and frost protection all [used in winemaking] require a lot of water," explained winemaker and sommelier Keith Wallace, who's also a professor and the founder of the Wine School of Philadelphia, the largest independent wine school in the U.S. And water waste is just the start of the climate-ruining inefficiencies commonplace in the wine industry. Sustainably speaking, climate change could be problematic for your favorite glass of wine.