Quantcast

200+ Groups Call on Senate to Reject 'Pesticide Industry Loyalist' as USDA's Top Scientist

Politics
Agricultural workers in Salinas, California. Michael Davidson / Flickr / CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

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.

Show Comments ()

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

A child playing with a ball from planet earth during Extinction Rebellion rally on April 18 in London, England. Brais G. Rouco / Barcroft Media / Getty Images

Earth Day 2019 just passed, but planning has already begun for Earth Day 2020, and it's going to be a big deal.

Read More Show Less
Geneva Vanderzeil, A Pair & A Spare / Flickr / CC BY 2.0

Is your closet filled with clothes you don't wear (and probably don't like anymore)? Are you buying cheap and trendy clothing you only wear once or twice? What's up with all the excess? Shifting to a more Earth-conscious wardrobe can help simplify your life, as well as curb fast fashion's toll on people and the planet.

Read More Show Less
Sponsored
Christine Zenino / Wikimedia Commons / CC BY 2.0

Greenland is melting six times faster than it was in the 1980s, which is even faster than scientists thought, CNN reported Tuesday.

Read More Show Less
The 18th century St. Catherine of Alexandria church is seen after its bell tower was destroyed following a 6.3 magnitude earthquake that struck the town of Porac, pampanga province on April 23. TED ALJIBE / AFP / Getty Images

At least 16 people have died, 81 are injured and 14 are still missing after an earthquake struck Luzon island in the Philippines Monday, according to the latest figures from the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council, as the Philippine Star tweeted Tuesday.

Read More Show Less
Climate change activists gather in front of the stage at the Extinction Rebellion group's environmental protest camp at Marble Arch in London on April 22, on the eighth day of the group's protest calling for political change to combat climate change. TOLGA AKMEN / AFP / Getty Images

Extinction Rebellion, the climate protest that has blocked major London thoroughfares since Monday April 15, was cleared from three key areas over Easter weekend, The Guardian reported.

Read More Show Less
Sponsored
Pexels

By Alina Petre, MS, RD (CA)

Veganism refers to a way of living that attempts to minimize animal exploitation and cruelty. For this reason, vegans aim to exclude all foods containing meat, poultry, fish, eggs, dairy and honey from their diet (1).

Read More Show Less
American farmers use chlorpyrifos, a pesticide tied to brain and nervous system issues, on crops such as apples, broccoli, corn and strawberries. Stephanie Chapman / Flickr / CC BY 2.0

By Jessica Corbett

In a ruling welcomed by public health advocates, a federal court on Friday ordered the Trump administration to stop stalling a potential ban on a pesticide linked to brain damage in children, giving regulators until mid-July to make a final decision.

Read More Show Less
fstop123 / iStock / Getty Images Plus

At EcoWatch, our team knows that changing personal habits and taking actions that contribute to a better planet is an ongoing journey. Earth Day, happening on April 22, is a great reminder for all of us to learn more about the environmental costs of our behaviors like food waste or fast fashion.

To offer readers some inspiration this Earth Day, our team rounded up their top picks for films to watch. So, sit back and take in one of these documentary films this Earth Day. Maybe it will spark a small change you can make in your own life.

Read More Show Less