More than 80 groups have signed a letter addressed to the Senate Finance Committee ahead of a scheduled confirmation hearing for Islam Siddiqui on Wednesday, including the Center for Food Safety, Organic Consumers Association, the National Family Farm Coalition and the Institute for Agriculture & Trade Policy.
Siddiqui, who was senior agricultural trade adviser under the Clinton administration, and has years of experience in food, agriculture and biotechnology issues, was picked as Obama’s choice for the position of chief agricultural negotiator last month. If he is confirmed, he would represent the US position on agricultural and farming issues in the delayed Doha negotiations.
But his nomination has angered many organizations and individuals who have said that Siddiqui has “a record of siding with industry at the expense of human health protections.”
One of their major concerns centers on his current position as vice president of science and regulatory affairs at CropLife, a company that represents many of the largest biotech seed, pesticide and agrochemical companies including Monsanto, Dow AgroSciences, DuPont, BASF and Syngenta. If confirmed, Siddiqui would relinquish his CropLife post.
Dena Hoff, a Montana farmer and vice president of the National Family Farm Coalition, said: “We have a food crisis, water crisis, climate crisis, all of which have been exacerbated by our trade agreements and the World Trade Organization continuing to push failed chemical-intensive and biotech solutions. We believe the United States can do better than nominating a former pesticide lobbyist to this key position.”
Siddiqui was also a key figure in the initial establishment of national organic standards, but critics have disapproved of his endorsement of irradiated and biotech foods for inclusion under organic rules.