Washington, D.C. Nov. 14, 2018 – 245 organizations representing farming, farmworker, public health, labor, food safety and environmental interests sent a letter to the U.S. Senate today urging them to oppose the nomination of Scott Hutchins as chief scientist for the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
Today’s letter notes that Hutchins spent over 30 years of his career working at Dow AgroSciences with a focus on pesticides. Hutchins would be the third member of Dow AgroSciences’ pesticide and seed division to hold a high-level position in the Trump administration’s USDA. Groups outline that his strong ties to corporate agribusiness and pesticide companies present serious conflicts of interest that will undoubtedly affect his ability to serve as chief scientist for the USDA.
If confirmed, Hutchins would be setting the agenda for the agency’s $2.9 billion research budget earmarked to advance scientific knowledge related to agriculture through research, extension and education. He would be tasked with leading and overseeing the Agricultural Research Service, National Institute of Food and Agriculture, National Agricultural Library and National Agricultural Statistics Service.
“Hutchins is a pesticide industry crony that could use the agency’s infrastructure and grant making to advance toxic chemical intensive agriculture,” said Tiffany Finck-Haynes, pesticides & pollinators program manager, Friends of the Earth. “The election last week demonstrates that people across the country are tired of this administration’s dangerous anti-science, pro-industry agenda. 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.”
“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,” said Jim Goodman, board president and organic dairy and beef farmer, National Family Farm Coalition.
“Trump’s coziness with corporations that are industrializing our food, polluting our air, contaminating our water and accelerating climate change is unprecedented, and this nomination is more of the same,” said Wenonah Hauter, executive director of Food & Water Watch. “The Senate must oppose the nomination of Hutchins at the USDA, a particularly egregious gift to the chemical industry that imperils our food system from field to plate.”