January 9, 2009

Agribusiness As Usual

Obama's campaign ag adviser mounts a weak defense of industrial food
by Tom Philpott The Grist

Will Obama lead food and ag policy in new directions?

He raised hope late in the campaign season, when he indicated he had read -- and understood -- Michael Pollan's "Farmer in Chief" essay.

Since then, things have turned more dour. Obama made a boldly conventional pick for USDA chief -- a corn-belt ex-governor with ties to the GMO and biofuel industries. And now the chief adviser to this campaign on agricultural issues, Marshall Matz, has come out with a Chicago Tribune op-ed advocating a business-as-usual approach to ag policy. Matz co-wrote the piece with Democratic Party eminence grise (and farm-state politician) George McGovern.

The Matz/McGovern op-ed is a lightweight document that hangs on easy platitudes. It implies that in order to "feed the world," we'll need to rely on chemical-intensive, industrial-scale agriculture, largely centered in the U.S. (for the benefit of "those around the globe who lack America's productive resources.")

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