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Is Obama's Latest Agriculture Nominee a Textbook Pesticide-Pusher?

Obama recently tapped as chief agricultural negotiator for the office of the US Trade Representative a senior executive from one of the pesticide industry's main trade groups.

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At his November 4 confirmation hearing, Siddiqui faced few tough questions from the finance committee. Only Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) asked for Siddiqui's views on sustainable agricultural practices and about his background working for the petrochemical industry. The nominee's response was vague. "I am a true believer in all processes, systems, whether using conventional means or organic, and I will do my best in terms of representing all these interests in promoting agriculture exports of both organic as well as conventionally grown products," he said.

The committee is expected to approve Siddiqui's nomination sometime this month. And critics aren't optimistic that he'll live up to his word and give sustainable agriculture a fair shake. "Given his background," said Gurian-Sherman, "we think he's going to continue to push the industrial agriculture agenda he's been involved with for the past years."

Kate Sheppard covers energy and environmental politics for Mother Jones.

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