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Food Policy Friday: Barack Obama’s Advisors Have Ties to Monsanto

White House GardenThere’s an organic garden on Barack Obama’s lawn. The First Family eats local, organic, and seasonal food.

So why did the President’s scientific advisory team for last fall’s election include Sharon Long, a former member of Monsanto’s board of directors?

And why did Obama recently appoint Barbara Schaal, a plant geneticist with connections to Monsanto, to his Science and Technology Advisory Council?

Schaal, who works in the Monsanto Laboratory at Washington University in St. Louis, is well-known for her studies of the genetics of rice.Β  Her research in Asia found that when local domestic rice cross-bred with bio-tech rice, the altered rice variety took over the fields.Β  Despite the findings, Schaal believes that “if GM rice is introduced…it wouldn’t have to be banned.”

Schaal’s name also comes up in conjunction with genetically-modified corn.Β  Remember in 2001, when scientists study revealed that wild maize crops in the Mexican state of Oaxaca contained genes from genetically-modified maize?Β  Four years later, another study appeared declaring that the native crops were suddenly free from any GM contamination.Β  The editor of that study was none other than Barbara Schaal.

And what about Sharon Long, who advised the President on scientific matters during his campaign? I don’t know about you, but I’m not thrilled the president was looking for wisdom from someone who, after a five-year-stint with Monsanto, publicly stated she is “truly proud of Monsanto’s achievements.”

The presidential advisors’ links to Monsanto are disturbing.Β  But where does the President himself stand on genetically modified food? In his own words:

“Advances in the genetic engineering of plants have provided enormous benefits to American farmers. I believe that we can continue to modify plants safely with new genetic methods.”

Image via Regeener on Flickr under a Creative Commons License

6 comments
  1. Busa

    Sadly, these foods have been in the American diet for many years already. As a people, we have been kept in the dark as to what we are eating. For a more in-depth study of the GM food industry, I have been reading a book I borrowed from my local library…”Seeds of Deception” by Jeffrey M. Smith. Not only are the seeds cross-bred with seeds of completely different plants, one of the worrisome facts is that GM foods get their genes from bacteria, viruses & other organisms. This is being linked to a rise in food allergies, and serious disease.
    Thanks for a great article exposing yet more of the chaos in the GM food industry.

  2. JoniB

    I suppose those people may be included in Obama’s team just for the simple fact that it’s nice to know your enemy and keep an eye on them. Insider’s knowledge to boot.
    Yeah, I feel I need a college degree in chemistry just to read food labels. Sigh.

  3. Green Bean

    I don’t know about Obama hiring these folks to keep the enemy closer. Sounds like he supports GMOs in certain circumstances. I too read Seeds of Deception – reads like a novel – and left with the overall feeling that there are just too many unknowns with GMOs to ever support them.

  4. Steve

    And goodness, stop crossbreeding of plants, too. That’s also genetic engineering. Plants have rights, too, you know.

  5. Evelyn G. Rodriguez

    I am very disappointed that the president has not educated himself enough on both sides of the GMO controversy. On one hand he and his family eat organic, especially, Mrs. Obama, and on the other hand he is approving these practices. I emailed the first family three times asking them if GMO’s where in their diest and never got a reply. Very disturbing!

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