President-Elect Donald Trump and Organic Food – How Concerned Should We Be?
With Donald Trump now officially moving into the White House in January, I wanted to take a look at how his presidency would impact organic food.
First off, whatever Trump does, it will not be worse than President Obama. While many people may assume that Obama has been a friend to organic, nothing could be further than the truth. He has been an absolute and unmitigated disaster for organic.
Not only did he recently sign the worst GMO-labeling bill imaginable, which has put the future of organic in serious jeopardy, but his administration has approved every single genetically-modified crop that has been applied for, including genetically-engineered salmon, Agent Orange Corn and three types of genetically-engineered apples that don’t turn brown. Furthermore, under Obama’s watch, the day-to-day operations of the National Organic Program have been so harmful that the Cornucopia Institute has alleged corruption at the USDA.
Now, back to Trump. Based on sources from Advocacy Election ’16, Agri-Pulse, The Huffington Post and my personal contacts here in New York City, this is what we know.
I wish there was a lot more that we could say but these are the (few) things that we can be optimistic about.
- I know for a fact that Ivanka Trump eats healthy, organic food. Furthermore, she has an insanely elaborate and sophisticated water filtration system installed in her New York City apartment. Why is this relevant? Anyone who cares that much about high quality water also cares about high quality food. Given her inclination for healthy living, Ivanka Trump may be able to educate her father about what is really happening with organic, particularly in regards to GMO-contamination, the biggest threat to organic.
- Donald Trump is adamantly against the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP), a trade agreement that would be horrible for organic food. The worst aspect of TPP is that it would essentially make it illegal to label GMOs. Based on recent news reports, President Obama is trying to push TPP through before he leaves office.
- Last year, Donald Trump sent out a Tweet — and later retracted it, for fear of drawing the ire of the world’s most powerful chemical company — about Monsanto’s genetically-modified corn causing issues with the brain. How much should we read into it? It is very hard to say, but it is definitely worth mentioning.
Unfortunately, there is a good amount to mention here.
- It is well documented that Donald Trump eats a lot of fast food. Generally speaking, people who eat fast food, which is full of GMOs, don’t care too much about organic. However, from what I am told, both the Bush and Obama families ate a ton of organic food while in the White House, yet these personal food choices did not translate into favorable policies for organic.
- In terms of GMOs, he has been quoted as saying that “I support the use of technology in food production, which has enabled American farmers to increase yields to levels never before experienced in the history of the world. Through innovation, American farmers are producing crops more resilient to drought, heat, and pests.” Additionally, he is against “unwarranted government mandates that hurt farmers and confuse consumers, such as mandatory biotech labeling.” Not good.
- Trump said that he vows to “end this war on the American farmer,” and it is well known that he is against government regulation, particularly the EPA, so that could mean super-toxic pesticides, synthetic biology, and genetically-engineered animals could fly through, or even avoid, the regulatory process. This could be very dangerous.
- Politico reported this morning that Michael Torrey, principal and founder of the lobbying shop Michael Torrey Associates, is leading Trump’s transition effort for the USDA. Torrey has more than 25 years of experience in the agricultural political world, and his clients include the Illinois Soybean Association, the American Beverage Association, Dean Foods, and pizza franchise Little Caesars. This has Big Food written all over it. Not surprising but scary nonetheless.
- Trump’s agriculture advisory board is stacked with Big Ag advocates.
We can’t say for sure where Donald Trump stands on organic, but we know that he is pro-farmer, for GMOs and opposed to excessive EPA regulation.
With Big Food lobbyists and advocates furiously jockeying for position, there is a wild card in this whole situation: Ivanka Trump.
If she can see how organic has been betrayed under Obama and the inherent danger of current policies, Ivanka Trump could be the one person to stand up to all of the powerful ag-biotech special interest groups who would love to see organic destroyed.
Let’s hope she gets involved in this incredibly important matter and makes it a serious priority. If she does, any fears that we do have about where organic is heading should be greatly lessened. If she doesn’t, we ought to be real concerned.
Of course, I’ll be watching this issue very closely and will keep you updated.