White House nominates chemical industry insider to lead USDA research

A longtime chemical industry exec could soon be in control of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s $2.9 billion research budget. Nominated Monday by the White House, Scott Hutchins hails from Big Ag giant Corteva (previously known as Dow Chemicals), where he helped study “crop protection,” i.e. pesticides, herbicides, and fungicides. If confirmed, Hutchins will be the third person from Corteva’s pesticide/seed division to fill a major USDA position. This tight relationship, however, doesn’t stop at job referrals. Dow donated $1 million to President Trump’s campaign (because, of course). Perhaps more alarming, soon after meeting with Dow’s CEO, the now-exiled former U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt reversed a ban on the dangerous chemical chlorpyrifos—a neurotoxin that (you guessed it!) is used widely in Dow pesticides. The appointment could wreak havoc on agricultural policy, giving a leg up to industry on key issues ranging from organic labeling to groundwater contamination.

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