Head USDA Scientist Questions Organic Safety?

Roger Beachy, as director of the USDA’s newly formed National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA), is the lead researcher for the USDA.  He was appointed to his post by President Obama in October 2009.  Before taking this position he was the founding president of the Donald Danforth Plant Science Center in St. Louis, Missouri where he’d worked since 1998.  From 1991 to 1998 Beachy was the department head of the Division of Plant Biology at The Scripps Research Institute.  From 1978 to 1991 he was a biology professor at Washington University in St. Louis.  Sounds like a qualified scientist right?

While at Washington University, Beachy worked on the Monsanto sponsored project that resulted in the first genetically modified food crop.  On the project tomatoes were modified for resistance to disease by adding genes from flounder.  The world’s first Frankenfood.

Beachy’s notoriety lead to his position at The Scripps Research Institute where he again worked on formulating plant genetics so they would be resistant to disease.    Scripps has worked hand-in-hand with Monsanto for years.  The Dansford Plant Science Center is funded by Monsanto and it’s mission is to, “improve the human condition through plant science.”  In other words it is charged with developing more GM produce.

What does this tell us about Roger Beachy?  That from 1978 until being appointed to the USDA in 2009, Beachy was an employee of Monsanto, the company responsible for introducing e coli into our food system.  Thirty-one years as an employee of a company that he is now responsible for making policy over.  Another trip through the Monsanto revolving door.

Just how dangerous are Beachy’s genetically modified Frankenfoods?  The US government has set up a web site (foodsafety.gov) to educate Americans about food borne microbials.  The site also tracks food illness outbreaks and recalls, most of which are the result of genetically tampering with food.  Among the recent outbreaks traced back to GM foods are the spinach e coli contamination in 2006, 2009’s Salmonellosis in peanut butter scare and just this week a massive recall of products containing hydrolyzed vegetable protein.

This week, Beachy is attending an international conference in Guadalajara, Mexico sponsored by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations.  When Beachy was asked by Tom Philpott of Grist Magazine, “Would NIFA be funding research for organic ag?”  Beachy’s reply stunned all in attendance.

Beachy arrogantly said, “I’m concerned about the safety of organic food.”  It also sent his his chief counsel, Rachel Goldfarb, scrambling to clean up the mess.  She immediately cut him off saying, “This is just the sort of thing he should not be discussing without approval,” which ended the conversation.

Check out Philpott’s first-hand account of the exchange HERE.

The irony and absurdity of the very scientist who developed the lethal genetic modification of produce calling the safety of organic farming into question is the Mount Everest of hypocrisy.  If you would like to share your displeasure with Mr. Beachy you can contact him via e-mail at rbeachy@nifa.usda.gov, by phone at (202) 720 – 4423, fax to (202) 720 – 8987 or snail mail to:

Roger Beachy
United States Department of Agriculture
National Institute of Food and Agriculture
1400 Independence Avenue SW, Stop 2201
Washington, DC 20250.

One Response to Head USDA Scientist Questions Organic Safety?

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Stuart is a celebrity chef, food activist and award-winning food writer. He penned the cookbooks Third Coast Cuisine: Recipes of the Gulf of Mexico, No Sides Needed: 34 Recipes To Simplify Life and Amigeauxs - Mexican/Creole Fusion Cuisine. He hosts two Internet cooking shows "Everyday Gourmet" and "Little Grill Big Flavor." His recipes have been featured in Current, Lagniappe, Southern Tailgater, The Kitchen Hotline and on the Cooking Channel.

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