Organic Consumers Association

Tell Your Senators: Vote NO on Trump’s Pick for Top USDA 'Scientist'!

The job of Chief Scientist at the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is supposed to be reserved for “distinguished scientists with specialized or significant experience in agricultural research, education, and economics.” 

But if Trump has his way, the job will go to his former Iowa campaign manager, Sam Clovis—who isn’t even a scientist, much less a “distinguished” one.

TAKE ACTION: Tell Your Senators: Vote NO on Sam Clovis for Chief USDA Scientist! 

Not only is Clovis (who is not and has never been a scientist) unqualified for the job, he’s also a self-described climate change skeptic.   

And now is no time for a climate science-denier to be making decisions at the USDA. Here’s why.

1.  Scientists predict that unless we curb global warming, we’ll experience more severe, and more frequent, extreme weather events, including droughts and flooding—which will make farmers, and our food supply, more vulnerable.

We’ve just seen two examples of extreme weather—Hurricanes Harvey and Irma. New reports estimate that Irma may have caused Florida farmers to lose up to 30 percent of their crops.  Harvey caused widespread damage to crops and farmers in Texas.

In general, rising temperatures mean plummeting crop yields for the staples (wheat, rice, corn and soy) that provide two-thirds of the world's calories, according to new research on the impact of climate change on agriculture.

2. Modern industrial agriculture is a major contributor to global warming. 

When you factor in emissions from land-use change and deforestation, as well as the processing, packaging, transport and sale of agricultural products, modern industrial agriculture contributes up to 57 percent of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions.

“Degenerative” agriculture—which encompasses the use of GMO monocultures, toxic pesticides and herbicides and synthetic fertilizers, degrades soil. In fact, most of the world’s land is so worn out or neglected that it’s eroding fast. The U.N. estimates that we could lose all the world’s topsoil in the next 60 years. 

Global soil loss not only leads to the loss of food production—it also destroys the soil’s capacity to draw down and sequester excess carbon.

3. Agriculture done right—that is, organic and regenerative agriculture—represents our best hope for reversing global warming by drawing down excess carbon from the atmosphere, and storing it where it belongs: in the soil.

As long as atmospheric CO2 remains above the dangerous tipping point of 350 ppm—it just hit 407 ppm—we’ll suffer the cascading impacts of runaway climate change. The only possible way to remove more than 50 ppm of excess CO2 from the atmosphere is to use plants to convert the CO2 into carbon and, with the help of symbiotic microbes, store it in the soil. 

Organic systems do this best. A new study that compared hundreds of soil samples from all over the country found that on average, organic farms have 44 percent higher levels of humic acid—the component of soil that sequesters carbon over the long term—in their soil than non-organic farms. 

The USDA needs to look at this science and plan the necessary transition to regenerative organic agriculture.

Climate change is real. We need someone at the USDA who will advise policymakers based on real science—science that acknowledges the vulnerability of agriculture to climate change, the contribution degenerative agriculture makes to global warming, and the potential of organic regenerative agriculture to reverse global warming.

TAKE ACTION: Tell Your Senators: Vote NO on Sam Clovis for Chief USDA Scientist! 


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