Organic Consumers Association

Ex Cargill CEO in Charge of Food Aid for Iraq

Fury at agriculture post for US businessman

Heather Stewart
Monday April 28, 2003
The Guardian

Oxfam last night launched a scathing attack on the man the US has put in
charge of agricultural reconstruction in Iraq.

Dan Amstutz is a former senior executive of Cargill, the biggest grain
exporter in the world, and served in the Reagan administration as a trade
negotiator in the Uruguay round of world trade talks.

Oxfam is concerned that his involvement is an example of the potentially
damaging commercialisation of the reconstruction effort in Iraq, which it
would prefer to see conducted under the auspices of the United Nations.

Kevin Watkins, Oxfam's policy director, said Mr Amstutz would "arrive with
a suitcase full of open-market rhetoric", and was more likely to try to
dump cheap US grain on the potentially lucrative Iraqi market than
encourage the country to rebuild its once-successful agricultural sector.

"Putting Dan Amstutz in charge of agricultural reconstruction in Iraq is
like putting Saddam Hussein in the chair of a human rights commission," Mr
Watkins said.

"This guy is uniquely well-placed to advance the commercial interests of
American grain companies and bust open the Iraqi market - but singularly
ill-equipped to lead a reconstruction effort in a developing country."

With President Bush on record as saying he wants American farmers to feed
the world, Oxfam is worried that the Iraqi agricultural sector will be
left unprotected from cut-price US competition at the crucial early stages
of its reconstruction.

In a statement on Mr Amstutz's appointment, the US agriculture secretary,
Ann Veneman, said the head of reconstruction would "help us achieve our
national objective of creating a democratic and prosperous Iraq while at
the same time best utilise resources of our farmers and good industry in
the effort, both for the interim and the long term".

The US government has been repeatedly criticised for giving preferential
treatment to US firms in contracts to reconstruct Iraq.

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