The Monsanto Company has had its paw prints on practically every branch of the U.S. government in recent years, with former employees infiltrating countless different departments and task forces.
On the Supreme Court, Clarence Thomas is a widely known Monsanto supporter and ex-corporate lawyer for the company who has been involved in cases pertaining to his former employer.
In the FDA, former Monsanto VP Michael Taylor once served in the infamous “Food Czar” position for the federal government as well, appointed by none other than former President Barack Obama.
Now, a former Monsanto executive is in the news yet again, this time because of a curious new appointment that has environmental activists howling over what could be a disastrous fit for one of the most prominent governmental posts pertaining to the natural world.
Former Monsanto Executive to Lead Department of the Interior’s Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS)
In the popular documentary film ‘GMO OMG,’ director and father Jeremy Seifert’s quest to feed his children the most natural diet possible lands him all the way in the middle of a remote natural area where he decides to take his kids fishing.
With his camera in tow, Seifert visits wildlife officials to press them on an important but oft-overlooked issue — the diets that fish are being fed before being released into the wild which, believe it or not, are oftentimes comprised of genetically engineered corn and/or soy pellets.
Frustrated, Seifert does what millions of people do every day, and submits to a cold, hard reality — that most times there’s simply nothing you can do to avoid Monsanto’s lab-created “Frankenfoods.”
It’s something that just about everyone has become accustomed to over the years, including Preident Donald Trump. While on the campaign trail in Iowa, Trump’s Twitter account took a shot at Iowa voters for having “too much Monsanto in the corn,” a dig he eventually pinned on one of his staff interns.
Coupled with his wife Melania’s alleged affinity for organic foods, many people had high hopes that Trump would “drain the swamp” in Washington, D.C. in regards to the Monsanto problem.
But a little over a year into Trump’s presidency, we’ve mostly seen more of the same (confirmed in a historic speech in Nashville recently), culminating in Monday’s nomination of Aurelia Skipwith, a six-year Monsanto employee, to lead the Department of the Interior’s Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS).
According to the website ThinkProgress, Skipwith’s duties will include enforcing federal wildlife laws, protecting endangered species, managing migratory birds, and conserving and restoring wildlife habitat; not exactly easy to do when there’s a good chance you may already be under the influence of one of the most dangerous purveyors of poison in human history, Monsanto.
Skipwith’s former company has of course rained down poisons upon everything from butterflies and bees to entire towns like Aniston, Alabama, which have been ruined by the caustic effects of chemicals like PCBs, glyphosate and more.
“Putting unqualified ideological fanatics into positions of power continues to be the Trump administration’s game plan,” said Brett Hartl of the Center for Biological Diversity (CBD) about Skipwith’s appointment. “These people have utterly no compunction or shame about destroying the very agencies they’re being appointed to lead.
Skipwith had the following to say about her new job in a vaguely-worded written statement about her appointment that invoked a popular former president but did not address the many questions surrounding her Monsanto connections.
“During the past 18 months as deputy assistant secretary, I have had the distinction to work with dedicated people of the service to ensure the implementation of this administration’s and Secretary Zinke’s policies to protect our species, increase public access, and ensure science is at forefront of our decisions,” she said in a statement. “If confirmed, I look forward to the opportunity to lead the service in achieving a conservation legacy second only to President Teddy Roosevelt.”
Despite her lofty words, Hartl and other environmental activists are skeptical to say the least, however.
“Aurelia Skipwith has been working in the Trump administration all along to end protections for billions of migratory birds, gut endangered species safeguards, and eviscerate national monuments,” Hartl added according to the article, which can be read in full here.
“Skipwith will always put the interests of her old boss Monsanto and other polluters ahead of America’s wildlife and help the most anti-environmental administration in history do even more damage.”
This article was originally written in October 2018 and updated in December 2018.