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Trump Names Sonny Perdue, a Biotech Favorite, as Head of the USDA

Could we be in for a painful four years? We don't know for sure, but it appears so.

Just a few days ago, President Trump tapped Sonny Perdue, a former governor of Georgia, to lead the USDA.

There are many very questionable things about this pick, but in terms of his farming record and how it could impact organic, here is what we know about this nominee:

* He was named Governor of the Year by the Biotechnology Industry Organization – an ominous sign. As you may remember, Tom Vilsack, the last USDA Secretary and no friend of organic, also received that award.

* Despite the fact that he is a trained veterinarian, Sonny Perdue pushed for the growth of factory chicken farms and prohibited counties from regulating them, even though they were causing massive contamination of the water supply.

* Throughout his career, he’s been a consistent fan of deregulation. Big Ag needs MORE regulation, not less. Again, not good.

* He owns and operates an international commodities trading business, which certainly aligns him with major seed and chemical companies.


* We don’t know how he feels about organic and protecting the fastest-growing sector of the food industry. Maybe he understands its importance more than we realize.

* He never worked for Monsanto or Dow, like so many other people at the USDA.

In Summary

As we evaluate Sonny Perdue, let’s not forget that President Obama’s USDA Secretary, Tom Vilsack, viewed organic as a “nuisance” and approved every single GMO that passed his desk.

On the surface, it appears that Sonny Perdue does not favor organic. Hopefully, he’ll prove otherwise.

Have a great week!

Max Goldberg, Founder

This Week's News Items

Weekly News Summaries

First Course

At Schools Nationwide, Organic Lunches May Be Coming

By Anna Lappe

With schools across the country taking a hard look at how they are procuring food, organic lunches could be here pretty soon. What an amazing prospect!


Doctors Now Prescribe Food at Supermarkets

By David Gorn

With the "food as medicine" philosophy taking hold, it isn't just nutritionists or dietitians becoming fixtures at supermarkets. Now, it's doctors, too.

Friends of the Earth

New Regulations for the Next Generation of GMOs Fall Short

By Kate Colwell

Unsurprisingly, the USDA's proposed regulations to evaluate the next generation of GMOs, such as gene-editing and synthetic biology, are just not enough. Many of these risky crops may escape government oversight entirely.

Center for Food Safety

Groups File Lawsuit Over Monsanto's Super-Toxic Dicamba Pesticide

Farmer and environmental groups have filed a lawsuit against the EPA for approving XtendiMax, also known as Dicamba. Dicamba is already linked to increased rates of cancer and birth defects, and has caused outrage across the country even among non-organic farmers.

Second Course

Barnana Lands $5.3M Investment To Continue Upcycling Bananas

By Meggen Taylor

A cool story in Forbes of how Barnana got started and how it has quickly grown, all with the mission of not letting unwanted bananas go to waste.

Food Business News

San Francisco Equity Partners Takes Majority Stake in Organic Spice Company

By Eric Schroeder

Private equity firm San Francisco Equity Partners has taken a majority stake in Red Monkey Foods, a leading provider of organic spices and seasonings. Red Monkey Foods was named by Inc. 500 as one of "America's Fastest Growing Private Companies."


301 Inc. Leads $6M Round for Rhythm Superfoods

By Craig Giammona

The venture capital arm of General Mills, 301 Inc., led a $6 million round in organic kale chip company Rhythm Superfoods. The Austin-based producer of organic snacks is on track to do $20 million in revenues this year.

Third Course
Interesting Engineering

Organic Stickers Could be Replaced with Laser Labels

By Tamar Melike Tegun

A fascinating development out of Europe, where organic seals made with stickers might be a thing of the past. Laser markings will be tested on organic sweet potatoes and avocados.


The Country's First Certified Organic Fast-Food Restaurant with a Drive-Thru

By Ashok Selvam

While The Organic Coup is the country's first certified organic fast-food restaurant, Nic's in Chicago claims to be the the country's first certified organic fast-food restaurant with a drive-thru. I hope these two companies inspire other entrepreneurs to get in the certified organic restaurant business. Consumer demand is enormous.

Food Business News

Hain Celestial Signs Joint Venture in India, Sees Big Growth Opportunities

By Monica Watrous

Hain Celestial has just agreed to a joint venture with India-based Future Group and intends to market its natural & organic products in that country. Expect to see brands such as Terra, Garden of Eatin’, Sensible Portions, Dream and Earth’s Best in India sometime soon.

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