President Donald Trump this week nominated DowDuPont executive Scott Hutchins to become the lead scientist for the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
Hutchins is currently the global leader of integrated field sciences at Corteva Agriscience, which is the agriculture division of the recently merged DowDuPont.
Hutchins is an Indiana native with a PhD in entomology who serves as an adjunct professor at the University of Nebraska.
If the Senate confirms him as undersecretary for research, education, and economics, the move will mark the third USDA posting under Trump with strong ties to Dow’s pesticide and seed division.
Dow Chemical donated $1 million to Trump’s inaugural committee after the election in 2016.
In April, the White House named Dow veteran Ken Isley as head of the USDA’s Foreign Agricultural Service.
In October last year, the Senate confirmed former Dow lobbyist Ted Mckinney undersecretary for trade and foreign agricultural affairs.
Half of the eight sub-cabinet positions at the USDA have remained vacant since Trump took office.
Last year, the White House picked Sam Clovis, Trump’s campaign co-chairman, for the job as lead scientist for the USDA.
That pick triggered a cascade of controversies.
Clovis is a former conservative radio host and climate-change denier with a history of offensive comments about race and women, and lacks the credentials in science required for the job by law.
He was also implicated as the campaign supervisor who oversaw George Papadopoulos, a campaign aide who pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI about his contacts with Russians.
Wenonah Hauter, executive director of the environmental advocacy group Food and Water Watch, said in a statement that the move “represents the interests of industrial agriculture in growing their bottom lines. Their payday will come at a cost to farmers, farmworkers, and the environment, and will result in more dangerous toxins in our food.”
She called for the Senate to block the nomination, calling it “a particularly egregious gift to the chemical industry that imperils our food system from field to plate.”
Scott Hutchins Picked For USDA’s Top Science Post (Agri-Pulse)