Trump nominates Hutchins as USDA undersecretary, chief scientist |

Trump nominates Hutchins as USDA undersecretary, chief scientist

President Donald Trump on Monday nominated Scott Hutchins to be Agriculture undersecretary for research, education and economics and the U.S. Department of Agriculture chief scientist.

Hutchins currently serves as the global leader of integrated field sciences for Corteva Agriscience, a division of DowDuPont, and as an adjunct professor at the University of Nebraska.

Previously, he served as president of the Entomological Society of America.

Hutchins earned a bachelor of science in entomology from Auburn University, a master of arts from Mississippi State University, and a doctoral degree from Iowa State University.

Hutchins is the second Trump nominee for the position.

The first nominee was Sam Clovis, a Trump campaign aide and senior adviser at the Agriculture Department, who withdrew. Critics said Clovis did not have the scientific background for the post and he also became embroiled in the investigations into the Trump campaign’s involvement with Russia.

Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue applauded the nomination.

“I am very excited by the selection of Dr. Hutchins for this leadership role at USDA. His extensive background in research and commitment to sound science and data make him exceptionally qualified for this post, and I am eager to have Dr. Hutchins join the team.”

“USDA now has four highly qualified nominees awaiting action in the Senate Agriculture Committee,” Perdue said. “It is my hope the committee moves expeditiously to consider these highly qualified individuals as soon as possible. In addition, I also look forward to the full Senate voting on our general counsel nominee as soon as possible.”

Ricardo Salvador, director and senior scientist of the Food and Environment Program at Union of Concerned Scientists, said that Huchins’ nomination “is the latest in the Trump administration’s efforts to maximize corporate influence over the priorities and direction of U.S. agriculture.”

“Everywhere you look in the Trump administration, there’s Dow,” Salvador said.

“From the million-dollar check to the Trump inauguration fund, to the lobbying that persuaded the Environmental Protection Agency to reverse a ban on a pesticide that harms children’s brain development, and the lobbying that gave us farm bill proposals that would leave endangered species vulnerable to pesticides,” Salvador said.

“Given Hutchins’ role as researcher and director of product development for a prominent industry player, we urge the Senate ensure he commits to rising above his industry ties, and uses his expertise to make decisions in the public interest.

“He should draw on his academic training, his long career at Dow and past leadership at the Entomological Society of America to ensure scientific integrity and develop and disseminate research to benefit all farmers and eaters.”

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