Wethinks they doth profess too much

A very odd site mysteriously popped up last week, with a banner headlined “Support Tom Vilsack for Secretary of Agriculture” and featuring both smiley and serious-but-loving shots of the former Iowa governor, as if he were some sort of agricultural Mr. Rogers. Paid for by honchos from large organic food corporations like Whole Foods and Stonyfield Farms, the site features testimonials from some scrappier folks we wouldn’t expect to see speechifying for Vilsack (yeah we mean you, Señor Scowcroft).‘s main raisons d’etre seem to be to make nice with the new secretary (Tom, we always heard you were a good listener) and also to “set the record straight” on claims made about Vilsack’s pro-biotech record by the Organic Consumers Association. Unfortunately, its point-by-point “claim/truth” refutation reads more like just “spin/spin.” For example:

CLAIM: “The biggest biotechnology industry group, the Biotechnology Industry Organization, named Vilsack Governor of the Year. He was also the founder and former chair of the Governor’s Biotechnology Partnership.”

TRUTH: It is true that Vilsack has been a proponent of biotechnology because he believes in the science and believes that the potential benefits of the technology outweigh the risk. As Governor of an agricultural-based state, it is not a surprise that he saw biotechnology as an economic opportunity to create jobs and add value to agricultural products in his state. But that was not the only type of product he championed.

Or maybe we just have a different understanding of how “claim” is supposed to refer to assertion and “truth” is supposed to refer to facts.

We’re not the only ones who are underwhelmed, apparently. The site’s “Support Vilsack” petition, with a goal of 10,000 signatures, is lamely lingering at a whopping 511. (

Other blog reactions: Tom Philpott is bemused, Jill Richardson is incensed, and Sam Fromartz just shrugs.

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