In yet another case of President Donald Trump appointing people unqualified people for top cabinet positions, the POTUS’ likely pick for “chief scientist” of the United States Department of Agriculture is a man who has never studied science.
The USDA’s research division, which researches topics such as nutrition, food distribution and climate change, is supposed to be led by a “chief scientist” who must be “from among distinguished scientists.”
However, Trump has chosen to overlook this requirement and is expected to appoint Iowan Tea Party activist Sam Clovis to the position.
Clovis, unsurprisingly, has absolutely no science background, be it in terms of education or work experience. In fact, he is a former tenured business and public policy professor at Morning Side College and has a B.S. in political science from the U.S. Air Force Academy, an MBA from Golden State University along with a doctorate in public administration from the University of Alabama.
Clovis, who has repeatedly questioned the role of climate change, was appointed a temporary role as USDA’s senior White House advisor until a permanent director was assigned the position. But now he might be chosen to fill an even higher position in the department. It is important to note that Clovis, who was a right-wing radio host, was also a Trump campaign advisor and is reportedly responsible for recruiting Carter Page.
Carter Page is the energy industry consultant who last year was linked to Donald Trump's presidential campaign and was investigated by the FBI under a secret intelligence court warrant as a possible foreign agent. He was also investigated over alleged ties between Russia and Donald Trump's presidential campaign.
In a 2014 interview, Clovis when asked about the EPA and climate change said: “I’m a skeptic. I’ll put it that way. I’m not convinced the science is proven. This whole issue of global warming or climate change and cap and trade and all the other legislation is simply a mechanism for transferring wealth from one group of people to another.”
Anyone heading the USDA's research programs needs to have a strong background in biological science. The job entails studying what research is going well, identifying questions and fields that need further study, and outlining questions that present the most promising avenues for research. Keeping this in mind, it is not difficult to see that Clovis, who has absolutely no knowledge or experience in the above areas, is simply incompetent to fulfill his duties in the USDA. If appointed to the position, he will oversee thousands of scientists working at the USDA, despite the fact that he has no idea about their jobs.
In comparison, Catherine Woteki, Obama’s undersecretary for USDA research, holds a Ph D. in human nutrition and was dean of the school of agriculture at Iowa State University.