Rajiv Shah, currently the USDA Under Secretary for Research, Education and Economics and Chief Scientist, has been nominated by President Obama to lead USAID.

Shah is on the board of directors for the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA) and was the director of the Gates Foundation’s Agriculture Development program. AGRA and the Gates Foundation have been criticized for working closely with Monsanto and its non-profit research arm, the Danforth Center.

In his short tenure at the USDA, Shah has used the connections he made at the Gates Foundation, where he facilitated $37 million in grants for genetic engineering, to fill the USDA’s Research, Education and Economics mission area with biotech scientists and advocates.

He has used his USDA post to fund and champion genetic engineering and other novel technologies. In a report to Congress earlier this year on programs delivered by his mission area, Shah emphasized technology over ecology, saying, “We can build on tremendous recent scientific discoveries – incredible advances in sequencing plant and animal genomes, and the beginnings of being able to understand what those sequences actually mean. We have new and powerful tools in biotechnology and nanotechnology.”