It was bad enough when the keiki at Eleele School were turned into biotech stooges. But it was really tragic to see two conservation groups — National Tropical Botanical Garden and the Kauai Forest Bird Recovery Project — pimping for a chemical company in today's paper.
For a measly $12,050 between them they let themselves be used to make Dupont-Pioneer look good. Ironically, the NTBG program that “benefitted” from the chem company's largess is called the Kokua Aina Youth Initiative. Hey kids, let's help the land with money derived from poisoning it and destroying biodiversity.
I know funding can be hard for nonprofits to come by, but when you take cash from the chemical companies, you're not only legitimizing their operations, you're allowing them to co-opt your good work and good name for their craven purposes. As for Laurie Yoshida, the new DuPont communications manager, well, I suppose there isn't much difference between flacking for Linda Lingle and a company that produces poisons and tweaked seed.
Of course, the chem companies have a lot of extra cash to throw around since they don't pay general excise tax on the estimated $250 million worth of seeds they sell each year. Though Senate Bill 365 was introduced to change that, it hasn't even been scheduled for a hearing.
Meanwhile, some 1,200 people showed up yesterday to testify on HB 174, which would require all foods produced with genetically engineered materials to disclose that fact on the label with bold-faced type. Hawaii Public Radio reports that House Ag Committee Chair Jessica Wooley plans to move the bill forward to the Consumer Protection and Commerce Committee. Tellingly, the Star-Advertiser didn't even cover the hearing, and instead printed an Associated Press report that was a rewrite of the HPR story, without Rep. Wooley's recommendation.
HPR used a great quote from Life of the Land's Henry Curtis:
When did we make a conscious decision in this society to have the companies that developed chemical warfare be in charge of our food supply?
Though chem company reps and their lobbyist, Hawaii Crop Improvement Assn., tried to plant the fear that labeling will increase food costs, here's the real reason why they don't want GMO products labeled: they know that if given a choice, people will not choose GMOs.
Heck, animals don't want it. A friend whose family grows seed corn in the Midwest told me that farmers have observed that deer won't touch the GMO corn fields. “And deer eat anything,” she said. Other farmers reported that their chickens and livestock will refuse GMO feed when given a choice. So what do the “dumb” animals know that we “smart” humans haven't figured out?
Meanwhile, in an attempt to ensure that they are allowed to operate with impunity in Hawaii, the chemical companies got lawmakers to introduce SB590. Though it's phrased to make it sound like it's protecting farmers and ranchers, when you see language like this, you know it's really all about biotech:
“No court, official, public servant, or public employee shall declare any farming operation a nuisance for any reason if the farming operation has been conducted in a manner consistent with generally accepted agricultural and management practices. No law shall be enacted that abridges the right of farmers and ranchers to employ generally accepted agricultural technology, livestock production, and ranching practices."
Though the bill has not yet been scheduled for a hearing, Councilman Jay Furfaro moved to head it off at the pass by submitting testimony objecting to that provision. As he quite rightly notes:
This statement preempts individual Counties to have little or no recourse to protect our constituents from action done by any and all agricutural businesses or individuals should the health and safety of our communities be compromised.
Which is exactly why the high-polluting industrial ag wants this bill. Jay goes on to write:
I am cautious knowing that much of the “generally accepted agricultural and management practices” involved with the larger biotechnical companies are continuing to evolve and the safety of its practices are called into question.
What's even sicker is the bill's stated mandate of:
...promoting and fostering an atmosphere of acceptance of all the various forms of agricultural practices and operations that are generally accepted as legitimate and appropriate within our nation.
Pretty pathetic. But then, the nonprofits are already doing that when they pose for newspaper pictures happily taking chump change from the chem companies.