Monday, September 29, 2014

Musings: Rights and Wrongs

In today's The Garden Island, Dominic Acain of Kekaha bemoans the fact that “industries, profits and jobs were always placed before safety, health and environmental concerns.”

Yes, it's an age-old scenario that is still playing out in so many ways today: poachers wiping out entire species; women and children sold as sex slaves; endless wars; mounting carbon emissions in the face of perilous climate change — all due to placing profits and jobs above all else.

So Dominic and I are very much in agreement on that point.

Dominic then goes on to draw a parallel between the regulation of lead paint and the “battle here on Kauai, or Hawaii for that matter, regarding the use of pesticides.” He ends his piece with:

Regardless of which side of the pesticide issue one stands on, the bottom line is what is morally just. It’s easy for people to find facts and supportive evidence that works to ones [sic] own interest. It’s easy to find a way to discredit or supposedly debunk claims on each side. However, what matters most is moral responsibility. The true test of moral citizenship is when you uphold what is morally right even when it is a personal, political or economical inconvenience.

What has concerned me deeply in this “battle” that Dominic references — and it has included GMOs as much as pesticides — is the murky moral muck trod by so many in thick of the fight, coupled with the self-righteousness that frequently permeates the rhetoric and actions of those who believe they inhabit the high moral ground.

It seems, at first, an easy moral call to oppose pesticides — they are designed to kill life forms, and we have ample evidence they can harm ecosystems and humans in sufficient and/or prolonged doses.

Yet in today's paper we also have a letter from voyager and artist Keala Kai, writing on behalf of the Hikianalia and Hokulea crew to thank Aloha Termite Kauai for fumigating the handmade koa gifts that will be presented to dignitaries as Hokulea continues on the fourth leg of her worldwide journey.

Is the use of pesticides in that situation morally wrong? What about to treat water to destroy pathogens that historically killed millions? Control mosquitoes that infect humans and animals with diseases? Remove termites from a home that represents someone's lifelong investment? Increase crop yields so as to help stave off starvation?

Similar moral questions can and should be raised and deliberated about our energy use, the plastics that are an integral part of our daily life, the heavy metals employed by industry, the sweatshops that produce the cheap goods we buy, the deadly emissions produced by motorized transport, pharmaceuticals that can heal and kill, the species destruction caused by overfishing, over-logging, overgrazing, over-population by the dominant human species, the rampant destruction of life and land by war.

When you look at these practices, singularly or as a whole, it's quite easy to pronounce them all morally wrong. We know they are harmful, and yet we continue, out of greed, laziness, selfishness, short-sightedness, convenience, habit, or what have you, to engage in these activities. We are none of us exempt from this immorality.

Which is why it is impossible for the “red shirt” movement to claim the high moral ground in the GMO/pesticide “battle,” smugly portraying itself as the good and just defenders of the land, saviors of the keiki, and the “blue shirts” as the evil and corrupt land poisoners, baby killers.

But it not only has claimed that ground, it has justified the most immoral activities — lying, cheating, harming farmers, misusing money, rampant egoism, propaganda, fear-mongering, slandering, intentional deception — under the shaky rationale that the end justifies the means. In their belief system, anything goes when you're fighting “evil,” which they have defined solely as the “other,” and never themselves, even though they all use products made by the companies they're fighting.

This “battle” can never be moral because it has been funded, in large part, by the heirs of manufacturers and oil barons who have wrought their own devastation upon the Earth and humans. What's more, it has been waged unjustly.

We know pesticides can harm, but we have no proof they are being misused by the seed companies. We know other entities on Kauai use pesticides, in greater concentrations, and in proximity to homes, schools, hospitals and waterways, yet only the seed companies have been targeted. We know other businesses — and even the “red shirts” themselves — are not transparent about their operations, but only the seed companies are being ordered to disclose.

We know that tourism results in a certifiable number of deaths and injuries each year, but only the seed companies, which have no verified deaths or injuries, are denounced as dangerous businesses. We know that certain politicians, like Councilman Gary Hooser, have waged this “battle,” fed and fomented divisiveness and deception for political gain, yet he continually portrays himself as the righteous David fighting the Goliath of craven multinational chemical companies.

We have allowed some of our political leaders to engage in a sanctioned witch hunt, openly discriminate, abandon the rule of law as we know it and declare the seed companies guilty as charged by an angry mob, with no evidence, no trial, just Facebook memes, rumor, hysteria and innuendo. And when the courts finally stepped in and said, Kauai County, you were wrong, those same politicians said no, we reject your ruling, we will carry on.

That is why I have found myself, a one-time GMO/pesticide foe, curiously on the side of the "blue shirts." I don't like pesticides, approve of the chem companies' business practices or unequivocally embrace GMOs. Nor am I a paid (or unpaid) biotech shill.

I'm just, to use Dominic's words, a moral citizen, trying to uphold what is morally right. And sometimes that means condemning actions, and movements, that are morally wrong, but trying to pass themselves off as morally right.

23 comments:

Michael Shintaku said...

I think others including myself have tried to make similar points, but this is the best-articulated piece I've read. Thank you again.

Anonymous said...

With GMO you get the pesticides built right onto the plant. 2 for 1.

Anonymous said...

is it possible that the Waimea Middle School closure could have come from an incident like this?

Pesticide odor closes Big Isle schools, sends 50 to hospitals

http://www.staradvertiser.com/news/breaking/20140918_Hawaii_island_school_sends_students_home_due_to_chemical_odor.html?id=275652221

Chuck Lasker said...

4:17 PM said: "With GMO you get the pesticides built right onto the plant. 2 for 1."

Exactly, and when it's built into the plant, they don't have to spray. Isn't that what people here are upset about - spraying pesticides?

So the question is, is it bad to be built into the plant? Only if we eat it, right? Fortunately, it's built into part of the plant we do not eat. So no down side, lots of up side. Thank you for defending one of the key benefits of genetic modification.

Anonymous said...

Dominic will be concerned about your health until the day you lose your job, car, house and walk into the court house with the bankruptcy attorney. Then he will be concerned about another cause and the well being of our island. But he will feel good he saved you. Because he is a moral person. And he appreciates your sacrifice.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous 4: 17, if believe that you have no business commenting. You have simply do not know what you are spouting.

Anonymous said...

Thank you 5:25 PM for revealing your own ignorance and prejudice based on nothing but the fears you've been taught. You have bought the lies lock stock and barrel. Typical low information voter. Good show!

Anonymous said...

This Council goes against their County Attorney and Mayor. This Council rewards one of their own by giving Tim 290,000 and approves an additional 1 million in his personal attorney fees. A council who passes new tax law, creates a Frankenstein and then has to pass many new tax laws to give Frankenstein a face lift.

This Council is implicit in all of your mentioned "immoral activities — lying, cheating, harming farmers, misusing money, rampant egoism, propaganda, fear-mongering, slandering, intentional deception" including threats on the Mayor, graffiti, Midnight Mob Chants and violation of property rights.
Whether a Blue Shirt or Red, the Council endorsement of these activities is very bad new standard.
A little time has gone by and the Anti-Ag law is not top of mind with many voters. Now the voter is trying to figure out the arcane new tax laws...But either way, Jay is failure as a Chair, Ross and Mel continue to work for the average guy and Mason, JoAnn, Gary and Tim continue their assault on working people and kow tow to their Mainland masters and their ant-Ag agendas.
Time to bring back old style local values to the Council, people who care about everyone.

Anonymous said...

Wow, that is a nice piece of writing. I'm so grateful I can come to this blog and get this kind of articulate presentation on a regular basis.

Anonymous said...

Dominic, give it a rest. Same story reworded to say the same thing that’s been said at the beginning of 2491. Old news! Let the people in Waimea finish their law suit against Pioneer. Let them somehow find satisfaction to their dust problems. Their business is none of your business. You didn’t live in the dust problem, but you’re claiming the worst. What’s make it worst, most of the people are still living in their homes, there’s no mast exodus from this town, maybe when they win the law suit, they can leave. Until then, no cry foul. It’s none of your business!

Stand outside these corn fields, and watch every car drive by, make your statistical poll. Watch their actions, like rolling up their windows, covering their eyes with protective glasses or wearing a filtered mask. Almost nothing is happening to majority of the vehicles passing these fields, life goes on with and without this preceived risks.

No one’s going to change your thought process, and no one’s going to change mine. But if you look at all of the people living in Kekaha, Waimea, Makaweli and Kaumakani, life goes on with and without everyone’s comments. When you (Dominic Acain) move from Kekaha to Kalaheo where there’s no seed companies cropping there, life will continue in these areas.

You lived in Kekaha your entire life, what has changed. The same ohana’s are still there, agriculture is still there, same schools, churches, don’t compare sugar to corn, same chemicals, different application process, but agriculture is still there. The same great people live in these towns that impacted your life and others around you.

You want to make a difference. Great, then start thinking about an alternative economic base to support your side of the island. Figure out the economic base that will find fairness and balance to west Kauai. Then you can start talking, instead of only repeating the same old tired no action comments.

Everyone still bitching and moaning, AND LIFE STILL GOES ON with or without the reds and blues. When you have truly made a difference to the west side’s economy, then and only then, you should say, I told you so.

Here’s my point. Give it a rest, the gears of our economy revolves around each and every single one of us contributing to it. This includes big / small companies, rich / middle class / poor class, tourism, agriculture, service industry, government, good people / bad people, and everything under the sun. Being fair and responsible to ALL of Kauai, this is the action to look of in people.

Hmmmm, Joan just said the same thing. :-) 

Anonymous said...

157Balanced and well articulated position on a very complex issue. The damage and death caused by the chemical companies is well documented. But the anti-activists often "cry wolf" when they don't have the science--the facts--to back up their claims. This destroys their legitimacy, their moral high ground, and makes it easy to discredit everything they claim--even when it's true. When the watchdogs falsely cry wolf the wolf will eventually eat us.

Anonymous said...

Tim Gary mason Joann and jay all need to go yes over one issue. They went along with the vocal minority like Dominic and lost. Sorry that's life in politics, barca has no either, stop dreaming again.

Anonymous said...

To Chuck Lasker you must be kidding? If you will take more time to understand the engineering behind GMO/pesticide use,
,is the ability for these modifications to allow a much broader range of use of pesticides ie: more applications with less chance of plant loss.
Again I commend you Joan for excellent work on this blog. Everyone must understand these facts about GMO,
as GE(genetic engineering) has been proven to be a safer alternative.

Anonymous said...

5:21pm 9/29 - Chuck.....next time I see you in the parking lot.....I just got to ask you....what the hell are you thinking? You even baffle the pro-GMO person at 7:47am 9/30!

Anonymous said...

So the question is, is it bad to be built into the plant? Only if we eat it, right?

Yes, if we disregard the greater ecosystem.

Anonymous said...

Westside people hate it when people stick their nose into "their' business, except when Kukui'ula was blasting the ground and stirring up0 gigantic clouds of dust and debris laden with decades of pesticides in it.
Do we really want GMO's in our largest population center, crowding out and surrounding farmers who have opposite farming practices, livestock and crops that are susceptible to the cocktail mix that the GMO's use, different winds, more rain, ect.
That the rest of this island does not want other peoples livelihood destroyed for the sake of some very large corporations whose field practices would destroy crops that actually feed our people?
The majority of the honey on this island is produced on the east and north shore, as well as the lions share of fruits and vegetables, and other edible crops, that are also used to make "value added" commodities, that is things like jams, jellies, yogurts, juices, milks, teas, sauces, ect.
The major concern for a lot of people is that the GMO companies should be confined to an area where they will not destroy the livelihoods of small farmers on Kauai that produce food and commodities that are sold to the public, restaurants, sold in shops and shipped to consumers.
Placing GMOs next to a Honey Farmer. Hmm, let us think. How would that work?
Which operation is more important to Kauai?
The reality is, if GMO's go all over Kauai, the other crops that people try so hard to grow here will perish. You can't have an organic farm next to a GMO one. the Organic farmer would lose their certification within a year or two.
To me, this whole madness needs to be resolved, perhaps by saying ok, if you west side guys really love GMO's that much, then forget hotels, or shopping malls, or conveniences, or even a lot of tourism. Accept that you said you wanted and loved GMO's so much, and you want your way.
I say give it to em. Just take the entire ahupua'a of Waimea, sign the deed right over to the GMO's. Great. Let em have it.
But the deal is, they can go no further then that. No south shore, no east side, and no north shore.
Its food farming, without pesticides, or organically certified, or a combination of that. And this whole B.S. about how organic farmers use the same chemicals that the GMO's do. Really?
Safer Soap is not the same as BHT people. Get a clue. GMO's say that Organic farmers are just as "bad" and to "blame" as they are, because they use "just as much chemicals.
You have to be totally high to believe that. Did you know you can't get an organic certification until your soil tests clean for three years? The restrictions and rules and regs are huge to get certified organic.
People take lots of tours to the GMO guys so they can show how perfectly safe their operation is. Facts are, if they come next to my farm, I would have to shut down.
And now, they have highjacked the Farm Bureau.
Farmers Union is growing every single day on this island.
Farmers will protect their crops. If a GMO thinks they can run me off of the land, they are mistaken.
Kaua'i Farmers have had enough.
Some day,some GMO guy tries to tell me they are coming next door to me. First casualty in my field from their cocktail mix of herbicides and pesticides, used of course "according to the label," and regulated by federal and state agencies", mixed with ten others that affects my crops or livestock guess what?
it's called a lawsuit.

Anonymous said...

Here we go again, your organic certification is sponsored by the Federal government. A farmer tried to bring GMO to Kapaa, no such doing. Kealia is the furthest that corn has enough space to rotate the crop to limit bug infestation. Who’s assuming the seed companies will get out there. Nowhere in any ones comments, is anyone saying seed corn will invade the east and north. The corn is already on the south and parts of the east, how about you grandfather clause them in to these areas.

Bees, yes it’s still on the west side, koa, plum, guava, coffee, fruit orchards, albizia trees, hard wood trees, hao and other flowering plants are still supporting the bees.

Your economy started with a big land owner selling off large tracts of real estate, everyone got their piece of their pie. Some used their land to grow fruit trees and other agricultural products to get away from paying higher taxes. In turn, most of them got their $25 per acre tax fee. Most of your acres are already cut up as much as possible, sold off and resold, your economy sprouted up due to a great real estate market. It wasn’t because your side had a vision. Look at the supply and demand of your real estate market. Most of your lands are already land locked. Your lands are pretty much open for the resale market.

Yes, there’s cattle around GMO’s (no! There’s GMO”s around cattle operations) and they are good neighbors to each other. There are articles on the mainland of GMO and organic next to each other both good stories and bad stories. Both tolerate each other.

Where in the 9:38 P.M. article picks organic over GMO. No where, traditional farmers co-exist with organic farmers. That’s on your side of the island. Orchards and small farmers are in the hills of the south and some of the west. The rest of the acres belong to large land owners. Pesticides, where’s the assumption that it’s the same. Read the label, it’s a different cocktail. The label says “organic” there’s reentry requirements, and human consumption sales requirements, so be it different.

This whole madness needs to be resolved! Why didn’t you offer Ho'oponopono (means to make right. Essentially, it means to make it right with the ancestors, or to make right with the people with whom you have relationships) in the first place before all of this madness. Stop pointing fingers, it’s really enough from both sides. Don’t assume I’m on one side and not yours.

I sit on the fence, I see both sides popping off at each other both reds and blues has good arguments (both are economic based, one larger segment then the other) and bad arguments (ecoli / pesticide), I see both sides with no resolution. In the long run, life will go on with or without this really old debate. Both groups are screaming at each other and both sides are not listening, including you. I’m dam tired of it and the voting public are also tired of it. It showed up on the primary, the demographics of how every district voted speaks for itself.

Anonymous said...

Stop and look out there, organic farming is from the east to the north, organic farming is with small acres to medium acres. The east and north economy revolves around the service industry. Small business and individuals do business with the wealthy by offering them goods and services. You’ve got hotels, timeshare, TRV’s, and tourism. Traditional farming (seed corn), is on corporate lands / large land owners. And these owners are not on your side of the island (and yes, there are pockets of organic farming on that side of the island also). These large land owners have real estate income, real estate sales and agricultural rental income. The agricultural rental business employ people who really loves the outdoors just like farmers on the east and north. It’s clear as black and white if you just stop and look at how Kauai’s economy is revolving. You want this madness to stop! It starts from the bigger person who can live along side your friends and neighbors who you don’t agree with, but tolerate each other.

Ho'oponopono starts with the people on the fence showing both jerks (red and blue), we all love Kauai, and if we all take a piece of our own pie, life will go on with and without you.

Law suit! Nothing new, sound like you’ve done it before.

Here’s my point. Give it a rest, the gears of our economy revolves around each and every single one of us contributing to it. This includes big / small companies (aren’t you a small company?), rich / middle class / poor class, tourism, agriculture, service industry, government, good people / bad people, and everything under the sun. Being fair and responsible to ALL of Kauai, this is the action to look of in people.

Anonymous said...

I have never personally sued anyone in my life. Show me an organic farmer, who operates next to a seed operation for experimental purposes, exactly like the ones we have here, with our winds and topography and drift. Name them. I would like to personally go and visit these Certified (Federal Standards) Organic Farmers who live side by side with experimental seed farmers, and the organic farmers miraculously keep their soil pristine.

Insecticides in the air, or on flowering plants when bees ingest them, they have about a three to five mile radius can and will kill them. So explain to me, how a Kauai Honey Farmer can farm next door to a large, agricultural experimental seed company operated by any of the five companies on Kauai that regularly sprays potent cocktail mixes of herbicides, and pesticides to test its experimental crops for resistance to them, please. You can't. If you can name me a Honey farmer on Kauai that lives next door to a seed company and has healthy hives I will eat my shirt in public, and put it on youtube, with shoyu!

This isn't the mainland, where we have acres and acres, (thousands and thousands) of unbroken flat land to farm. This is an island, a delicate ecosystem, with a unique configuration, trade winds, prevailing winds and a lot of rain.

Ho'oponopono is alot about being pono. Very pono. Before you start throwing around 'olelo, I suggest you learn more about it.

The only people who are sick of the debate are those who know they are greedy and wrong. Those who want to destroy my livelihood and break my ricebowl are wrong.

And I repeat, I am not organic certified nor do I plan to be. What good is GMO seed farming, when no one but the corporations want to grow it here? I have no use for their crops or their seeds. I farm edible food.

The amount of land that would be required to make corn, soy, rice or wheat profitable for me, would be ludicrous. So, where is the benefit to me, the edible food farmer? None.

All I see are large corporations trying to take what little land is left for farming, and making the people of Kauai even more having to rely on Mainland food.

GMO Corporations are waging a war against farmers who either farm organic, partial organic, or who simply do not want large pesticide using operations next to their fields.

What harm can an organic farmer do to a GMO crop? Not one damned thing. What can an experimental seed crop, with its field testing rounds of cocktail mixes of pesticides do to an organic crop?
Plenty.

This is different, from fields GROWING the crops for human consumption. This is not our situation on Kauai and well you know it.

Prove it to me. All of it. I want proof of all of these claims. that it won't kill my bees, affect my crops, ruin my soil, or make my customers wanna run for the hills because its GMO and they don't wanna buy it.

Prove it. Seriously. You can't.

Anonymous said...

they not coming to your side of the island. ask them yourself.

you really implied you were organically certified. now you not!

article written within Joan blog said pioneer takes these seeds and raise it out for others to crop them in other countries, not for experiment.

Read the article On Shorelines and Seed Companies. this crops ends up as being seed for crop production.

Again, you all who who, so you lash out. look outside your door. life is still going on. with and with out you.

Pono is everything. what you preceive is pono is not what i preceive as pono.

again, you not working towards a happy medium. you still one sided.

starts with you!!!!

I doing my part!

I hope you notice, this argument not going to end. you still hot under the collar. you making the same pitch as the red shirts, and i'm not a blue shirt. when you going make an effort to come to a medium.

I don't think soon.

Here’s my point. Give it a rest, the gears of our economy revolves around each and every single one of us contributing to it. This includes big / small companies (aren’t you a small company?), rich / middle class / poor class, tourism, agriculture, service industry, government, good people / bad people, and everything under the sun. Being fair and responsible to ALL of Kauai, this is the action to look of in people.

Anonymous said...

First of all you can't spell 'olelo, the word is huhu, and for you 'Olelo reading challenged, that's with two kahako's, or na kahako.

If you were me, a farmer like me, you would feel the same way.

I never implied that I was organic and in fact I said it several times.

I do my part every day when I get out in my fields and sweat and work hard to try and produce clean good food for my neighbors, friends and community. Food that they can feel good about eating. Food that I sell knowing that I didn't put anything harmful on it. That makes me feel great, and the consumers feel great.

I do a good job and I work hard.

I am sick and tired of Big Ag/mono-croppers coming here and acting like they own us, coming in with their big bucks, buying up our farm bureau, and spending a whopping almost half a million dollars on their ad campaign to shove GMO's down our throats, when good farmers like me could use some fence-lines, maybe some sheds, a tiller, or some other kinds of help.

A Trillion Dollar industry comes to the island, and wants to mono-crop it to death, again. Hello, we have been there, done that, bought the ticket already.

We know that the only way to cut down the high expense of food from the mainland, and improve the quality of food that is served to our guests that visit, is to have fresher, better tasting, locally grown produce and products.

That is the economic bottom line. That's my economic bottom line, and I am never going to give it a rest.

Why don't you come out and see how hard I work every day, before you start telling me I am huhu!

You would be too if you were me!

We didn't start this fight, they brought it to us, they knocked on our door, shoved there way in, started buying up State Land, and started throwing money at everyone.

Not us. The only thing I ever threw at anyone was some good, fresh food, in their bags to take home.

As long as no one wants to listen to what we are saying and just crow about how great they are and we should just get along, this is going to continue. it's a stalemate and remain that way, because farmers like me aren't about to bow to GMO's or back down from them either. We work too darn hard for that.

Chew on that.

Anonymous said...

If you can name me a Honey farmer on Kauai that lives next door to a seed company and has healthy hives I will eat my shirt in public, and put it on youtube, with shoyu!

Try talk to Oliver Shagnasty who has hives in the Kauai Coffee fields where they spray paraquat. He said they are his best hives -- healthy, big producers.

Also, the seed companies did not buy up any state land. They lease it.

Anonymous said...

They got their agriculture, you've got yours, stay your side, and they’ll stay on theirs.

"When good farmers like me could use some fence-lines, maybe some sheds, a tiller, or some other kinds of help." “That is the economic bottom line. That's my economic bottom line, and I am never going to give it a rest.”

Why you say these sentences, the crop(s) you grow should help you finance your operation. You should charge more for your crop. No get HUHU with deep pocket farming. They’ve got the same bottom line thought process as you.

You pissed because they got theirs and you cracking your behind just to get by.

You've got your marketing strategies (and it’s a great strategy), great sale pitch and it works. Don’t forget, don’t go to the middleman, they’ll give you pennies for the dollar you’re asking for. Get your organic certification; this will help you out even more when you show your buyers the seal. Farming is: production, financial and marketing management. You work had in the fields all day, and if you can’t sell all your produce, then the produce sitting in the fields are your profits being wasted. Marketing will help you sell 100% of the crop you grow out there. What’s your square foot output in pounds to dollar value. After, a hard day’s work now you say, which bill’s I going pay first, labor, equipment, fuel, electricity, cell phone charges, water, taxes, buy a tiller / shredder, house hold items, kids school funds maybe mortgage, buy a computer to track if I’m making a profit or not.

Farmers markets are great, cash income, ten dollar for me one to report to uncle sam. Line yourself up with a good restaurant that will take everything you’ve got to offer. Make use you got a great crop rotation so you have product 365. Remember, the less you pay to uncle sam, will affect you when you are ready to retire and want some of your hard earned money back in retirement income.

How much years you farming now? Because after the first 3 years, if you’re not in the black, then it might be the wrong crop for you to be raising. If you sell by the pound, would be wiser to raise a heavier crop to increase your income (squash, cabbage watermelon).

Maybe change your sales from pounds to ounces to increase your profit margin. Don’t forget the marketing pitch when you do this to justify the price increase.

What else can you do to get your mind off of this pesticide issue and 100% focused on your farming so you could buy that nice new tiller / shredder.

No forget, lock everything up, because it will just take one dam ice head to come and rip you off of all your farming equipment that you really treasure and worked so dam hard for.

Farmers Union! Great venue, just don’t use it to vent. Start getting your discounts from the local agricultural product stores. Start getting a marketing group so you can build a stronger relationship with the restaurants your selling to. Make arrangements with all of them (farmers union) so, as a whole, you can get yours too, just like Kauai County Farm Bureau.

Have a great day. We’ll talk to you soon.