Monday, September 1, 2014

Musings: What Next?

Now that the judge has ruled and Kauai's pesticide/GMO regulatory law, Bill 2491/Ordinance 960 is dead, where to from here? Especially since the community is polarized, and ideology dies hard.

The always thoughtful Luke Evslin, who has defended genetic modification while supporting the “original intent behind 2491” (though I'm no longer clear exactly what that was), weighed in last week on his blog, Ka Wae:

As we move forward, it’s important to not let extremists from either side control the conversation and widen the rhetorical divide. There is a vast middle ground (where I believe that the majority of Kaua’i citizens are) that believes that some type of pesticide regulation is needed and acknowledges the related fact that small scale local agriculture is in a precipitous decline.

Allan Parachini also weighed in with a guest editorial in The Garden Island that outlined eight steps for moving forward, and ended with:

To be sure, this prescription foresees continuation of a difficult political debate on our island. But it is a debate we must now take to its conclusion.

The Hawaii Farm Bureau, meanwhile, is launching a $400,000 public relations blitz aimed at countering the anti-GMO movement by building support for GMOs and agriculture overall. Civil Beat reports that the campaign will cost nearly half the group's annual revenue, and employ such tactics as temporary tattoos for schoolchildren, sponsoring face-painting at community gatherings, running ads on popular TV shows and publishing op-ed pieces in newspapers.

Both Allan and Luke met immediate resistance from “antis.” Ashley Lukens of the Center for Food Safety, which has been doing its own media blitz, similarly shot down the Farm Bureau plan with a canned reply:

My sense is that the community is going to see through this because it doesn’t in any way address the concerns that the largest chemical companies in the world use Hawaii as the outdoor laboratory.”

Yes, the Farm Bureau campaign is likely to be seen as the PR push that is. But still, there is something valid and meaningful in the rationale behind the campaign, as articulated by HFB President Chris Manfredi:

Agriculture in Hawaii and across the nation is under attack. Across the nation, farmers and ranchers have been caught off guard by extremist activists that will stop at nothing to realize their utopian, misinformed and unsustainable vision of how you should farm.”

We've got a lot of different issues — farming methodology, pesticide concerns, GMOs, land use policies, home rule, ag land preservation and prices, aging farmers and island food self-sufficiency — all scrambled together, scorched with inflammatory rhetoric and manipulated by political opportunists at the local and international level.

To get out of this mess, I agree wholeheartedly with Luke and Allan that we need to move this discussion to the middle and eschew extremism. Even Councilman Gary Hooser, who introduced Bill 2491, recently admitted:

No question, in the heat of the moment, both sides kinda stretched the conversation a little too far.”

We also need to separate out the issues and address them individually, while also looking at the big picture, because of course they're all related. But we're not going to have any meaningful discussions about any of these topics if we focus only on the seed companies as either demon or savior. They are one player — a big player, granted, but just one player. They aren't the only entities using pesticides. And if they disappear, small organic farms will not suddenly spring up in their place.

We also need to get realistic about what is possible — politically, legally, economically and socially.

A few days ago, I heard Marghee Maupin, a westside Kauai nurse practitioner who is sincerely convinced her patients are suffering from pesticide harm, express her frustration over what she views as the state's failure to respond to her concerns:

My question is not whether it's legal or illegal, but is it healthy?

That, to me, seems to sum up the crux of the communication breakdown and political strategy failure on Kauai, and elsewhere across the state, in regard to pesticides and GMOs.

Folks are asking the state and county to address their health concerns and fears by banning products and stopping practices that are approved, allowed and permitted by the federal government. And just as Magistrate Judge Barry Kurren determined that county laws are pre-empted in areas where the state has authority, state laws are similarly subordinate to federal laws.

The county has the power to limit pesticide use on its parks and roadways. The state has the power to determine if local pesticide practices are harming public health, just as it has the power to ascertain whether pesticides are polluting streams and nearshore areas, especially during heavy rain runoff.

These are the actions that people can push for if they want to “stop poisoning paradise” and quantify harm. The state and counties do not have the power to ban atrazine, kick out the seed companies, eliminate GMOs or stop licensed pesticide applicators from applying a product in accordance with standards that have been set at the federal level.

In other words, you can't ignore the issue of whether it's legal or illegal, and focus only on whether it's healthy, unless you are addressing your comments to the feds, who make that determination. The state doesn't set the allowable level of exposure to any pesticide, or decide whether that exposure is healthy.

If you want to argue that question in any meaningful way, it needs to be done at the federal level.

To keep hashing it out locally does nothing but heat up the rhetoric and mislead people into believing state and county governments can do things that are not within their scope of power, and frustrating them when they discover the inevitable limitations.

As Kauai moves forward, it's going to be difficult to re-establish relationships. Many people with a lot to add in discussions on agriculture feel burned by the 2491 battle, but we need their expertise. Just as we need people who can see all sides of an issue, like Luke Evslin. Those who have advocated extremist, intolerant views should not be invited to the table.

We don't need more litigation, whether it's appealing the 960 decision or suing the state. We don't need short-sighted political responses with long-term ramifications, like revisions in agricultural taxes. And we don't need politicians who are using ag as a platform, and simplifying what is a multi-layered issue.

Gary recently said that he supports “ranching and other sustainable ag. Clean, grass-fed beef – we can do that. We have the pasture land available. Unfortunately, the landowners are drawn to the high rent of seed companies and don't want to tie up land with ranchers. Ranchers can't get longterm leases. That's an issue I plan on digging into.”

I was blogging about ranchers — and small farmers — losing their short-term leases to the higher-paying seed companies back in 2011, but no one seemed especially interested. Unless farming is subsidized, or the state/county make land available, private landowners are going to lease to the highest bidder.

I also wrote a piece for Honolulu Weekly in October 2011 about the challenges facing beef, pork and chicken producers statewide that is still relevant today. Land and leases are only one part of the equation. Processing, economies of scale, marketing, distribution, imported feed costs and tiny profit margins are also major factors limiting production. 

And given the response to Hawaii Dairy Farms — a subsidized venture that doesn't even need to worry about the bottom line — are Kauai residents likely to support more livestock, with its associated waste and slaughterhouses?

We don't need any more deceptive language. Gary recently said, in regard to Ordinance 960:

We're not restricting anybody's agriculture. We're just asking for disclosure and buffers. Even the agrochemical companies it would not restrict their activities at all.

So long as the companies are prohibited from growing any crops — even organics — in the buffer zones, that's simply not true. And let's get real: the whole intent of disclosure and buffer zones is to restrict activities that some folks believe are bad.

We really don't need any more propaganda/PR, whether it's by Monsanto, Hawaii SEED, the Babes, or Hawaii Farm Bureau. How about some honest, accurate information? I don't think that's likely, or even possible, with the first three, but I'd love to see HFB put its $400,000 into education, rather than PR. There is a distinct difference between the two, and it starts with intention.

In the meantime, there's an election coming up. Vote wisely, and avoid single-issue politics and politicians. Agriculture and food issues are far too complex for simplistic, jingoistic approaches, even if they're well-intentioned, and especially when they aren't.

49 comments:

Anonymous said...

Mr. Hooser - Here's a logical suggestion that I bet you won't use. It's too obvious not to have been suggested before. Instead of using all that money from the Anti-GMO organizations for litigation and advertising, why don't you use it for testing to prove your unfounded allegations? If you complain that the State isn't testing correctly or often enough, why don't you hire impartial and respected (otherwise you'll be wasting your money and no one would accept the results) testing firms with all that mainland cash to do it properly? Another possibility would be for you to fund the State financing a more comprehensive series of tests. This would be the logical step when you 1) believe that there is wide spread harm occurring, 2) think the the State is not testing enough/properly to confirm your beliefs, and 3) you have plenty of money to finance impartial and trustworthy tests. Or are you afraid that it won't confirm your beliefs and will undermine your arguments? I think it's the latter because you haven't taken this obvious step.

Anonymous said...

i truly wish you had written this months ago---i honestly feel it would have stopped a lot of anger and provided some common sense and peaceful dialogue from your viewers.
This is the kind of message i was hoping for . . . . . i now can rest and breathe easier knowing that you have come up with solutions and not just finger pointing. Mahalo!

Anonymous said...

"We're not restricting anybody's agriculture. We're just asking for disclosure and buffers. Even the agrochemical companies it would not restrict their activities at all" Gary Hooser.

So what would you want disclosed Gary? How about this:

Month-Year Farm operator (ag company)
pesticide product name
epa registration number
total pesticide used (gallons)
total pesticide used (pounds)
pesticide active ingredient (1) used (name)
pesticide active ingredient (1) used (pounds)
pesticide active ingredient (2) used (name)
pesticide active ingredient (2) used (pounds)
pesticide active ingredient (3) used (name)
pesticide active ingredient (3) used (pounds)
total area applied to
field area applied to

Well here it is: https://data.hawaii.gov/Health/Kaua-i-Agricultural-Good-Neighbor-Program-RUP-Use-/9pud-c8q5

So if this is about disclosure (because they already have buffer zones) then this information has already been being provided through cooperative agreement between the sate, the county and the industry since December 2013. Therefore we don't need 960 and more importantly we don't need those career political egoists creating problems so they can profit.

Gary Hooser, your a petty, vindictive, liar.


Anonymous said...

Joan, I appreciate your blog. I believe it is one of the most reasoned and balanced of any on recent issues facing agriculture. If I may speak for Hawaii Farm Bureau, nowhere in our communication plan are campaign messages mentioned. They aren't developed yet. That said, we are nakedly leveraging the recent attention on agriculture to help raise funds for our mission and our message.

Ours is aimed at raising the perceptions of all of agriculture - and you should expect balanced portrayals. Expect to see highlights of farmers and ranchers of every stripe. This idea is lost because so many view agriculture though the narrow and distorted lens of GMO versus non-GMO. Sadly, the notion of giving voice to all sides is so foreign, and the project is spun before it has even begun. Agriculture is so much more, and deserves better.

However one chooses to characterize our activity be it 'propaganda' or ‘education’ (I like ’advocacy’) ours is intended to give farmers and ranchers a platform by which to tell their stories, giving breath to their voice and aspires to reach those who may not be able to visit a farm.

Please take a moment to honor whoever produced the food you eat this Labor Day-and every day.

Aloha,

Chris Manfredi
Hawaii Farm Bureau

Anonymous said...

Joan has been saying this stuff for months, if not years. The thing is that real solutions tend to not fit on t-shirts in slogan format.

Anonymous said...

Joan, you said, " We don't need short-sighted political responses with long-term ramifications, like revisions in agricultural taxes." Why should the county restrict itself in one area where it's authority is clearly not restricted by state and federal law. The Ag dedication taxing has clearly not been examined for too long. When that extremely generous tax break was granted was granted, the open air testing of GMO seed plants for their limitations to poison exposure was not ever imagined. So now we have a large portion of our Ag land that pays little or no taxes, no property tax and no excise tax. This seem detrimental to the island for financial reasons without any consideration of the health and environmental cost. Why should everyone else be subsidizing those extremely profitable multinational corporations. Land that is Ag dedicated is taxed as though the land was valued at only $250, $1000, or $2000 per acre depending on grazing ($250) or crop use being 10 years ($2000) or 20 years ($1000).

Granted we want to preserve the rural nature of the island and want to stop the wasteful spending of county government. That is not justification for county tax payers subsidizing corporate welfare.

Joan Conrow said...

My reference was to Tim Bynum's bill, which excludes the seed companies by claiming they aren't ag. Regardless of how one may feel about GMOs, once you start claiming that crops in the ground aren't ag, you're heading down a slippery slope that is likely to end with ag land being reclassified for development and lost to farming forever.

Anonymous said...

to 10:35 am: i tried to log into the web site you posted, but was unable to get there -- the note said that the site may have been changed or?? Also, can you explain to me what the buffer zones are at this time? Are all the companies complying? What is the size of the buffer zone? and where are they located--along waterways, the ocean, towns, schools, hospitals, residence? I really want to know.

Anonymous said...

@ 10:35 Yes! And Joan great post!!!

Get Gary out!!! And this is not about one issue. Its about lack of leadership, and the desperate attempts of a failing politician. its about the lack of intergrity in this individual and those who allow him to engage in this.

That being said, Gary has got the lion share of heat but equally at fault is Mason, Joanne, Tim and Jay who followed Gary, even when they knew better. Which shows a huge lack of personal integrity and no leadership, and no sense at all of good governance. Everyone of them seemed to know that this was a manufactured issue that had little chance of survival and yet they still voted for it because they were thinking of their own political self interests. Personally, I want leaders who will put this island before themselves. I think its Hilarious that Gary is trying to say both sides are responsible for this mess.

“No question, in the heat of the moment, both sides kinda stretched the conversation a little too far.” -Gary Hooser.

You didn't see any Boobs for biotech, or mothers parading their sick children who rely on GMO medicine and crying at the council meetings. Mel didn't lead any marches or put his children up for house of representatives or find some "acceptable" Hawaiian cabin boy (Mason) to boss around. And the list goes on and on and on.

Anonymous said...

I do not understand how the act of genetically altering food by current means, is not of itself extreme. Or how creating a pesticide ready seed is not extreme. The idea of "farming" or pharmaceuticals in plants was shot down but you know it will come up again. These are extreme food measures.

Esellie said...

Anyone can say anything about safe food or safe pesticides. And it may be true or not. My experience is that I was diagnosed in 2001 as unable to eat GMO food, especially corn and soy. The side effects interfered with my health and with living my life.

I've learned a lot about GMO's since then, so I could know how to eat and what to buy for food I could eat. Labeling sure would make my life and health better and easier. I have gone to raising some of my own food, have studied how to improve my garden's soil and how to grow and raise healthy food without the chemicals, for example, without pesticides, chemical fertilizers, herbicides.

It makes no sense to keep poisoning the plants and soil because those chemicals or their degradation products, other chemicals, stay in the soil and plants. And we eat them. I learned about this too when I was working at the Ag Experiment Station. I got very sick when I worked on the fruit fly project. Yes, they were using regulated chemicals and I saw my co-workers complaining of hallucinations and sickness when working with those white buckets with the pesticide and the flies.

Years before, I also ended up with leukemia after working in biochemistry research. Doing library research on leukemia, I read that chemical workers have a high incidence of leukemia and other cancers. I wished I had known that before I chose to go into the field of lab work.

Saturday, I was told of a family on the Westside that had lost 25 of their family to cancer. They saw that nothing was being done toward the safety of where they lived, so they moved away. How sad, to lose that many of your family and to realize that their home was no longer safe to live in, that their community did not care enough about them to make changes, and then, to have to make the difficult decision to give up their home and move to a strange place. Sad and so hard!

Using more stronger and stronger chemicals on our fields, our food and in our agriculture appears to be affecting our health and our soil and our food. I can see where these practices, accepted or not, are not fully understood, nor are the full extent of the effects understood. We may just find out the chemicals that are supposed to be acceptable and normal and customary in agriculture are actually what are destroying our land, agriculture, endangering our food supply and our health.



Edward Coll said...

Joan said - “If you want to argue that question in any meaningful way, it needs to be done at the federal level.”

Is that really a winning strategy or has doing as you advise got us where we are now?

But in 1996 our culture was auctioned off, probably for at least one generation, to those who had the money to buy our politics. The buyers' resulting measure of control over the way we think will pay them swingeing and unjust dividends, which they will use to corrupt our politics further. The writers who have participated in this symposium have had fine seats at this greatest of barbecues; they were there from the slaughtering to the final greasy slurp. Yet they have returned from the feast to tell us that they were unable to smell the smoke, or to see the carcasses of future opportunity that have vanished down the gullets of our new Robber Barons. Their bewilderment would probably amuse us, and cause some rumination on the quality of the whiskey and cigars, were it not so likely that the aftereffects of this barbecue would resemble those of the last:

Suspicious commoners with better eyes than manners discovered the favoritism of the waiters and drew attention to the difference between their own meager helpings and the heaped-up plates of more favored guests. It appeared indeed that there was gross discrimination in the service. ... Then at last came the reckoning. When the bill was sent in to the American people the farmers discovered that they had been put off with the giblets while the capitalists were consuming the turkey. They learned that they were no match at a barbecue for more voracious guests, and as they went home unsatisfied, a sullen anger burned in their hearts that was to express itself later in fierce agrarian revolts. http://moglen.law.columbia.edu/publications/barbecue.html

Anonymous said...

Joan, "My reference was to Tim Bynum's bill, which excludes the seed companies by claiming they aren't ag. Regardless of how one may feel about GMOs, once you start claiming that crops in the ground aren't ag, you're heading down a slippery slope that is likely to end with ag land being reclassified for development and lost to farming forever."

I think most of us can agree that all Ag is not equal. Even the Ag dedication law seems to favor grazing over growing crops. I can only guess that this was a political favor grant to large land holders that made land banking a low cost investment. I don't fallow your slippery slope logic that changing the tax law leads to development. I think it could and should be used to guide large land owners to do what benefits the people of this island. Such as growing real food that can be bought and sold on island. Importing 90% of our food and having only a few days supply on the store shelves is a high risk unsustainable way to govern. The tax laws can and should be used to get real food growers incentivized to grow food for us.

I am sure you know an existing Ag dedication is an enticement for real estate sales, which drives up the price of land making it even more unaffordable to real farmers. The planting of hardwood trees is very appealing to gentlemen farmers, but does not provide food security.

Joan Conrow said...

Ed -- I'm not saying that's a "winning strategy," only that it's the reality, in terms of the branch of government with the authority to address the issue.

And 1:05, if this is your goal -- "The tax laws can and should be used to get real food growers incentivized to grow food for us." -- then the entire ag tax classification should be looked at and reviewed, not a piecemeal approach that begins by targeting the largest agricultural sector on this island.

Also, I urge you to read the last comment on the previous comment, which may give you some insights into how and why the ag dedication was set up as it is.

Anonymous said...


Chris Manfredi,Hawaii Farm Bureau I do honor real farmers that grow food on this island. "Sadly, the notion of giving voice to all sides is so foreign, and the project is spun before it has even begun. " I guess giving voice to all sides is foreign to the Kauai Farm Bureau. As you may or may not know two candidates running for reelection to the county council were sold booths at the recent farm fair. The first day of the fair Tim and Gary were told they did not have a booth. If this is not a violation of election law it is clearly a violation of the spirit of honest open elections.

Anonymous said...

Good post, Joan and hopefully calm and cool heads will prevail.
The Ag tax issue goes way back. Back to when the State planners snapped lines to determine what was Ag and what would be Urban. Big Sugar was the boss then.

The feeble attempts to re do the property schedule will gain little income, cause a lot of expense and create more conflict.

There is total focus by the Council on Ag. What about the roads, parks, Mt. Yukimura, drugs, cops, lifeguards etc, There are a lot of issues that need attention.
The same two council members are always in the center of conflict. Gary and Tim. These 2 continuously try to divide Kauai. Whether by blaming the State, Big Ag or the Mayor and by tax targeting certain people or businesses.
For calm to develop, we must get rid of these two. Then some rational dialogue can occur about cutting County spending (the real elephant in the room), Big Ag and Housing. Gary and Tim have somehow usurped the Council and most of the Council's time is spent on Gary/Tim issues. And, gee whiz, it always involves endless blabbering by their north shore acolytes.
Either Jay has to exert some of his CHAIRMAN power or individual Council members will have to use Roberts Rules and call "point of order" every time the things get out of control.
Jay is like a substitute teacher weakly admonishing the class to adhere to time limits and stick to the subject, Cut off the blabbermouths microphone and get to business.
But whether Gary and Tim stay or go, their legacy, conflicts and pain to the people will be felt for a long time.
I hope the Council gets some strength and will stop allowing these 2 from hi jacking the tone, topic and content of all Council meetings.
Of course, Mason is part of the Siamese Twin of Gary and Tim, but he says little and when he does it is circular and empty.
C'mon Jay git sum guts, be a man.

Anonymous said...

1:49 total baloney....The Kauai Farm Bureau would rent a booth to anyone. I have been a member for many many years and the KFB is very careful and fair in all of matters.
Why Tim or Gary would want a booth in a fair dedicated to Kauai ranchers, farmers and horticulturists would be unusual. They are against everything the FFB stands for. The KFB promotes Kauai farming. Tim and Gary want to end Ag, except for the boutique gardens on Ag CPRS.
Was it Tim or Gary who had Chief Perry booted from using part of a friend's booth? Take a guess, ten dollahs will get you one dollah, if you pick correctly.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous 1:05 PM said, “I can only guess that this was a political favor grant to large land holders that made land banking a low cost investment.”

And that’s exactly what it was! An uninformed guess. When the Ag dedications were made, all we had on Kauai was agriculture and Ag jobs. There were a couple hotels in Poipu and Kalapaki, but all of the land was used for ag and we all new that we needed to preserve and protect the challenging industry that has sustained us for generates. But you weren’t around then, so you wouldn’t know. May I suggest that since you have only your own conjecture to rely on, that you keep your mouth shut and address only things with which you are familiar? Quit attempting to re-write history to suit your selfish goals. You weren’t here then, malahini! Your conjecture only reveals the way you think that things happen and that everything, but you of course, is corrupt. If it were so, then I guess you’d have to agree that Hooser & Bynum are corrupt and receiving payoffs. Too much TV, malahini.

Anonymous said...

2:15 the baloney is all yours. First you say the Kauai Farm Bureau would rent a booth to anyone, then you say Chief Perry was booted from a booth. Which statement is true? The booths are in the commercial tent where vendors try to sell their products or their agendas. It is one of the best opportunities for politicians to meet face to face with large numbers of voters shortly before the election. This is a big fund raiser for the farm bureau that gives them the cash to push their pro GMO agenda. I will wait for an official farm bureau statement on why they think they can discriminate in the election process, not some anonymous chemical company troll.

Anonymous said...

"Gary and Tim have somehow usurped the Council and most of the Council's time is spent on Gary/Tim issues."
That makes Uncle Kaipo correct for keeping Tim's crap off the agenda . He did us all a big favor, too bad Tim neva learned to censor himself.

Anonymous said...

215 Perry did not rent a booth. He was spending a little time in a friend's booth. A certain Council person walked by, and presto! Perry was gone. By rights, he did not have his own booth, so he may have been hitch hiking. But the KFB gave him the boot after a complaint by an incumbent candidate . If the KFB was partial they would have looked the other way.
No troll here, just a person who is sick of the island being capsized by a couple of guys who love the Court system. The County and the people deserve better than a man who sues the people for financial gain and a man who plays to the news media for self promotion and fame. Time for new blood.
The KFB is as straight as an arrow. Always has been and always will be. They are for all farmers, GMO, non-GMO, washed or unwashed, friendly or cranky...the KFB door is open to anyone who supports Ag on Kauai. The Farm Fair has been going on long before the GMO became an issue. It is a big fundraiser and it is a big event on Kauai. It is the only event where so many people are together at once.
A good function, run by good people.

Anonymous said...

4:06. $ from the fair goes for KFB scholarships not to push gmo

Anonymous said...

@11:37 the link works. Regarding your other issues. Do some research. Or do you prefere to be spoon fed everything. @10:35 thanks for the good info. That website is super easy to find and user friendly.

Anonymous said...

I'm a Realtor.
I support Tim Bynum and Gary Hooser.
They should tax the large land holders their fair share.
I have been researching land and there are some nice little beach front pockets that are ideal little for reclusive estates.
We have a model for complete off the grid housing. The septic systems are self contained, the Solar Electric and fire protection are included in the building itself and the State ground water tables show ample supply.
There is a lot of interest from mainland buyers who want "green" homes by the beach.
We can throw up ten dozen homes at a land cost of two million per CPR lot.
This is a win win.
The County gets tax dollars, big land owners get money to afford the taxes and the GMO crops are gone. The land will stay in agriculture as we will have Cocoa, Vanilla and Tea plants. The Agricultural areas will have parking for the farm workers. We can also allow the workers to use the beach on holidays.

Anonymous said...

5:05 go fuck yourself. Fucking worm.

Anonymous said...

They were being facetious.

Anonymous said...

1:49 and 4:06 -- You are the one full of baloney. KFB does not discriminate. Dustin and Felicia had booths because they reserved and paid for them on time. Tim was given a booth for a night because there was an issue as to whether he had reserved one or not but Gary was too cheap to pay for one although he showed up to work the crowd.

Anonymous said...

Heard Gary barged in the farm Fair without paying. Wifey paid for herself only, Gary used his good look to get in.

Anonymous said...

Time out, detention after school for all of you...actin like babies the whole bunch

Anonymous said...

"It's my personal conviction that 'x' is bad because, well, no scientific evidence, I just sure I'm right," will never work as a justification for banning something -- especially something profitable -- in the U.S.

The only way the pesticide/GMO situation will change is if there is high quality solid science that says it needs to, and even then federal and state agencies would be slow to move.

The reason for the status quo is that there is currently no academically accepted solid science saying that it should be otherwise.

When scientists say that global warming is a problem, everyone wants to stand behind them. When big oil fights back we say, oh, why won't you listen to the scientists that know what they are talking about? And when the fringe 1% says, oh no, warming is not an issue, we don't give that much weight.

So when the majority mainstream scientists stand up and say GMOs are a good thing, why are we so quick to believe the less educated naysayers or the fringe 1% playing chicken little?

If you are convinced GMOs or certain pesticides are bad, there is only one way to get them out. Get a Ph.D. in the subject, do a legitimate formal study proving your hypothesis that survives peer review and that gets published in a scientific journal that people take seriously.

Otherwise you are just wasting your breath and everyone else's time and money.

Pseudo studies that cannot survive peer review and that are published on activist websites might as well be printed on toilet paper, because that's about all they're good for.

Edward Coll said...

Joan said - "Ed -- I'm not saying that's a "winning strategy," only that it's the reality, in terms of the branch of government with the authority to address the issue."

Joan, and what branch of government has the authority to classify marijuana as a schedule one drug making possession of Marijuana illegal? I believe it is the federal government and yet several states, including Hawaii, allow medical marijuana and two states Colorado and Washington now have legal adult use marijuana as well. Did not all this occur due to grassroots efforts across the country? A grassroots effort that basically ignored laws at the federal level?

Edward Coll said...

9:30 said "If you are convinced GMOs or certain pesticides are bad, there is only one way to get them out. Get a Ph.D. in the subject, do a legitimate formal study proving your hypothesis that survives peer review and that gets published in a scientific journal that people take seriously."

One need not have a Ph.D to do peer reviewed research, one need only follow proper scientific method and protocols which can be duplicated by others. Also these studies can be very expensive to carry out. Corporations often have the money to fund research but they can selectively fund what they choose. These corporations need not submit the funded study to peer review if the results are not to their liking. This creates a flaw at the base of science which is "free inquiry". If you are told what and where to look, what to study and have the ability to suppress (by keeping it secret) the results if they negatively impact corporate profits it is a huge problem for science.

Joan Conrow said...

Yes, Ed, it did. But we both know the feds still have the power to enforce, which they have exercised indiscriminately. And those laws were passed in states where both public and political sentiment was on their side, which is not the case here, especially since we now have a legal precedent for pre-emption. People are always free to ignore political realities and bang their heads against the wall. I'm just trying to offer suggestions for effective use of time and money.

Edward Coll said...

Joan 10:03 said "People are always free to ignore political realities and bang their heads against the wall. I'm just trying to offer suggestions for effective use of time and money."

Joan, political sentiment can change very fast, sometimes overnight. The marijuana issue was fought for years at the federal level without success so I am not sure if your suggestions would be effective use of time nor money, but I do agree with you that to date the anti-GMO effort has been a complete fiasco. Organization and resistance at the local level however has and can be more or as effective as working within the system. Regardless of the "law" they can't arrest everyone. The civil rights and the anti-apartheid movement in South Africa are examples of local action forcing reforms at the federal level.

Joan Conrow said...

Organization and resistance at the local level however has and can be more or as effective as working within the system.

We are very much in agreement there, Ed.

I think it's also worth noting that the dynamics are different when you're trying to legalize something (marijuana, equal rights), as opposed to outlaw something (GMOs, pesticides, etc.)

Edward Coll said...

Joan said - "I think it's also worth noting that the dynamics are different when you're trying to legalize something (marijuana, equal rights), as opposed to outlaw something (GMOs, pesticides, etc.)"

It is also worth noting the abolitionists were trying to outlaw slavery and often broke the law to do so, Civil rights activists tried to outlaw discrimination and often broke the law to do so. I am not convinced the differences in dynamics between legalizing something and outlawing something is relevant when it comes to opposing federal law through local resistance as opposed to working through the system at the federal level. In the 1960 sit-ins at segregated lunch counters appeared effective to me.

Anonymous said...

@edward coll. the thing is only the extreme fringe, like yourself, see gmo's as being an issue comparable to slavery and civil rights.

Anonymous said...

A couple of quotes from this post struck me as examples of false equivalency, although I found most of piece sympathetic to farmers.

1. ". . . to not let extremists from either side control the conversation"
2. We really don't need any more propaganda/PR, whether it's by Monsanto, Hawaii SEED, the Babes, or Hawaii Farm Bureau.

Where are the extremists on pro-modern ag side? Where is the misinformation? It seems they have been fairly scrupulous in ensuring the accuracy of their statements, unlike the anti-biotech activists, who have issued numerous demonstrably false claims, especially about pesticides, when all recent studies and tests of air, groundwater and streams indicate precisely the opposite.

Why the knee-jerk obligation to say both sides are equally guilty, when all the evidence says otherwise? If Monsanto or another biotech company says their crops are not harmful for human or animal consumption and that they apply pesticides judiciously and safely, where's the data to show they don't?

Anonymous said...

Anonymous at September 1, 2014 at 11:18 AM says, "When that extremely generous tax break was granted was granted, the open air testing of GMO seed plants for their limitations to poison exposure was not ever imagined."

Here is a perfect example of anti-GMO activism constructing an argument based entirely on false information. There is no "open air testing of GMO seed plants" to see how much pesticide they can tolerate. This simply does not happen and never has.

GE plants are grown to see if they carry certain traits. Just like any crop, these plants have to be protected from insects, diseases and competition from weeds. The pesticides used are the same ones used by conventional farmers and follow the same application procedures, including the quantity and strength of the mixture.

The problem is statements like the one quoted above continue to be made, no matter how many times they are debunked. Knowingly making false claims is the type of intellectual dishonesty that only one side in this debate practices, and it is encouraged by well-funded activist groups like CFS and PAN.

Anonymous said...

I don't understand the land use argument - on the inability to find pasture land or idea that the seed companies are keeping the islands from growing our own food.

The seed companies utilize ~25,000 acres (not all of which is farmable) out of the 1 million acres of prime farm land on the islands. That's less than 3%. Much of the state's farmland is laying fallow because there is no one to farm it or they don't want to do the hard work, lack of knowledge, startup cost and or the fact that they can't compete with production off-island. Stop blaming the seed companies for this.

Also, if you think other farmers (even organic) won't/don't use the same pesticides, you are kidding yourself or don't know enough about agriculture to be part of the debate.

The idea of affordable locally grown food without the use of pesticides is an utopia.

Edward Coll said...

Anonymous September 2, 2014 at 12:34 PM said - "@edward coll. the thing is only the extreme fringe, like yourself, see gmo's as being an issue comparable to slavery and civil rights."

I never said that the "issues" were "comparable to slavery and civil rights". I said anti-GMO activists are trying to make something illegal in response to Joan's comment "I think it's also worth noting that the dynamics are different when you're trying to legalize something (marijuana, equal rights), as opposed to outlaw something (GMOs, pesticides, etc.)". I could have used alcohol prohibition advocates trying to make the sale and transport of alcohol illegal, or anti-tobacco advocates trying to make sale and use of tobacco illegal. Any comparison other than in the specific dimension (of advocates trying to make something legal or illegal) has been made by anon 12:34 in an attempt to define me as on the "extreme fringe" although the extreme fringe of what is unclear. I was not speaking to the merits of any of these "issues" beyond the specific context of Joan's comments.

Anonymous said...

Ed, isn't it exhausting being so pedantic?

Anonymous said...

Land all along the Mana plain from Kekaha to Polihale is some of the most fertile ag land in the state. Or at least it was before Syngenta. Too bad it's not being used to grow food for local markets in Hawaii.

Anonymous said...

Yea, cheap talk - go try grow, den.

Anonymous said...

6:41. Yes it was much better when it was growing sugar for export.

Anonymous said...

This whole anti-GMO issue reminds me of that argument that vaccinating kids was linked to autism. Remember that one? The one where a whole bunch of high-profile celebrities jumped on the bandwagon? The one that everyone was SO SURE was accurate because a doctor published a study on it. The one that caused rifts and divides among friends and colleagues. The same argument that was found to be FALSE when Dr. Andrew Wakefield's research was deemed fraudulent.
My point is, if someone thinks vaccines are bad, fine. That's their opinion and they are entitled to it. But like with this GMO issue, people who are against it need to STOP trying to shove their beliefs and opinions down other peoples' throats! We are all free to make our own choices, and to believe in what we choose to believe. People need to STOP making others feel bad and cutting them down for NOT agreeing with their point of view. It's so ridiculous what things have come to. Believe it or not, there are ways to politely disagree with someone, which often leads to intelligent, productive discussions and resolutions. Unfortunately, I've seen nothing but fist-waving, yelling, name-calling, and judgment. Many people I've spoken to about this share the same sentiment, one which may prove detrimental to any kind of positive changes that might have come about: "I'm over it."
Yeah, I know the feeling.

Anonymous said...

The land along the Mana plain from Kekaha to Polihale has high salinity, a brackish water table close to the surface, high pH, and high sand content, causing fast drainage so that soluble nutrients (including those provided by organic matter) wash out easily.

The weeds there harbor plant pests, the multitude of introduced birds (chickens, pigeons, etc.) attack seeds and plants, and there's often high wind across the plain, which stresses young plants.

The water available for irrigation there is also alkaline and hard, and irrigation is necessary because the plain is in the rain-shadow of the mountains most of the year, due to prevailing wind patterns.

Day temperatures in the Mana area average about 10 degrees hotter than the Kapaa area in the summer, with little or no cloud cover against the sun's rays.

Mana is a very challenging area to farm for all these reasons. I've never seen it listed as highly fertile by any measure, including historic measurements. The one thing it has going for it is that it is mostly flat.

Anonymous said...

10:39 sounds like someone who actually knows what he/she is talking about--as compared to the 'lil wannabes who just talk the talk, talk, talk, talk, talk . . . .

Anonymous said...

Given the choice, the soil and lands in Kilauea, Kapaa, Kealia are all far better to farm than the red dry clay on the west side.But most of the lands there either operate as resorts(over 40 fake farms were permitted to be resort in the farming community(no more) of Kilauea, and the vacant lands that were agriculture have been divided up for sale to gazillionaires or in "holding" to do so later.