As the Hawaii Lege diddles, the state continues to export $4 billion annually to buy energy and another $3.13 billion for food — much of it to power the totally unsustainable tourism industry.
Add them both together, and you can see why the state is broke.
Yet the Lege is still afraid to make marijuana legal, even though a status report on the first year of legalization in Colorado shows “tax revenue from retail marijuana sales amounted to $40.9 million between January 2014 and October 2014, not including revenue from medical marijuana and licenses and fees.” It also saved millions by not prosecuting folks for marijuana possession and cultivation. Traffic fatalities and violent crime continued to decrease, and some 16,000 people were licensed to work in the industry.
The Center for Food Safety denounced the action under one of its usual sensationalistic headlines, which are always intended to foment fear and raise cash: “House Agriculture Committee Jeopardizes Public Health by Delaying Action on Pesticide Buffer Zone Bill.
They're further upping the fear ante with the new Protect Our Keiki website, which includes graphics like these:
But at least they've backpedaled to “potentially impacted,” since even pesticide drift tests conducted on Kauai by the anti-GMO Hawaii Seed didn't find anything of note.
These bills — Senate versions are still alive — are clearly an attack on agriculture. Though supporters claim it's all about pesticides — and now all about keiki and kupuna — they're written in a way that applies only to the biotech seed companies.
Curiously, everybody is always mum about the pest control and termite treatment guys. Like they aren't applying restricted use pesticides inside buildings, near schools and within residential neighborhoods.
Folks may not like the seed companies, but they're far and away the biggest sector of Hawaii agriculture. Until something better comes along — like those organic communes that some people dream of — they're the only thing standing in the way of more development.
Yet Sen. Laura Thielen, who supported the anti-ag SB 793, showed just how clueless most lawmakers are when she exclaimed, “I had no idea that the island had gotten to that point,” after learning that only 67,000 acres on Oahu, or 17.5 percent of the land, is classified as usable ag. The rest has been developed.
Pretty shocking for someone who used to be head of the Department of Land and Natural Resources, and now chairs the Senate Water and Land Committee. Wake up, gurl.
Also shocking was this report on Councilman Gary Hooser's behavior at the House committee meeting, which was left last night on a comment on a recent post, and confirmed this morning:
at today's pesticide buffer zone bill hearing before the house ag committee, hooser rudely directs ag chair tsuji to let the neighbor island guys outside the conference room to testify. ag committee member tokioka goes on to tell hooser, "relax gary we got this." hooser replied, "BITE ME!" in amazement tokioka asks "what did u say?" hooser replies, "BITE ME, JIMMY!" damn, that hooser lost his marbles
Wow. Such wildly inappropriate behavior, especially when Gary is presenting himself as a representative of the Kauai County Council.
Joni Kamiya-Rose, on her Hawaii Farmer's Daughter blog, wrote of her experience in attending the hearing:
As I pushed my baby of 8 weeks in his stroller towards the handicap ramp, I noticed a slender, dark haired guy walking up also. He carried his backpack slung over his shoulder and leisurely puffing on a cigarette as he walked. As I got closer, he stopped at a nearby planter to put out his cigarette. I recognized him as Dustin Barca, the former Kauai Mayoral [anti-GMO, anti-pesticide] candidate.
The best part of the hearing was hearing Dustin Barca go on about toxins and the horrible corporations. He even talked about the cigarette companies and their evils. It’s weird because I just saw him smoking some corporate grown tobacco and inhaling toxins. I had to scratch my head thinking about that.
Which leads us to an interesting piece from PBS Newshour on why people's beliefs aren't influenced by science. It includes interviews with Pew researcher Cary Funk and Washington Post reporter Joel Achenbach, who wrote the March National Geographic cover story on GMOs, vaccines and climate change.
Achenbach: Everything is contested now.
I think one of the differences today is just the Internet. It has changed the whole information universe. It’s democratized, small-D, information out there. There are fewer sort of gatekeepers of knowledge.
Instead, people go out and seek information, and they often find what they’re looking for that reinforces their belief. The Internet, you know, it doesn’t facilitate consensus, as anyone has noticed who’s gone on the Internet. Instead, it creates these sort of filter bubbles, these rabbit holes, these echo chambers. And these communities of sort of alternative knowledge develop that are often in opposition to the scientific mainstream.
I think that there are people who are demagogues in the media world that benefit from, you know, dividing and conquering. They want to have people who — they want to say, trust only me on this issue.
I think the stakes are large for all of us in this more technological, engineered world, where we need to get this stuff right....