I feel sorry for the residents of Waimea who were plaintiffs in the lawsuit against DuPont-Pioneer.
Because what they got — money — apparently isn't what they wanted. The Garden Island reports Susan Arquette as saying:
The winning part is great, but they’ve got to change their practices. Otherwise, we won, but for what?
All we wanted out of this is for them to have ears. It is not the money. That is not why we did this. If you lived here, you would know what we’re talking about. It’s about people’s health.
So if what they wanted was for DuPont-Pioneer to change its practices, and pick up the phone when they call, why didn't they seek that specific relief? And if they wanted a definitive answer about health, why did they file a nuisance claim?
Could it be they were suckered by the attorneys — Kyle Smith, fresh from Las Vegas, and Gerard Jervis, not so fresh from the Bishop Estate suicide scandal — who were brought in by the anti-GMO groups looking for a way to ding the seed companies?
A 2013 Salon article riddled with the kind of bullshit — “growing cancer cluster,” “chemical oversprays twice closing Waimea Canyon Middle School” — that the anti-GMO movement feeds to gullible mainland writers includes this reference to the lawsuit:
In 2011 they retained Gerard Jervis, 64, a pioneering mass tort attorney in Honolulu, who recruited Kyle Smith, 37, an up-and-coming litigator from Las Vegas to join him. Before long Smith had moved his family to Honolulu to work on the case full-time.
So Jervis and Smith are going to split the usual 33 percent commission from the $507,000 award, which comes to about $150,000, or $75,000 each, and that's been enough to support Kyle and his family in Kailua for the past few years?
Something's just not adding up. Like who really bankrolled this litigation?
And if DuPont-Pioneer changed its practices of its own accord — even Susan Arquette says it's “way better,” except on the windiest days — and the health issue remains untouched, what really was the purpose of this lawsuit and its very limited verdict?
I mean, other than an opportunity for a certain politician and his red-shirted gang to trash talk the seed companies.
People are still so ignorant, like the reader who left this comment on the "Dusty and Dusted" post:
When did sugar plow/spray/water & fertilize a field three times after harvest? The major point here is that they are not typical farm operations sanctioned by GAAMP. There is far more dust the there ever was with sugar because the fields are bare. Just look with your own eyes and drive down to Mana on a windy day; the easiest place to watch. If there is a wind advisory they still plow. Sugar they planted the whole field until harvest.
I checked with a farmer who knows how sugar was grown on Kauai and got this:
My observation would be that sugar production created a lot more air pollution than seed production. While it's true that cane is a two year crop, the total area planted and the amount of uncovered soil at any given time greatly exceeded what is happening now. Also cane was burned along with the plastic drip lines.
The [seed companies'] plow/water/fertilize practice has to do with making sure that no volunteer seeds germinate before the next crop is planted so they get the left over seed in the ground to germinate by doing that. But again, on a much smaller scale than the old days. They could switch over to no-till which would involve more pesticide use.
Meanwhile, the argument brought forth in the Waimea litigation is somewhat moot, because the seed companies now plant cover crops and suppress dust with windbreaks, etc. That's why the jurors only found that Pioneer was not using generally accepted agricultural management practices for a very specific time period — Dec. 13, 2009 to Dec. 31, 2011.
There's also some irony in anti-GMO groups, which persistently preach the virtue of small farms, pursuing this sort of litigation. Large companies have the resources to suppress dust. Small farmers don't.
The multinational seed companies aren't going to fall because of dust nuisance suits. But the little guys with intolerant neighbors — or TVRs — in the ag district just might.