Sunday, August 23, 2015

Musings: Christopher Pala's Hit Piece

A friend texted a link early this morning with the comment:

Tripe in an otherwise usually responsible news source.

The otherwise usually responsible news source is the The Guardian. The tripe is Christopher Pala's hit piece, “Pesticides in paradise: Hawaii's spike in birth defects put focus on GM crops.”

Gosh, I thought. Has the state finished updating its birth defect study and found there really has been a spike?

Nope. There is still absolutely no evidence of a spike in birth defects. Pala opens with horrific anecdotal stories about birth defects and sick babies, but never bothers to check with the Hawaii Department of Health or federal officials to confirm or deny his report. 

According to the most recent data on the Hawaii Birth Defense Surveillance Report, the rate of birth defects in Hawaii has been trending down, although it is clear that study goes on.

Pala also makes no mention of the public statement issued by westside ob/gym Dr. Graham Chelius to quell the speculation: 

There is not an increased rate of cardiac defects of any kind on the Westside of Kauai.

Pala suggests the Aloha Aina March in Waikiki Aug. 9 was an anti-GMO march, when it was clearly dominated by sovereignty and anti-TMT activists.

Pala claims Waimea supports its economy on tourism, when PMRF and the seed companies are the largest employers in the area. He says that perhaps 200 people work full time for the “chemical companies” on Kauai when the actual number is about 400, and 1,500 statewide.

He says the companies “spray 17 times more pesticide per acre (mostly herbicides, along with insecticides and fungicides) than on ordinary cornfields in the US mainland.” Actually, he got this from the Center for Food Safety — hardly an impartial source — and even then mischaracterizes the source’s assertion (it only refers to restricted use pesticides, not all pesticides). Pala also fails to mention that even CFS admits the use is less than three ounces per acre per year.

Pala uses the oft-discredited Gary Hooser claim that the seed companies applied 18 tons of restricted use pesticides in 2012, when Bill 2491 itself states the seed companies and Kauai Coffee together used 5,477.2 pounds, and 5,884.5 gallons of RUP for 2012. Disclosures under the Good Neighbor Program show they used 5.15 tons in 2014.

He also falsely claims that the pesticides used are “mostly atrazine, paraquat (both banned in Europe) and chlorpyrifos.” A purview of the Good Neighbor Data indicates otherwise; and in fact, it's Kauai Coffee that's using the paraquat.

Pala blames seed companies for people with respiratory symptoms who sought medical treatment in Waimea, but never mentions that the state Department of Health conducted an extensive study and issued a report that found the cause—and it wasn’t pesticides.

He also falsely claims that both cultivated and fallow lands are “sprayed frequently, sometimes every couple of days,” because the companies need “sterile land,” which is ridiculous. They want fertile land, which will give them healthy crops that produce healthy, viable seed. Much of their fallow land is in cover crops, subleased as pasture or just let go wild.

Pala repeatedly asserts that the companies don't disclose their pesticide use when they clearly do, with the data — type and quantity applied, active ingredient and parcel size — all reported monthly on the Good Neighbor website.

He also claimed they don't give any pre-notification, when in fact they offered every resident within 1,000 feet of their fields an opportunity for pre-spraying notification. Only a few residents requested such notification. All schools and hospitals within 1,000 feet of their fields are given pre-notification of pesticide applications.

Pala talks about “three years of failed attempts to force the companies…to create buffer zones,” without mentioning that the companies do so voluntarily. Under the Good Neighbor program, they agreed to provide at least 100-foot buffer zones, with Syngenta maintaining a 1,700-foot buffer zone between its fields and Waimea Canyon Middle School.

One of Pala's biggest whoppers was the contention that “the amounts and toxicities of pesticides were much lower” in the days of sugar plantations. Many of the chemicals used decades ago on the plantations have been banned because of their toxicity, like DDT, and some plantation sites are brownfields or Superfund sites today.

Pala quotes Gary Hooser as saying the companies don't pay excise taxes, when of course they pay them just like everyone else on every product they buy in Hawaii.

Pala also writes that “local schools have been evacuated twice due to pesticide use” when a state Department of Agriculture study found not one case of school evacuations in all of Hawaii has been caused by agricultural pesticide applications. The two evacuations on Kauai were due to a homeowners' misuse of pesticides.

Pala also badly bungled his reporting about the Joint Fact Finding Group and mischaracterized Dr. Lee's Evslin's work, prompting JFFG facilitator Peter Adler to issue this statement:

His piece will surely circulate widely on Kauai and elsewhere in the state where people are keenly interested in GM agricultural issues. Whatever the respective merits of the rest of his piece may be, however,  the article had several unfortunate mistakes and some important omissions that need a response. This is being sent to The Guardian, The Garden Isle, and to other writers and journalists who are following the work of the JFF.
The Joint Fact Finding Study Group is not a “commission”. It is a special fact-finding group composed of Kauai citizens who have different sets of technical, medical and scientific expertise and who volunteered to do the very hard work of thoroughly examining as much available factual evidence as is possible during a year long project. Both the State of Hawaiʻi Department of Agriculture and the Office of the Mayor, County of Kauai, jointly fund the project.
More important, the article misconstrues and conflates statements made at a meeting with some Waimea residents on August 6th by Dr. Lee Evslin, one of the nine members of the Study Group, and myself. I stated that the job of the JFF group is to gather together the best available factual information about the seed company’s agricultural and pesticide footprints and any possible evidence of human or environmental health harms. In that context, I explained that we have not yet concluded our work, are not yet ready to issue findings or opinions, and are not conducting “original research”.

Mr. Pala then wrote: “Lee Evslin, plans to do just that. “I want see if any health trends stand out among people that might have been exposed to pesticides,” he says in an interview. “It won’t be a full epidemiological study, but it will probably be more complete than anything that’s been done before.”

As juxtaposed in Chris Pala's article, this muddied the definition of “original research” and made it appear as if Dr. Evslin is conducting research in opposition to the JFF group. Nothing could be farther from the truth. In fact (and this point was made clear to Mr. Pala by Dr. Evslin), the JFF group is very much on the same page and working together. All data collection efforts, examinations, and analyses are coordinated through the Study Group and a part of the broader mandate  to look at critical pesticide use patterns and possible health and environment implications.

To clarify: the Study Group is a neutral forum and remains apolitical and committed to the discovery process that will lead to greater factual clarity in the sometimes difficult debates over pesticide use on Kauai.  It should be obvious that part of our mandate is to look at health trends, including birth defects data, which we are doing. 

Virtually no part of Pala's story is accurate. It is a one-sided hit piece, top to bottom, without even the hint of an attempt at balance.

I contacted his editor at The Guardian, Nicole Flatow, and pointed out just a few of Pala's errors. Her response:

I've gone over each of the points you raise with the writer and haven't identified inaccuracies that merit a correction. However, we are always grateful for feedback and will keep your perspective in mind moving forward. Quite an interesting issue.

Yes, it is an interesting issue. Sadly, The Guardian has done its readers a terrible disservice by presenting a deeply flawed report of it — and failing to retract the article, or even issue a correction, when its many errors were pointed out.

Just a little something to keep in mind next time you peruse The Guardian or see a piece by Christopher Pala.

66 comments:

Anonymous said...

What do you think the readership of the Guardian is compared to this pathetic little blog? Bahahaha. Phooey on you Joan Conrow. While I know you will not let this comment through, at least I gain some pleasure in writing it.

Joan Conrow said...

Actually, I think it's great for people to see the nasty little mindset of the anti-GMO crowd through the comments they leave.

It's irrelevant to me that The Guardian has more readers. What matters to me is being accurate, and correcting misinformation wherever it arises — especially when it's disseminated intentionally, as Chris Pala did with this piece.

Anonymous said...

Why do you feel the need to jump to the defense of these multi billion dollar corporations Joan? Why is virtually everyone one else wrong except you? PBS, The Guardian, Aljazeera, Civil Beat, Mother Jones, and so many others all got it wrong. Only Joan gets it right? What is wrong with this picture?

Anonymous said...

The readers of this blog live here and care about Kauai. Joan cares about Kauai. That's what matters to me.

Joan Conrow said...

It's not the defense of multinational companies I'm jumping to, but the truth. The other outlets have gotten it wrong because they use the same small group of sources. Some of them have been paid by anti-GMO groups. And they aren't from here. I've seen this unfold with my own eyes and documented it thoroughly from many different angles. There's a well-funded and orchestrated anti-GMO campaign at work that is irreparably harming the community and agriculture in Hawaii and elsewhere. I am jumping to the defense of those who are being damaged by it.

Anonymous said...

Where did you get the employment data Joan? How do you confirm its accuracy? I keep hearing stories about Mexican and other imported farm workers. Accurate data is welcome and needed?

Joan Conrow said...

I asked the companies who employ them. Additional field workers are hired seasonally, both local and imported labor.

Anonymous said...

Joan, Could you please provide us with a complete employment breakdown for recent years? How many permanent locals and how many imported labor? Broken down by company and year? Mahalo.

Joan Conrow said...

No, I'm not going to spend any time on that.

Anonymous said...

full-on unapologetic Gish Gallop. lie after lie after lie. Pala and The Guardian should be ashamed.

Anonymous said...

Reprinting here my comment on the Guardian piece. Thank you KauaiEclectic for doing an even better rebuttal... But even common sense and a little local knowledge is enough to cast a lot of doubt...."Article is thorough but entirely from one of the two main points of view. You do your readers a disservice. Certain key facts left usually unmentioned by the partisans but undercutting their whole argument are, as a consequence, left out. 1) Every school evacuation but 1 was from homeowner use of over-the-counter smelly insecticide or smelly weeds (literally, 'stinkweed'), and the other 1 was a turf farm who misused a cheap, long-on-the-market sulfurous fungicide upwind of the school. None were from seed company's farms.
2) Prior, much larger acreage, use of pesticides was neither less in quantity nor less in toxicity, given the quantities, during sugar agriculture.
3) Existing epidemiology of birth defects in Hawaii does not confirm the suspicions of the doctors' anecdotes.
4) Statewide water sampling shows the only substantial pesticide contamination is in urban areas from prior uses of now banned but persistent soil-applied termiticides in residential areas.
5) Disease-causing exposures, known and evidently harmful, namely sunlight, grilled foods, and tobacco smoke, are in much closer proximity, more frequently encountered, and therefore much more dangerous than remote barely detectable ag pesticide uses.
6) Actual exposures to insecticides used very frequently around restaurants and grocery stores, as well as structural pest control elsewhere, are, again, much more likely vectors for any human problems.
7) Pesticide applications by the seed companies are monitored frequently and assiduously by State ag inspectors who find them easy to locate, easy to inspect, facile with paper work, and a slam dunk for their jobs seeing that EPA vetted label instructions (the law, in practice) are followed.
8) Small, immigrant, non-English speaking, shifting multiple leasehold tenure, close-to-residences farmers are the more likely of ag pesticide misuse and exposure dangers, but lack the big ogre characteristics of purported corporate 'greed' that exercise the protesters.
9) The class of protestors when searched out of voting and polling from recent successful county ordinance votes showed they're primarily malihinis (non-birth-citizens of Hawaii) and, the further they were from the ag fields the more likely they were against the ag pesticide uses.
10) Ag pesticides are costly, are usually applied in low-wind conditions, early AM, with shrouds over the spray rigs to see that they're not wasted and windblown, and as per labeled directions.
The frenzy over this issue is out of all proportion to the facts, so this issue ought also to be looked at as part of the usual 'madness of crowds' phenomenon ginned up by our new 'global village' social internet connections, as well as the usual anomie and uprootedness of our contemporary social conditions. When you believe in nothing pretty soon you'll believe .... anything."

Anonymous said...

OK, Joan, no sweat. I was just wondering why all locals cannot be used by the companies. Why do they need to import labor?

Joan Conrow said...

9:57. For the same reason the organic guys import woofers and the taro fields import Micronesians. They Can't find enough Kauai folks willing to do field labor.

Anonymous said...

Joan's post and her replies to comments tonight highlight why she has such a large following and why she is so respected. She provides timely, thorough, unbiased commentary based on real investigation, using appropriate and trustworthy primary sources.

Thank you so much Joan, for helping spread the truth. As one who has worked in Hawaii ag for over 25 years, I am incredulous how the public's confidence is purposely being undermined and poisoned by deceitful opportunists like Hooser and now, Christopher Pala.

Those of us who know ag know that this ludicrous attack is unwarranted and unjust. We are so grateful to you for exposing it.

Anonymous said...

Cost of living mainly, low supply of laborers and field work not for everyone.

Anonymous said...

100% correct Joan--it is not always easy to find available Kauai workers to do the job. Ask any business owner. One visit to a seed company and people would see that the vast majority of staff are from Kauai, particularly the west side.

When I visited I was also impressed at the effort the company was putting into training local staff. Several of the folks I spoke to were locals that had started at entry level and are now mid or high level mgrs. People can criticize these businesses but it is difficult to say that they don't help their employees. At least this is what I saw when I actually took the time to look myself.

Anonymous said...

Unfortunately The Guardian has a long history of Fear-generating journalism. Pity.

Anonymous said...

I would venture more people in Hawaii read Joan's blog than the Guardian.

Anonymous said...

Joan the GET is owed by the seller not the buyer. The seed companies don't pay GET on their sales. When you buy a shovel at Ace, Ace owes and pays the GET and is allowed to pass it on to you the consumer. So it is correct to say the seed companies do not pay GET because for the most part they don't sell anything.

Anonymous said...

The seed companies do sell but GET is owed only on sales in Hawaii.

Anonymous said...

Joan, You said not enough locals are willing to do field work. Perhaps more would be willing if the wages were high enough. The companies, CEO and top tier workers make millions, maybe billions. Couldnʻt they share the wealth with the workers. If the wages were higher, I am sure more local workers could be found. The local farmers who sometimes use woofers do not have billions to share with their workers. In the USA, CEOʻs make about 450 times as much as their lower end employees. Also, local farms cannot pay higher wages because farming is their only source of income. They do not sell biocides or have or have billions available for research and investment. I do not think it is fair to compare local farmers with woofers to multi-billion dollar international companies. It is those companies who have the wealth, not the local farmers. Why not share it?

Anonymous said...

The Guardian is a crank mouthpiece.

KatieH said...

"Anonymous" August 23, 2015 at 9:43 PM can you provide ANY DATA to back even one of your claims? Maybe even your name? What a joke, just like the HCIA propaganda handed out at the farm fair that even contradicts Joan's fact that they only cultivate 10% of the land the lease. So much nonsense a point by point rebuttal would be a waste of time for everyone involved.

KatieH said...

Joan, are you saying your only source for this entire blog post is the HCIA and the chemical companies that are the members?

Joan Conrow said...

No Katie. I'm not saying that at all and I have no idea where you got that idea. Didn't you follow the links?

Anonymous said...

Joan, Do you happen to know how much the imported workers earn. Are they paid well?

Joan Conrow said...

Paid well compared to what, 11:25? Donald Trump? A day laborer in the Philippines? A counter worker at Jack in the Box? Keep your eye on the want ads and one of these days you'll see an advertisement for seed company day laborers and then you'll know what they're paid and what their duties are.

Anonymous said...

Have any of you commenters worked all day in the hot sun on a farm? I have and it's a tough job----scorching heat, dusty, dirty, often no shade, creepy crawlees everywhere, you can't just pop into air conditioning anytime you feel like, toilets may not be very close by, etc. Most of us wouldn't want to do it if we had ANY other opportunity to make money.

Seems like a lot of young people these days romanticize farming and can't understand why jobs aren't all filled by local folks. Most of the immigrants who came to Hawaii back in the day started in ag but worked their way out of it for less strenuous jobs. Or at least gave their kids that opportunity. Most of my friends worked in the pineapple fields or the cannery when they were growing up and that motivated them to get their to college and easier work. I think all teenagers should go through that experience so they realize and appreciate
how hard it can be to make a living and how thankful they should be to have work at all.

And BTW, big ag pays better than other ag and has better benefits. Years ago, I researched ag wages in Hawaii and found that the sugar industry workers were paid the highest ag worker wages in the world.

Anonymous said...

Joan, can you tell us what, who are being damaged by the anti gmo campaign. I understand that the biotech companies, the HCIA, food companies that produce foods using gm products are taking the heat----are there any other entities? I think if they did the labeling, it would settle a lot of the junk going on---i am sure that a lot of people will continue to buy gm food products because they believe it's okay and it is way cheaper. Why don't they just label?!

Anonymous said...

1:13 They donʻt label because they feel they will lose money. Itʻs as simple as that. Money, money, and more money. And donʻt believe the hype about labeling implying a lack of health safety- labeling is simply labeling and nothing more. It just provides information so that shoppers can easily determine what kind of products they are buying and what the products contain. We are not talking about health warning like on cigarette packages. We are talking about labeling ingredients only- not judging those ingredients.

Anonymous said...

Juanjuan Zhang, a marketing professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, wrote "Mandatory disclosure of GMOs in food products lowers consumers’ perceived GMO safety," in "Policy and Inference: The Case of Product Labeling."

Zhang’s research reveals that the mere act of labeling food that contains GMOs is deceptive. It causes consumers to suspect that GMOs are dangerous, even though the safety of biotech food is beyond reasonable doubt, as organizations ranging from the American Medical Association to the World Health Organization have determined.

Is it about the “the right to know”? Zhang’s work shows that consumer behavior is more complicated than a political slogan. Labels possess the power to mislead. That means our lawmakers must mandate them sparingly, and not just because special-interest groups want the federal government to help them obtain a competitive advantage in the food market.

Here is a fairly decent summary, with supporting links, of the answer to "Why not label?" There are many reasons.

http://www.forbes.com/sites/jonentine/2014/08/25/why-liberal-americans-are-turning-against-gmo-labeling/

Anonymous said...

If the "right to know" about one breeding method is real, then the same 'right to know" about all breeding methods must also be equally real. Therefore lets label for all breeding methods on all foods. Do people think the organic food industry (those financing the GE right to know campaign) would accept "Made with ionizing radiation mutagenesis" labels on some of their food products?

Anonymous said...


Joan you continue to avoid the hard but very simple questions which leads me to believe that you are more full of shit than I had previously thought. Do you have any source at all other than the information fed to you by the seed companies? Any? Surely Joan you have something to base your attacks on other than the gmo media machine. Oops! Forgot. You are part of that machine and facts don't matter to you. And no, I don't expect you to print this because you are a fraud and we all know it.

Joan Conrow said...

It appears that you, like Katie Horgan, are either unable to follow the links to the source documents I've provided or are unable to comprehend them.

Anonymous said...

Wow. It's a regular little Katie Horgan Termagent Tango going down here. 4:02, are you really that convinced Joan has avoided the "hard but very simple questions" that seem to have been answered already in a host of peer reviewed, open government sources by reputable universities and publishers. She started with the questions where you turkeys started with assumptions fed to you by CFS and the Brahmin PhD faker. You dingbats make statements and nitpick dingleberries; you don't ask questions. No one in a position to provide information to people like you would tell you shit. Go back to school,learn something and take the whole of "we all know it" with you. Y'all really need some education badly.

Anonymous said...

2:34 It is not the label that misleads- that is ridiculous. If the label says contains salt, is that misleading? If it says contains high fructose corn syrup, is that misleading? If it says contains Red 40 color, is that misleading? if it says contains MSG, is that misleading? If it says contains ingredients which are GMO , is that misleading? Absolutely not, it is the truth? How can the truth be misleading? It is a fact. Now, what consumers may think about an ingredient is up to the consumer. If they think salt is bad, so be it. If they think MSG is bad, so be it. But it is not the label that causes them to think salt or MSG is bad. The public wants to know what is in their food, that is all- very simple. Some will choose MSG, high fructose corn syrup, artificial colors, gmo ingredients, etc- others will not. But they need and want that information so they can make informed choices.
\

Anonymous said...

2:59- GMO on a label shows the ingredient which is a foreign gene which has been artificially inserted into into the corn or soy, usually from a completely unrelated species. So that is why it should be listed as an ingredient, not a process. If you look at the corn, every cell will contain the GMO gene (ingredient).

Anonymous said...

I don't know why you let some people comment on this site when they have nothing to contribute whatsoever? Often the brilliant writing is tarnished by the rude and insulting comments by your readers. It's like the GI News; just a bunch of bloviated commenteers. Maybe just let the paid supporters comment since there are so many haters out in cyber space. Your wonderful blog and insightful analysis is sullied by your detractors and the naysayers.

Anonymous said...

To the commenter at 7 pm:

But shouldn't we know the type of lunatics we seem to be surrounded by? After all, they're taking over....elected officials are pandering to their endless whining and complaining, policies and laws are being made to address their paranoic fantasies, and in their hysteria, they are ruthlessly going after farms, like HC&S on Maui, to shut them down, with absolutely no clue for a legal, agronomically feasible alternative. And what do they care about the close to a thousand workers who will lose their jobs?

Joan Conrow said...

Yes, their comments, though distasteful to thoughtful, intelligent readers, speak volumes about their immaturity, their unwillingness to accept facts, their dogmatism, their speculation and ignorance and their sheer nastiness. This is the core of the anti-AG/anti-GMO movement, in all its ugliness revealed.

So to 1:13, who asked, who/what is being hurt by the anti-GMO movement, the first casualty is civil discourse, followed by reason and critical thinking. It's also hurting AG in general, small farmers, people who have been frightened and brainwashed into believing they're being poisoned, communities torn and polarized by the conflict and the taxpayers, who are picking up the tab for the lawsuits, police at the meaningless and impotent marches, the crank calls to inspectors, the long Council and legislative hearings, the BS public records requests, the elected officials who are lobbying rather than doing their jobs, etc., etc., etc.

Joan Conrow said...

@10:47 -- Not to mention you don't actually have sufficient knowledge of the subject to be able to do any sort of thoughtful rebuttal.

Anonymous said...

Joan says "Paid well compared to what?" How about compared to all the other workers at their own companies (including supervisors, bosses, ceoʻs, etc.? Paid a good living wage so they can support their families. Paid a wage that will attract locals so that imported workers are not needed. Paid a wage that reflects and rewards the incredibly hard labor they put forth daily. So terrible that the hardest workers receive the lowest wages. More equality between high and low income earners (at the same company) is a good direction to go. What prevents the highest income earners at a seed company from reducing their wages and raising those of the lowest income earners?

Anonymous said...

There's no way I'd work in those fields for $25/hour! Do you know how hot and dusty it is there? Geez. If the antis would get their heads out of the dirt maybe they'd figure out work is work. Everyone should be thankful to have a job here. It is very hard to find one and keep one.

Anonymous said...

Why would you think seed corn is not labelled? As Joan has implied many times, the seed companies are proud of these products and farmers pay a premium for the desired seed qualities for their market. The seed is labelled on the seed corn bags that usually have an attached instructional leaflet.

Anonymous said...

Thanks, 8:20 pm. You've proven the point made by 7:24 pm.

Anonymous said...

I think civil discourse is a thing we accept in a democracy---feels good to be able to stand up for what one believes in. Also, it seems that small farmers are doing better with the gmo discourse going on---i don't see AG being harmed---i see people getting involved to provide more avenues for people to get involved in other AG ventures. . . . . like getting into mango on the westside and probably filling up all the sugar areas with hemp, bamboo, eucalyptus, sandal wood, small farms, etc. Just my simplistic mind working overtime here. . . . . .

Manuahi said...

Nice thoughts 9:07. Mahalo! But the problem is that conventional agriculture just doesn't generate enough kala to more than offset all the costs of doing it here in Hawaii. If these crops were economically viable, then all the large land owners would have gone into it as sugar died just to maintain a viable ag base. Sugar died for the very reasons these other suggested crops wouldn't be profitable. The hard thing is that it takes a commercial farmer to understand all the costs, the risks and the hurdles that prevent successful large-scale food and materials farming. The key word here is "successful". Farming is a business and needs to make a profit to survive just like any other business. What's amazing is the number of people who speak out so confidently about it yet have zero experience in the field. I guess it's just human nature to try and be helpful with solutions that unbeknownst to them have already been tried and failed. The bottom like is that popular crops can be grow just about everywhere else less expensively than in Hawaii....even considering this cost of importing food to Hawaii from the mainland. So the only way for those of you who think we should have our fields full of food crops to "sustainability" reasons will happen is if the government takes over and farming becomes a cost center as opposed to a profit center. So it would take many tax dollars to supplement the insufficient revenues necessary to make large-scale conventional farming viable here. Even many of the food crops grown in the mainland requiire government supports to remain viable.

Anonymous said...

manuahi, you're on the right track. government intervention is needed to create incentives for local food production-GMO seed companies do not provide that yet they receive breaks from the state. something is wrong w/that picture! state subsidies for water, taxes, workforce housing, etc...we can support local food production w/innovative programs but the influence of the chem based industry has hijacked AG everywhere and now there is a worldwide pushback. hawaii is in the middle of it! we can be part of the problem or part of the solution; the choice is ours!

Anonymous said...

Can we PLEASE end the comments on this blog with the dose of reality succinctly and eloquently provided by Manuahi? Anonymous at 1:02 PM drags us back down to paranoid fantasy land.

Anonymous said...

6:40 and 6:47,
A label that just says “GMO” is meaningless since “GMO” is a process not an ingredient. It would be like mandating labels for the “kosher” or “halal” processes (both of which appear on the market). Note that none of your label examples are about a process. They are about actual ingredients, like “peanuts” or “MSG”.

If it is really about informing the consumer about ingredients, then you need a label that tells you which GENE (i.e. biotech event) has been introduced, “GMO-ed” if you will. There are 37 events that have been approved in corn for food. How do you propose to track which of them is in the bag of cereal? Perhaps the label should read: “This product may contain ingredients that might contain one of the biotech events allowed for use in food by the FDA”? Sort of like the peanut disclaimer of which you are so fond. Anything else would require a massive bureaucracy and paper trail, increasing food costs for all of us, not just the few who think it is worth it.

http://www.isaaa.org/gmapprovaldatabase/advsearch/default.asp?CropID=6&TraitTypeID=Any&DeveloperID=Any&CountryID=US&ApprovalTypeID=1


8:20,
First, a starting position at a local seed-company pays about $20/hour. Then there are the health care and 401k contributions, not to mention other benefits like tuition credits for college, that bring the real wage up to about $30. Not a bad for jobs that require only a high school diploma.

Second, you demand that the seed companies reduce the pay differential between their CEOs and the field workers. Are you equally worked up about the differential between the night-shift staff at the hotels and their CEOs?

Bronson Kaahui said...

LOL Nomi Carmona always has something stupid to say on Facebook or in the comment section, but like all anti-GMO activists she is an intellectual coward. I issued an open challenge to every anti-gmo activist in Hawaii to come try to debate me live on the radio. Of course none of these cowards dared to call in, but Nomi did send a cute little email which proves she listened to the whole program.

Nomi if you got something stupid to say you know exactly where to find me. Come try to debate me any time you big bully. I would love nothing more than to humiliate you in front of everyone. Your venomous tongue spews nothing but lies and deceit. Your message of hatred and violence must be openly confronted and exposed by people like me. We can't allow you to poison the minds of the keiki with your lies and anti-science views. Take your California Cult anti-GMO religion back to where it came from and leave these islands in peace as you found them. We are tired of this pointless war that you have declared on progress and the children of the 3rd world.

Zero respect for wealthy white westerners who care nothing for the children of the 3rd world. Their lives are more important than your religion. Exponentially more important.

Telemaque said...

The birth defects report only goes up to 2005.
The good neighbors web site only has data going up to a year ago.

And this is supposed to inspire confidence?

Joan Conrow said...

4:46 --- Despite what some have claimed, the state has continued to collect data on birth defects and the registry is being updated.

The good neighbor website is current through July 2015, as the companies disclose RUP use monthly. You need to scroll down to the bottom.

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

Anonymous said...

Who is Bronson Kaahui? What radio station does he work for? Such angry words---hey let everyone have their say! Cool down---I know it's been humid and hot.

Anonymous said...

I agree with Bronson. We are all sick of Nomi and her troublemaking. She never will stand accountable for the stupid things she says.

Anonymous said...

The state is doing their data collection and will eventually be on Kauai---until then, people's first hand reports are pretty reliable since they have actually witnessed or suffered/suffering from the problem.

Anonymous said...

oh and Nomi stop trying to make like you local. You're from SoCal

Joan Conrow said...

@7:27. Reliable like the first hand reports of non-existent stream diversions and "chem trails" sprayed over Kapaa schools?

Anonymous said...

Joan,
First, thanks for your recent piece on Ke'e - I was happy to hear of what seemed a thoughtful proposal to address the issues of overcrowding, etc. and disappointed to see that there is so much opposition when most would probably agree that some change is needed at this point.

Second, while there may be flaws in some of Mr. Pala's research, it does seem that there are issues worth further exploration. With respect to birth defects, the state study you cited only covered the years up to 2005, which offers no perspective on public health trends for the past 10 years. Nor did it study clusters - the most it did with respect to breaking down impacts with respect to geography was analyzing the differences between urban and rural areas. Cluster impacts could easily fly under the radar in an overall trend of declining birth defects in statewide data. And for what it's worth, one type of defect that is on the rise according to that same study is gastroschisis, the same defect cited as being on the rise in this article anecdotally.

I would like all sides to be objective here - it's the only way to know for sure what is happening (or not happening as the case may be) when it comes to pesticides and their impacts on the people that live around the areas where they are used. And the best way to get there is through complete transparency and not substituting red herrings for real debate.

Joan Conrow said...

The state is in the process of updating the registry and it will be public. That will be the time to determine if there are any increases in birth defects. From there, it's a another process to determine the cause. If you looked at the registry you'll see drugs, alcohol use, young mothers and poor prenatal care are the primary causes. It's fine to raise all issues for discussion so long as it's clear what is fact and what is speculation. Pala's piece is based entirely on speculation and misinformation.

Stephen Frantz said...

As a Hawaii "worshipper", I am saddened by what I have read about Monsanto using Kauai as a test lab for developing increasingly horrific pesticides. My recent review article in the LA progressive regarding glyphosate and GM crops may be of some use in this discussion, please see: https://www.laprogressive.com/glyphosate/
And/or see the reprint that has a few enhancements (photos and annotations): http://www.wilderutopia.com/health/gmo-herbicide-glyphosate-toxic-to-ecosystems-carcinogenic-to-you/ Feel free to circulate the article widely.
And, please note that, as of a few days ago, we have won the first round of this battle in that glyphosate products in CA will now be labelled as "cancer causing". And we now have greater hurdles to get over.

Joan Conrow said...

Stephen, Since you aren't even aware that Monsanto has no presence on Kauai, I have no confidence your "review" of glyphosate and GM crops will be any better informed. The biggest hurdle you face is a lack of awareness of your ignorance.

TM said...

The companies don't "import" labor...they sometimes contract it out through third party employment agencies. These agencies employ all kinds of people--native Hawaiians, third-generation Filipinos, "haoles", locals, and yes, even people from Mexico, Africa, Australia...it's called "equal opportunity employment".

TM said...

Joan, do you know if there is any data on birth defect trends past 2005?? I am trying to debunk an article on Facebook but can find recent data...

Joan Conrow said...

No, nothing published since 2005.

Andre Beyer said...

Joan Conrow, I wanted to sincerely thank you for this enlightening piece. As a city girl from the mainland I can see where thousands like me are being duped on a daily basis, in our newsfeeds and elsewhere with the biased nonexpert articles that pull at the heartstrings. While the Guardian piece may be not as grossly biased as a Natural News item it's alarming how much is left out- the air monitoring of 29 naturally occurring comounds is quite telling. And completely bypassing the state dept official's statement? It's as insane as embracing the parallel "science" of the anti vax folks who theorize the CDC as being evil lol.

If people only took the time to set aside their emotion a bit like I did and explore the potential of GM, how much farming has improved, the reduction of harmful herbicides they would be quite moved. Thank you for this amazing source, and a shining example of how the lazy and shoddy journalism has become..in line with consumers like me getting banned from ridiculous sites like GMOFree USA who and prefer keeping folks in the dark, the anti-science and primitive food movements will ultimately be self defeating.