Monday, April 18, 2016

Musings: Out of Control

In the latest bizarre twist in the Kauai Joint Fact-Finding process on agricultural pesticides, facilitator Peter Adler has offered up his own highly defensive, seriously spun take on events. 

This weekend, Adler issued "update #9"on the JFF, in which he abandons all pretense of being an impartial, objective facilitator. Instead, he adopts the role of cheerleader for both the dysfunctional process he created and its badly flawed draft report.

Adler begins by chastising Gerardo Rojas and Sarah Styan, calling their recent resignations from the fact-finding panel “unexpected, poorly timed, and completely unnecessary.” Yet they were preceded by the January resignation of retired UH-CHTAR administrator and extension agent Roy Yamakawa, the only Kauai-born, truly independent member.

Adler has failed to accept any responsibility for the resignations, even though all three voiced concerns about Adler's personal biases, poor management and disrespectful treatment of them.

As a facilitator heading a taxpayer-funded project, Adler owes the community an explanation as to why he was unable to create and maintain a cohesive group. He needs to clearly show us how this process can still be meaningful in the wake of resignations by the entire minority viewpoint.

Instead, he tells us to judge the final report on its merits, and assures us that all 200-plus comments on the draft report will be properly vetted and attended — even as he defends the shoddy “citizen science” that so many of us have found objectionable, and which is used to justify recommendations.

Adler rationalizes accepting “research” conducted by anti-GMO groups like Surfrider, Hawaii SEED and Pesticide Action Network by noting that government studies “aren't peer reviewed, either.” No, but they're conducted by public servants who are trained professionals in their fields — not amateurs organized and funded around a pre-determined agenda who never even wrote up their findings.

Adler writes:

To omit this type of information would invite criticism that the JFF ignored data pertinent to the issue, which would have then tainted the report.

So instead Adler taints the report by including studies that were funded and conducted by special interest groups — studies that weren't even sketched out on a cocktail napkin for the public to review.

As just one example, the Department of Water pesticide report clearly outlines the methodology used, including the chain of custody for all water samples. Can Adler really claim it's equal to a high school science project funded by a group suing the seed companies, in which beekeepers were asked to send in honey samples willy nilly?

Does Adler truly believe pesticide drift samples collected by untrained activists in the anti-GMO Hawaii SEED are on par with studies conducted by a distinguished UH professor with no ax to grind? And in any case, how can Adler possibly excuse the complete absence of written reports for these advocacy studies?

Adler complains:

We have also seen the draft report quickly get used as a political weapon by people on different sides as they attempt to vindicate positions staked out over past years.

Is that such a surprise, considering it was timed for release in the legislative session, and mirrors recommendations advanced by anti-GMO groups — even as it absolves industry finding “no evidence of causality between current agricultural pesticide use and harms to Kauai’s environment?"
Groups like Center for Food Safety have politicized the JFF process.
Similarly, Adler complains that Kauai folks have divided the JFFG into anti- or pro-GMO factions — “simple sloganeering” that does everyone "a disservice.” 

Does he really find this characterization so surprising, given his decision to select panelists who had taken public stands on the issue? Are we supposed to pretend that their views aren't influencing the process, especially when Adler abandoned any pretense of seeking consensus and opted instead for a majority vote, with “antis” comprising the majority?

As sold to Kauai folks, the goal of the JFF process was to produce a document that reflected the group's consensus around known facts regarding agricultural pesticide use on Kauai. As such, it was intended to serve as a springboard for healing divisions within the community. That was lost the moment Adler decided to forget consensus and allow a majority vote. The report then became a “red shirt” document, couched in veiled balancing language — “we couldn't find anything, but we know there's something there; there must be!”

Adler states:

The goal of the effort has always been to see what factually can be agreed on and what logical recommendations ensue.

If that was the goal, then he has unequivocally failed to achieve it. The facts remain in disagreement, and the recommendations for more studies and regulations do not logically follow from a finding of “no evidence of causality.”

Yet Adler pats himself on the back, telling us that “much has already been accomplished” from the draft report: capturing the Governor's attention; promises from the Kauai delegation to secure money for monitoring studies; “reasonable prospects” for more funding in next year's legislative session; and stepped up activities by Department of Health.

Why is anyone mobilizing based on proposed recommendations that are still in the draft stage? Why is Adler cheering the fruits of these draft recommendations, even as he's supposedly holding an open mind about comments that could — if honestly considered — dramatically change the final report and its recommendations?

I guess Adler knows — or believes — the fix is in. But the rest of us chumps are still playing along.

Adler is out of control. This process has moved well beyond fact-finding and is now a full-fledged campaign that he is waging in cooperation with the like-minded ideologues who brought us this controversy in the first place.

It's time for the folks who hired him — Kauai Mayor Bernard Carvalho and Agriculture Director Scott Enright — to pull the plug on this debacle and denounce it for the travesty that it is.


Anonymous said...

Great job Joan exposing the corruption. Pulling the plug on the JFF now before its final release is the only course of action that can stop the red shirt momentum. Mayor Carvalho should man up.

Allan Parachini said...

Not so fast, Joan. The process has not concluded and there is not yet a final report. The Adler statement suggests that some of the criticism it has received has been fair and that changes must be made. I'm willing to wait for that final product before I draw any final conclusions. If you strip away the unfortunate developments in terms of the JFFG disintegrating and the unjustified political advantage that opportunists have tried to seize by distorting what the draft report says, there remains the spark of a piece of work that may help the community. I'm gonna cross my fingers and hold my breath for the moment. The process may have been badly damaged, but to rip off Yogi Berra or Casey Stengel (don't remember which), it ain't over 'til it's over.

Manawai said...

Judging from the egos involved in directing this report, it won't materially change.

Anonymous said...

We should wait for the Final Report and then we can compare it with the "DRAFT". If it is status quo....We should not need the services of the JFFG. We should spend the money for the homeless and needy.

Anonymous said...

I am amazed at the response given by Adler but in any event it is what it is. But I pose this question for consideration to Mr. Adler. Is it fair in a world championship boxing fight that the referee take sides and starts to slant the fight to gain a desirable outcome for one fighter? Many individuals wouldn't call this fair. This is what Mr. Adler is doing. And what about his response to accepting studies provided by individuals who have no background in conducting a study to begin with? I'm pretty sure the scientific community is scratching their heads wondering how such a facilitator can be allowing all of this to happen on his watch.

Anonymous said...

If it walks like a duck, quacks like a duck - it is a duck. What Adler has done is to allow the majority of ducks to take control of the report. Along the way, pure objectivity has been lost with pseudoscience, conjectures, hearsays, etc. taking over. To say that the report was "science-based" could be considered heresy, considering the makeup of the group. To discount the DOW's water quality analyses because it was not "peer-reviewed" while including Surfrider's glyphosate in the report is a travesty of objectivity. Furthermore, to look a obesity as a disease because one of CFS panelist claimed that the same pesticide had a high correlation coefficient. (Correlation does mean causation is one of their statements.) Obesity is a behavioral problem with individuals ingesting more calories than using (burning). (Calories in = Calories out + accumulation (calories stored as fat), correlation coefficient = 1.0) She also stated that 1 0f 2 children born by 2025 will be born autistic. That is merely fear-mongering advanced by CFS. Her statements were peer-reviewed and found to be nothing more than bullshit. Why the group went there is beyond anyone with a logical mind. The mayor, director of DOA, governor and the county council should pull the plug. Let Hooser, his anti-brown-skin cohorts, outside interests continue their appeal in the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals without any more county and state funds.

Enough is enough!

Anonymous said...

Mark my words, the Draft is BS and the Final Report will be BS. What a waste of my hard earned money.

Robin Clark said...

@10:07- well said! I have worked in medical research for over 30 years and served as author, editor and reviewer for international journals. Any one who calls this report "scientific" should be embarrassed.

The anti-ag mentality that is shown by the majority of the committee members was aptly exemplified by Linda Bothe's (who fortunately was not herself a member)letter to the GI yesterday. She claims we didn't get much for our $100,000 as the report was inconclusive and "could not tie the agri-businesses to any of our problems here on Kauai." That sounds rather conclusive to me. Her sense of disappointment was clearly obvious. I fully understand the problems associated with small sample sizes, but when there is no evidence whatsoever of chemical exposure it is not likely to be a sample size issue. And suggesting using mainland data is also totally unscientific given the myriad variables involved.

She also claims that "these harmful chemicals are leaching into our ocean" and harming reefs, turtles, sea snails, seashells and urchins (don't know why she didn't include swimmers). There is no evidence for this- for example reef decline (coral bleaching) is a well-documented worldwide phenomenon and results from global warming and ocean acidification.

Bothe claims the seed companies are "starting to squirm". Actually I think it is the antis who are doing the squirming as they continue to make ever weirder claims such as these. Even our friend Adler is doing a bit of squirming trying to justify the report recommendations.

Anonymous said...

It's not a report. It's an agenda.

Alan Gottlieb said...

@1:57. Well said

Anonymous said...

Long live Ignorance. "Ignorance is Bliss", "Hail the Bullies". Kauai is losing the qualities we were raised on. I did not want to be writing to this site. I am compelled to do so because of the way people are acting towards us Brown skinned, not so smart kine of people. We did not get A's in grade school. But we can hunt, farm and fish with the best of them. We are not rich monetary wise, we are rich with heritage and good old friends that we share our souls with. This JFFG is a "special" group of people. These "special" people are doing the Propaganda 101. They print the facts off of the warning label because that is all they can do. They do not have evidence to back up their "hypothesis", hence the propaganda. These "special" people will try to tell you that Napoleons black horse is white. Actually it is white but..........

Anonymous said...

Coral bleaching on Kauai has nothing to do with "acidification" (a misused word if there ever was one in the context), nor warmer water. The water temperatures here are absolutely normal with both seasonal and El Nino effects in the historical range.It is likely cause by chemical imbalance on Kauai. Fertilizer runoff and now sunscreen might be some likely causes. Another and entirely different reef killer are seawalls. The sand floats back out seaward after a collision with the wall and fills the coral cavities, depriving sea life of the environment, starving the living coral of oxygen and speeding the incoming waves by reduced cavitation.

Anonymous said...

Get your friends to vote. No to Mason Chock, JoAnn Yukimura and Gary Hooser.
Da Hoos has big money in his campaign. Big money.
JoAnn and Mason are bananas.

Anonymous said...

4/18 @ 3:20 PM, this white man can tell you having worked with many many local folks, even if their formal education isn't always on par with the one I was fortunate to receive, the local folks are very intelligent as a whole.

Harold Keyser said...

Very insightful. What really stood out was the misguided equivalency given to scientific studies with detailed descriptions of methods and design, analyses and results, with assertions having none of the supporting stuff (like data, or a report, etc.). And to imply that to do otherwise would disrespect the community (or anyone or anything else) is somewhere beyond logic. Bringing the concept of social relativism to an evidence gathering effort just about guarantees a train wreck will be the outcome.

Anonymous said...

And so, it has come to past!

Anonymous said...

@5:28 pm- EPA data show a 0.1 pH decrease in Hawaiian waters since 1995, corresponding to an almost 25% increase in ocean carbon dioxide concentration. In other parts of the world such effects are widely ascribed by ocean scientists to coral bleaching, so why not here?

Anyway, the point is that pesticides have nothing to do with any of these effects.

Anonymous said...

Dirty soil and diabetes: Anniston's toxic legacy

Anonymous said...

I tried to tell you all that this group was going to be hog wash.

The county of Kauai should have contacted Dr Clement Welsh of the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) and Tim Simpson USEPA Science and Ecosystem Support Division to do the study instead of their people wanting to Cash In.

A great article to read is "Compelling Photos Reveal The Legacy of America's Most Hated Corporation" on

Anonymous said...

If anyone can blow Mel up; it's Shaylene. She has the inside line.

Anonymous said...

Sad to watch a falling out between two close friends in Mel and Shay. Wonder what went wrong between the two. Hope they can patch it up.

Anonymous said...

Broken promises.