A successful propaganda campaign depends on controlling the narrative, and Hawaii anti-GMO activists are very wise to this trick.
Which is why they began their efforts to influence public opinion in the Islands and beyond with a series of carefully constructed articles, written and financed by anti-GMO sympathizers.
I first wrote about this initiative back in November 2013:
The Media Consortium has launched a “two-year collaborative project involving ten news organizations that will send reporters to Kauai to cover issues regarding pesticide-based pollution, GE food, corporate influence and other important topics,” according to an announcement by the Food Integrity Campaign.
It's sponsored by the Media Consortium, whose website maintains:
Millions of Americans are looking for honest, fair, and accurate journalism-we’re finding new ways to reach them.
Turns out, though, that the reporting was neither fair nor accurate — and certainly not honest. Unless you believe it's OK to pay a supposedly independent journalist to tell a certain sort of story.
Which brings us to the Inter-Nation Cultural Foundation, a Kauai nonprofit created and bankrolled by anti-GMO advocates Shirin and Ken Hunt. In its 2014 tax return, it discusses spending $37,402 to support “The World is Watching — Kauai Media and Journalism project.” The return states:
With the help of our supporters and contributing journalists, we achieved the following:
Formed partnership with the Media Consortium; island visits and reporting by Truthout, Yes! Magazine and Earth Island Journal; published first round of articles shedding light on pesticide issues facing Kauai; published seminal article (The Kauai Cocktail), a data-supported expose on pesticide as part of a coordinated release with Grist, The Nation, Truthout and several participating NGOs.
The Kauai Cocktail was written by Paul Koberstein and published in the Cascadian Times. Rife with speculation and factual errors, it included such bizarre and unsubstantiated pronouncements as:
The four transnational agribusinesses that are experimenting with genetically engineered crops on Kaua`i have transformed part of the island into one of the most toxic chemical environments in all of American agriculture.
For the better part of two decades, Syngenta, BASF Plant Science, DuPont Pioneer and Dow AgroSciences have been drenching their test fields near Waimea, a small town on the southwest coast of Kaua`i, with some of the most dangerous synthetic pesticides in use in agriculture today, at an intensity that far surpasses the norm at most other American farms, an analysis of government pesticide databases shows.
There’s reason to believe that the chemical companies might be violating federal rules about the application of the restricted-use pesticide products on Kaua`i. The rules are supposed to ensure that the pesticides do their damage to bugs and weeds, not kids.
In Waimea’s gusty climate, it’s a rare day when Lorsban and the other heavily-used toxic chemicals can be applied to the test fields without the wind blowing them right into somebody’s face.
Despite its errors and outrageous statements — or perhaps because of them — this article was picked up and repeated ad nauseum on social media and in the “alternative press,” thus establishing a totally skewed version of reality on Kauai. Koberstein's article was also featured in several anti-GMO videos, providing a veneer of credibility, as if a legit news outfit had actually done the reporting.
Koberstein helped to establish this false narrative in follow-up stories for the Cascadian Times and Truthout, citing his original piece to “document” his claim that seed company practices were harming Kauai people, pushing native flora and fauna toward extinction and poisoning kids.
His misleading articles were reprinted in the Hawaii Independent, which is owned by Ikaika Hussey, board member of the anti-GMO HAPA, as well as Grist, Earth Island Journal and The Progressive, giving the Hunts a bigger bang for their funding buck and further spreading the false narrative. So much for “independent” reporting.
The Foundation also gave $22,500 to Ohana O Kauai, the group founded by Dustin Barca and Fern Rosenstiel (now a state House candidate), in 2014. The money was used for outreach to “educate” people about the “many health problems” being caused by spraying “toxic pesticides near hospitals and schools.”
I keep wondering when Fern, who is running on a transparency in government platform, will disclose how much money Ohana O Kauai took in, and where it went.
The Inter-Nation Cultural Foundation gave $3,423 to Kauai Rising, also for GMO outreach, and $1,141 to help Change for Balance produce “Aloha Warrior,” a documentary of Barca's “efforts to fight off the 5 biggest argochemical companies in the world from invading his island and their natural resources.”
The video includes Barca's usual shibai, as well as his wife spouting such nonsense as “corn is super GMOed, even if it's organic.”
Oh, just as an aside, here's an example of that "warrior's" most recent show of “aloha”:
Yeah, watch our for those "wolves in sheets clothing." One of 'em might be Barca. Or the decidedly more tolerant KKK.
In closing, even though we're often told the Hawaii anti-GMO movement is “spontaneous” and “grassroots,” and it's generating media coverage because it's such a pono cause, the reality is quite a bit different. It's all staged. It's all orchestrated nationally with local pawns paying, and being paid, to play along.
And once again, we see a nonprofit group blessing us with the charitable activity of propaganda in exchange for its tax-exempt status.