The mainland-based Center for Food Safety has intensified its efforts to build opposition to Beth Tokioka's nomination to the Kauai Board of Water Supply.
The anti-GMO advocacy group sent out an email blast to its list yesterday, urging people to submit testimony against Beth's nomination prior to Wednesday's Council vote. CFS is opposing Beth solely because she works for Syngenta.
The blast generated more than 300 emails -- update: it's now over 500 -- against Beth, many of them by people who live on other islands and the mainland.
Each email was identical, though the first batch misspelled Council Chair Mel Rapozo's last name.
Meanwhile, in a spontaneous show of support, Kauai residents were sending in emails endorsing Beth's appointment to the Board, which is charged with drilling wells, running pumps, purifying water and operating a distribution system.
The attack on Beth raises two key questions: Does one lose the right to engage in public service — the position is unpaid — simply because one works for a seed company? And should that overshadow all of the other experience and skills one can bring to service?
The campaign also underscores the cozy relationship between CFS and Civil Beat, which yesterday printed an article highlighting concerns that CFS and Earthjustice had about the appointment. Prior to the article, the Council had received no comments against Beth, and 18 in her favor — more than had been submitted on behalf of any other candidate for a county board or commission.
This is the second time that a Civil Beat article or editorial has appeared just hours before CFS launched a direct action. Previously, CB published an editorial endorsing the recommendations of the Joint Fact Finding Group on pesticides the same day that CFS had scheduled a press conference and meeting with the governor.
The editorial board includes Civil Beat founder and benefactor Pierre Omidyar, who has donated money to CFS.
Meanwhile, CFS is also picking up its advocacy efforts on behalf of a slate of candidates it endorses, including Fern Rosenstiel, a candidate for the state House. CFS has been organizing phone banks to call voters on all islands, though its tactics alienated at least one resident.
A North Shore woman reported receiving a call from an unidentified man who asked if she supported sustainable food supplies. When she said she did, the caller said there was one candidate running for State House in our area who supported sustainable food supplies and that was Fern. The woman replied that what the caller was saying was untrue, as the other candidate, Nadine Nakamura, also supports sustainable food supplies and he shouldn't misrepresent the facts. The caller then laughed and hung up.
It's not surprising that CFS is employing a disinformation strategy, since that's long been the group's stock in trade. It has characterized its entire approach to GMOs, and most especially its efforts to pass anti-GMO legislation in Hawaii.
Still, it is rather ironic that CFS has been pushing anti-GMO legislation in Hawaii under the call for “home rule.” Given its recent actions, it seems CFS defines home rule as meaning a Washington, D.C.-based group should be able to meddle in local politics and dictate who serves on county boards and commissions thousands of miles from its headquarters.