It's been some time since the Joint Fact Finding Group released its report on Kauai agricultural pesticides, but the spin shows no sign of abating.
Fact-finding consultant Peter Adler recently appeared on TechTalk with host Sen. Russell Ruderman, who asked him, “Did everybody leave shaking hands?” To which Adler, displaying a remarkable capacity for selective memory, replied, “Yes, I think so.”
Huh? Shoots, three of the nine JFFG members resigned in protest, disgusted both by Adler's own behavior and the bias they saw in other panelists. For example, member Doug Wilmore contributed $500 to the campaign of Gary Hooser, who introduced the pesticide/GMO regulatory bill that led to the group's formation,
Yet Adler never mentioned that unflattering outcome, even as he pumped the group's “diversity.”
Adler also urged folks to read the beginning and end of the report, “and then go to the recommendations and ask the question, do these recommendations make sense?”
Well, that's a convenient way to ignore the meat of the report, which doesn't actually support the recommendations. Indeed, one of the biggest complaints was that the recommendations don't make sense, given the scant evidence that pesticides are migrating off-site in anything other than trace amounts in isolated incidences.
But the recommendations do allow Adler and his fellow travelers to grind their shared ax:
We didn't see real evidence of harm. To make a link between those trace amounts and health impacts is pretty challenging. But the caveat is, we all felt the state hadn't done enough surveillance and studying of this. If the state wants higher levels of certainty it will have to do more investigation.
How exactly do you get "higher levels of certainty?" Either you're certain, or you're not. It's not a word that lends itself to gradations.
The interview was yet another reminder of how the report, conducted at taxpayer expense and now given undue credence as a “government study,” failed to ease community concerns, heal the rift or plot a reasonable path forward. Instead, Adler has used it as a promotional tool for his consulting services.
On a related note, The Risk-Monger blog has an interesting post about activist strategies employed in Europe. It turns out they're the same tactics used by anti-GMO and “environmental” groups in Hawaii:
NGOs have been successful over the last decade in presenting small groups as parts of big networks, pretending to speak on behalf of the “people” when in reality they are only a couple reactionaries in a room with a laptop and a web-designer, accountable to no one and driven by a self-centred emotional zeal.
Social media allows small organisations to make maximum noise at a low cost by exploiting the viral structure of online networks.
There are many tricks for these minnows to deceive clueless policymakers and the media. This is manufactured perception, what I have called “commonality” — the deceitful manufacturing of reality to create a perception that everyone agrees with your strategic message. Previously it was called brainwashing or propaganda; in the activist Age of Stupid, it is considered as “advocacy”.
[It is] a communications manipulation lacking in truth or integrity … but until now, it has worked. Kudos to the ethically challenged!
Which is why I could only raise my eyebrows when I read this newspaper comment from master-deceiver Gary Hooser:
Historically, my issue focus and core values have been based on environmental protection, slow growth and honest, open government.
One of the most effective ways for Kauai to achieve “honest, open government” is to eliminate Hooser's role in the process. His actions against the seed companies and agriculture have been grounded in fear-mongering and lies.
Speaking of seed companies, Syngenta has invited folks attending the IUCN World Conservation Congress next month to visit its Kunia farm and learn about the sustainable agricultural practices it's using around the world.
Though people like Hooser and the aforementioned activists love to portray the seed companies as craven corportions bent on poisoning paradise in the single-minded pursuit of profit, the reality is quite a bit different. But then, they wouldn't know, since they studiously avoid visiting the farms.
As I previously reported, the DuPont-Pioneer farm at Waialua employs cover crops, natural insect control, erosion control measures, farmer training, sub-leases and other sustainable ag practices.
Similarly, Syngenta has adopted a “good growth plan” that outlines “six commitments to increase the productivity of crops without using more water or inputs; to enhance biodiversity and rescue farmland on the brink of degradation; and to help improve the health and well-being of people working in agriculture and rural communities.”
It's hosting field tours at its Kunia farm on Sept. 6 so people can see its progress in meeting those commitments and learn more about crop rotation, cover crops, vegetative barriers, erosion control, nutrient management, water use optimization and other sustainable practices.
The tours are free, with sessions offered in both the morning and afternoon. If you have an interest in what really happens on a seed farm, and plan to be on Oahu that day, you can register here. The deadline is today.
As Ruderman noted on Tech-Talk, it's disturbing to see so many people accept someone else's take on things because "people will always tell you what you want to hear."
Heck. Seems like Ruderman, an organic grocer who pushes self-serving anti-GMO/anti-ag legislation in the Senate, should go.