Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Musings: Do-ers and Talkers

Syngenta plans to sell its operations on Kauai and Oahu, and contract with the buyer to grow its seeds.

The company is not ending seed production in Hawaii, merely pursuing a different operating model. Its activities and staff will remain status quo until the sale is finalized, likely in the first half of 2017.

The announcement reflects some of the many changes occuring within the global seed industry as companies merge and adjust their operations. Locally, that has included returning leased land to the state.

Which means there's never been a better time for all those farmer wannabees to get public land. So where are they?

In a recent video interview, Ashley Lukens, director of the Hawaii Center for Food Safety, asserted that CFS wants to “support the [indigenous] food system and help it re-emerge.”

Yet CFS has done no farmer training, no loi restoration. It's done no consumer education or outreach to build public acceptance of a diet based on taro, sweet potatoes, banana and fish, and a lifestyle requiring nearly every resident to be involved in food production.

It's done no marketing to build support for local products, opened no poi mills, funded no research into reducing disease among native taro varieties.

Indeed, neither CFS nor its allies, such as Councilman Gary Hooser's HAPA, have taken even one small step to secure state ag land for food production. Meanwhile, thousands of acres of public land — much of it irrigated, some of it ancient loi — lie fallow as the activists sow seeds of rhetoric.

Ashley went on to ask:

Do we want a food system driven by large-scale, multinational corporate interests? Or do we want a food system driven by the grit, tenancity and creativity of local people, local businesses and local farmers?

So why haven't they come up with a plan to help local farmers, support that “grit, tenancity and creativity?” Why haven't these groups pooled their resources to actually get people on the land, growing food? Why are they more familiar with the Lege than a loi? Why aren't they aggressively modeling the food-farm change they want to be in the world?

Perhaps because, as Ashley admitted, “We're primarily a law firm. We're a think tank.” 

In other words, they don't get their hands dirty. CFS makes money by suing federal agencies — taxpayers have deep pockets — and soliciting donations to fund its legal work.

Their interest is not farming, but exploiting a romanticized notion about farming to change laws to achieve an organic-only political agenda. As Ashley noted:

If they're growing organic in Kunia, I won't knock them.

But the rest — the family-owned papaya farms, Hanalei taro growers, tropical flower farmers, dairies— in short, any ag enterprise that uses synthetic pesticides and/or GMO crops is fair game. Though the antis love to talk about food and farming, in practice they're all about destroying GMO and conventional ag.

And they do that, in part, by spreading lies, such as Ashley's oft-uttered claims:

What they do here by and large is herbicide-tolerant corn and soy. So they are by definition using high volumes of herbicides to demonstrate the virility of what they're doing.

Children are doing to school right alongside where this [Chlorpyrifos] is being sprayed.

In fact, the companies have already created voluntary buffer zones and notification policies for schools. None of them are spraying Chlorpyrifos next to school kids. 

As for what they're growing, herbicide tolerance (HT) is but one biotech trait. They're also growing varieties with traits such as enhanced yield, insect and virus resistance, efficiencies in nitrogen utilization, drought tolerance, increased growth rate, improvements in flowering and photosynthesis enhancements, as well as conventional hybrids.

Though Hooser, Lukens, Hawaii SEED, Earthjustice and other anti-GMO activists love to claim that it's all about growing plants to sell more pesticide product, the reality is quite a bit different. 

And as I've pointed out numerous times, they are not spraying the crops here to see if they can withstand herbicides. That testing is done in confined labs on the mainland. They are merely growing plants that produce seeds with the HT traits.

Ashley goes on to justify her fear-mongering and deception with this bizarre statement:

If they're going against you, you're doing something right. The amount of ire our movement has earned, tells us we're being effective.

No, Ashley, people are mad at you and your movement because they're tired of your lying, narcissistic, delusional, self-serving, fear-mongering bullshit. It's time to leave la-la land — she's currently at Burning Man — and join the world of science, morality, ethics, justice.

Ashley concludes with:

We really need to say yes to what we want.

So do it. Get people out there farming the way you say you want it done.

But until you do, leave the people who are actually growing stuff and addressing food security issues alone. 

Which leads me to a really excellent piece in Wired.  It featured an interview with a man — beekeeper Jerry Hayes — who, like me, once considered himself an environmentalist. Like me, he came to the same conclusion once he started looking critically at both the enviros' tactics and the reality of the demonized “other:”

I saw how they were using terms like Monsanto and Bayer as fund-raising mechanisms. But if you believe in science, if you take a hard look at the science and data of some of these groups, they’re cooking the books in order to make themselves look better and others look evil. So they can raise money. To be successful.

The rhetoric offended Hayes’ sense of fairness.

As it did mine.

Unlike me, Hayes went to work for Monsanto, where he is trying to improve the health of bees. Like most scientists, he believes they're facing multiple threats: varroa mites, inadequate forage and nutrition, viruses and exposure to a range of ag and garden pesticides.

But environmental groups and their followers want only to focus on a very specific class of pesticides — neonicitinoids — because it supports their agenda against “industrial agriculture.”

They'd rather retain their rhetoric — and its fundraising prowess — than address the problem. Meanwhile, as Wired reports:

Despite unremitting losses, the number of bee colonies globally has held steady.

There’s also this stubborn fact: While neonic use continues in the US, the particular symptoms of colony collapse disorder have not. “I haven’t seen CCD in five years,” says [University of Maryland entomologist Dennis] vanEngelsdorp, who surveys the nation’s bee losses twice a year. He now believes what he saw back in 2006 was some sort of emerging viral infection.

You won't see that inconvenient truth shared by the fear-mongerers at Sierra Club, Greenpeace, Center for Food Safety, etc., etc. Not so long as there's money to be raised fighting pesticides — but only those associated with agriculture.

As we move forward to address pressing issues in agriculture, we must distinguish between the do-ers and the talkers — especially those who are just talking shit.

Monday, August 29, 2016

Musings: Inevitable

After licking his wounds for a couple of weeks following his dismal Primary showing, Kauai Councilman Gary Hooser has emerged to announce: “Reports of my death have been greatly exaggerated.”

Actually, no one reported that Hooser is politically dead. We just observed that he's circling the drain. As is the inevitable fate of every failed politician.
In surfacing, Hooser relies upon his usual double-pronged strategy: beg and blame.

I was surprised and disappointed more Kaua’i residents who share our values, goals and vision for Kauai’s future did not show up to vote on August 13th.

Uh, Gary, did you ever stop to think that's all there is? That the measly 5,035 votes cast for you — half the number Derek Kawakami received — represent the extent of your support?

Heck, just look at the precinct results, and your own campaign contributions. It's evident your base is North Shore haoles. And that's not enough to either win the election, or claim that you represent the people of Kauai.

Yet Hooser blames others — “the agrochemical industry and large landowner/developers” — for his pathetic showing, again falsely claiming that his enemies are running a slate of “Super 6.”

No, Gary, you're the only one who had a slate — your Kuleana Academy candidates, remember? And aside from that lyin' Big Island Council candidate Jen Ruggles, they all did as poorly as you, across the entire state.

Which is a strong signal that disgust with you personally, and disenchantment over your regressively “progressive values,” is deep-seated, and widespread.

Yet Gary — still oblivious to the repellent nature of his smug self-righteousness — clings to the deluded notion that his values are superior:

We must share our vision of the future. We need to contrast our values clearly against those candidates who; while they say they are “for the people” have shown that they inevitably make decisions that put development and profit ahead of people and the environment.

As opposed to, say, candidates like Hooser, who claim they are “for the people,” but inevitably make decisions that put their own egos, their own narrow agenda, their own nonprofit fundraising goals, their own grandstanding, ahead of the electorate.

I did have to giggle when Hooser, who supports throwing residential zoning out the window in Lihue, as well as TVRs and B&Bs on ag land, claims to be in favor of “controlled development.”

Or maybe he's refencing development controlled by the gentrifying high-end Realtors, after he's has destroyed viable agriculture on the westside.

And I laughed aloud when Hooser asserted his is a “strong voice” in support of open government.

This from the man whose political advocacy group, HAPA, masquerades as an educational nonprofit; who refuses to disclose HAPA's funding sources; who misses Council meetings to advocate for HAPA's goals, while claiming it's not actually lobbying because he doesn't get paid; whose mob bullied a 3 a.m. Council vote on Bill 2491; who manuevered to get Mason Chock on the Council, solely because he was a guaranteed vote to override the mayor's veto of Bill 2491.

Oh, yeah. Hooser is a real beacon for open government.

After blaming the big bad “other” for his crummy Primary showing, Hooser turns to begging:

Campaign contributions are needed prior to September 1 to restock campaign supplies.
Hooser spent a whopping $62,089 on the Primary — more than any other candidate in the Council race — and he still came in ninth, beating only the unknowns who are running for the very first time.

Never mind that Derek spent $51,323 and got twice the votes. All Hooser needs is more cash to pull it off.

Hey, you go right ahead, Gary.
Burn through another $62,000. 

Paste your bumper stickers on cars crawling through the Kapaa traffic that you never addressed when you were in the state Senate:
Print more campaign signs that will end up in the landfill:
Waste the precious time of your few volunteers who could be doing something useful for the community:

9 people interested · 5 people going

There's no changing the inevitable:

Friday, August 26, 2016

Musings: All About PR

It was really disturbing to see that Planned Parenthood Hawaii is a supporter of Gary Hooser's HAPA Kuleana Academy:
While I've always backed PP because of the low-cost birth control and health services it provides, it's hard to see how the Kuleana Academy fits its mission statement. 

Is Planned Parenthood Hawaii truly so awash in funds that it can afford to give money to HAPA? Are its donors apprised that their contributions are diverted to causes they may not support?

Speaking of donations, Greenpeace — the world's biggest anti-GMO fear-feaster — has released its 2015-16 annual report. As the Risk-Monger noted, 35 percent of every Euro collected goes to fundraising, and nearly all of the money is spent on salaries, media, communications and public relations:

I did not see anything on conservation programmes or actual help to the environment - reminder: Greenpeace is a lobbying organisation, and not an environmental NGO.

The same can be said of Hawaii Center for Food Safety, which despite its name does nothing to actually advance food safety — the group has said nothing about the Hepatitis A outbreak in the Islands — nor the local food production it rhapsodizes about.

But it's happy to spend dough feting the ignorance-peddling Food Babe:
Curious, that someone who thinks nothing of needlessly frightening people or disseminating misinformation to pad her own pockets should be talking about ethics. But then, the anti-GMO movement is notoriously lacking in self-awareness.

The anti-dairy commentary today by Virginia Beck offers a perfect example of those who believe they are being open-minded, even as they approach an issue with tremendous bias. Though she makes like she's trying to present both sides, her view of the Mahaulepu dairy is tainted by her own misperceptions, starting with her assumption that Ulupono “sees simply resources that can be used for profit.”

Actually, Ulupono is subsidizing the dairy as a pilot project in sustainability. It's not envisioned as a money-maker.

Like many of the misinformed, Beck seems to think the dairy is proposed for “pristine” land near the beach. Wrong. The acreage in question was cultivated in sugar for more than a century, then used as a dairy and is currently in cattle pastures that adjoin land leased by the seed companies.

Beck also worries about the dairy's water use, apparently unaware it is proposed for acreage designated as Important Ag Land largely because it has access to water. Waita reservoir is intended to be used for ag, not residential.

Beck then proposes her “thinking outside of the box” alternative:

One solution would be to plant large swathes of albizia, nitrogen fixing trees, where they could trap nitrogen runoff, and at the same time improve the microclimate for reduced water evaporation.

Uh, albizia is an invasive species that presents a severe threat to Kauai's watersheds. As the state and private landowners struggle to eradicate this pest, the last thing we want to do is plant more of it. 

Please, get back in the box until you know what you're talking about.

And that goes for The Garden Island's reporter, Jessica Else, who badly botched the story on Jimmy Pflueger, mixing up the landslide at Pilaa with the Kaloko dam break. It's worrisome to think that her many erroneous articles are creating a false record of news events on Kauai.

Although maybe I shouldn't blame Jessica. Cops and courts reporter Michelle Iracheta, the best reporter to land at TGI in a long time, recently penned a blog post about her stories being badly re-written, using such terms as “censored” and “god forbid I run anything negative against the pros office. #JustSaying”

I can't imagine how hard it must be for young reporters to have TGI Editor Bill Buley as their misguided mentor, playing God with their stories and demoralizing them in the process. As the Star-Advertiser considers staff cuts, he should be at the top of the list.

Interesting, to see how the anti-GMO groups start to scream when the shoe is on the other foot. In this case, it's farmers seeking legal fees from an activist group and organic company that intevened in the lawsuit that ultimately rejected an Oregon county's GMO ban on the same pre-emption grounds that overturned all three of the Hawaii anti-GMO initiatives.

The farmers are seeking $29,205 in legal fees from the interventors for “unnecessarily complicating the litigation.” Attorneys for the intervenors are objecting to what they characterize as fees billed for “unreasonably long hours at higher-than-normal rates.”

Ya mean, like the $600 per hour that Earthjustice and Center for Food Safety charge the taxpayers when they do anti-GMO litigation?

I wonder if the seed companies will seek similar fees from Surfrider, Earthjustice, Center for Food Safety and the others who have intervened in the Hawaii litigation.

One can only hope, because it seems like they've got money to burn.

In other anti-GMO madness, General Mills is pandering to activists, even as the company fails to take any substantive action. Specifically, the company announced that the original Cheerios will be GMO-free — a tiny concession since the oat-based cereal uses minimal GM ingredients. But its other Cheerio products, which use significant amounts of GM products, will remain status quo.


General Mills is making a statement, but only one that it can currently back without suffering any major financial impact.

In fact, most of the cereals produced by General Mills as well as most cereals produced by competitors Kellogg and Post Holdings actually contain a significantly greater percentage of GMOs than Cheerios ever did.

But hey, consumers have the right to know — that it's all about PR.

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Musings: Grrrr

Those who know me often comment on my happy nature and ready smile. Still, I frequently find myself rankled, irritated, peeved, perturbed, by some of the things I read. 

Like this, from Marti Townsend, director of the Hawaii Sierra Club:

So I think about this all the time. I do agree that the climate crisis is a reproductive crisis. But why is the conclusion here that the only option is to not have babies? Or some scifi weather engineering? Why not jump to the conclusion that we should just stop burning fossil fuel. Stop. It. Right Now. Keep it in the ground!

We have an inherent, human right to bear healthy children and rear them in a healthy environment. The corporations - they have no right of any kind to make money.

I know Marti travels in different circles, but I haven't anyone propose no childbirth as the solution to climate change. And surely an avowed environmentalist like Marti sees the value of population control, even among Westerners, whose kids consume far more resources than those in developing nations.

And unless you yourself have actually stopped using all fossil fuel, or buying any products, quit making stupid statements like “stop burning it right now” and “corporations have no right to make money.” Especially when you run an organization that only recently stopped taking millions from oil and gas companies, and still accepts advertising and donations from corporations.

Then there's the letter to the editor from Lihue resident Will Davis:

People who have lived, studied, and taught school in foreign nations know that US fourth, eighth, and twelve graders have very low math/science PISA scores, compared to other nations like China, Finland, Switzerland, and Korea. Autism, hyperactivity disorders, and school violence is at record levels in US students and adults.

“Neurobehavioural effects of developmental toxicity,” published by the Lancet Neurology, 2014, reviews 12 neuro-toxicants, including chlorpyrifos (as sprayed by Syngenta), and defines correlations to neurodevelopmental disabilities, including autism, attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder, dyslexia, and other cognitive impairments.

Davis, like so many others on the anti-GMO, anti-”industrial ag” bandwagon, revel in their romanticized view of agriculture elsewhere. But as TIME reports, here's what's actually happening in the real world:

Chinese farmers are generally poorly trained and work tiny, family plots, overusing fertilizers and pesticides to the point in which land is degraded and water supplies contaminated. In 2007, farmers in southern China’s Guangdong province spread 310 kg of fertilizer per acre, according to the World Bank — six times that was used in the U.S. Experts believe 60%-70% was wasted and ended up polluting water supplies. Despite education programs encouraging farmers to use fewer chemicals, today four out of five underground wells in China produce water unfit even for bathing.

But yeah, you just keep bitching and moaning about the vile American chemical farmers and the shitty regulatory system that allows them to poison people and the aina.

Then there's Kat Brady, complaining about how it's “horribly inhumane” to require Halawa prisoners to wear striped uniforms.

Really? That's your biggest concern about the prison system? Not the lack of drug rehab and job training programs? Not the overcrowding? Not the criminalization of addicts? Not sending locals off to Arizona, away from friends and family? Not kinky, creepy wardens, like the one at KCCC? Not the exploitation of prison labor by the private companies that run prisons? But the striped clothes?

People have some really weird priorities.

Which leads me to Pamela Burns of the Hawaiian Humane Society, arguing against the control of feral cats on this premise:

A value system in which animals are classified as native, introduced, injurious or invasive creates a hierarchy in which the protection of certain animals comes at the suffering of others.

First, how can anyone claim that a feral cat riddled with fleas and other parasites, scrounging for food, fighting with other cats and getting run over by cars isn't suffering? And is allowing it to lead such a life truly more humane than euthanasia?

As for railing against a "hierarchy" of animals, get real. Do we really want to give a cockroach the same consideration as a dog, or a horse? What about the fleas and heartworms that the Hawaiian Humane Society regularly purges from the critters in its care?

I'm sorry, but monk seals, Hawaiian petrels and Newell's shearwaters, which are rare, unique and endemic to the Islands, are inherently more valuable than cats and rats, which are widespread, abundant and easily reproduced. We have a responsibility to protect endangered animals.

And that goes for the entire pack of Washington wolves slated for death because they killed some cows. Come on. Wolves are scarce. Cows are common. Pay for the cows and leave the wolves alone. Plenty of folks, me included, would be happy to donate money to cover livestock deaths rather than see the wolf population diminished further. Especially when they're tracked by their radio collars and gunned down from helicopters. Ugh.
I'll close with the illiterate ramblings of a newbie, who bought the paradise myth and arrived starry-eyed on Maui, only to discover — gasp — that it's a real place, one she must now save, despite her ignorance of the issues:
Yeah, I'm also ready for the rise of a revolution. One based on common sense, and critical thinking, instead of the usual rhetorical blather.

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Musings: Naturally

At the grocery store today, the woman in front of me rejected one of two apples she had selected when she discovered it was not organic.

“It's a gift,” she explained to the cashier. “So I wouldn't want to give them something with pesticides on it.”

“Well, they [the Environmental Working Group] do say apples are one of the fruits that has more pesticide residue,” the clerk chirped. “Organic shows you care.”

I bit my tongue to keep from saying, “No, it shows you're a sucker for marketing.”

The EWG regularly publishes its “dirty dozen” produce list as a fundraising ploy, and the media — and ignorant store clerks — dutifully regurgitate it without question. But in reality:

Some pesticides are drastically more toxic than others, but the EWG's scoring system considers all pesticides to be equal, and they don't relate the pesticide amounts to known safety standards. Two food scientists did a reality check on the EWG's numbers from their 2010 list (which uses the same methodology as this year's). Their analysis was published in the Journal of Toxicology.

It turns out the "Dirty" foods are fairly clean, and organic foods aren't free of pesticides anyway. You'll notice that the EWG only mentions the pesticides found on conventional produce: that's because the USDA doesn't test for organic pesticides.

So why aren't the foodies screaming for pesticide testing and disclosure on organics? Is nothing sacred?

And why are some of the most vocal critics of ag pesticides now defending their use against the little fire ant [LFA]? Seems it's OK to use pesticides when their own comfort and economic interests are at risk. But they're not willing to allow farmers the same choices.

An example is the ill-informed, but very vocal, anti-ag activist Karen Chun. She used Facebook to aggressively advocate for pesticide use to control the LFA:

You folks know I oppose pesticides on our food, in our parks and along our roads. But there IS a use for pesticides and Little Fire Ants are DEFINITELY it. We really DO have to choose the lesser evil sometimes. And in this case pesticides are WAY lesser than LFAs!

Just like pesticides are WAY lesser than losing an entire crop to insect damage.

Everything has its upsides and downsides. Because of the corruption of the ChemCOs, there is a knee jerk reaction against any use of pesticides.

In this case, that reaction will lead to you abandoning your home lest your baby be blinded by ant bites — or at the very least your livestock or pets being blinded.

Gee. Still resorting to fear-mongering, I see.

Yes. Pesticides are not good and have negative effects. But a reasonable person weighs those negative effects against not using them and makes a judgement [sic] based on which course of action leads to the least negative effects.

Indeed. Which is why farmers prefer pesticides to crop loss and bankruptcy.

They are not using DDT nor PCBs. And they are applying only what is needed. This is SO different from the wholesale, careless pesticide application (that any homeowner could buy and use) of the 50s and 60s.

Uh, hello! That's what we've been trying to tell you about the sugar cane and seed companies, ya dumb ass.

The Maui News did a good job of covering the conflict between the Maui Invasive Species Council, which is trying to eradicate the destructive insect, and people who are opposed to the use of pesticides. Seems some folks are wedded to the idea of using “a more natural product,” like boric acid, even if, according to MISC, it's “more toxic than other chemicals and can kill people and domestic pets.”

The “natural” bit came up in Chun's Facebook thread, prompting Daren Ash to reply:

And your natural part? What bollocks. How do you think LFA got here? They hitched a ride with humans on unnatural forms of transportation, they didn't swim here on their own. Even if they had swum here on their own (they didn't) and were considered "natural," the devastation they cause to other natural things (native species) is massive, so it's more "natural" to use pesticides to eradicate them and save other natural things. Also remember that things like arsenic, Polio, Ebola, cobra venom, fire, death, pain, and misery are natural too, it doesn't mean they're good.

Which leads us to Civil Beat's promo piece today on Gary Hooser's HAPA Kuleana Academy. The article quoted Tim Vandeveer, chairman of the Democratic Party of Hawaii, as saying it's a good thing when people run for office.

Which is true. Except when they are running on a very narrow platform — anti-ag, anti-GMO, anti-TMT — that appeals to only a small segment of the population. Then it's not so good.

But then, that's the sort of social engineering that Civil Beat funder-founder Pierre Omidyar endorses — he gives money to Center for Food Safety, which in turn funds HAPA — so his vanity pub promotes it, too. 

Which is why the article inanely asked whether Hawaii's “progessive movement” — since when have intolerance, bullying, fear-mongering and lying been defined as progressive? — has “staying power.”

It seems that question was already answered in the Primary, when voters rejected purt near everybody associated with HAPA and its Kuleana Academy. And that includes its pappy, Hooser, who ranked ninth in a race for seven council seats.

I did have to laugh when Hooser claimed his movement was about “food justice.” So then why are they focused on promoting high-priced organics? Why aren't they out there supporting the food banks and SNAP — programs that actually put food in the mouths of hungry Islanders?

I also giggled at this line about the "progressive" candidates:

They are often critical of business and development interests that pump money into local campaigns.

Except their own campaigns and nonprofit groups, of course. Then it's perfectly OK.

I was also interested to learn that Councilman Mason Chock is one of the trainers for the Kuleana Academy. Just something to keep in mind when you're voting come November.

Monday, August 22, 2016

Musings: Manufactured Perception

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.

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Musings: Sorry State

It's hard to understand why Hawaii wanted to host the International Union for Conservation of Nature World Conservation Congress meeting next month.

It's not exactly like the Islands serve as a great role model for effective and meaningful conservation strategies, though there are some bright spots. Indeed, when you consider that Hawaii is the endangered species capital of the world, it offers far more compelling examples of what not to do.  

And does anyone else see the irony of having hundreds of people fly to Oahu to ponder such topics as climate change and sustainable development? As the conference promo claims:

Hawaiʻi is one of the few islands with the capacity to host an event of this size.

Except, it really doesn't have the capacity. As a new report on the state of the environment, He Lono Moku, points out, Hawaii is consuming water and energy at unsustainable rates, in large part to support its economic drivers of military and tourism.

But the report doesn't address at all the concept of economic diversification to help wean the state's economy off these unsustainable industries. It doesn't even question them.

Perhaps most striking is Hawaii's cavalier consumption of water, which is nearly double the national average for non-ag uses.

With tourism on the rise, and rainfall down 22 percent in recent decades, the Islands' water supply is threatened, the report states. 

Reducing public daily consumption is necessary to allow Hawaii's water to go further. To that end, the state aims to double the area of priority watersheds under active management by 2030.

One sobering statistic: The United Nations estimates that in nine years, two-thirds of the world population will be living under water-stressed conditions.

In regard to energy, the state is challenged in meeting its mandate of generating 100 percent of its electricity from renewable sources. The report states:

Communities must come to terms with hosting large-scale energy projects in their backyards, and developers in turn need to appropriate a fair package of community benefits with each project.

The report makes no mention of the socio-economic impacts associated with rooftop solar systems, in terms of who should pay to maintain a grid that supports poor people, renters and others unable to purchase a home system.

And while it touts a bike-share program on Oahu, it says nothing about reducing the tourism-driven airline traffic to the Islands, which accounts for 27 percent of the state's petroleum use.

Other intriguing tidbits from the report: Hawaii is the only coastal state that does not mandate saltwater fishing licenses; 60 cents of every $1.05 from Hawaii's oil barrel tax is diverted to the general fund, rather than to engery and agriculture as was intended; and cesspools release 55 million gallons of untreated sewage into the ground each day.

Here's one from those who own oceanfront properties: Coastal erosion rates are projected to double by 2050. 

Sounds like a good time for the state to get super conservative on shoreline setbacks.

Though activists like to portray Kauai as a toxic waste dump poisoned by agricultural pesticides, the report lauds the island for its achievements in using renewable energy to produce electricity and adopting a community-based model of traditional marine conservation.

In fact, the report makes no mention of pesticides or agriculture adversely impacting Hawaii's environment. Indeed, it calls for the state Legislature to dramatically increase funding for both the state Department of Land and Natural Resources and the Department of Agriculture.

DLNR gets just 1 percent of the state budget, even as it's charged with managing 30 percent of the state's land and water resources. And despite all the hue and cry for more local food, the DOA gets a measly .4 percent of the state budget, operating on a paltry $49 million annually.

The report notes:

In 1900, more than half of Hawai's labor force worked in agriculture. Today just 1 percent of the state's workers are in farming, and 90 percent of its food is imported.

Now, try as some folks might, you simply can't blame that scenario on the seed companies.

Shockingly, Hawaii wastes 237,000 tons of food annually.

The report continues:

New magazines like Modern Farmer and the soon-to-debut reality show Yardfarmer suggest a golden age of agriculture may be dawning. However, from 2007 to 2012, the U.S. lost about 100,000 farms and 7.5 million acres of farmland, and Hawaii is trending in the same direction.

Gee. I wonder why.