Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Musings: Pop Quiz

A friend and I were talking about Hawaii's anti-ag/anti-GMO movement. As in, why? What motivates them to lie, fear-monger and otherwise sow misery and create havoc in the lives of everyday farmers?

Well, there's “a,” the Realtor theory: If you proclaim that ag land is poisoned, then it can be sold cheaply. Which makes sense, considering that ag land is pretty much the only land left to sell, develop and speculate on in Hawaii.

Then there's “b,” the Rescue Game theory: Center for Food Safety, Earthjustice, Hawaii SEED, HAPA, etc., must identify and demonize a Persecutor (seed companies, big ag, GMOs, industrial ag) that is supposedly harming a Victim so that they can play the lucrative role of Rescuer. There's one main rule: the game must go on forever.

This explains a lot. Like why Earthjustice and CFS wrote crummy laws that were easily overturned by the courts, thus establishing state pre-emption and giving them another day and place — the Lege, this year – to fly their Rescue banner. All the while raking in grants and donations from the suckers who fall for the ploy and the philanthropists who enjoy the tax breaks.
Here's a perfect example from Gary Hooser, who likes to swing both ways, between Victim (“the chem companies drove me out of office, waah”) and Rescuer (“give money to my HAPA group”), with a bit of blustering bully thrown in:

The word circulating in activist circles now is that many are fed up with being shut down first by the courts and now the State legislature. Soon the so-called "nuclear option" (picketing of hotels and resorts) could be triggered. Already posts are showing up in Yelp and in other travel oriented comment sections warning pregnant women to avoid west Kauai, Moloka'i and parts of Maui.

And then there's “c,” the ideology as religion theory: These folks actually believe they are the chosen few, the Enlightened and Awakened “protectors” and “aloha aina warriors” who will lead a sorely misled, “industrialized” society back to the Garden of Eden, where it's all G, and never is heard a discouraging word (save from the Rescuers looking for Victims and Persecuters):
See? I'm not making stuff up. (Even though they are; there is no "terminator" technology.)

I think it's actually “d,” as in all of the above, with opportunists and messiahs latching on and crossing over wherever they can gain a self-aggrandizing foothold. Most recently, I saw the epitome of “c” — with touches of “b” — expressed in a UN “Report of the Special Rapporteur on the right to food.” It blames ag pesticides for numerous ills (while remaining mum about pesticides used in conservation, public health, construction, etc.) and calls for banning their use in agriculture.

Indeed, it claims neither pesticides nor GMOs are needed to feed the Earth's billions. That will be done solely through small-scale, localized, organic farming — or more broadly, “agroecology.” Or more accurately, by the planet's poorest people, who will be left to suffer hunger when their crops are destroyed by pests, and impoverish women and children, who miss school and other opportunities so they can handweed.
Tellingly, it's co-authored by Hilal Elver and Baskut Tuncak, both international law professors — not people who actually engage in agriculture. An akamai friend described it thusly:

It’s the UN system at its worst, entirely captured by NGOs and publishing pseudo-scientific ideological tirades masquerading as serious analysis. This is totally dependent on grey literature, NGO sources and cherrypicked studies.

To me, it read like the gospel of what is apparently an international religion (though clearly centered in the privileged West), which is why I've likened the anti-GMO activists in Hawaii to missionaries. 

Curiously, they fetishize family farms — even as they support bills, like HB790, that would drive Hawaii's small farmers right out of business.

While there are aspects of agroecology, and even the UN report, that make sense —
yes, let's do have better pesticide education around the world — the problem is one common to most religions: It isThe One Way, with no room for compromise, other approaches, differing points of view, or freedom of choice; and it is based primarily on belief, as opposed to science and evidence.

And then there's the whole lying, distorting, making stuff up part. Like how pesticides aren't regulated or tested. There's no proof GMO foods are safe. We can feed 9 billion with the same practices that barely fed 1 million. Etcetera, etcetera, ad nauseum.
If you can't advance your religion without lies, is it really righteous, pure and pono? If the leaders are corrupt, aren't they then tainting their acolytes? And most importantly, do we truly want religious dogmatists, Rescue Gamers, real estate scammers and attorneys in charge of our agricultural lands and food supply?
If your answer is no, then contact your Hawaii elected representatives today and ask them to vote no on HB790 when it comes up for a floor vote on Thursday. Though it's billed as a simple “right to know” bill mandating pesticide disclosure, it is actually far more — and extremely dangerous to local agriculture.

Its provisions allow each county to decide if a farmer can use pesticides, what pesticides, and where they can be used, and take part of a farm that uses pesticides out of production. 

Its disclosure requirements are Draconian, requiring farmers to provide written notification — 24 hours in advance of every single application of every pesticide — to each individual adult student and each individual parent of a child in a school, child care facility, early childhood education and care facility, family child care home, group child care center, or group child care home; each individual patient of a hospital, adult residential care home, assisted living facility, child care facility, early childhood education and care facility, family child care home, group child care center, group child care home, hospice home, extended care adult residential care home, expanded adult residential care home, health care facility, and primary care clinic; and anyone occupying any residential property within eight hundred feet of the property line where any pesticide or insecticide is anticipated to be applied outdoors.

What's more, citizens can sue farmers if they think they're violating the law. And since they will have all of the details of every application, they can sue on a technicality, or a manufactured health concern, with the farmer picking up their attorneys’ fees and costs if they win. Or merely suffering through hell if they don't.

These are some serious stakes. This bill is way over-the-top, and it must be stopped. If you truly support agriculture in Hawaii, now is the time to show it. Contact your elected Representative — this link will take you to their names and contact info — today.


Anonymous said...

Wow. Another thought-provoking post.
Crazy stuff going on.

I don't get the pesticide bill; what's he benefit? What are our legislators thinking? Or smoking?

Harold Keyser said...

Insightful as usual. I would also vote for "d" as in all the above, with a nod to the environmental religion theory as slightly more prominent. Sort of like Michael Crichton's 'State of Fear' being played out in Hawaii.

This is probably the worst anti-agricultural bill of the session, which is saying something. Removing the ability to effectively control insects, diseases and weeds will eliminate ag in Hawaii. The alleged target may be the seed companies, but these measures will target all agriculture.

The UH, HDOA and HDOH, Kauai and Maui Departments of Water have already shown that pesticides are either not detected or found at levels far below any health concerns in the air, surface and drinking waters. There is no evidence of harm because there is no exposure.

Given the benefits to local agriculture, the lack of harm to people or the environment, it seems the greatest risk of pesticide use in Hawaii is not to use them.

I hope everyone who cares about local agriculture (as well as science, logic, and all that stuff) speaks up to oppose this bill.

Anonymous said...

Wishing you the best of everything, Joan, on this International Woman's Day.
You are an inspiring woman and role model.

Anonymous said...

When the proposal asks for buffer zones around all pesticide applications, including golf courses, roads, parks, schools, termite treatment, Mokihana, etc, then reconsider, but as long as the only culprit is agriculture, fuck off.

Joan Conrow said...

Thank you, 8:18! That makes my morning!

Dee Morikawa said...

Thank you for this Joan. You explain it better than me. When I was called, for the garden island comment, I was in the midst of interpreting the conditions of the bill. I only saw how detrimental it was to all farmers. I will admit that I wasn't paying attention to it, with the other bills I was working on, in the hope that it would not advance with so much important testimony in opposition to it. Now that it's come this far, I need to stand up for my district and for the real consequences it will have on State and County resources. So bills can get fixed as it continues to move, but enough distractions, I have really important things to focus on.

Joan Conrow said...

And thank you for standing up and speaking out, Dee. I know it isn't easy, but we all respect you for it even more!

Anonymous said...

Kudos to you Dee!

Anonymous said...

Sounds like a gut-and-replace content process is needed for HB790 to replace all language relating to insecticides (which violates the federal definition of an insecticide, BTW) to simply indicate lead. Lead is a true menace and need mitigated. Insecticides are already regulated in a manner that protects people from effects when used properly. Insane that the bill made it this far.

Anonymous said...

So now Joan has actively joined the lobbying crowd! Have you registered Joan?

Joan Conrow said...

i don't get paid, hence no need to register. Anyone can urge others to support or oppose bills.

Anonymous said...

I'm a small farmer. I finally read this bill. It's hamajang. Written by somebody who never read any pesticide regulations or ever farmed. The way it's written, it's even going to affect me.
I called the Capitol and they told me the best way to reach all the Representatives is just email them all at once at:

HB 790 HD3 --- NO!

Anonymous said...

Better question is has Hooser registered? Seen all his pictures of him at the legislature all the time. He's not getting paid?

Anonymous said...

Once again Nadine Nakamura will be the swing vote just as in 2491, that's my prediction. Will the pressure get to her again? We'll find out tomorrow.

Anonymous said...

Aloha Joan,
I love the post. So in touch with some of us. I am starting to be a "hater". Yep, I am starting to hate the people that "bash" you. They are so f..king ignorant. They are always trying to knock you down, what a bunch of ..........They really need some positive direction. Recommend they see the movie "Snow White" or "Cinderella" where they can look for a happy ending..LOL

Anonymous said...

" I don't get paid" but you do take donations

Joan Conrow said...

So what, 2:01? Nobody gave me a donation to take a position on HB 790 or any other bill. And even if they had, that would not make me a lobbyist. But then, when you are unable to refute the substance of what I write, you and your ilk invariably go after the messenger. It's predictable and pathetic.

Anonymous said...

How did all the people get their money to have a great time at the capitol? No need work....just look good on camera, have a great Oahu lunch, dinner wine and come back to Kauai. Tomorrow the same....2:01PM, go join them...or you leave for Oahu tomorrow too.......

Anonymous said...

Then there's this:
existing normal food companies have 'brands' that have been established for decades, at great cost, they have credibility and they have shelf space and huge volumes.
It is hard to compete when you start 'organic' food and try to brand it.
It's much easier to cast aspersions on your competition, you can't prove a negative, you can't prove it's not maybe harmful, so people migrate away from the established branded food suppliers and move to the 'organic.'
Follow the money. Look who funds the agitators.

Bradley Choquette said...

Bet BAB doesn't register either...

Anonymous said...

As usual, you've exposed the idiocy of the rabble-rousers! Mahalo for the link to legislators -- made it easy for me to click and email each one, asking them to VOTE NO ON HB790.

Anonymous said...


It is incorrect to say that HB790 will be a detriment to all farming. The bill only regulates the following:

"any person or commercial agriculture entity that uses or purchases in excess of ten pounds or ten gallons of restricted use pesticides or insecticides during the prior calendar year shall disclose the use of all insecticides or pesticides, including restricted use, general use, and experimental use pesticides, as follows:

(1) Public posting of pesticide or insecticide outdoor application. At a minimum of twenty-four hours prior to the outdoor application of any pesticide or insecticide on affected grounds, each entity subject to this section shall post public warning signs in the area in which pesticides or insecticides are to be applied, in the manner prescribed by section 149A‑C;
(2) Notification to parents and guardians, and occupants and residents of sensitive areas. "

That amount of RUP is way out of the category of most farming operations in the state. It is a huge amount of RUP. HUGE. It also does not single out farming because it says any "person" (should say entity, maybe?) that purchases this amount. These amounts would cover structural pest applications in HB790 (which accounted for 41% of RUP sold on Kaua’i from 2010-2014. ref. HDOA RUP Sales report). Also, it only effects those operations that are near sensitive areas. What is so bad about letting the general public in these sensitive areas know about these activities?? As to amounts used in golf courses, resorts, etc. , the same HDOA RUP sales reports 2010-2014 indicates that most of these operations would not be effected by this law due to the relatively very small amounts of RUP they apply. This HB790 strengthens and adds accountability that is missing in the Good Neighbor postings.

I think Rep Morikawa needs to read the bill once more. It is not a detriment to all farming. WRONG.

Joan Conrow said...

Actually, 7:24, YOU need to read the bill again. It regulates far more than the two points you reference. Furthermore, it specifically excludes pest control and termite companies and specifies agricultural entities.

The provisions about allowing counties to regulate pesticides, setting buffer zones, allowing citizen lawsuits, etc. most definitely affect ALL farmers.

And the 10 pounds/10 gallons is not a "huge" amount of RUP if one is working with large acreage. That's just your take on it as non-farmer who has no idea what sort of quantities are needed to deal with pests. It's an arbitrary and meaningless figure.

Farmers agree it is a detriment, and I think they know far better than you.

Bradley Choquette said...

A second pass application of Warrant herbicide at 2 qt and acre, plus 1 qt of Roundup would put a farmer over the limit at 13 acres... I only have 2 fields that small. 3 qt times 160 acres is 120 gallons. Plus a pre-plant application of 1 qt of 2, 4d and 4 oz of elite is another 25 gallons. Then I might need some fungicide, or an insecticide application too.

Then what happens if the wind comes up, and I can't apply the product when my notification said I would? This is awful legislation only designed to drive farmers out of business, or to switch to organic farming.

Anonymous said...

Incorrect, Joan, 7:24 a.m., here. I am a farmer and my entire family and three full-time employees are supported by our farm. I have read more pesticide labels than I can count...and I would wager, that I have read many more than you may have, including ALL of the brand labels for the RUP used by the seed companies on Kaua'i. You can read them, too, they are listed on the GNP reporting site and can be found on-line with a simple search. Remember, too, that many of the RUP chemicals are also used in non RUP formulation and GNP only reports RUP. Seed companies may have many more products in their storage rooms. I know, I have visited two of them.

I stand by my original post that the average farm operation uses no where near these large amounts of pesticides. As found on pages 27-28 in Tables 2 & 3 of the JFF report (including figures derived from GNP reporting by the seed companies themselves), many (not all) of the pesticides used by the seed companies are applied at rates much higher than the average large mainland farmer would apply to a corn crop. While the acreages they control are vast, the test plots for growing parent seed are small.

As to allowing municipalities or counties or parishes to apply more stringent restrictions, this happens many places throughout our country and usually is specific to schools, parks, environmentally sensitive areas, etc. Why not here?

HDOA is proactive in following recommendations of JFF and plans to test waters and ditches for drift. It is in violation of the labels of many of these products to drift off site. However, chlorpyrifos and others have been found in ditches and air surrounding the seed fields on Kaua'i. Had the children and teachers been tested for pesticides in the Waimea Canyon School incidents, pesticides could have been ruled out as the cause. Unfortunately, this did not happen. What we do know is that Syngenta has been cited on Kaua'i by the EPA for more than one incident regarding label violations. There is certainly reason to suspect that drift is a problem, but without more data, there is nothing to prove or disprove.

The fear-mongering by seed company interests that HB 790 will hurt farmers in Hawai'i is just that...fear mongering.

Joan Conrow said...

@9:58 Since there's no way to verify the claims of an anonymous poster, I'm willing to accept your assertion that you are a farmer.

However, in claiming that HB790 will not hurt farmers, you continue to ignore the fact that the provisions allowing counties to regulate pesticides, set buffer zones, allow citizen lawsuits, etc. most definitely will harm farmers by costing them money, restricting their operations and exposing them to lawsuits. Giving counties the right to regulate pesticides would also put farmers in the position of having to comply with conflicting rules. Counties already can restrict their own use of pesticides in parks and roadways. They do not need this bill to do that. This bill is intended to usurp state and federal regulation of ag pesticides and give it to the counties, which do not have the expertise or budgets for this sort of regulatory scenario.

The JFF contention that Hawaii seed companies are using pesticides at a higher rate than mainland farmers originated with the Center for Food Safety and has not by confirmed by an impartial source. It is interesting, however, that you do acknowledge the test plots used for growing the parent seed are very small, which totally undermines the claim that the companies are spraying poison over large areas multiple times per week and harming their neighbors with drift. These plots are typically well away from inhabited areas, and it's very different to be spraying a 12x12 plot than several thousand acres.

When you bring up the fact that chlorpyrifos and other products have been found off site, without also mentioning that they were find at levels far below the threshold for exposure, much less harm, and some of these are legacy pesticides, you are yourself engaging in fear-mongering.

Anonymous said...

JFF did not contend or invent that seed companies use higher rates than mainland farmers. Read the tables cited from the report. This data came from seed companies in their very own GNP reporting that was compared to mainland data from corn belt states. And these west side operations are most definitely spraying multiple times per week (all in GNP), and if all fields were far away from sensitive areas, then all of the commotion would never have existed. Didn't see any 12 x 12 plots when I visited those operations. All environmental testing, by all agencies and independents, to date, has been simple snapshot/grab samples that suggest more data is needed. However, the label for chlorpyrifos (as only one example) says none, no amounts can drift,...doesn't mention any thresholds. Also, proving legacy vs present is impossible. Atrazine, lovely atrazine, with us for life. How pleasant. And still used as a favored "go-to" herbicide by these companies. READ all about it in the GNP....still used, along with its friend, Paraquat, a real-third world, antiquated herbicide. Chlorpyrifos, for one, is not legacy.

Joan Conrow said...

@11:26 -- The mainland comparison is far from gospel; it is based heavily on estimates. From the JFF report:

There has been considerable debate over the estimated volume of pesticides applied per acre by seed companies on Kauaʻi and how that rate compares with pesticide application rates for field corn farmed in other U.S. states. A wide range of estimates has been produced by different sources based on different assumptions. The biggest challenge for calculating usage rates is estimating total acreage of application. Adding to this complexity is the seed company practice of hopscotching around their leased acreages, bringing individual fields in and out of cultivation in a way that is not publically reported. Finally, Kaua‘i’s year-round growing conditions mean that a single corn crop may straddle two calendar years, such as November 2014 – January 2015. These factors make it virtually impossible to calculate a reliable and verifiable estimate of the annual volume of pesticides used per acre of corn on Kauaʻi using existing data sources.

From the report on the 2014 statewide snapshot stream samplings:

Only one pesticide, a historically used termiticide exceeded state and federal water regulatory limits. Five other pesticide compounds were detected at levels exceeding the most conservative EPA aquatic life benchmark. The pesticides exceeding EPA aquatic life benchmarks include three insecticides commonly used to treat household pests like cockroaches, ants, fleas and termites and two restricted use herbicides that were detected near large monoculture agriculture operations. All other pesticides detected were lower than the most stringent aquatic or human health guideline value for the protection of human health or our ecosystem. Eighteen of those compounds were detected at concentrations more than 1,000 times lower than the most stringent aquatic or human health guideline values.

From the air sampling study:

Five pesticides were detected in the indoor and outdoor passive air samples and the high volume outdoor air samples
collected at Waimea Canyon Middle School. Those pesticides were chlorpyrifos, metolachlor, bifenthrin, benzene hexachlorides (BHCs) and dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethanes (DDTs). BHCs and DDTs, likely from past uses and ubiquitous throughout the world, were detected in all air samples collected from Kauai. Concentrations of the pesticides and MITC were well below
health concern exposure limits or applicable screening levels.

So you're obviously wrong when you say "Also, proving legacy vs present is impossible." If it's DDT, or the aforementioned historically used termiticide, you know it's not present.

As for your comment, "if all fields were far away from sensitive areas, then all of the commotion would never have existed," you totally ignore the fear-mongering that caused the commotion.

I don't disagree, and neither does the state, that more studies are needed. The state is embarking on those studies. It would be smarter to wait and see what those studies show and use that evidence to determine whether any new legislation is needed.

Anonymous said...

@9:58 a.m. you've done your research. what you fail in is that, that's your farming practices. and yours alone. Other farmers does not farm the exact way you do. that's what get's me very upset, farming isn't by one book and one farming style.

People like you thinks there's your way and yours alone to be totally correct. Again, Ms. you pushing your weight around. you stay on your side, they stay on theirs. you farm your way, they farm theirs. you make your income doing crops, by product and value added products to maximize your profits. let them do their cash flow doing it their way. freaking old pineapple land dead soil farmer.

And of course, I'm making general accusations.

@11:26, there's $500,000 being use right now to test your accusation. why don't you wait and see what the testing results are. from there, expand the next set of testing. HB790 is jumping the gun. HB790 is asking for more money adding stipulations, why don't the state give the additional money to continue with the current $500K operation. Get the studies done before adding new laws without supporting data.

Just like Joan said. laws made up for lies is for nothing! waste time.

Joan Conrow said...

The House just voted.

HB 790 is DEAD!

Harold Keyser said...

7:24AM: The arbitrary 10 pounds/10 gallons threshold makes no practical sense, is not a huge amount, would indeed capture small producers, and its vagueness points to authorship by someone lacking familiarity with agriculture.

Many pesticides (general and restricted) are sold in 2.5 gallon containers and several are formulated with about 40% of active ingredient (referred to as 4L = 4 pounds per gallon). A farmer, rancher, or nurseryman purchasing one 2.5 gallon product on sale at a good price would instantly reach this 10 pound threshold, and they might purchase two if it makes sense. This is not a huge amount - many products allow use of 2 pounds of active ingredient per acre per year, so based on usage a 5 acre producer would be captured by this silly bill, as would someone purchasing two containers.

And then there's the definitions. Ten pounds of what - the product or active ingredient? There can be a big difference. Again, who is writing this stuff? Christopher Robin and Winnie?

And what is up with defining insecticides very narrowly, not defining pesticides, and then differentiating in the text between pesticides and insecticides? Again, someone has no experience (outside perhaps of vinegar, clove oil and fairy dust) with pesticides (the term which includes herbicides, insecticides, fungicides, bactericides, etc.).

Clear writing denotes clear thinking, and this bill is far, far short on both. Let's hope our legislators stand up to this nonsense.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for explaining that Dr. Keyser.

The bill has confused everyone. The antis are saying that it's only about chem companies that use tons of RUPs but they are LYING.

This would definitely apply to small farmers who don't use any RUPs but do use a gallon or so of insecticide (mostly carrier, not the active ingredient), when necessary, over the course of a year.

Bradley Choquette said...

Joan, I like you writing and love your comments even more. Especially 12:49.

Happy dance time *the cows are giving me a dirty look* I'm so proud of my fellow farmers in Hawaii that took the time to oppose this silly legislation. The ramifications could've snowballed towards the mainland.

Anonymous said...

They killed it by recommitting it to committee, so none of our spineless reps had to go on record as voting against it. It's dead this session, but Hooser and his photo op crew will doubtless try to revive it. The babies will be older and less useful as props.

Anonymous said...

To 1:53 PM:

Don't worry, they'll have new babies by then.

Anonymous said...

I'm 2:28 PM.
Sorry, I should have noted that there's nothing wrong with babies, I love them and have had several myself, but I didn't drag them across the islands and into crowded and uncomfortable (for them) hearings and rallies for my own ego and to make a point.

Anonymous said...

1:53PM - Run for office. better yet identify yourself. you think you so brave talking shit about other people by being anonymous. talk about spineless......look in the mirror.

Anonymous said...

Yes. Rep Morikawa and Rep Nakamura were both hell bent on killing it but insisted on doing so without a public vote. Tokioka of course doesn't give a shit about the whiney environmentalists period.

Dave Smith said...

Identify your spineless self, says anonymous 3:05pm, who's apparently immune to irony.

Anonymous said...

Wow, 3:11pm....if you are a member of the house or a staffer, that's pilau to disclose that bullshit information.

Anonymous said...

@10:04 staffers have opinions too. Watching the Reps play their games from the inside is a much better education than I got from UH and my polisci degree.

Anonymous said...

@7:28 a.m. Great observation of the political bull shit from the inside. Welcome to the real world, millennial child. This game has been going on forever. Don't be so naïve all sides play this game.

it's just that this time, you're on the short end of the flow of the decision. get over it.

From a staffer's point of view (getting your education), your next step is to run for office and be that thick skinned elephant that gets shit on for any decision you (as a politician) make. Yes, that includes Losher / Morikawa / Chock / Rapozo.

What 10:04 p.m. just told you (as a learning lesson), don't let the establishment find out who you are. You won't have a job / will not be trusted in the long run / will get involved in the basic bills or projects.

In all, best to find another job. you're not fit for politics as your occupation. Sorry, just a observation from watching the political show for 40 years now. Good luck!

Anonymous said...

True dat, 7:28am.....the bad thing is that some staffers think they are a rep/senator