Friday, April 7, 2017

Musings: Continuing Conversations

It's spring, which means flowers, long days, baseball.

But to paraphrase the classic poem Casey at the Bat, “there is no joy in antiville — Lukens and Hooser have struck out.”

Yeah, despite — or perhaps because of — all their fear-mongering, threats, mob action and baby-toting mamas flown into hearings, Center for Food Safety and HAPA had a dismal session at the Lege:
Of course, that's all part of the plan. Because without "bad guys" — seed companies, conventional farmers, thinking citizens, politicians who don't cower and cave — they've got no battle. And without a battle, they've got no raison d'être. And without a raison d'être to attract donors, they've got no cash.

See how it works? It's not about protecting the keiki and kupuna. It's all about protecting the cash flow.

I had to laugh when Ashley recently thought she'd uncovered some dirt on me:
I know it's an unfamiliar concept, Ashley, but that's what's called balanced and accurate reporting. I wasn't actually building an argument for anything, just presenting different viewpoints on the use of herbicides on parks and along roadsides. The counties make a good case for why they still use Roundup.

Though she and others have tried to paint me a poison pimp, I've never maintained that pesticides are safe, or that some people aren't extremely sensitive to them. My position has always been that we have essentially no evidence to indicate that the seed companies are misusing pesticides, or that the pesticides used on seed crops are harming human or environmental health. It's always best if the problem can be solved without the use of pesticides, which is what the seed companies do with their Integrated Pest Management practices. 

It's also consistently been my position that the seed companies have been unfairly singled out, even though they use far fewer restricted use pesticides than the termite and pest control companies — something Gary Hooser knew when he introduced Bill 2491. The agenda has always been to destroy GMO ag, not reduce pesticide use.

What Ashley doesn't realize is I was never “paid off” by the Alliance for Science. I sought them out, because I wanted to fight people like Ashley. But the Alliance doesn't do battle with antis. We work to present the facts about crop biotechnology, share the positive stories of public sector research and amplify the voices of farmers who want to make their own choices about which seeds to plant.

So the Alliance pays me to help them do that, and I continue fight Ashley and the antis here in my personal blog.

But frankly, I'm growing weary of the blog battle, largely because the opponents are so banal. This hit home last week when I actually engaged with a few antis in the comment section of an article on Maui vs Monsanto, which is something I rarely do. Nearly all of them were posting under a pseudonym, so it could've been the same sock puppet posting comments that were the intellectual equivalent of “your mama wears combat boots.”

Needless to say, I didn't waste much time in that forum. But made me profoundly sad to think that  agricultural innovations developed by brilliant, altruistically motivated scientists are being stymied by dolts, some of whom also appear to be mentally ill.

On the other hand, that injustice also motivates me to keep going, because I fear for our food future if policies and laws are dictated by dullards and self-serving demagogues. So I keep pointing out their idiocy and doing my best to marginalize them and undermine their credibility.

Still, I keep thinking there's got to be a better way. Which is why I have engaged with Dr. Lee Evslin. Though I've criticized his writing, and we disagree on some things, we can talk. He's intelligent, and willing to consider other points of view. He's also actually motivated by a sincere concern for the common good, as opposed to the sickening self-interest of Hooser, Lukens, etc.

In our most recent correspondence, where I questioned his support for pesticide bills that were not grounded in science, he replied:

I had a career that contained virtually no contact with the legislative branch of government.  This has been a learning experience for me.  I did not consider any of the bills perfect and hoped that their issues would be ironed out in conference.  I actually made an attempt (at my own expense) to go to Oahu and discuss the bills with the legislators involved.  I support the concepts in my column and I made an attempt to point out areas that could be improved in the bills when I met with legislators.

I walked away from this endeavor with the feeling that the legislature is possibly not the place to create legislation of this nature.  The DOH sponsored a symposium on Environmental Toxins and the speakers were experts from the West-coast.  They spoke about California as it has some of the strictest rules on reporting and is working hard on a buffer zone policy and has a very robust farming economy.  Two comments made by the presenters were particularly interesting to me. They said that although they were researchers and were often at the forefront of studies suggesting possible harm from pesticides, they work well with the farms and actually are asked to help the farms safeguard their workers and participate in studies to show if they have been properly safeguarded.  They also said that the statewide buffer zone regulation they are working on is being designed by their Department of Pesticide Regulation not the legislature.  This certainly provides a very different forum to work out regs. 

I am very interested in this whole area of health and am glad to continue this conversation.

Now, this is the kind of conversation I am also interested in continuing, and I hope it's the kind of conversation that many more of us can have before the 2018 legislative session convenes. Because the Lege isn't the best place to deal with complex issues like buffer zones and pesticides.

We need to exclude people like Ashley, who claimed "there is no debate." There's a lot of debate, and it needs to be done by thoughtful, knowledgeable, reasonable people who are willing to compromise and be guided by science, not anecdotes and fear-mongering.

And then, perhaps, we can begin to heal some of the divisiveness caused by this manufactured drama and rediscover the joy of a connected, caring community.

31 comments:

Anonymous said...

Amen Joan. Well said and with a glimmer of HOPE on this Aloha Friday. I saw the forum exchange on the article you cited and thought to jump in but why feed the trolls? They are in their own delusional world, one that I often wonder is not altruistic as it seems and more of a plan of overt genocide to cultures and peoples (Hawaiians, Africans, Indians, etc) who they are claiming to "save" from biotechnology. Please keep up fight for without your voice and the voices of many others, Hawaii would not be better off. Aloha.

Dave Smith said...

Meaningful, cordial dialogue. Allowing experts to do their work. Imagine that!

Anonymous said...

Really appreciate this post Joan. And the comments at 11:13 AM.

Anonymous said...

Joan, Are you happy with the EPAʻs refusal to ban the toxic pesticide chlorpyrifos?

Anonymous said...

Joan, I just read some more information and am wondering what you think about this and Monsantoʻs statement that they will challenge the ruling?- "FRESNO, Calif. (AP) – California can require Monsanto to label its popular weed-killer Roundup as a possible cancer threat despite an insistence from the chemical giant that it poses no risk to people, a judge tentatively ruled Friday.

California would be the first state to order such labeling if it carries out the proposal." (this news is a few months old)

Bradley Choquette said...

I am based on this article....

http://agfax.com/2017/04/07/epa-challenged-over-refusal-to-ban-chlorpyrifos-insecticide-dtn/?utm_content=buffer3ab85&utm_medium=social&utm_source=facebook.com&utm_campaign=buffer

Bad science is bad science.

Anonymous said...

Good to see the doctor see the errors in his methodology of pursuing the banning of pesticides. It doesn't require confrontational tactics. Seems like the antis have only the chloropyrifos issue now. That's a come down from their anti-GMO stance.

DINKYDAO

Anonymous said...

"And without a raison d'être to attract donors, they've got no cash."

Oh look. Another diatribe against Gary Hooser.

And honestly, I doubt being In favor of the pesticide notification bill pays any better than being against it. I don't see either you or Gary Hooser getting rich at this at your level. It's not like you're Syngenta lobbyists or highly paid PR firms or chemical executives flying around in private jets.

What's it to you if someone want to contribute to an environmental cause they believe in?

Anonymous said...

1:16 california labels 'may cause cancer' is on lotsa stuff. if those products werent available the state would go broke.

Joan Conrow said...

@7:02 Under the conflict business model, activist groups stir up controversy, which they then use to raise money. That's what this is about.

I have no problem folks with giving money to a cause they believe in, though this issue is hardly an "environmental cause." My objection is to people like Ashley and Hooser who create needless conflict through lies and fear-mongering to attract those donations to their groups, especially when they refuse to be transparent about their funding sources and expenditures.

This was hardly a diatribe against Hooser. So long as he continues to stir up pilikia and put himself in the limelight, his actions will be called out and criticized. If you don't like it, read something else.

@1:16 I was in an elevator in CA a few years back that had a warning sign that materials used in its construction could possibly cause cancer. I'm not sure how meaningful some of their labeling is. A "possible cancer threat" is pretty vague.

@1:05 What a stupid question.

Anonymous said...

Norman Borlaug should be canonized. Ashley Lukens and Gary Hooser and their puppet masters are from the Eighth Circle of Dante's Inferno. We need more people like Borlaug and even Dr. Evslin and none like Lukens and Hooser.

Anonymous said...

So how would you describe
T. Colin Campbell, PhD , Jonathan R. Latham, PhD, and other scientists and doctors with similar views on pesticides and GMO? They have worked in the field and disagree that pesticides and gmo are safe. And they are way smarter than you. The debate started way before Ashley and Gary and is way bigger than either.

Joan Conrow said...

@7:01 I don't know of anyone who is arguing that pesticides are "safe." The issue has always been, are people being exposed, and at what levels? Because there are thresholds of exposure that are not harmful.

There are always some scientists who have a different opinion. We see that now with climate change. But when you have groups like NAS coming out and saying there has been no indication that GMO foods are harmful to health after nearly three decades of consumption, that carries more weight than outliers' views.

And yes, this debate preceded Hooser and Lukens and is bigger than them, though the antis have employed the same fear-mongering, deceptive tactics worldwide They're just trying to capitalize on it in Hawaii.

Bradley Choquette said...

Jonathan R. Latham, PhD aka shill for big organic, aka co-founder of bioscience resource. Look at where the man gets his money and you'll understand why he says what all the other organic shills say. His "research" is garbage.

Anonymous said...

How is Hooser capitalizing on it? People who work with HAPA are telling me that he is a volunteer and gets no money.

Joan Conrow said...

@1:44 Don't play coy. He capitalizes on it because it's his group. He started and leads it.

Dee Morikawa said...

Thank you Joan. I've had good conversations with Dr. Evslin on another issue regarding access to psychological help in rural areas, so I know he cares about the health of our people. On the pesticide issues, he is being fair about how to proceed and you nailed it! The legislature is not necessarily the experts to accomplish this. The legislature needs to properly fund the agencies who do the work on enforcement, education, training and research. The recent demise of SB804, which was a good bill that would have increased the pesticide fund, was caused by a legislator's "gutting and replacing" of initiatives that now included the Health Department, the University of Hawaii and the Consumer Protection agencies. There wasn't enough time for public input and, in my opinion, every bill must be afforded that conversation. After session, the Health committee has committed to hold informational briefings to bring the departments in for current status and next steps. Then we will meet again before next session, to determine what more will be needed to address buffer zones, disclosure and notification.

Anonymous said...

There were circumstances prior to the deaths of the 4 persons at St Catherine's graveyard that needs attention and a thorough investigation.

Anonymous said...

Aloha Dee Morikawa,
Thank you for engaging with Dr. Evslin, especially on access to psychological help as the "red shirts" are in dire need of precisely that. Once they have their heads examined they may soon come to the realization that consumption of GMO products has no negative health effects; exposure to low levels of pesticides is akin to moderate alcohol consumption; and organic foods provide absolutely no additional health benefits as compared with GMO foods. But, until psychiatrists and psychologists can undo the northshore brainwashing our islanders have received, we'll need to withstand the barrage of misinformation from these zealots. Keep up the good work at the state legislature and remain even-keeled on these hot topics.

Anonymous said...

Why does Bradley get to insinuate that a person with a PhD would lie and say "Look at where the man gets his money and you'll understand why he says what all the other organic shills say. His "research" is garbage." But the same can't be said about Bradley's integrity since his livelihood is contingent on GMO crops and pesticides?

Joan Conrow said...

If you can't see the difference between a farmer expressing his opinion and a supposedly independent scientist who is actually funded by the organic industry, then you're really dense. But then, your denseness was glaringly evident from your incessant commenting.

Anonymous said...

"supposedly independent scientist who is actually funded by the organic industry" but it's ok for scientists and universities that get money from the GMO and pesticide industries? Are they shills and liars too? Does that make their research "garbage" as Bradley suggest? Whenever your hypocrisy is pointed out you either have some childish put down or refuse to print it. If you and other commenters are allowed to call people names on this comment section then others should be allowed to. But as usual, you only print what fits your narrative or something you have a juvenile comeback for.

Joan Conrow said...

I was pointing out that Bradley was stating an opinion, which is very different than someone making scientific claims, regardless of what side of any issue they are on. And if you don't think it's juvenile to leave 100 comments in a fit of pique then clearly there's no reason to continue this comment exchange. Btw, Commenting on this blog is not your entitlement. If I don't want to publish any comment for any reason, that's my right.

Anonymous said...

Joan, When speaking about GMO health safety, are you referring only to human health, or also to the health of the ʻāina? Gmo companies have broken their promise that GMOs would be contained and prevented from escaping into the wild environment. Could you provide us with information about long term studies showing that the spread of GMOs into the wild is safe for the environment with no negative effects on the health of the ʻāina. Talking about both plants and animals here, since GMOs also include fish and mosquitoes. Is our ecosystem threatened at all by the escape of these GMOs?

Joan Conrow said...

@10:23 I was referencing human health.

Part of the process of deregulating GM crops is examining their potential to become noxious weeds. The only GM fishes that have been deregulated are the glo-fish, an aquarium novelty, and the salmon, which is raised in inland pens. As I've previously mentioned, AquaBounty did extensive studies that showed the salmon would be unable to survive long enough to mate, even if it were inadvertently introduced into the wild. The GM mosquitoes are intended to be introduced into the wild, and to the best of my knowledge, there's been no indication they pose any ecosystem threat, though studies continue.

Anonymous said...

So it seems that there are no long term studies confirming that the escape of GMOs into the wild are safe and good for the ecosystem. Am I correct in making this assumption?

Anonymous said...

Monsanto has claimed that roundup was biodegradable and environmentally friendly. Do you have an opinion on this, Joan?

Anonymous said...

4/13 @ 10:23 AM, please provide specific documented instances of the "broken promises" to which you refer.

Anonymous said...

Sounds like the experiments are being conducted upon the environment, kind of like roulette. Make a promise that they will be confined, break the promise and allow them to escape, and then wait and see what happens. Is this really the cautious and scientific way to determine safety? If so, we may be in for a world of trouble.

Anonymous said...

4/13 @ 11:02, there are so many kinds of wrong with your statement it's hard to know where to begin. Same for 11:48 AM. No wonder the antis are losing.

Bradley Choquette said...

http://americanloons.blogspot.com/2014/01/864-jonathan-latham-allison-wilson.html

enough said.... Literally the first google search result. Next time, use some critical tickings skills prior to posting

second red flag, he's on Robin Obrein's website. Bet Mom Across America too.


https://robynobrien.com/author/jrlatham/

Those familiar with scientific method laugh half way through trying to read his stuff.


Anybody that passed QPS in 9th grade wouldn't believe what he writes.

Literally makes my head hurt.