Thursday, July 3, 2008

Musings: Mixed Plate

I awoke in the night to hear the bullfrog orchestra. It’s a marvelous song they play, with the sound stretching way, way out, then pulling back in again, with a sort of elasticity that makes it captivating.

And then the rain fell, drowning out the frogs with a louder kind of music, and somewhere round about dawn, the roosters took center stage with their raucous, unmelodic chorus.

Everything was fresh and damp from the rain when Koko and I went out walking beneath a sky filled with clouds of every shape and color, including mounds of apricot fluff in the east, brooding masses of silver-gray, black, purple and white in the southwest and two over Makaleha that were streaked with rainbows.

Saw farmer Jerry for the first time in a while, and he said he was studying up on the precautionary principle, which as he informed me, is not a scientific, but political and social.

It’s a concept that’s often raised in regard to genetically modified organisms, and our penchant for using them in basic food crops and growing them outdoors, where they can enter the natural environment, before we know what impact they’ll have. Basically, it’s the premise of “better safe than sorry.”

I’ve often heard people say about GMOs, well, there’s no proof they’re unsafe. And that’s because, as an article distributed by LightLine points out, genetically modified foods “are not required to undergo any kind of safety testing before entering the market.” That’s right. We’re all guinea pigs in this giant experiment, thanks to the Bush Administration’s industry-dominated Food and Drug Administration, which holds that modified and non-modified foods are essentially the same.

Although I already knew that the U.S. leads the world in genetically modified foods, I was quite astounded to read in the article that “up to 80% of its [Amercia’s] prepared and prepackaged foods” are modified. So if you’re eating anything but organic, you’re getting GMOs.

It was also recently brought to my attention that in order to improve its image here in Hawaii, the hotspot for GMO testing, a national GMO trade association bought a PR firm, Pono Communications on Maui. Among its listed clients are golf courses, the Maui County Farm Bureau and Monsanto Hawaii.

Changing tracks, I got an email from Dick Mayer with a link to a story that reveals John Lehman, a major investor in Hawaii Superferry, is currently serving as National Security Adviser to McCain's 2008 presidential campaign. I knew he was a financial supporter when I ran across records of him serving as a campaign “bundler” while doing Superferry research earlier this year, but this indicates a much deeper, and more troubling, relationship.

And as an interesting aside, I just happened to look at the Superferry website, where I noticed they’d written:

Hawai‘i Superferry assembled advisory boards on Maui, Kaua‘i and the Island of Hawai‘i, comprising community leaders and experts in fields like marine life, ranching, tourism, business, invasive species, and farming. We looked for individuals passionate about their communities, willing to tell us what we could do to improve our service and address community concerns. Our advisors are independent volunteers; they receive no compensation from Hawai‘i Superferry. Many ideas from these boards have been incorporated into policy and procedures.

Yet while the members of the Maui and Big Island advisory boards were listed, there was nothing about Kauai. Could that be because there is no such board, and Superferry is engaging in its usual fabrications?

Finally, as the big day (Monday, July 7) approaches for the Council to meet and select one of their own to serve until the voters elect a new mayor to finish out the late Bryan Baptiste’s term, my thoughts have gone frequently to our distinguished County Clerk, Peter Nakamura, who once again is finding himself in the place he most hates to be: the hot seat.

Ironically, the last time he was in the hot seat was also because of Baptiste. It was the mayor’s primary in 2006 and Peter had to make the call that Baptiste had won outright — a decision that prompted a lawsuit by mayoral candidate John Hoff that ultimately upheld Peter’s decision.

Will Monday's actions be equally controversial? It should be very interesting.


Ed Coll said...

"Pono Communications" - That's rich. A very sparse website of "stellar" clients listing golf courses, resorts, and Monsanto as clients. Is it the "big lie" theory of propaganda wherein you call yourself the opposite of what you actually do?

Ed Coll said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

The precautionary principle is a political tactic of last resort when the science stacks up against your position.

Anonymous said...

The "precautionary principle" is good common sense when moneyed power mongers, pockets already filled with politicians, start stacking the deck with scientists.

Anonymous said...

Joan: The precautionary principle was 1 of the bases for the rulings by the Hawaii Supreme Court in the Waiahole water case. Kapua Sproat writes about it in an essay in a book of environmental law essays by, I think, Environmental Law Institute. One of the editors of the book is Denise Antolini (sp?). George