Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Musings: Chump Change

It was bad enough when the keiki at Eleele School were turned into biotech stooges. But it was really tragic to see two conservation groups — National Tropical Botanical Garden and the Kauai Forest Bird Recovery Project — pimping for a chemical company in today's paper. 

For a measly $12,050 between them they let themselves be used to make Dupont-Pioneer look good. Ironically, the NTBG program that “benefitted” from the chem company's largess is called the Kokua Aina Youth Initiative. Hey kids, let's help the land with money derived from poisoning it and destroying biodiversity.

I know funding can be hard for nonprofits to come by, but when you take cash from the chemical companies, you're not only legitimizing their operations, you're allowing them to co-opt your good work and good name for their craven purposes.  As for Laurie Yoshida, the new DuPont communications manager, well, I suppose there isn't much difference between flacking for Linda Lingle and a company that produces poisons and tweaked seed.

Of course, the chem companies have a lot of extra cash to throw around since they don't pay general excise tax on the estimated $250 million worth of seeds they sell each year. Though Senate Bill 365 was introduced to change that, it hasn't even been scheduled for a hearing.

Meanwhile, some 1,200 people showed up yesterday to testify on HB 174, which would require all foods produced with genetically engineered materials to disclose that fact on the label with bold-faced type. Hawaii Public Radio reports that House Ag Committee Chair Jessica Wooley plans to move the bill forward to the Consumer Protection and Commerce Committee. Tellingly, the Star-Advertiser didn't even cover the hearing, and instead printed an Associated Press report that was a rewrite of the HPR story, without Rep. Wooley's recommendation.

HPR used a great quote from Life of the Land's Henry Curtis:

When did we make a conscious decision in this society to have the companies that developed chemical warfare be in charge of our food supply?

Though chem company reps and their lobbyist, Hawaii Crop Improvement Assn., tried to plant the fear that labeling will increase food costs, here's the real reason why they don't want GMO products labeled: they know that if given a choice, people will not choose GMOs.

Heck, animals don't want it. A friend whose family grows seed corn in the Midwest told me that farmers have observed that deer won't touch the GMO corn fields. “And deer eat anything,” she said. Other farmers reported that their chickens and livestock will refuse GMO feed when given a choice. So what do the “dumb” animals know that we “smart” humans haven't figured out?

Meanwhile, in an attempt to ensure that they are allowed to operate with impunity in Hawaii, the chemical companies got lawmakers to introduce SB590. Though it's phrased to make it sound like it's protecting farmers and ranchers, when you see language like this, you know it's really all about biotech:

No court, official, public servant, or public employee shall declare any farming operation a nuisance for any reason if the farming operation has been conducted in a manner consistent with generally accepted agricultural and management practices. No law shall be enacted that abridges the right of farmers and ranchers to employ generally accepted agricultural technology, livestock production, and ranching practices."

Though the bill has not yet been scheduled for a hearing, Councilman Jay Furfaro moved to head it off at the pass by submitting testimony objecting to that provision. As he quite rightly notes:

This statement preempts individual Counties to have little or no recourse to protect our constituents from action done by any and all agricutural businesses or individuals should the health and safety of our communities be compromised.

Which is exactly why the high-polluting industrial ag wants this bill. Jay goes on to write:

I am cautious knowing that much of the “generally accepted agricultural and management practices” involved with the larger biotechnical companies are continuing to evolve and the safety of its practices are called into question.

Go Jay!

What's even sicker is the bill's stated mandate of:

...promoting and fostering an atmosphere of acceptance of all the various forms of agricultural practices and operations that are generally accepted as legitimate and appropriate within our nation.

Pretty pathetic. But then, the nonprofits are already doing that when they pose for newspaper pictures happily taking chump change from the chem companies.


Anonymous said...

Talk about selling out. These biotech companies are infiltrating our communities in every way possible. Dividing us in these ways. Getting us to believe they must be okay since they give to charities and offer jobs. Submit your testimony in favor of HB174. I already did. It is easy to do on line, just go to the capitol website www.capitol.hawaii.gov and submit written testimony. If their products are safe as they claim then they shouldn't object to labeling. You can also submit testimony against the ag bill Joan mentioned.

Anonymous said...

How about partnerships with the evil Grove Farm, one of the very companies enabling such activity?


Joan Conrow said...

Yes, if you click on the links to the various bills that I provided in the post you will go right to the bill status page, where there's a blue button at the top that says Submit Testimony.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for this report Joan!

Chemical companies controlling our food supply is the new (since the 1050's?) "imperialism" subjugating the population to cheap, chemicalized food that makes lots of money in the process from seed to plate.

If you start with disease and work your way backwards through a life-time, you will discover that the 5 Top Killers of humans in the USA (per the Center For Disease Control) are related to our diets. (cancer, heart disease, stroke, diabetes, kidney failure)

Cancer can be traced to exposure to pesticides and herbicides.

Parkinson's, and other neurological diseases difficult to cure and treat are due to exposure to pesticides and herbicides.

Cost of Health Care? Un-affordable!

Money talks.....and non-profits (leaders) without a thought to the ramifications will allow the donations. There are "moral" standards by which "environmental" organization should stand by and not be tempted by the "devil" with money and survival.

And this is the problem with our politicians....."have greased palm....will travel".

It seems always to be about making money, and control....as a result, Health suffers, and so does our organic farming and the Natural environment.

Corporations are NOT people.

Dr Shibai

Anonymous said...

NTBG no surprise. What do you expect from an organization that treats Lawai Kai like its own private beach for profit?

Elaine Albertson said...

I spent my first years growing up on a family ranch in southern Iowa with mom, dad, an uncle and aunt, a cousin, and two hired hands. We raised Black Angus and grew corn, soybeans, alfalfa and most of our own veggies. We produced our own chix and eggs, and milk.

My cousin inherited the operation (1,200 acres) in the 70s. He ran it for ten years, and then split it into smaller plots to sell to individuals who would covenant to not use GMOs because he had become totally fed up with fighting the ag companies that were trying to strong-arm him into using seed he felt was unsafe. Keep in mind my cousin had a degree in engineering, and served in the Army Corps of Engineers. He's no hayseed.

Controlling the food supply, and/or the water, is the primary means of controlling the population for a fascist state. How is it that we still cannot seem to understand that and really fight it?

Eat Soylent Green!

Anonymous said...

makes me want to cry when people take $ from Pioneer. The Hanapepe Story Book Theater is the only establishment i know of that didn't accept money from the seed company.
How right is that! I have a feeling that Pioneer is doing this because of the suit the Waimea community has against them----they need positive publicity to put themselves in good graces with whoever is willing to buy into their story. Joan, thanks for this report!

Anonymous said...

Yuck! What a mess!! Go Jay!!!

Anonymous said...

It is a good thing all of you wack-a- doos were not here during Pine and Sugar days.........this island would be uninhabited........without big ag
Ag saves more lives than any other business....either thru water or food

Anonymous said...


There were inhabitants here long before pine and sugar and they managed these lands in a much more sustainable way than the big mono-culture plantations that came after. We need real ag to grow real food to feed people locally. None of these seeds companies do that. And thats not even addressing the negative impacts of soil run-off and chemical laden dust. By the way, I grew up in a sugar plantation community and worked in a pineapple cannery in high school.

Elaine Albertson said...

Anon 4:23...well said.

Anonymous said...

Yes Elaine,

In the 60's I used to visit my uncle & auntie in southeastern South Dakota on their "real" farm. By the late 80's, early 90's, they were receiving "gov't assistance" and they were saying the corn they grew was not fit for human consumption. By 2000, they were bankrupt and the lands in the midwest has seen heavy flooding. So sad.......

Anonymous said...

Joan, speaking of chump change, did you see this article about our very own Mike Dahilig? Here is the article:


Anonymous said...

here's the House version for the seed exemption bill


scheduled for a hearing this morning

Anonymous said...

Interesting - wonder what he's taken and or been offered as the Planning Director.

If, as a student he didn't think it was unethical (what because there was no rule specifically about it?) - what makes anyone think he's changed one iota.

Anonymous said...

It is sad to see anybody take $ from the seed companies. Talk about selling your soul to ---?--- !!

Anonymous said...

sad to see the mayor, tommy noyes and the rest of the i wanna ride my bicycle crew be so disrespectful of the beach and the culture. Building along the beach, what idiots.
This is a great example of the lack of leadership bernard has shown as mayor.

Anonymous said...

I follow the advice of animal instincts, who intrinsicaply deny gmo foods.
They hear Gods voice. Will we hear that voice as well?
Thank you Jay Furaro in behalf of Kauai Rising TS

Anonymous said...

If the companies want to support the community they should do it qietly and not toot their horns in the paper.