Though Kauai has been significant to the outside world primarily as a tourist destination and Navy base, it's gaining some national attention due to Bill 2491, the GMO-pesticide measure that goes before the Council again on Monday.
Over at Slate.com, writer Adam Skolnick has a interesting piece, reporting that a Waimea resident has been petitioning Pioneer since 2000 to install windbreaks and mitigate dust. One has to wonder why Pioneer kept stalling, if it's the "good neighbor" it professes to be.
Skolnick also reported, (emphasis added):
In the days leading up to public testimony, the chemical companies flooded local media with ads, and flew in experts who spoke at town hall sessions and testified before the council. One of their experts, Dr. Steve Savage, a former DuPont employee and professor at Colorado State University, presented a graph that compares per-acre RUP use on Kauai to 17 states – including the entire corn belt.
At first glance, it appears that Kauai uses less than half the pesticides of the heaviest user, Kentucky. But read the fine print and you’ll discover that while other state measurements represent annual usage, tiny Kauai’s is calculated for a single growing season. And we know that there are at least two, and often three growing seasons in Hawaii, which means the amount of RUPs sprayed per acre on this small island dwarfs that of all 17 states during their biggest ever pesticide usage years. That is misinformation at its most egregious, but may explain why the companies are so dead set against disclosure.
Skolnick ended with this:
As for the suspected cancer cluster, whispers from local surgeons, radiologists and oncologists who have been concerned about a possible elevated cancer rate on Kauai for years finally reached the state Department of Health in June who asked the Hawaii Tumor Registry for a statistical analysis. The results can be found in a trim, one-page report that suggests there is no cancer spike on Kauai.
“Anecdotal evidence can be relevant,” said [Dr. Brenda] Hernandez, “because that’s the front line of disease occurrence.” According to Hernandez, the only way to determine if there is a cancer cluster in Lower Waimea is to conduct a focused epidemiological study, which would cost upward of $250,000, and could be part of an EIS were 2491 to pass. “If I lived there,” she added, “it would concern me.”
If there's reason for concern, shouldn't such a study be conducted in lower Waimea whether 2491 passes or not? I mean, $250,000 is only half the amount that's been blown defending the county against Councilman Tim Bynum's civil rights lawsuit — and just a quarter of the sum the state kicked down to resurface the Mana racetrack. Surely the county and/or state can scrounge up some cash for a health study.
Meanwhile, Forbes published something more akin to a hit piece that describes how “an impressionable anti-GMO mob mentality has been carefully cultivated in Hawaii by slick and well-financed outsiders.” It states:
Although they claim their opposition to the innovative technology is home grown, a Genetic Literacy Project investigation, still in its infancy, suggests that the opposition is flush with cash, getting hundreds of thousands of dollars each year from mainland anti-GMO organic organizations that have an ideological stake in blocking new farming technologies.
It also alleges that Walter Ritte, a board member of Hawaii Seed, may have violated election financing and disclosure laws in his 2012 run for OHA.
Walter will be back on Kauai again this weekend to rally the troops at the “mana march.” While it's great that people are finally waking up about this issue, I don't understand the political strategy behind holding a march on Sunday, when Lihue is essentially a ghost town. It seems a troubling metaphor for the 2491 campaign, which has both sides trapped in their respective echo chambers.
More to the point, why isn't the march being held in Waimea, the epicenter of the real action? By which I mean the place where the dirty deeds are going down, as opposed to where the political theater is staged.