Yet another article has been published that reinforces Kauai's role as the western front in the world war being waged between pro- and anti-GMO folks.
Published by Earth Island Journal, “Trouble in Paradise” is part of the two-year Media Consortium project I previously discussed, where 10 media outlets are sending reporters here to do supposedly “fair” coverage of “issues regarding pesticide-based pollution, GE food, corporate influence and other important topics.” It notes:
The local measures in Hawaii marked a major victory for sustainable agriculture advocates opposed to genetically engineered foods, especially coming after setbacks in California and Washington, where voters defeated GMO-labeling ballot initiatives. Suddenly, the state of Hawaii, and Kauai especially, has become the most heated battleground in the long-running war over GM agriculture.
Like the larger, international battle over GM crops, the political fight in the Hawaiian Islands can be distilled down to a debate over whether “modern farming and ranching” – that is, highly concentrated and industrialized farming – is a social good.
The article ends with the dreamy scenario that some have for ag on Kauai:
Many local food activists believe Hawaii’s path back to food sovereignty lies in rediscovering its traditional concept of “Aloha ‘Aina” (“love for the land”) and in relearning and building upon Indigenous natural resource management practices such as the ahpua’a [sic] system, which shared resources by dividing the islands into self-sustaining land sections that ran from the mountains to the sea. “Over here we have year-round warm weather, we have land, we have water.… We just need more farms that produce food,” says Chris Kobayashi, an organic taro farmer in Hanalei, on Kauai’s north side.
Actually, what we need are more farmers. A quarter century ago, when I was a newbie asking fellow journalist Jan TenBruggencate why Kauai couldn't feed itself, this island had 50,000 acres in sugar cultivation. It now has less than 20,000 acres in ag, including the seed crops.
And it's no closer to feeding itself, even though there's even more available land and no shortage of water. What's missing are farmers. Though many love the rhetoric associated with farming, fewer are willing to embrace it as a livelihood. Extensive taro lands on the westside currently lie fallow, despite a solid market for taro, because folks don't want to do the hard labor involved. Only three applicants submitted letters of interest to lease state ag lands in Kalepa.
The problem is not lack of land, but lack of skill, desire and financial wherewithal to get started. Most prospective farmers do not enjoy the benefits of family land and supplemental income from a vacation rental on Hanalei Bay, as Chris does, so it's harder to make the economics pencil out or juggle a fulltime job in addition to farming.
Meanwhile, I read an interesting article about how biotech is evolving from inserting genes to silencing genes. As a case study, it discussed how Monsanto is using Beeologics, the start-up company "dedicated to restoring bee health and protecting the future of honeybee pollination" that it purchased in 2011:
Ironically, Beeologics is a biotech company itself — and one that is developing a portfolio of next-generation gene editing products utilizing RNA interference, or RNAi.
Beeologics and Monsanto are developing the technology to silence two parasites that commonly affect agricultural pollinators: Israeli acute paralysis virus and parasitic mites belonging to the Varroa genus. Both can be targeted at the same time with the same product. Better yet, the first product created by Beeologics is delivered in feed, won't result in viral resistance, is extremely specific, is non-toxic, and does not leave residues on honeybees or honey. Future RNAi products currently being developed by Monsanto, called BioDirect, will be topical agents sprayed onto crops.
The article also referenced neonicotinoids, a class of pesticides and plants genetically engineered to produce such compounds. [Correction: The article was incorrect. There are no plants engineered to produce neonicotinoids.] They've been blamed for contributing to colony collapse disorder, prompting calls for a ban. Interestingly, they're made by Syngenta and the ag subsidiary of Dow — both competitors of Monsanto.
And it got me wondering whether Monsanto might be helping to fan the flames about neonics so it can then step forward to fill the gap with its BioDirect product line. Sort of like how environmental groups were fighting "big oil" by supporting ethanol produced by growing the GMO corn and soy that benefit "big chem."
Of course, we won't have to worry about any of this if smart meter/WIFI foe Diane Ostermann is right. She's been taking to the KKCR airwaves to, ironically, issue her dire predictions that humanity will die out within five generations due to radio frequencies melting our DNA.
Which could be really great news for an overburdened planet trying to shake off the fleas that are sucking it dry. Except Ostermann apparently didn't realize a quarter of the world's population doesn't have access to electricity, much less WIFI.
Hey, maybe the meek, or at least the unplugged, will inherit the earth after all.