Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Musings: Dirty Money

In seeking to strike down Kauai's new GMO/pesticide regulatory bill, seed company attorneys are arguing the law “is simply hodge-podge legislation, linked only by the fevered imagination of self-proclaimed environmental activists.”

The claim isn't far wrong, with tax records revealing the anti-GMO movement in Hawaii has been bankrolled not by grassroots greenies, but fortunes derived from big oil, big industry, big pharma and big banks.

A major player in the Hawaii anti-GMO movement is the Center for Food Safety (CFS), a Washington, D.C.-based nonprofit that helped write Bill 2491, which became Ordinance 960. A federal judge recently allowed CFS and Earthjustice to represent national groups like Pesticide Action Network and Surfrider Foundation, along with a new Kauai organization, in defending the law from the seed companies' lawsuit.

CFS receives the bulk of its funding from the Rockefeller clan. Other significant support comes from funds and foundations endowed by the scions and former spouses of oilman J. Paul Getty, chemist George Merck of Merck Pharmaceuticals, General Motors executive Charles Stewart Mott, industrialist and banker Andrew Mellon and Google CEO Eric Schmidt.

The 990 form filed by Center for Food Safety (CFS) shows total revenues of $7.2 million in 2012, with $3.8 coming from grants and contributions — up from $2.8 million in 2011. It listed total expenses of $5.3 million, with $1.3 million spent on legal fees and $1.5 million on salaries. Andrew Kimbrell, who is part of the legal team defending Kauai's law, was paid $222,540 to serve as CFS executive director in 2012, with another $25,194 listed in compensation from that and similar organizations.

Kimbrell also received $31,000 in 2012 compensation as director of the Cornerstone Campaign, whose tax return lists the same address as CFS. Additionally, he earns income from the International Center for Technology Assessment, an anti-nanotechnology group that shares the same office. It paid him $30,525 for working just eight hours per week in 2011.

Cornerstone, whose officers include Mary Rockefeller Morgan and Abby Rockefeller, is the largest source of support for CFS. The two heiresses, along with Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors Inc., donated at least $8.8 million to the Cornerstone Campaign between 2002-11. But since the IRS does not require gifts from charitable remainder trusts to be disclosed in tax returns, it's impossible to determine the full extent of contributions by Rockefeller heirs.

Kimbrell also apparently uses Cornerstone to write off substantial expenses that are missing from the CFS tax return, including $18,608 in travel, $62,691 in lodging and $15,115 in meals and entertainment for 2012 alone.

Though founded as a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, Cornerstone Campaign functions only to disperse grants to groups active in the anti-biotech movement, including Friends of the Earth, Genetic Engineering Action Network, Organic Seed Alliance, International Forum on Globalization, Californians for GE Free Agriculture and Earthjustice.

In the decade spanning 2002-11, CFS received 90.5% of its funding from foundations and trusts, as opposed to individual, grassroots donors. One of its funders is the Ceres Trust, which has pumped substantial money into Hawaii SEED, the anti-GMO umbrella group. 

The Ceres Trust was created by Judith Kern, apparently derived from her family's business, Kern Generator Co. The 2012 tax returns for Ceres show it awarded Hawaii SEED $228,550 for a pesticide drift-catcher project that, as I previously reported, failed to detect any significant amount of toxins, prompting the group to shift its focus from evidence-based activism to fear-mongering.

Other major funders of Hawaii Seed are The Sacharuna Foundation, which was founded by money inherited from industrialist and banker Andrew Mellon; the Merck Fund, which was based on pharmaceutical fortunes; the Cornerstone Foundation and Ho Oli Foundation, a Delaware company with a Hawaii Island address. Overall, four anti-GMO groups in Hawaii received $931,840 in grants between 2002-12, with the bulk awarded in 2011-12. 

However, reports are not yet available for 2013, the year that fierce anti-biotech political battles were waged on Kauai, Hawaii Island and Maui. So we don't yet have a clear idea just how much mainland money was poured into a movement that organizers claimed was "local grassroots." 

Meanwhile, the foundations and funds that are supporting anti-GMO groups in their supposed fight against “big chem” have invested their assets in the very same corporate giants that are reviled by activists as the gouging, oppressing, polluting pillars of industrial capitalism. In other words, the “antis” who have cloaked themselves in self-righteousness and claimed the moral high ground are themselves running on dirty money that is "green" only in color.

I point this out not merely to highlight the hypocrisy, but to underscore this reality: There is no good guy vs bad guy in this crazy game, no David vs Goliah scenario at work. 

At core, it's just big money fighting big money, with the citizens of Hawaii being intentionally polarized and played as pawns.


ariajuliet said...

People can and will say whatever they want about our movement. Big money vs big money, That is on the surface. I know that the people are at the core of this whole fight, and that is because I was actually there...and am still here.
I just looked over my bank statements and have spend over $350 on voter registration supplies in the past two months, to make sure that people who believe in something actually understand the political process and become empowered to take the next step in participate and casting their vote. I've dropped $100's of gas driving to various meetings and events around the island to help organize people and participate in discussion, to understand WHY we needed a 2491. Last year I was in for about the same amount for posters, and flyers surrounding Bill 2491, to help educate and raise awareness about it. Not to mention the potlucks and camping supplies that I bought to help at the council meetings, to support the people who needed spend the night at the county building to have a chance to testify in front of the county council. Top it off with my completely self funded trips to Oahu for the State Dem convention and the Aloha Aina march, to help with voter registration. These are pennies compared to the thousands of dollars on both sides of the argument, being flooded in from the mainland, but it is a lot of money for me, even as a young single woman without children with an amazing gig as a "marketing flack." I'm not asking for money and I'm not complaining, I'm just trying to shine light on the heart of the people who really believe in this cause, since no one seems to be asking me where I got my funding from.

Anonymous said...

Since "Hoo's" and "Jackpot" are politically on their way out seems like they believe they will be able to con some money just walking the beat for the Anti's. All they have to do is list their expenses. Why would they spend so much money trying to defend Ord. 960? It's all a show for more donations. They already lost in California and Washington! Nothing will gained with this law. Seems like a conspiracy that infected a number of our Council and a whole lot of make believe do gooders who don't even know what to believe!

Anonymous said...

"over $350 on voter registration supplies"

Isn't all that provided free by the elections office?

Anonymous said...

Joan, you write that if big money is involved, no good can come of it. Really? If big money supports the Sierra Club in it's environmental efforts to stop the building of dams, and the Sierra Club is opposed by big money from oil interests and electrical power station developers, you say there's no difference? Some of the wealthiest people in the world contribute to the Sierra Club. Plenty of extremely wealthy people have been the main benefactors of the environmental movement and many other worthwhile movements. You're blinded by your hatred of money. You can't see that money is a tool that can be used to better the world, or to make it worse. You think that if someone has ever acted in a hypocritical or imperfect way, (as every human being - you included - has), then that person they can never make a positive contribution to the world. The world and it's people make up many shades of grey - if you stopped seeing everyone as black (almost everyone in your mind) or white (almost no one), your writing would be far more persuasive, instead of increasingly shrill and polarizing.

ariajuliet said...

The forms are free, yes. But the pens, white out, clipboards, secure boxes for filled forms, supply boxes, priority mail postage, banners for the tables, signs, photo copies of instructions and FAQ, weights for the pop-up tent, ducktape, zip ties, website registration and hosting, advertisements are not. Thankfully many of these costs are one time expenses apart from the postage. The state used to have Wki Wiki voter registration drives, but they don't do that anymore. They also used to pass out I Voted stickers but you know...budget cuts.

Anonymous said...

It's the age old divide and conquer, alive and well and at work here in the trenches of industrial agriculture.

And by the way Joan, some of those words one has to type in are ridiculously hard to decipher.

Anonymous said...

Earth shattering blog, reverberating...across the oceans. Excellent research

Anonymous said...

11:40 why not buy food for the Foodbank..now that would be better than spending it on what you spent it on! Put on your thinking cap give what is needed and can be appreciated. Millions are being spend on the wrong things. A lot of things are needed on Kauai. Why are we spending taxpayers money defending a ridiculous law. Kauai has nothing to gain. We should be wiser. MOOMOO the Dairy is coming! GOGO GMO is a Go!

Joan Conrow said...

11:28 -- I don't appreciate your misstating my words and mischaracterizing my views. Go back and read what I actually wrote and you'll see it's your own distorted perception, not my writing, that is shrill and polarizing.

Anonymous said...

JC's slash and burn on 960 and its supporters is like the person walking on a path who sees a quarter, but she walks on by thinking there will be a silver dollar around the turn.
My advice is at this point you don't need any more rope. Also bridges keep us all connected and moving ahead, and burning them pollutes the air we all breathe.

Anonymous said...

Big money is everywhere! I am glad that some of it is in support of Earth Justice, CFS, Sierra Club, etc. Mother Earth needs rich people who love what She provides for us and are willing to protect Her. Mr. Kimball, as i see it, should be paid big bucks for all he does---he sticks up for what he believes in and is credible to me. He has stood strong, took a lot of criticism, bucking heads with the biotechs for many years----so pay him well!
Our community, Waimea, is ground roots regarding this movement!!!
Joan, when are you going to report on the financials for Pioneer, Syngenta, Dow? Why are they not paying more taxes for their business venture here on Kauai? Your blog makes us look like we are fools to continue our quest to protect the environment and people from the detrimental affects of dust/pesticides!

Anonymous said...

I did re-read it and I did not mischaracterize your views. You wrote that its "just big money fighting big money"..CFS receives the bulk of it's money from the Rockefeller clan....support comes from the scions and former spouses of Getty, Merck, etc." If your point isn't that nothing good can come from money derived from an industry you don't like, then what exactly is your point in mentioning the sources of anti-GMO funding? I seem to recall Andrew Carnegie building 5000 libraries from his ill-gotten gains - should we be against libraries??

Anonymous said...

Andrew Kimbrall makes almost as much as David Bissell but nobody's squawking about that.

Joan Conrow said...

12:48 -- I'm sorry your rigid ideology prevents you from seeing my points, which are clearly spelled out.

But here's something else for you and 12:46 to chew on: How likely is it that people who are heavily invested in maintaining their vast fortunes, and thus the status quo, would be supporting anything that brings about real and substantive socio-economic change?

Anonymous said...

Setting the issue of hypocrisy aside........

The little people have little money.

It takes money and lawyers (or guns and bombs maybe) to fight Big Money and lawyers.

The "game" is not about morality, humanity, nor what's good for the environment. Its always about money and control.

Like high stakes poker...if you don't have the cash, you cannot get to play.

Do we have any local lawyers that can take on Big Ag? How will we pay them? Have a fundraiser rock n roll event, silent auction, and sell T shirts?

Us little people can only react, and hopefully administer some protests and civil disobedience enough to get our points across, bring the issues to the surface...let off some steam, and pay our lawyers to get out of jail.

When people get sick of this game, they will rebel even more fueled by hopelessness, and be characterized as "eco-terrorists" to be confronted with guns and tear gas. Will it make a difference? Then what will?

Zero Seven

Anonymous said...

Joan, why do you assume that the sole and paramount interest that a wealthy person has is to "maintain their vast fortunes"? Have you ever talked to any of these people? Warren Buffet and at least 300 people with fortunes over $100M have pledged to donate virtually their entire wealth to the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, which attempt to do very worthwhile things like wipe out smallpox and other diseases, build schools in the poorest areas of the world, etc. Who do you think the major charitable contributors in the world are? Poor people? Plenty of extremely wealthy people are very committed to worthwhile, progressive social causes - even when it bites them in the pocketbook. Take David Rockefeller. He's contributed at least $1B to eradicate poverty. His son, David Rockefeller Jr., is perhaps the leading marine conservationist in the world. You're a marine conservationist, right, Joan? Has it ever occurred to you to try WORKING with David Rockefeller on your common interests, instead of just shredding him in your blog for being wealthy?? And please don't tell me they did it all for a charitable tax write-off - no write-off is ever equal to what it costs. Many of the most worthwhile social and charitable causes in the world are the result of the work of very wealthy people. Perhaps you loosen up YOUR rigid idealogical views of these people and find common ground with them, instead of assuming the worst about them.

If the Rockefeller's of the world want to support the anti-GMO movement - let's just say "Thank You!"

Anonymous said...

Yes Joan we LOVE the 1%.

Anonymous said...

Joan didn't question their motives or "shred them" -- she just pointed out that it is big money v big money, and that is a valid point to make

Anonymous said...

Joan, the interesting thing is that it isn’t the actual money makers themselves that are contributing to the anti-GMO groups. Most of the real money makers are long gone and it’s the surviving trophy wives, children and heirs who did nothing to earn the fortune yet whose ideals allow them to gladly benefit from it. And I’ll wager that most of their money goes into their lavish lifestyles with huge mansions, penthouses, expensive cars, clubs, hotels, etc. Just the sort of things that eco-fanatics love to hate. Sounds like they’re trying to buy their way out of their self-made purgatories.

Anonymous said...

2:35 - Huh? You don't think she guestioned their motives? She asked "How likely is it that people who are heavily invested in maintaining their vast fortunes, and thus the status quo, would be supporting anything that brings about real and substantive socio-economic change?"

I would call that "questioning their motives."

Anonymous said...

2:40 Your are right. The scions have little to do with wealth creation or maintenance. They receive their trust stipends. How they spend it is their business. But there ain't no waitresses, county workers, hana wai men, hoe hana men in the trust fund group. It's different when money is no problem.
John D Rockefeller saved the whales by bringing in cheap blue-barreled kerosene, making whale oil obsolete.
Maybe Big Ag's contribution via fewer acres needed for food, fewer people to work the land, fewer machines, less water and far greater production has its place.
Big Ag feeds billions.
Sure little trust fundee farms and and local consumption is great, but if you want a real environmental fiasco, create hundreds of scrabble dirt farmers on Kauai all competing for the local market. When the first big storm, tourist reduction or any economic downturn comes, all you have is a bunch of fallow land, old rusting equipment and a group of whiny former "farmers".
There won't be no Jackpot, to bail these folks out of their government encouraged plight.

Anonymous said...

I would like to see where these anti's are investing there personal money. Oil is trading up these days?

Anonymous said...

I liked zero seven's post the best today.

Its really medium-big money versus really big money, with big Ag being the latter. Big Ag and its pesticide use and factory farms just does too many bad things for me to trust it. It basically does not want to pay for cleaning up the mess it leaves behind, and so it aggressively fights things like disclosure of the poisons it uses. Because if people know what they are spraying, those people might study the effects, better measure for their presence in streams, the effect on DNA and maybe prove what our local physicians suspect... and that could hurt profits. So big Ag is expected, in the true capitalist tradition, to destroy what it sees as risk.

Its sort of like big energy in that regard. The industry keeps the spoils and the wealth but often escapes the cost of cleanup, through political influence or brilliant lawyers who rent their brains to the highest bidder and drink too much wine at night to forget what they are doing.

But I still think Joan's observations are astute and worth knowing. Just as big Ag cloaks itself in the country farmer image when it is horribly polluting and cruel to animals beyond comprehension, we should also know which industrialists are opposing 2491 and what is in it for them.

To me, that is where it gets puzzling. So some heirs of bankers and industrialists and George Soros types support GMO labeling and disclosure of pesticides. That does not tell us much. I'm trying to figure out why. Either they have some profit motive or they are doing it because they think it is right. Is that even possible?

Anonymous said...

Joan, i am happy that some of the Rockefeller clan and the scions and former spouses of Getty, Merck, etc. know what is important and have decided to support it.

Anonymous said...

Adam Smith warned about unregulated capitalism.

The problem with Hawaii is that the government that should do the regulating is controlled by former sugar companies who are leasing to seed companies.

Dave Minkin is a great attorney and parts of this bill may survive. Dow and Syngenta etc. just want to bankrupt the County fighting it.

If you think you should know what is in your air and water, vote Hoos, little Hoos and Jackpot.

Anonymous said...

Such innocence by your commentator's. Does anyone really think these guys are here to help Kauai ? The biggest bankers and developers of the free world, here because they don't like gmo's. Come on get a grip on reality, it's all about the land and those majestic views of Niihau, create fear, makes people sell their "toxic " land cheap/others buy cheap and hold it awhile and Voila, Roc resorts instead. Oh yeah , they all got a conscious and directed it to the most opportunistic place and time. Kauai is on the map and it ain't lookin pretty. It was a very sad blog on the state of giving and taking .

Anonymous said...

Dow and Syngenta etc. just want to bankrupt the County fighting it? Then why did they file for summary judgement that avoids years of litigation? We need to start talking honestly with one another , even to ourselves and not just say what we want to think.

Anonymous said...

Big Money vs. Big Money? Each chemical company earns over a billion a year and much more. Do the math. CFS' $7.2 million is a drop in the bucket to even one of the chemical companies growing GMOs on Kauai. Simple math. I can see how you would get things mixed up between one non-profit earning several million and and the biggest billionaire chemical companies on the planet.

Let's compare just one company's earnings, Syngenta for example. Syngenta's 2012 net income was $1,833,892,620.00, CFS: $7,200,000.00. CFS, by itself, brings in just 0.39% of what Syngenta brings in. Not even one percent Joan!

Now let's add up the sales of the four companies suing Kauai. The answer is $112,761,700,400.00. Versus CFS $7,200,000.00. Let me stack it up for you.

$112,761,700,400.00 (sales)
- $7,200,000.00

We are talking about worldwide BILLIONS versus small time MILLIONS.

Dow Sales 2012: $56,786,000,000.00
Net income: $1,100,000,000.00

Syngenta 2012: $1,875,700,400.00
Net income: $1,833,892,620.00

BASF 2013 Sales: $19,300,000,000.00

DuPont/Pioneer 2012 Sales: $34,800,000,000.00

I'm sorry Joan, I used to count on your blog but this article isn't even true. This is most definitely David versus Goliath. Don't kid yourself kiddo.

1. http://www.dow.com/investors/pdfs/161-00784_2012_Annual_Report.pdf
2. http://www.syngenta.com/global/corporate/SiteCollectionDocuments/pdf/publications/investor/2013/annual-report-2012/syngenta-financial-report-2012-only-english.pdf
3. http://www.basf.com/group/corporate/us/en/function/conversions:/publishdownload/content/about-basf/worldwide/north-america/USA/about-basf/fact-sheets/reports/BASF-NA-Report-2012.pdf
4. http://investors.dupont.com/phoenix.zhtml?c=73320&p=irol-newsArticle&ID=1776408&highlight=

Anonymous said...

If you eat at restaurant, shop at a store (even organic) and put ethanol in your car you are supporting "Big Ag."

Anonymous said...

Joan- My feelings are really hurt. I have always looked upon you and I, as if we are sisters. I did not choose to be born into a wealthy family. I was taught that with my great wealth comes great responsibility. This is not easy. Not only do I have to try to live like a normal person, I must also realize that my wealth and family make me different.
I have tried for many years to do what is right. My group and I have many accomplishments.
We worked hard and got the Malibu Lagoon in California restored, we started environmental awareness classes on many Native American Reservations, it is standard policy that we all drive a Prius, we donated huge money to Obama, we have fought to stop Sea World and abuse to the Orcas and many more projects. We also initiated programs on giving goats to to the people in the favelas (slums) in Rio de Janeiro to encourage these poor people to move to the country and start sustainable dairy farms.

I have a home on Kauai, I know lots of locals and have personal relationships with some council members. I really love this island and I love how beautiful it is.
As my council friends and I became aware of the practices of the Kauai Chemical companies we became involved to stop this bad agriculture practice.
We have had success in teaching some of "the locals", who thru no fault of there own (they have not had the opportunities and education that my council friends and I have had), have had to work in agriculture. We teach them about sustainability and the environment. Some of these unfortunate Kauaiains even had their parents and grandparents working in Ag. How sad. We are out to stop these generational career travesties.
I am happy to donate sums to the environmental movement. I also donate to my council friends, but whether they get elected or not, they will find good employment in our movement as spokes people or in public relations. They have a flair for publicity which is really good for our movement. We need these local politicians. Kauai is lucky to have council fellows like these.
So Joan, though I still really really like you, I wish that you could try to understand the difficulties that comes with wealth and in particular the task of teaching what is the right thing to the people of Kauai. Namaste and a Special Aloha to you, my sister.

Joan Conrow said...

The information Ms Conrow has brought forward is straightforward. She's pointing out that the GMO debate, both locally and nationally, is a amply funded on both sides. It's folly to pretend otherwise. Just look at the endowments -- net assets reported in 2011 -- of some, though not all, of the foundations that have contributed to the Center for Food Safety since 2002. Their combined net assets (as shown below) total over $14.4 billion. Are the major seed companies also profitable multinational corporations? Yes. And that is why Joan concludes that there is no "David vs Goliath scenario at work." She correctly points out that "it's just big money fighting big money." The facts are what they are.


1. David & Lucile Packard Foundation $ 5,797,424,139
2. Vanguard Charitable Endowment $ 2,362,567,905
3. San Francisco Foundation $ 1,070,070,041
4. Boston Foundation $ 787,824,670
5. Rockefeller Brothers Fund $ 751,804,582
6. California Healthcare Foundation $ 722,790,343
7. Goldman Sachs Charitable Gift Fund $ 397,803,194
8. Park Foundation $ 335,424,300
9. Richard & Rhoda Goldman Fund $ 259,937,018
10. Newman’s Own Foundation $ 222,281,733
11. Community Fdn. of Western N. Carolina $ 184,694,972
12. The Schmidt Family Foundation $ 178,017,994
13. Tides Foundation $ 156,657,142
14. Wallace Genetic Foundation $ 151,779,119
15. Educational Foundation of America $ 140,829,253
16. Community Fdn. of Sonoma County $ 131,308,540
17. Cedar Tree Foundation $ 94,761,796
18. David B. Gold Foundation $ 88,354,025
19. V. Kann Rasmussen Foundation $ 79,256,505
20. The John Merck Fund $ 75,045,483
21. Columbia Foundation $ 69,884,801
22. Roy A. Hunt Foundation $ 66,449,198
23. Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors, Inc. $ 60,696,686
24. Clarence E. Heller Charitable Fdn. $ 60,278,309
25. Compton Foundation $ 59,664,975
26. The Marisla Foundation $ 55,041,165
27. Foundation for Deep Ecology $ 42,431,433

Joan Conrow said...

The above comment was submitted to me for posting by someone who did not know how to leave a comment.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for this well-written post, Joan. Clearly it has hit a nerve and rightly so.

One thing that you didn't touch on, which is incredibly important to the conversation, is how much money is being funneled into the anti-GMO movement and the spread of misinformation by organic growers, natural food stores, etc. These groups stand to financially benefit by scaring consumers into buying their over-priced items, and by forcing legislation that damages their competitors.

Here is a link to a good article on the topic.


Fear-mongering is very profitable!

Anonymous said...

Hey? Wasn't Kauai warned about litigation from the Seed Companies? The County is to blame asking for it!! Put the blame where its due!! Money won't change anything when it goes to court. In fact the Seed Companies are trying to save the taxpayers a huge some of money and years of litigation.

Anonymous said...

@ 7:04 You said, " I wish that you could try to understand the difficulties that comes with wealth and in particular the task of teaching what is the right thing to the people of Kauai."

Yes we understand completely how difficult it is to spend the money you inherited and did nothing to create. I mean, how many politically correct Priuses can one own? It takes a team to keep them all washed and stuff. You are prime example of a "Trust Fund Baby" who tries to be cool but isn't smart enough to do anything but believe other peoples lies because it’s chic to do so. Too bad money can't prevent gullibility.

Anonymous said...

Anon @10:12 PM, apparently you missed the (invisible, yet obvious) snark tag. Well done, Anon @7:04!

Anonymous said...

You would be better off spending that money to enroll in some science courses so that you might understand something about the topic. Your saccharine and disingenuous postings during the 2491 debate were a marvel of whack-a-mole discourse.

April 22, 2014 at 11:28 AM,
You totally missed Joan's point. And I'm not sure how since she all but spoon feeds it to us in the penultimate sentence that she conveniently carved out as a paragraph.

"I point this out not merely to highlight the hypocrisy, but to underscore this reality: There is no good guy vs bad guy in this crazy game, no David vs Goliah [sic] scenario at work".

Join Aria in taking remedial courses but add Reading Comprehension to your list.

Anonymous said...

Sounds pretty fishy when the groups that are supposed to be fighting biotech are paid by the very companies profiting off of them...Wallace genetic foundation (aka pioneer $) gives money to CFS to fight biotech & somehow we are supposed to believe that's OK???

Anonymous said...

We must raise awareness. Capture the young minds, teach them, repeat a lie often enough and they will believe.

Cmon all you good people,
Good news to you I'll tell
of how the good Environmentalists have come here to dwell
Which side are you on, boy
What side are you on?
My daddy was a rich man
and I'm a rich man's son
But I shirk my rich man's collar and an environmentalist I have b'come
Which side are you on boy...what side are you on?
They say in Lihue there ain't no neutral men, but I'll
make them environmentalists 'till all the battles are done

Which side are you on boy, which side are you on
Don't stand for big agro their cause is surely done
We got all the council purely under our thumb
Which side are you on boy, which side are you?
-sort of Florence Reese-

Anonymous said...

5:43 ... It's a children of men thing.

Anonymous said...

Most people are missing the whole point. Yes, of course the people of Kaua'i don't want the gmo companies here. We want to protect our land, our health, our families, and yes the movement of 2013 was incredible to have so many people standing up against these biotech companies. The people are standing up for what is right! But the truth is we have to look deeper and question the real motive behind the REAL players. Do we really believe that these multibillion dollar corporations/foundations actually care about making a difference or do they want to have control of all the strings and use us like pawns to further their own agenda. Look at what happened to bill 2491. Its what we needed, its supposed to be our way of not letting these seed companies do what they like with no regards for anyone else. But didn't the bill get sabotaged in the end by our own council members so that it wasn't a sound bill, and now we are getting sued over a bill that was gutted and in the end lost what we really needed. Sure this is the way of politics. You can't get everything. But, the real question is can we look deeper to see the real motive or do we follow along blindly. We are all players in this like a game of chess and we are the pawns. The real players have all their strategies planned, they see the end game. Do we? Be careful who you trust. Chances are when our grassroots movements are funded by the same companies that support big Ag we should be careful. Not so much on the local level but the real players behind this, that have the power. Do you really trust them? Check it out, do your research and you to will see how scary the ties are!

Anonymous said...

Thank you Aria for your commitment,passion, and willingness to defend yourself from despicable personal attacks, aka being called a "marketing flack. As you've seen, there is no shortage of people who will attack you for having the courage to defend yourself. We need more people like you. You and the people of Kauai deserve far better than the kind of treatment you're getting on this blog.

Anonymous said...

Joan, what exactly did this "big money" from the anti-gmo movement fund? Like Aria, I was heavily involved in the fight for Bill 2491 and like Aria, and a number of other supporters, have never seen a benefit of this bankrolling of the grassroots movement.

Anonymous said...

@ April 22, 2014 at 10:20 PM

Completely!! Great job! DOA!

Fern said...

I have to disagree here. Good reporting back on CFS financial details but breaking down the entire non profits finances and then making the link to that being where the money comes from in funding on the ground action here is a far cry from reality Joan!

It was actually very late on that Earth Justice and CFS got involved at all and they were never in our meetings when we shaped Bill 2491. Which was largely done by myself and a handful of mostly Wailua community members with Gary Hooser as our guest.

I funded our events (marches) and huge amounts of printing in back rooms, offices and sometimes closets of our home, along with other people that were active and passionate individuals that live here.

This accusation is quite ridiculous, especially when you have lived this experience from my perspective. Printing our flyers off paper and ink we bought ourselves at Walmart, one copy at a time (and hand cutting) like we did for the march in march for example - these accusations are genuinely laughable.

This is just a way to focus on what doesn't matter, how we got the papers printed?... Really?

I never got any of that money back, or offset those costs with money funnelled from CFS or anyone else for that matter. Infact through those key months since we announced the Bill June 20th and December I took nearly 3 months off almost solid, made sacrifices and adjustments to live on less to get more done to get 2491 passed. No one offset my losses.

What would be interesting would the comparison of spending. Take for example just printing alone in the newspaper, comparing how many adds were published (full paper at I think $1500/shot) over the last year, with agri-chemical propaganda vs those that people in support of the bill. Then add TV adds... and propaganda in the mail....

Let's stay on track and keep looking into what might be leading to increased birth defect rates in some areas and health problems, lets focus on solutions rather than picking apart people, their lives and organisations funding records that really have no large part in any on the ground action here or community changes.

Anonymous said...

Fern, and others might want to consider a wider view.Sure, she like many others are truly passionate and rightly so about the cause.But they could evaluate how effective the groups have been at real change or has there been much more talking to those who we already agree with and more polarization? Agreed we have got louder, bolder, but critically we did not take the time(or weren't advised properly) to get a lawful ordinance. So much energy was wasted on PR and lots of outstanding posters you refer to that were done so well. But at the end of the day, our demanding Pass the bill means the county must defend a flawed ordinance.Kauai does not get the needed change we are boasting if the ordinance is overturned, we get nothing.
So maybe we have been led to believe we are fighting for one thing, while others have other plans, big ones for Kauai. It is fair to wonder why these guys might want to help Kauai, especially when there is toxic legacy much closer to their own homes? It seems Joan uncovered a plausible reason, the biggest bankers in the USA are here waiting for that development potential using us as pawns and most are eager to comply because of your youth inexperience and idealism. Is that money here to urbanize Kauai among other reasons? We are a new frontier and on the map.

Anonymous said...

Now that you accepting "donations" to your blog, will you be reporting who contributes and the source of their money? Or is that just for the anti-GMO movement?

Anonymous said...

To: Fern,

You claimed "Let's stay on track and keep looking into what might be leading to increased birth defect rates in some areas and health problems, lets focus on solutions rather than picking apart people, their lives and organisations funding records that really have no large part in any on the ground action here or community changes."

However, you nor your counterparts were ever open to amending the bill. You wanted what you wanted, nothing more.

For the hundredth time, the State reported that the cancer rate on the west side is nothing significant compared to the rest of the state and that nothing was abnormal.

You honestly think the people that say are sick will be 110% honest about what they eat, lifestyle choices (e.g. -smoking, drinking, drugs, no exercise, crap food, etc) etc., if they participated in a study? HONESTLY?

I agree pesticides are bad, but when was it ever good policy making to pass a law PRIOR to doing ANY studies?

If Earthjustice, CFS were so concerned about helping the kauai people, why didn't they donate money to fund the study for the west side community? The amount of money they spent to send people back and forth here to testify at meetings could've been used to fund a study.

Don't make like your movement was EVER willing to sit down at the table to truly look at the bill at a 360 degree angle. All you guys saw was your side, plain and simple.

The end. You got what you wanted. A shit bill that passed. If the judge does rule in favor of the chem companies, what next? What's your bright idea? oh right, you guys don't have a plan on anything. You just wanted the bill to pass and make the county do all the work...typical haole.

Anonymous said...

Interesting that we have a lot of property owned by a "Cornerstone" here on Kauai

Anonymous said...

8:02 attempts to sound like a reasonable person, but then ends with "typical haole". Too bad he or she hides behind a computer screen and indulges in name-calling and stereotyping.

Fern said...

To: 8:02 (such an awkward introduction lol),

I was always open to amending the bill, I was always concerned about the final push in that moment to pass the bill, with a few lingering questions, days of anxiety and stress.

My understanding was that the state report was shown for all of Kaua'i (please correct me if I am wrong), but it did not break down any of the data by zip code and doesn't do any real analysis to see if there are any trends between any of the birth defects, specific cancers or diseases and specific locations near (or downwind) from these facilities. Comparing the overall cancer rate of Kauai to Maui or the rest of the state says very little! This is not the level of detail we need to investigate clusters.

Wow you dismiss the need to study because some people might lie about wether they eat crap food or smoke in the survey. Anyway out huh?

You agree pesticides are bad? Thats a pretty general statement I don't necessarily want to agree with, but I will say that of the restricted use pesticides that we have on that list which is only 22 and really incomplete many of them are banned in other nations and other states and for those that aren't totally banned, for the state of California for example they often have quarter mile buffer zones between homes, schools etc. Something to consider.

The reason this law came about was because they would not tell us, after MONTHS of requests for information, we were lied to ("we aren't using Atrazine"), stone walled and manipulated. It got so ridiculous that we realised that we had to pass a law to get them to disclose or we would never be able to make a real conclusion on what we are dealing with and what the risk was at all. There are LOTS of studies around the world on pesticide drift, and the impacts, particularly on learning and children and we shouldn't have to wait 50 years for action.

It costs a lot lot lot more than those flights to fund the kind of study Kaua'i needs. We are working on it, and Im telling you, these big groups helping with the lawsuit are coming in late in the game and throwing us some legal aid, but they aren't the orchestrators or the masters behind the scenes they are being made out to be.

I was always willing to sit down and look at the bill but I wasn't willing to be lied to. Peter from Dow tried to convince me at one stage I was totally wrong, that there was nothing experimental being done, all we came to the understanding of after a long winded conversation was that we didn't agree on the definition of experimental. That to him the cell splicing was the experimental side, the open air field trials for unapproved GMOs and chemical mixtures, didn't meet his definition. You can't sit down and have a reasonable conversation with someone that is trying to deceive you. Then we were faxed redacted documents... who wasn't willing to sit at the table?

Fern said...

This is a long battle and 2491 just the first step in bringing the truth to light for our community. A year ago people thought that corn was edible, I knew people that were steeling and eating it to feed their families thinking they were getting a good deal. A year later, our community knows we are research stations, we know there are controversial tests being done here and that they may be risking the health of our children and community.

I have got to no 'end' and we are a far way from "what I wanted". There is a long road to go and I don't intend on dropping the ball yet, I'm in this for the long haul and I believe in this community, its people.

With every person that starts to learn more about what has been done here and what is still being done, we get closer to better solutions, I am not saying that I have the answers for what is next, but I am saying that together we can come up with it, viable real solutions to meet the needs of our community and provide better, safer jobs for west side families and in agriculture, some that might even help reduce the cost of food here and better our society and health.

Tell me I have no breath of life all you want, but pono will prevail and so with the ha.

Joan Conrow said...

Fern, the fact that you never actually read the cancer report, yet continue to make false assertions about health impacts, speaks tragic volumes about your role as a "leader" in this movement.

Come on, girl! Try educate yourself!

Here's a link:


And here's the most recent report on birth defects, since you aren't akamai on that topic, either:


Fed Up said...

The state reported cancer rate conveniently left out Leukemia in women as alarmingly higher at 11.4, while the state is at 8.8, and in men at 12.8, when the state is 11.1. Cervical cancer at is 11, when the state is at 7.9, we have the highest instances of non-hodgekins lymphoma at 18.1, when the state is at 16.9. You can do the research yourself. http://statecancerprofiles.cancer.gov

thats not to mention that Kauai has the second highest instances of birth defects after Honolulu...but that is only untill 2003 because after that, they just stopped recording them!

Anonymous said...

Hi 8:02! What west side study are you talking about?

Unknown said...

Joan thank you for brightening my opinion of the subjects of your blog, it gives me hope that the underdogs are not alone in this warranted battle.

Anonymous said...

Fed Up -- Kauai has the lowest rate of leukemia in the state and HI is well below national average. Cervical cancer rate for Kauai is not even listed on the website you list. Did you see meth use correlates with birth defects and that was higher on Kauai?

Unknown said...

Could this be a tempest in a teapot? I think it may be IRONIC that the children, grandchildren, wives, widows and heirs of corporate founders are disbursing funds to fight the corruptions of the very big corporation and successor corporations that are now ruining the planet. However, I consider anyone who commits themselves to finding a way to do the right thing is to be commended. I think we need to start playing a more sophisticated game than "GOTCHA!!".

I think the issue of the effectiveness of actions is very important and that often times the disbursement of funds never gets to the places where it could do the most good, because that task is handled by well-paid functionaries who themselves are generalists, careerists and are just another form of bureaucrat trying to keep their heads down in order to hang on to their well-paying jobs.

I am very familiar with this non-profit careerist path having seen it close up and personal and although it is populated with people who strongly believe they are doing the right thing, what often comes out of it is fluff which is impractical in the real world. Those with practical experience in how to make things work are often too HOT to HANDLE because they don't want to waste their time with ineffective if well-meaning people and organizations.

When I think of what some of this old money could do if it were effectively deployed....
Instead we get too many PhDs playing in a dreamworld sandbox. Sooner or later we need to get smart.

Jonathan Cole
Light on the Earth
Hawaii Island

Anonymous said...

This article gives the light in which we can observe the reality.

Anonymous said...

Thanks a lot for the post.Really thank you! Keep writing.