Friday, April 4, 2014

Musings: Feasting on Fear

The feast of fear that was intentionally served up to pass Bill 2491, the pesticide/GMO regulatory bill, is now serving to feed the small frenzy of opponents to the dairy.

I am really anxious about the impending Hawaii Dairy Farm plans,” writes Jackie Hoban in a trembling letter to the editor that begs our elected officials to “protect us” from certain “environmental disaster” — the same verbiage so frequently uttered in the 2491 fight.

Geez, Jackie, it's a fricking dairy with cows on important ag land, not a nuclear waste incinerator. And I thought, ya know, this crap is getting out of hand. It's time to expose the very deliberate fear-mongering that drove the 2491 campaign in hopes of quelling the scourge of paranoia running rampant through our community.

It began in 2012, when Hawaii SEED started working with the Pesticide Action Network (PAN) to conduct “drift tests” in hopes of finding evidence that pesticides were indeed blowing in the westwide wind.

Except it didn't work out as they'd hoped. According to the minutes of a Jan. 20, 2013 SEED Strategy Meeting “Pesticide: Break‐out Group Report Back,” which were widely circulated:

The Hawaii SEED drift monitoring project is NOT yielding the kind of info to move this work forward. This project will be closed.

In other words, they weren't finding anything damning. So they decided to shift their strategy:

Next steps:
1. Collaborate with others who are testing for pesticides in water, blood, soil, animals (die‐off like urchins) and look for allies like surf riders, dept of fish and wildlife, health department. Strategy: pressure OTHERS to do the testing

2. Door‐to‐door or public surveys:
Target native hawaiians , moms, Ag. Laborers, middle class
Goal: Tell the story of epidemic sickness in Hawaii that may be related to pesticides.
Use this as ammunition to pressure health department into addressing the effects of pesticides statewide.

Working group: Jeri [Di Pietro], Kawai [Warren], Mike [Broady], Dustin [Barca], Patty [Valentine], Lorrin [Pang], Brittany [Beers[

And voila, that's exactly what they did. They set about telling westsiders a story of “epidemic sickness” — even though no epidemic sickness has ever been documented — except they bagged the “may be related to pesticides part.” Instead, they claimed, unequivocally, that pesticides were making westsiders sick. Because it's so much easier to get folks frightened and riled up when you tell 'em something fer sure bad is happening, even if you're just making it up to advance your own political agenda.

It wasn't long before we started hearing, right on cue, the horror stories of illness, suffering and death, the unsubstantiated claims of elevated rates of birth defects, asthma, cancers, rare congenital diseases — though curiously, I've yet to find any evidence that health professionals ever reported these worrisome trends to the state Department of Health or any federal agency for further investigation.

The very public airing of these complaints in letters to the editor and on the airwaves of KKCR, which wholeheartedly embraced the propaganda campaign, coincided with Councilman Gary Hooser's introduction of Bill 2491. Yes, he was part of that January 2013 Hawaii SEED session, too.

What I find incredibly tragic is how westside residents were intentionally manipulated and used to advance a political agenda, resulting in a bill that does virtually nothing to address any of the fears that were mongered. 

Sadly, these fears may indeed be legitimate, though we'll never for sure, because the "red shirts" weren't actually seeking to quantify or resolve human and environmental health issues on our island but pass a local bill that could be used as ammunition in a national and international fight.

At the end of the Hawaii SEED minutes, the strategizers wrote:

All of this has to do [sic] in a manner that is sensitive: Some sick people are employed by the companies making people sick.

Perhaps. But it's also pretty sick to intentionally sow the seeds of fear.

Which brings us back to the dairy. Once again we're seeing a slew of Google scholars weighing in on everything from livestock density to feed and pronouncing the dairy fatally flawed, Never mind that none of them have been privy to all the studies and research that have gone into planning this project for the past six years.

In other words, they don't have the full story or all the facts, just like in Bill 2491. But that doesn't stop them from fanning the flames of fear using absolutist rhetoric that leaves no room for discussion or debate — great clouds of flies, unbearable smells, kikuyu grass that won't grow fast enough to feed the cows, kikuyu grass that will grow out of control and blanket the entire island, cows that will be eating poison, cows that will be producing poison milk, cows that will be peeing and pooping poison, floods of poison wastewater bespoiling a coastline that is “pristine” — save for its resorts and golf courses.

Get a grip, people. I know that fear is exciting, and gets the old adrenals pumping better than caffeine, or even ice, but it's toxic, especially when it's manipulated, rather than based on a real quantifiable threat.

You may not like the plan, or cows, or milk or what have you, but having a dairy in Mahaulepu Valley is most definitely not the end of the world. So please, cool the rhetoric and your jets. And meditate on a popular post-Iniki tee-shirt slogan: Kauai, no place for wimps.


Anonymous said...

Right on Joan! You are no wimp, awesome...! Kauai seems to have too many experts about land use. It's their way or the highway! Glad you're telling it as it is.

Anonymous said...

Joan, I wish more people could read this. You nailed it. The dairy plan seems to be the new concept on producing milk (which many of us drink), the most environmentally sensitive way. Remember the commercial "Great cheese comes from Happy Cows", I think Kauai happy cows will produce great milk. Kauai was probably chosen because we have the land, water and climate that best suits this method. Not to mention, enough chickens and birds to eat the flies and their larvae. At least local milk is not as "dead" as milk shipped from the mainland. i was raised on raw milk, and let me tell you, it's delicious.

Anonymous said...

"Is there any accountability in American politics for being completely wrong? Is there any cost to those who say things that turn out not to be true and then, when their fabrications or false predictions are exposed, calmly move on to concocting new claims as if they had never made the old ones?"

Today Kauai politicians are predicting doom from the dairy and/or seed growers.

Yesterday council members were predicting mass sickness from the plastic bag ban.

Before that all the stores were doomed when Walmart and Home Depot arrived.

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

Joan wrote - "Once again we're seeing a slew of Google scholars weighing in on everything"

Without an understanding of the scientific method and led by a desire to confirm their own beliefs some become selective self-censors as they cherry pick their way through the web seeking affirmation.

Actually I wish their were more Google Scholars. I find it an excellent resource. Find it here

Anonymous said...

Joan! You got it right! Google Search is the new college degree. And if you do it long enough, you might even be a doctor of something. No not an MD, or even a DC, a DO or a PHD. I think the new title should be DGS (Doctor of Google Search) with diplomas awarded via the honor system.

Anonymous said...

I am not afraid of the dairy as being toxic, and agree with Joan that the sky is falling crowd is at it again.

However, I oppose the dairy for the reason that it perpetuates animal exploitation. Cows only "produce" milk when pregnant. The calfs are quickly slaughtered by a blow to the head with a hammer and sold. The mother is impregnated again - so some already obese human can have another Frappachino.

And since when has factory farming ever been good for the poor animals?

Anonymous said...

Fear...Ultimately,our greatest fear is death. How we die and when is not known, but we know it will happen. Why can't we just enjoy life to it's fullest. In this day and age, we are exposed to so many environmental problems. Yes, pesticides and anything that kills, vog, pollen, exhaust, smoke, alcohol, drugs radio waves, microwaves, radiation of all forms, tsunami's, hurricanes, earthquakes, space debris and it goes on and on. So don't worry and just be happy.

Anonymous said...

I get that there are some who will exaggerate - however please don't overlook the very real problems and pollution the dairy may cause and the fact that it may be an economic burden rather than boon.

I am curious as to how Kauai cows can rotate three times faster on the same plot of grass - maybe they will record one of these information sessions that always occur when many of us work and I will hear the answer

Anonymous said...

We have nothing to fear but fear itself. Now, 12:54, if what you say is true I'm afraid I will have to oppose all dairies. But I'll go ahead and google that and get the real poop... er scoop on that. Hopefully.

Anonymous said...

Holy Hoof and Mouth, Joan- Why do you insist on using facts and logic in your analysis?

Anonymous said...

Great post, I wish more people could read this too. Do you have those minutes from that Hawaii SEED meeting of Jan 2013 by any chance?

I wish the freedom of information act applied to them as well, I'd love to see the data that was generated by the "drift tests". Shouldn't it be posted on their websites?

Google scholars? Worse, it's the University of Facebook that rules supreme!

Anonymous said...

If beef cattle allows for 1.3 cows per acre for grazing why is it different for diary cows? Will all the male calfs born be slaughtered? I'm fed up with Grove Farms lack of genuine concern for the local community. They got rid of all the leases for small farmers/ranchers so they could get premium dollar from the seed companies. Same kine aloha they showed to residents of Koloa Camp. Tressler's fed up? He's got anger issues and is great at alienating people. From what I hear those starting up the diary don't know what they're doing. If they're trying to be sustainable as Ulupono implies, how sustainable to the environment is 1800 cows crammed into less than 500 acres? How sustainable is it to ship the milk off island for processing? Will the price of milk be less or more? The Maha'ulepu coastline, long used as a favorite fishing and recreational spot, is what I'm referring to, not Po'ipu resort area long ago ruined for locals. Should we have another winter like this one, it is inevitable that cow shit and pee will make its way to the sea.

Anonymous said...

Donʻt know if you heard Cabebeʻs show the other day promoting get this: babes against biotech CHAPTERS and we are especially lucky to have our very own KBAB as well as all the other islands. Even though unfortunately the Kauai babe chapterette guest on his show could not for the life of her explain what their purpose is.
And then they want to reel Punohu in for a calender theyʻll be doing. Hope he doesnʻt do something so cheesy. More prostitution of the culture, just what the state does.

Things go off the rail in the world of protest and people get so caught up in the frenzy and attention they completely steer in another direction. Ah, gimme that stage. Not sure what Iʻll do when I get up there though.

Watchdog said...

As much as Joan is correct about the protesters abandoning science and promoting fear, I'd like to point out that they are only adopting the previously successful methods of the corporations (FUD and denial) and the government (spreading ignorance and fear) have used to get their way for years.

Anonymous said...

cool the rhetoric is right…adjective injection and pseudo concern doesn't sway anyone anyways.
They're hollow word smiths. My beef with the "dairy" is multi fold…"grass fed " ain't gonna happen and THEY know it. milk coming back from Oahu is not organic/golden Kauai produced or helping anyone here. killer, a few jobs. awesome, another brand of milk. Its still always going to be cheaper at Costco or those rare few of us who still drink milk buy the good stuff for a dollar more at the health food stores…17 million spent and wasted

Anonymous said...

Fear is a powerful weapon. It is constantly used by politicians, the military, and locally to be a "prime mover" for any kind of action.

IF people knew the Truth about CAFO (concentrated animal feeding operations) one would be eating at Mac Donalds or Burger King.

Fear is a useful tactic for manipulation.

Fear of the future and fear for the cattle.

What else motivates people to action?

(money, power, greed, sex, good food, music....maybe inspiration?)

Dr Shibai

Anonymous said...

What entertains me is that some people here thing a business must serve some higher purpose in order to be pono. That's BS. The great thing about capitalism is that an entrepreneur makes money (PROFIT) from serving people and/or providing a product that people want and a price they're willing to pay. I love the fake concern that the milk will be sent to Oahu for processing and shipped back and sold at higher prices than the milk we get from the mainland. Who cares? If consumers don't want it, the business will fail. If it becomes a nuisance, people whose lives and businesses are negatively impacted will sue and the problems will be resolved. So let it fail. Isn't that what you drawbridge folks want? After all a guy like Omidyar is really not very bright and loves to invest millions of dollars into losing ventures. Or so the little minds think.

Anonymous said...

The problem with "so let it fail" means mass slaughter of cows.

Poor animals.
No one ever thinks about the poor animals - just as a commodity. Another business decision.

At least it is not next to the Hindu temple.

Anonymous said...

If the dairy fails they can easily sell the cows. There is a big market for livestock on this island and throughout Hawaii. That might actually be the happy result of a failed dairy, more cows in backyard farms.

Anonymous said...

"What entertains me is that some people here thing a business must serve some higher purpose in order to be pono. That's BS. The great thing about capitalism is that an entrepreneur makes money (PROFIT) from serving people and/or providing a product that people want and a price they're willing to pay. I love the fake concern that the milk will be sent to Oahu for processing and shipped back and sold at higher prices than the milk we get from the mainland."

Don't commodify the Hawaiian language to sell a product if you're not willing to do in practice what the name implies. Ulu means to grow; growth. Pono means many things including goodness, right, righteous, moral, morality, correct or proper procedure, benefit, equity, just, fair etc.. The capitalistic model does not fit in to the Hawaiian concept of pono. Call it what it is and don't hide behind the benign marketing tool "Ulupono Initiative".

That being said a concern over the unsustainable practice of shipping the milk off island only to be sold back at the same price as mainland milk or higher is unbeneficial to the community that will deal with the impacts. Same thing use to happen with all local beef. Raised here, shipped to the mainland for finishing and slaughter and shipped back to Hawaii to be sold in supermarkets. I support local ranchers who raise and slaughter locally as I would support a diary that pasture fed 100%, milked and processed locally which logically would provide more than 15 jobs than the planned model.

The capitalistic model is unsustainable and depends on continued growth at the expense of our natural resources. Our island of finite resources cannot endure unfettered growth without unwanted consequences to the lifestyle that most of us treasure.

Anonymous said...

Almost all of the cows raised here are still shipped to the mainland for finishing before they become your dinner. Some local ranchers do market grass fed beef but that is and will continue to be a niche market -- one that is still worth supporting, but still only a niche.

Anonymous said...

Those who get too big for their pants will be exposed in the end.

Anonymous said...

I buy local grassfed and slaughtered beef from Sueoka Store, Kukuiula Store, Ishihara, Medeiros and Kojima's. It may be a "niche" market but growing. Happy to support local ranchers and stores.

Chuck Lasker said...

I can't find a copy of the Jan. 20, 2013 SEED Strategy Meeting “Pesticide: Break‐out Group Report Back” minutes you refer to. Could you post the whole thing, please? To me your references to those minutes are the most powerful part of this post.

Anonymous said...

I've lived next to a cow pasture for almost thirty years not realizing it was a toxic waste site. And I let my kids walk around pasture loaded with the cow pies. Please don't report me to CPS. Moooohoooo!

Anonymous said...

I'd like to see the minutes of the chem corps strategy meetings as well!

Luke Kambic said...

"I support local ranchers who raise and slaughter locally as I would support a diary that pasture fed 100%, milked and processed locally which logically would provide more than 15 jobs than the planned model."

Yep. More jobs, and some really expensive milk.

Anonymous said...

April 6, 2014 at 1:41 pm,
The "chem corps" aren't 501(c)3 tax-exempt charities.

Anonymous said...

More cow poop = more mushrooms +++++

Anonymous said...

Russia will not import GMO products, the country’s Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev said, adding that the nation has enough space and resources to produce organic food.

Moscow has no reason to encourage the production of genetically modified products or import them into the country, Medvedev told a congress of deputies from rural settlements on Saturday.

“If the Americans like to eat GMO products, let them eat it then. We don’t need to do that; we have enough space and opportunities to produce organic food,” he said.

Anonymous said...


OTOH, made some burritos for the last couple of nights and Tacos last week. Yum! And the New York cuts last week, pure ambrosia.

Compared to that stuff that Costco sells as "organic hamburger", well, there is no comparison. I wouldn't feed that Costco stuff to my cat. (and I don't have a cat)

Anonymous said...

So where is Hawaii SEED getting their money? FROM THE MAINLAND! Follow the money and you'll see who is manipulating local groups and Hawaiians by their fear mongering. Would Hawaii SEED release their financial statements on their website? Of course not.