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:
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.