Sitting in a meadow in a forest burned two years ago, where skeletons of charred ponderosa pine reach toward a cobalt sky, I am marveling at the lushness of the land in this high desert place. Opened by the blaze, the forest floor is a riot of life, profuse with thistle, milkweed, yellow dandelions, delicate wildflowers of pink, lavender, white, blue.
It is a bursting banquet of food for birds and insects; the elk, deer, rabbits and rodents that feed coyotes, bears, us. In days of old, people, too, would've relished the succulent dandelion and thistle greens, fresh and purifying after the monotony of winter's dead diet.
And now we dismiss them as weeds, deem them bad, unsightly, douse them with poison, eradicate them with a vengeance. How do we come to forgot the value of such things?
I have been appreciating small things in this arid climate: sprinkling salt easily from a shaker left always open; keeping chocolate in its original wrapper, at room temperature, secure in the knowledge it will not be chewed or licked by geckos, ants or cockroaches; towels that dry quickly, even when folded in thirds on a rack.
Some of us are learning to appreciate the importance of pollinators, which are celebrated with a national week of their own. This series of amazing photographs gives a glimpse into the incredible beauty of bees, which come in far more colors than the standard yellow and black.
But the recent Cascadia Times article on seed company pesticide use — rehashed in The Garden Island, though TGI staffer Chris D'Angelo did no original research or verification of his own — is nothing more than the standard propaganda now regularly served up by the anti-GMO/anti-"big ag" forces.
As I reported last November, the Media Consortium is funding a series of supposedly independent articles about “pesticide-based pollution, GE food, corporate influence and other important topics” here on Kauai. The Cascadia Times article is the latest.
So far, every report published has reiterated all the same stuff, including the Cascadia Times piece, which also compared pesticide use on Kauai to the mainland.
The reporter came to the alarming conclusion — dutifully and unquestioningly regurgitated by TGI's Chris D'Angelo — that the seed/chem companies are applying restricted use pesticides here at a much greater rate than most mainland farms. But Dr. Steven Savage, a former manager of research at DuPont and a former professor at Colorado State University whose research is cited in the Cascadia Times article, contends the reporter misinterpreted data.
One example is the restricted use pesticide chlorpyrifos, which is applied in much higher quantities to California crops like walnuts, pecans, sweet potatoes and asparagus than Kauai seed corn, according to Savage.
The Cascadia Times article also compared unlike figures, including the total amount of land leased by seed companies today to the total amount of harvested cropland in the U.S. in 2012. It also extrapolated annualized pesticide use on Kauai by using several months of data reported by the seed companies, which they say is not representative of yearly use. That figure was then compared to mainland pesticide data from 2009.
In short, the article used shoddy “research” to achieve sensationalized results. But that didn't prevent Huffington Post, The Progessive and other like-mined media outlets and blogs from lazily reprinting its findings without question, just like TGI.
And just like the other Media Consortium articles, the Cascadian Times piece quotes only those who tout the party line. Like Councilman Gary Hooser, who previously took the chem/seed industry to task for “employ[ing] an army of industry bloggers and social media experts that attack the credibility and integrity of their opponents at every step.”
But I haven't heard Gary or any of his anti-GMO supporters speak against the blog that was started solely for the purpose of attacking me, Luke Evslin, Joni Kamiya-Rose and anyone else who dares to question the movement, its tactics, its funders, its objectives or its fallout.
The Cascadia Times article includes this quote:
“Kaua‘i is Ground Zero for the testing of GMO crops,” said Gary Hooser, a member of the Kaua‘i County Council and an author of Ordinance 960. “It is also Ground Zero for democracy in action.”
So how, exactly, is an active effort to force dissenters to “shut the fuck” up an expression of “democracy in action”? It's not unlike the recent commenter who could only come to one conclusion for my critique of the movement he endorses: I must be in the pay of the seed companies.
No, as I've stated numerous times, I've never gotten a penny or anything else from those folks. My criticism of the anti-GMO movement and its divisive, simplistic, “with us or against us” mentality is based solely on my disdain for any propaganda-promoting totalitarian crowd.
It's bad enough that the anti-GMO movement has discredited itself by taking such an approach. But it's even worse that it seems totally blind to the fact that it is behaving exactly like the chem companies it reviles, pushing those of us who appreciate dialogue and discernment into the fertile landscape of middle ground.