Friday, September 19, 2014

Musings: Strange Bedfellows

During an interview the other day on Hawaii Public Radio's “The Conversation,” host Beth-Ann Kozlovich asked me why the two big ag land sales at Princeville and Pilaa had gone virtually unnoticed.

My reply: Because Kauai environmentalists have stopped fighting development and instead are fixated on fighting agriculture.

That phenomenon is perfectly underscored by Malama Mahaulepu's formal opposition to not just Hawaii Dairy Farms, but a dairy of any size. What's more, it has bizarrely hopped into bed with the Hyatt — the very same resort that MM originally opposed because it opened the door to development along the Mahaulepu coast — by supporting its lawsuit against HDF.

Because opposition has greatly delayed the dairy, HDF has had to sell the cows it shipped from New Zealand to the mainland in anticipation of building a herd on Kauai. Yes, HDF can and will buy more — but only because it's funded by billionaire Pierre Omidyar. Any other dairy farmer would already have been driven out of business.

So even as Malama Mahauelpu characterizes HDF as an “industrial dairy,” it and the other so-called “environmentalists” who want to dictate how ag is practiced on ag land seem oblivious to this irony: their actions are effectively serving to make Kauai agriculture financially untenable for all but billionaires and corporations.

Ironically, though corporate agriculture is now anathema, corporate-sponsored activism is all good — if you're mayoral candidate and fighter Dustin Barca, who proudly announced on Instagram that he's sold himself to clothing company RVCA.
Yes, in the Orwellian world of Dustin's campaign a polarizer can pass himself off as a “true ambassador of the balance of opposites” — since that's his owner's marketing slogan.

Speaking of marketing, this ad is an indication of what's to come when the pro-development, anti-ag crowd holds sway: Fake farms, with your own serfs to work the fields, just upslope from Kaanapali resort. 
As the marketing blurb gushes:

For the Lot Owner, it's a delightful way to experience both the soul of farming and the science of coffee cultivation at one's leisure, without the distractions [sweat or dirty fingernails] of daily farm management.

Why, it's the perfect colonial model! Can't you just see these popping up all over the westside once the seed companies are driven out?

It brings to mind the Hyatt's desire to stage a farmer's market at the resort to help repair its anti-ag image — just so long as those dirty veggies aren't grown anywhere near the "clean and green" hotel.

Returning to Malama Mahaulepu, its executive director is Greg Stevens, a land use attorney from Vermont. Though he's been on Kauai just a year, he's already an expert on the island's culture, environment and agricultural history. You'll also be happy to know he's eager to leave a “lasting legacy.” Of luxury second homes and gentleman's estates, perhaps?

The group's secretary is Jeri DiPietro, an officer of GMO-Free Kauai and Hawaii SEED, a major funder and driver of the movement to pass the GMO/pesticide regulatory Bill 2491.

Though Jeri has been slack in keeping Hawaii SEED's tax returns up to date, she did finally file for 2012. The return shows contributions and grants of $181,754 that year, down slightly from the $220,327 that it took in during 2011 and a dramatic surge up from the $266 in income reported for 2010. It reported expenditures of $253,668 for 2012, ending the year with $94,801 in the bank.

Its officers include Jeri, Mary Lacques, Mi-Key Boudreau and Walter Ritte, none of whom claimed any compensation. Though Jeri and Walter engaged in extensive lobbying efforts throughout the state, the group has failed to register as a lobbyist. Instead, it clings to the fiction that it's a tax-exempt nonprofit. Its stated mission is “to inform and educate the public on food security, genetic engineering and health,” by which it apparently means its concerted campaign to frighten westsiders about pesticides after its pesticide drift-monitoring activities failed to yield any results.

So where did Hawaii SEED spend all that money? Not on helping any of the worried Westsiders it purports to support. No, it spent $54,362 on its “Facing Future” manifesto, nearly $11,000 on travel and hotels and $5,429 on internet. It also diverted $17,403 back to itself via GMO-Free Kauai.

At the very bottom of the return, more information is revealed: Pesticide education, $34,564 and the aforementioned failed pesticide testing, $19,219. This is in addition to the $9,414 spent on pesticide education and $17,317 on pesticide testing in 2011. In other words, Hawaii SEED spent $36,536 on pesticide testing in 2011 and 2112 — but found nothing wayward to report.

The 2012 return also includes expenditures of $109,567 for the cryptically labeled “VS tour.” Yup, they shelled out $109,567 for Vandana Shiva's January 2013 statewide tour, which torched the anti-GMO frenzy on Kauai and catapulted Councilmen Gary Hooser and Tim Bynum to delusions of grandeur.

And we're supposed to believe this is a locally-based grassroots movement just a-tryin' to help them poor westsiders shake off their corporate oppressors?

Gee, think of how many blood tests they could've funded to help westsiders prove they're actually being poisoned by pesticides. Unless, perhaps, they aren't.

Though Hawaii SEED doesn't report the source of its income, I previously reported that its funding comes not from individual contributions, but the Ceres Trust, which in 2012 awarded Hawaii SEED $228,550 for a pesticide drift project.

Curious, how Hawaii SEED is claiming just $181,754 in income for 2012, when the Ceres Trust is reporting it gave the group $228,550.

But we'll leave that to the IRS.

And I'll leave you with this: When agriculture disappears in Hawaii, development invariably takes its place. So be careful what you wish and work for. Unless that's what you really want.

Many thanks for the very kind comments left on yesterday's anniversary post!


Anonymous said...

“…their [Malama Mahauelpu] actions are effectively serving to make Kauai agriculture financially untenable for all but billionaires and corporations.”

Yes, Joan, the same is happening (has happened) with housing and the land as the influx of foreigners from the mainland and other countries with their higher incomes have competed for and taken up whatever affordable housing Kauai used to have in the villages and forced locals to either bunch together in their parents’ homes or to leave their home island entirely. The hypocrisy is demonstrated in that so many of these same newcomers patronize Hawaiians and even like to say they’re “Hawaiian at heart” while making it more and more difficult for the real Hawaiians to live in their own home.

Anonymous said...

I wonder if Dustin realizes that RVCA is a corporation? And is part of an even bigger corporate tree. Just days before posting this RvCA annoucment he was posting a picture about how evil corporations are. It would be interesting to research RVCA corporate tree and find out how or if hey are tied to any "evil" GMO money. Or banks that were linked to the financial collapse of the banking system and illuminati (since he believes in that). If so that would mean that he is working for the very corporations he's so vocally against!!!!
That would be funny. I bet he wouldn't care because even he is a corporate sell out. He is the very definition of what he hates. He is literally being paid off. So ironic.

Also...This is kind of a mute point, since it's only in our wild imaginations that Barca will be mayor, but can a Mayor even be sponsored by a corporation? I don't think so.

So what will it be Dustin? Mayor or cool rvca dude? Maybe RVCA knows this, since they are a huge corporation with lots of lawyers, and is conspiring against you (Dustin) because they don't want you to be mayor of Kauai. They know you will be too powerful for the good and they must sedate you with nice clothing and money so that evil will prevail. Well played RVCA and affiliated corporate family tree.

Sorry got carried away there. Happy Aloha Friday everyone!

Anonymous said...

Joan said of Hawaii Seed "Funding comes not from individual contributions".
No funding at all comes from imdividual contributions?
None! Are you sure?

Joan Conrow said...

I imagine there likely is some, but when you look at the Hawaii SEED returns, and the Ceres Trust returns, HS is overwhelming funded by Ceres. Perhaps there are individual contributions they aren't reporting?

Anonymous said...

Joan, thank you for the salient points, particularly related to the contradictions and hypocrisies of the anti-groups.

Alas, Malama Mahaulepu, which at one time was a relatively credible group, has now gone rouge and awry. Too bad it has been taken over by anti-intellectualism.

"Anti-intellectualism is hostility towards and mistrust of intellect, usually expressed as the derision of education and science, as impractical and contemptible. Alternatively, self-described intellectuals who are alleged to fail to adhere to rigorous standards of scholarship may be described as anti-intellectuals although pseudo-intellectualism is a more commonly - and perhaps more accurately - used description for this phenomenon."

A common feature of this is to fixate on one side of the issue, and stick to it come hell or high water, thereby digging themselves in a deeper and darker hole. Their road is commonly paved with hypocrisies and unintended consequences.

Anonymous said...

I wonder if Dustin's campaign was done to attract sponsors.

Anonymous said...

I love this blog. But not for the reasons you might think. I love to see with almost each and every thought and sentence, it can completely be taken back and re twisted back around right back at the author, Joan Conrow. It is interesting how she seems to open herself up quite widely for so called "attacks", from this ethereal "other side", "us-vs-them", red shirt vs poor little *immigrant labor for three months* precious employees, ect.

Like real food production farmers don't have employees and their employees aren't worth saving their jobs for. Just the corporation jobs. Make no mistake, GMO companies are out to destroy food farmers, their livelihoods, their employees, their profits and their livelihood.

They want to be the only chip on the table on Kauai and they wont stop until they get their way.

Seems Joan Conrow is fine with that.

I mean, come on the goal of GMO corporations is to put organic and semi organic farmers out of business, make sure we all eat our allotted spam and rice, and be ready to defend them with our lives if necessary for the good ole GMO way.

Yeap, the dairy is good, but Omidyar is bad. GMO's are all safe, and all people who do not believe this, including many countries and millions of people around the world are wrong.

Corporations like GMO's backing candidates are hunky dory, but corporations backing other candidates are bad.

Its a really fun, roller coaster read. I would think however that it would be really hard to keep you rhetoric straight when you talk or write, as the author seems to be completely all over the map.

And yes, I am local, and live on Kauai, I am a farmer, I farm food, I am not rich, nor a hippie.

My time reading this has been fruitful. If this is all the other side has got, I figure my produce will be selling like hotcakes.

Thanks Joan for helping out real farmers to sell their real food.

The Farmers Bureau's blatant sell out is ludicrous, and goes against its own charter. The Farmers Union grows leaps and bounds every day. We will see on whose side Joan is when the chips are really on the table.

Me thinks it will be all for the Corporation GMO, and certainly not for the person whose veggies you can't wait to buy on Marketday.

Joan claims to be a beekeeper. Great. I personally challenge Joan to place her precious hives in the middle of an active GMO chemseed field. Double dare. Bees cannot survive pesticides. She will be all for GMO's until they threaten her "yardning" livelihood in a few years. Then you will see a complete turn around.

In the meantime, its a bunch of yadda yadda silliness. Sorry. That's my opinion. Joan is probably a nice little old lady, but she really doesn't know what she is talking about.

Joan Conrow said...

Thanks Joan for helping out real farmers to sell their real food.

You're welcome! I'm all about keeping Hawaii agriculture alive!

But you've otherwise misstated my views.

Anonymous said...

Every new haole is an automatic expert on how others should live. And do not forget council member fatboy and his council allies have never had a real job. They are just parasite which make them very susceptible to these well funded instant experts.

Anonymous said...

2:11 Eh? what fatboy? There are three fatboys on the Council.
Please do not use derogatory adjectives or nouns when referring to certain members on the Council. These are very sensitive, caring, compassionate and understanding men.
They also base their decisions on facts and research before they go for tell you how for live.

Dawson said...

I love to see with almost each and every thought and sentence, it can completely be taken back and re twisted back around right back at the author, Joan Conrow. It is interesting how she seems to open herself up quite widely for so called "attacks", from this ethereal "other side", "us-vs-them", red shirt vs poor little *immigrant labor for three months* precious employees, ect.

RAMESES: I will give your staff a greater wonder to perform. Bear it before your idle people and bid them make brickbats without strawmen.
AARON: But how can the people make brickbats without strawmen?
RAMESES: Let his staff provide them with it. Or let them glean strawmen in the fields for themselves. But their tally of brickbats shall not diminish. So let it be written. So let it be done.
-- The Ten Commandments, 1956

Anonymous said...

1:01 pm - you are absolutely delusional. Perhaps you should meet some of the seed company reps to understand their intentions. You couldn't be more wrong in your sickening self-righteousness. Stop taking potshots from your throne and get to know the REAL working people of this island.

Anonymous said...

1:01 MP must have a pretty crappy farm to be so angry. If it weren't so sad, his conjuring of imaginary demons would be laughable.

Anonymous said...

1:01 pm,
"GMO (seed?) companies are out to destroy food farmers". Because then there would be no customers to buy the seeds. Sounds like quite a business plan!

Anonymous said...

Food farmers do not really like to buy GMO seed, frankly because of the woody or un-flavorful taste, and toughness.

Most food farmers have a very good palatte for taste. I am a food farmer, and I would not purchase GMO seed to farm with because of taste and texture.

I prefer hybridization to GMO for taste, flavor and texture.

So, yes GMO companies are waging a war against food farmers who do not want to purchase their seeds.

They are trying to force us to do it, with no choice in the matter by squeezing us out from all sides, politically, financially and in the field.

The push to force us to grow crops from seeds that may look better but do not taste better, and lack the delicate flavors of hybridized seeds forces us to grow and sell an inferior product, one most of us would not want to present to our customers.

When you are a food farmer, you take pride in what you grow. Small farmers care a lot more about their customers then huge agricultural operations do.

We are local, more friendly and pride ourselves on presenting the most fresh tasting and delicious product we can. That's why we don't worry about long shelf lives. We don't need that. Nothing stays on the shelf for long due to its highly superior flavor.

Ask any chef what produce they would rather cook with. hybridized farmed produce, or GMO.
I will bet you the answer is hybridized.

If more people understood this they would understand that food farmers welcome hybridization, but do not welcome GMO manipulated foods because of the above reason.

For a lot of crops, such as tomatoes there is a clear taste and texture difference between a GMO tomato, and a hybridized one, which has been selectively bred for taste and texture.

Shelf life and longevity are not priorities for local food farmers who sell their crops locally and quickly, flavor and texture matters more.

Anonymous said...

8:09 proves he has no idea what he/she is talking about. There are no gmo tomatoes on the market. Nice try though...
Why do people beleieve the seed companies only make gmo seed? They also develop hybrid and organic lines of seed. Stop living in this organic haze and get yourselves some acurate information!

Anonymous said...

Anonymous wants to know why the island has been smelling like rotten garbage since it's been so hot?

Anonymous said...

sorry but you are incorrect I know that Wikipedia gets a bad rap but sometimes its a useful source of useful information

Actually if you are a genuine food farmer, sometimes the opportunity to taste a genetically engineered tomato comes along, especially when they are trying to convince food farmers to farm GMO.

Did not like it. tastes woody, no intricate flavorings. Not restaurant ready in my opinion.

Why do you assume that I am in a haze, or living in a delusion? I actually farm for a living. I thought this blog liked farmers. perhaps that isn't the case you seem to have something against people who grow food for a living.

When did I say I was an organic farmer? Assumptions don't help, but facts do.

I do not use insecticides, that is true, but my farming operation is not able to be certified organic.

So, if I am in a haze, I am assuming that you are assuming that I am also some sort of drugged out hippie. So is that some more of that "We love farmers" stuff I thought this blog was all about.

Sad, I tried to give this a chance but it seems that there is just a real dis-ingenuous about being pro farmer on this site.

Thats OK. Just good to know my hoping that there was such a blog on Kauai was just a dream.


Thank you all for your time, I have enjoyed the conversation but it really hasn't helped me to further my farm, or help me in any way like all of you keep saying you are for the farmers.

Anonymous said...

I've smelled that Bugas smell also. It reminds me of the smell of the old sugar plantation waste products.

KauaiFinn said...

I never leave comments on your blogs, but feel I should for once & express my appreciation.
You have helped me gain a much greater understanding of what the hell is going on with our island and our politics -more than any other outlet.
Additionally, I appreciate the fact that you always take the time to provide sources whenever possible, rather than merely spouting off claims without backing them up with evidence (as we often see from the anti-GMO camp).
Mahalo for all your hard work & dedication to providing us accurate information -with an occasional side of lovable humour. :-)

Joan Conrow said...

Thank you, Jaana!

Anonymous said...

Hey, Food Farmer! Exactly how can anyone force you to buy their seeds? Guns? Extortion? I’m pretty sure you can keep buying all the seeds of the type you prefer and will be able to do so forever. UNLESS, your customers decide that they don’t like your food or that of your cohorts so that your seed supplier doesn’t sell enough seeds and goes out of business. So, ultimately the availability and your seed choice is not in the hands of the dreaded GMO seed companies, but in your customers’ hands. If you’re raising great food, then people will value and buy it and you will prosper. But if you’re raising inferior food, then you will fade away after a period, of course, of blaming others for your own lack of skills, knowledge, and entrepreneurship.

Anonymous said...

You are mistaken. GMOs can be hybrid and there is no GMO tomato on the market. There is also no difference in flavor between GMO and non-GMO given all other factors are the same. Your fears are getting the best of you!

Anonymous said...

Just what is blowing in the wind? Chemicals, chemicals and more, for what? Most here say no worry, no problem, move along now. We are the experts, we are the scientist, we are all for big industrial farming. Our request for labeling is just based on ignorant fear. Just drink the Kool Aid and don't ask what it contains. Andrea Bower has an article in today's TGI. Titled "Why the facts make our 'right to know' more important than ever". Maybe, some of you industrial Ag spokesmen could answer the concerns she listed.

Anonymous said...

Which ones? The 10x birth defect rate the doctor just refuted? The refusal to disclose to neighbors when they already are? The 10x greater use of pesticides that was already shown to be based on faulty calculations and skewed comparisons to CA crops?

Anonymous said...

Real food farmers grow heirloom varieties.

Anonymous said...

1:01 Yep, you must be a local?? A local would never disrespect "a nice little old lady"... When did you get here from LA?
There is room for many types of farming on Kauai. From pig farms to solar farms, seed farms to taro.
There is room for all.

Dawson said...

Just what is blowing in the wind? Chemicals, chemicals and more, for what? Most here say no worry, no problem, move along now. We are the experts, we are the scientist, we are all for big industrial farming.

Nope. That's not what Joan Conrow and the posters protesting the anti-GMO hysteria are saying.

You really should put hats on your strawmen and stick them in an ag field. The one that Food Farmer plowed September 19 at 1:01 PM sounds like a good choice.

Anonymous said...

what about all the pesticide use in and around hotels and golf courses, mighty toxic places

Anonymous said...

GMO and hybrid are not opposites. GMO, if we mean lab GMO, means the genes were manipulated in a lab. Hybrid means the male plant is one truebreeding (monoculture/homozygous) variety and the female plant is another so that the seed genetics can be non-truebreeding (heterozygous) and still consistent, useful because some plants, like corn, only exhibit their best traits when some genes are heterozygous.

You can have an organic hybrid, a GMO hybrid, a GMO non-hybrid, or an open pollinated non-GMO non-hybrid.

Much if the flavor issue with grocery store good has little to do with GMO or plant breeding and much more to do with economics and business people who directed plant breeders to breed for shell life and respectability transportability at the expense of flavor. Because, money.

Take the red delicious, come from a natural mutation found in an orchard and bread specifically for it's deep red beautiful appearance. It's all natural, no GMO, and tastes like public school lunch.

You could easily use plant breeding techniques, both GMO and natural, to produce more flavorful foods that would beat the pants off any openly pollinated variety. As shipping techniques improve and as consumers become more demanding of good tasting food, we may well see plant breeders directed to move in that direction.

Anonymous said...

anon at 9:31, and some of the more polite posters, mahalo. No, I am not from LA, nor am I rich.

The term "Food Farmer", is to distinguish myself from others who may farm other commodities, such as seeds, horticulture, or meat, such as cattle, or chicken. I produce only edibles that do not fall into these categories, therefore it is a different type of farming.

Eggs, honey, goats milk, (for my personal consumption only, I do not sell it, nor make anything out of it), Aquaponics, which produces both fish, which is more "livestock farming", and vegetables and other produce that is useful to eat or flavor food.

These products are sold directly to the consumer, using a CSA or a Farmers Market, and/or geared towards small restaurants who would buy fresh daily and in small amounts.

Therefore, flavor and taste are paramount and as I said shelf life isn't such a big issue.

As you have all now found out, the attempt to create the perfect GMO tomato died hard, because of taste and flavor. As you have also read, trying to breed for "shelf life", as in the apple mentioned usually sacrifices flavor.

As I have stated I am not certified organic, nor to I plan to be, but I do not use pesticides.

Yes, my style of farming is ten times as labor intensive but it produces much more flavorful results.

And as other posters have astutely observed, taste and flavor will always win the day.

I too am a "seed farmer". I .E. the seeds from m y best producing varieties and plants will be saved and dried, and then become "heirloom". I will hopefully not need to purchase as much seed the next planting round since I will have a good supply.

The main problem I have as I said before with GMO is the pallet e taste, and frankly the Copy-write stuff liability yadda. I mean seriously if its a seed, and its in my hand and I am planting it and growing it what is produced from that seedling is mine, not someone else s.

That, I believe is the biggest hurdle that GMO companies have in getting to the average small farmer.

To get me on board, I would not want to farm with any GMO that has been genetically modified with a pesticide.

There is a practical reason for that. I am not really sure of the science in that, but as someone who will also be raising hives, my concern would be for my bees of course. They are extremely sensitive to pesticides as you know.

Most of the GMO varieties of food really don't concern me, as I do not farm corn, or soy, wheat or rice.

Would I be concerned if a GMO seed company came next to my fields? Absolutely. The farming practices that they employ in the field could wipe out several aspects of my small farming operation very quickly.

So, the concerns are real, even if we aren't discussing doctors, and other things.

And it doesn't matter where you are farming. Just a heads up there are quite a few GMO fields now coming into the Kapaa area, I believe, although that info could be wrong correct me if it is.

Because if that is the case, a lot of Food Farmers could be out of business very quickly.

Is there a way to live together in harmony? I have no idea. But I think we need to be real about supporting farmers. All farmers not just the ones we like.

A farmer does many things and there are many categories.

But for me, it will be because I truly enjoy it. And how many can say that about what they do?

kimo said...

You seem to have plenty passion for something you know nothing about.

kimo said...

Whats up with all the name calling seems to be a trait with the antigmo crowd

kimo said...


kimo said...

You seem to be fake as why