Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Musings: Advancing an Agenda

The Hawaii County Council today will decide whether to pursue a legal appeal of its anti-GMO law, which was overturned last month by a federal judge on the same state pre-emption grounds that killed the Kauai GMO/pesticide regulatory bill.

Hawaii County Ordinance 13-121 banned the cultivation and open-air testing of any new genetically engineered (GE) crops, which would have effectively stifled research intended to help small lettuce and flower growers by developing disease-resistant varieties. Cattle ranchers also would have been prohibited from growing GE corn that would have allowed them to finish their livestock on-island, rather than sending them to mainland feedlots.

Seeing the bill as an attack on Big Island agriculture, the Hawaii Floriculture and Nursery Association, Hawaii Papaya Industry Association, Big Island Banana Growers Association, Hawaii Cattlemen's Council, Pacific Floral Exchange and farmers Richard Ha, Jason Moniz, Gordon Inouye and Eric Tanouye joined the Biotechnology Industry Association to successfully challenge its implementation.

But even though the appeal had broad-based support among the Big Island agricultural community, and the bill itself was passed in a contentious 6-3 vote of the County Council, mainland-based advocacy groups like Earthjustice and Center for Food Safety continue to falsely portray the legal issue as “chemical corporations undermine the will of the people.”

And they wonder why they are rapidly losing credibility in the state. Why not drop the bullshit, guys, and stick to the truth?

In its press release about the Hawaii County bill being overturned, CFS states:

Large biotechnology companies such as Monsanto and Syngenta experiment with genetically engineered crops in Hawai`i because it offers year round growing conditions. Most of these crops are engineered to resist herbicides and pesticides. Testing these crops means repeated spraying of dangerous chemicals near neighborhoods, schools, and waterways.

Except that isn't actually happening on the Big Island, where Rainbow papaya is the only commercially cultivated GE crop. And it was engineered to help farmers reduce pesticide use by creating a variety resistant to the ringspot virus that was devastating that industry.

CFS is also circulating a petition urging the Council to support an appeal that states:

A large body of evidence shows that GE crop operations in the State of Hawai‘i, their heavy pesticide use and industrial farming methods have direct and harmful impacts on soil, water and air quality, while contributing no edible crops to our local food supply.

Pray tell, where is that large body of evidence? Or even a teensy, tiny body of evidence? As for contributing no edible crops to our local food supply, what about papaya? Or all the small farmers who cultivate crops in the fallow seed fields, and depend on the companies to maintain the irrigation systems they share?

Buried in the second-to-last paragraph on the website hosting the petition, CFS states the real reason why it's here fomenting unrest in Hawaii. And it has nothing to do with protecting the Islands from poisons, and everything to do with advancing CFS's own national agenda (emphasis in the original):

The outcome of this case could affect all U.S. counties, because it is the first legal challenge to a county law of this kind. It is vital that the Hawai‘i County Council appeal the ruling and stand up for the rights of County to enact legislation to protect itself from the negative impact GE seed operations can have on agriculture and the environment.

CFS can't get any traction at the federal level, so it's trying to create case law in small, rural municipalities where gullible citizens are easily manipulated and misled using fear tactics and such “talking points” as “home rule." Never mind that they have no intention of granting such rights to the Molokai residents who overwhelming rejected the Maui County GMO moratorium initiative, which is also being challenged in the courts.

An email sent out by GMO Free Hawaii Island also contains such ludicrous contentions as:

Accepting the lower court decision means accepting that GMO contamination of conventional and organic farms is legal, legitimate, moral, and ok to do.

Accepting the lower Court decision amounts to a wonton disregard of the property property rights and health concerns of those who do not use or want GMO crops and plants.

Accepting the lower Court decision without opposition is a rejection of the state motto of Ua Mau Ke Ea O Ka Aina I Ka Pono (The Life of the Land is Perpetuated in Righteousness.")
Uh, no. Accepting the federal court decision means this: Refusing to spend taxpayer money advancing the agenda of mainland advocacy groups.

Ironically, Hawaii CFS spokeswoman Ashley Lukens told me the other day that she was tired of the divisiveness and negativity that characterizes the anti-GMO movement in the Islands. 

Aren't we all. 

But so long as her boss, CFS Director Andrew Kimbrell, continues to rally the troops with his overblown, deceptive rhetoric, it's gonna be hard to mend fences.

Because the farmers, the local plant researchers, the average citizens, the reasonable politicians — they actually know the truth. And it's not what CFS and the anti-GMO fringe is claiming.

[Update: The Council voted 5-4 to pursue the appeal.]
Click to enlarge "Pearls Before Swine"


Anonymous said...

"Wonton" disregard--is that with a side of GMO-free fried rice?

Chuck Lasker said...

"Why not drop the bullshit, guys, and stick to the truth?"

Because then they would have nothing to say.

Anonymous said...

Nailed it Joan. Thank you for supporting all farmers. If Lukens didn't want divisiveness she should never have gone to work for CFS. Instead of actually doing good to promote local food, which I believe is where she started, she has joined forces with those who want to tear agriculture apart, and that hurts all farmers. If she is serious, she should find a new gig. Otherwise, she will be the next Nomi Carmona who is scraping to hold on to her last 15 minutes of fame.

Anonymous said...

Love the cartoon! Although people do still read Facebook ;)

Anonymous said...

The truth-poisons kill. My vision for my children and grandchildren and for the future-a world free of poisons. Clean and healthy soil, water and air. A Hawaiʻi free of giant foreign corporations who produce these poisons and whose main motivation is profit, not health. A Hawaiʻi where businesses do not create huge conflicts within the community. A Hawaiʻi where businesses respect for their neighbors health and happiness trumps their desire for profit. No matter where we look in the world, misery, lawsuits, deaths (think Bhopal), and divisiveness seems to follow these companies wherever they go. Better to have businesses here that promote harmony, health, happiness and well-being.

Anonymous said...

11:59 SO we should have a world with no food, sanitation or clean water? Even the beloved organic methods use pesticides. Just because it's natural doesn't mean it wont kill you. Wake up and see the world as it is, not as the dream that is absolutely unattainable.

Anonymous said...

I farm organic. I don't use pesticides. I am however tempted and often to do so. That is a blanket statement. if you are knocking other peoples blanket statements and then make one yourself, then you kinda nixed out your cred.

As to the people that knock people for wanting clean food, soil, and planet, that's kinda brain dead. If everyone thought like you do, the planet woulda been dead already. And we wouldn't even be here to have this conversation.

So, I guess its ok to trash the EPA then, food and safety regs, and health and safety measures for the general public then, because who needs that right?

Alluding to the fact that someone shouldn't have taken a job because it reflects poorly on someone else s job, or because people take a stand on an issue, they should be punished for that because it doesn't agree with your opinion or beliefs is patently blind assed stupid.

Its just a reflection of the older, pre-civil rights generation that tends to walk the hallowed halls of Joans blog I think, and really shows the kind of demographics, and comments that reflect that.

I can accept that. Thank goodness there is a new generation now, that understands that not caring for the earth, oceans, water, and soils will pretty much wipe mankind off the face of the planet.

Thank goodness they care about their great great grandstands. It won't make a splashy blog, or give them 15 minutes of fame, but it will certainly make them roast a lot less in hell then the other crowd will, I can guarantee you that for certain.

Just sayin.

Anonymous said...

Well,it was refreshing to hear the council stand behind Alan's nomination( excepting of course the Hoos). And Cowden again shows why she constantly redefines the meaning of "sociopath". Hoosers comment about the "pool" of qualified people to choose from,reminded me of Romney's "binders full" comment back in 2012, after attempting to besmirch Alan's character. What a weasel Hooser is. No facts...just innuendo. He and Cowden: Two people that have had plenty of experience with spreading rumor and innuendo about those who disagree with them: google that and come up with many results more substantial than anything Alan was supposedly accused of. Its a bitch to choose to be a public figure, aint it?

Anonymous said...

Can we trust all farmers to be pono, let alone limited liability corporations? What happened to the central Oahu water supply when EPA allowed poison was applied in pineapple fields to control nematodes? Poisoned groundwater.

Joan Conrow said...

4:09 wrote: "Alluding to the fact that someone shouldn't have taken a job because it reflects poorly on someone else s job or because people take a stand on an issue, they should be punished for that because it doesn't agree with your opinion or beliefs is patently blind assed stupid."

Yet that is exactly what the anti-GMO crowd -- even your supposedly enlightened young'ins -- did to rank and file biotech field workers, conventional farmers and most recently, Allan Parachini.
You simply can't see your hypocrisy, can you? Just sayin'

Luke Kambic said...

If I'm not mistaken, Big Island Dairy still grows a few hundred acres of Bt corn to make silage for their cows. The acreage was grandfathered in in the ordinance. They produce more than half of the island's milk, and they've invested heavily in holistic practices, so they ought to be heralded as a great example of local food self-sufficiency. But the folks growing half an acre of organic kale or kalo seem to get more glory in that regard.

People who are holding out for a "world without poison" are going to be disappointed. But if you want to cut a good portion of known toxins out of your diet, start by eliminating nightshade veggies. Especially potatoes and eggplant. They contain the neurotoxins solanine and nicotine. Might want to cut out celery too, it has a mutagen called psoralen. Also avoid fruits in the soursop family, they contain acetogenins that have caused brain damage in rodent tests. Mushrooms have carcinogenic hydrazines. And avocados are fatally toxic to horses, birds and fish. Sounds risky.

This isn't to say that every synthetic insecticide and herbicide deserves to be approved for use. But black and white purity-cult thinking that ignores dose and mechanisms is getting us nowhere.

Anonymous said...

Looks like hawaii island is all in again offering to defend the county with CFS and your friend Paul from Earthjustice for free.
They won't stop until pre emption is case law in Hawaii.

Anonymous said...

4:09 PM It's not a new generation. it's just the latest version of clueless dope smoking hippies. Make love; not war! Grow organic; don't poison the aina! Grow up and educate yourself. Bring facts to the table not lies, innuendo, and half truths. Zzzz....

Anonymous said...

Kids:Make love; not war!

Walking Dead: Amerika: Love it or Leave it

Kids: Grow organic; don't poison the aina!

Walking Dead:Grow up and educate yourself.

To One Another: Bring facts to the table not lies, innuendo, and half truths...

She's real 409

Anonymous said...

Aloha Joan, I have nothing against Alan. I was a 2491 supporter, but I do not sup[port Joann at all. Nor did I support Tim this past election. I decide things on the merits that i see, and i am nothing like what you have described. i am not a fistee. I farm, so I am a conventional farmer. ie people were farming organically for thousands of years before pesticides and weed killer chemicals. I am one of those.

I am not one of the unicorn crowd.

So, including "you", in your statement, assumes that "I" am lumped together with those you have so often disagreed with, whether I agreed with it or not.

I am not lumpy. I don't like to be lumped. I am completely independent in how I think about issues affecting Kauai.

I call it how I see it. And how I see it, is that now, GMO's will be going everywhere, on Kauai. to a neighborhood near you. Growing, that is, upwind, downwind, wherever they choose. I see all other farmers that farm any other way but with chemicals and pesticides being unable to continue to farm beside GMO operations. I see Kauai honey becoming extinct, niche markets, small farms, and taro production dropping to almost nothing. I see us being even more reliant on the mainland for food. Since GMO's do not grow local food products here. They grow seed. That is grown into stuff on the mainland. That is shipped back to us. That is totally impracticable. That's what I see. And I see it being unstoppable. I don't like that vision for Kauai.

Just sayin...again.

Anonymous said...

am completely independent in how I think about issues affecting Kauai.

I call it how I see it. And how I see it, is that now, GMO's will be going everywhere, on Kauai. to a neighborhood near you.
What is it about the price of land not to mention availability you don't understand?