Sunday, January 25, 2015

Musings: Reader Interactions

Two comments were left on the last post that deserve a bit of follow-up. The first:

On another topic..David Ige DLNR?

Yes, Gov. Ige has appointed two men from the development sector — Carleton Ching and Kekoa Kaluhiwa — to serve as director and deputy director, respectively, of the Department of Land and Natural Resources.

It's certainly troubling, though not surprising, to see Ige pick people who have far more experience developing land than protecting it to lead an agency that manages thousands of acres of public resources. This is yet another example of the continuing blow-back against progressive politics in the wake of the anti-GMO movement.

But what I find especially fascinating is that both men are currently serving as developer flacks. Ching is vice president of community and government relations for Castle & Cooke Hawaii, while Kaluhiwa, after a PR stint with First Wind, is now a principal of Kuanoo Communications, “where he helps clients understand the unique cultural and environmental challenges of doing business in Hawaii,” according to the governor's press release.

In other words, Ige has picked men who are excel at spin and sell — both to the public and to the Lege. Which raises the question: what does Ige have in mind for DLNR and its assets that will require this particular expertise?

The second comment was apparently left in response to this graphic:
It states:

Please use facts and don't be misleading as you accuse others of so often. While the agro-chem companies may lease 14,500 acres on Kauai they do not use anywhere near that many acres in their testing. I would be surprised if they even use 1/10 of that acreage from the looks of it while driving through the west side. Go take a look for yourself - they include large buffer zones between their test fields to eliminate the potential of cross contamination and drift from one field to another. Try find out how many acres are actually in testing or tilled at any one time - good luck because our "good neighbors" won't share that data with us.

The Kauai Agricultural Good Neighbor Program data base does provide information about how much land is being treated with restricted use pesticides. It references “total area applied to” and “field area applied to.” So we do know exactly how much land receives pesticide applications. But since the fields aren't identified by tax map key, we don't know how many fields are given repeated applications, and how many fields get nothing.

The seed companies themselves have said they don't use all the acreage they lease, and they do indeed have land in buffer zones — both between crops, and also now between their fields and schools and some houses.

It is clear from the data that not all the land is sprayed all the time. In December 2014, for example, restricted use pesticides were applied to 1,993 field acres, or less than one-tenth of the acreage the seed companies control.

Which means the companies aren't spraying everything 24/7, as some anti-GMO activists claim, nor is any one neighborhood subject to constant exposure.

It also means it's not really accurate to use the comparison floated by the seed companies, which likened their overall pesticide use to applying one soda of stuff evenly to a football field.

Still, I think it is important to recognize that the disclosure under the Good Neighbor Program, which was entirely volunteer, has provided us with meaningful data on the types and quantity of RUP being sprayed on Kauai fields.

And the total is not what was presented by Councilman Gary Hooser and former Councilman Tim Bynum when they were drumming up support for Bill 2491. If their claims about pesticide quantity were exaggerated three-fold, isn't it reasonable to think their other claims were similarly inflated?

Which is not to say I think it's OK to apply 5.15 tons of restricted use pesticides to Kauai soil. Only that we need to move this debate into the realm of facts and reality, and the data base is a good place to start.

Since the program was due to be assessed after one year, which is now, this is the time to discuss how that reporting could be more meaningful in terms of addressing community concerns. We also need to encourage the companies to keep participating. Because so long as the court ruling on Bill 2491/Ordinance 960 stands, voluntary compliance is all we've got.


Anonymous said...

I trust the large land owners. They have been here from Hawaii Kingdom times and will be here far into the future. Their commitment is to the land and water. Their blood is in the soil.
I can never trust Da Hoos, Mason or JoAnn. Political hacks who grasp any feel good topic. They have no commitment to the people or the land. They have no clue of land management or the amount of labor, money and time it takes to care for land. They only tax it. They are spendthrifts who have no concept of balance.
Their commitments are to their friends and to get re-elected.
Facts are difficult to swallow.

Anonymous said...

I don't feel good about Ige's picks. The land will be for sale soon.

Anonymous said...

I wouldn't connect the DLNR nominations to the GMO issue. IMHO, the nomination of Carleton Ching has to do with relationships between Ching and governor or his key staff and past issues. It's also my opinion that some leaders of environmental organizations (not all) distinguish between the two nominees and are not opposing the nomination if Kekoa Kaluhiwa at this point. The other concern related to the nomination of Ching to lead the DLNR is support by some state senators to eliminate the Land Use Commission and the governor apparently open to the idea.

Anonymous said...

Well, you picked a community organizer and wet-behind-the-ears Senator for President of the United States. Liberals & progressives love him to death in spite of his many failures and few achievements (other than getting elected). So how can you criticize Ige's choices and not be a total hypocrite?

Anonymous said...

Talk about spin. Your boy Obama is the KING OF SPIN.

Joan Conrow said...

If your comments are directed at me, I have not been an Obama supporter.

Anonymous said...

And Bush a seasoned leader gave two failed combat actions killing thousands and a near fatal economic collapse that cost the lower classes years of struggle only wake up to "back at square one"!

Anonymous said...

Ige is an idiot... First he re-appoints Masagatani to DHHL now Ching to DLNR... Wowwww I wish I could take back my vote right about now...

Anonymous said...

And if you believe that liberal spin 3:15 you are an idiot.

Dawson said...

5:31 PM wrote:
And if you believe that liberal spin 3:15 you are an idiot.

What a relief! And here I thought politics worked in deep layers of power relationships, tangled skeins of words and multiple shades of meaning, all of which required research, critical thinking and skull sweat to figure out who's lying to whom.

But thanks to 5:31, I now know it's as simple as slapping on a label of liberal/conservative! Left/Right! Kanaka/Haole! GMO/Anti-GMO! Good/Evil!

*whew!* This'll leave me more time to watch TV.

Anonymous said...

Joan! U don't support Obama? Would u consider ur self a Libertarian like myself?

Joan Conrow said...

With religion and politics, 7:58, I don't really subscribe to any one viewpoint, but prefer to take a more eclectic, hybrid approach.

Anonymous said...

The chemical companies do not lease as much land as they treated, and by their own estimates (Mark Philipson)they use only 28% of the land each year. So clearly fields are treated more than once or they would not even have room for their facilities. I see the same fields treated daily in Mana, several times three sprayers working at one time. In fact they lease 12,500. If they only use 3500 acres of that then the concentration is 3 lb/acre average, but, like you said they are not all treated equally, so many may have much higher concentrations and some lower.

18 tons of pesticides referenced by many concerned about pesticides is a sales unit in lbs and gallons converted by weight. 18 tons sales was an average over 2010-2012. 18 tons coverts to 10 tons active chemical ingredient. The sales unit includes non-active ingredients that "help" the pesticide be more effective and able to distribute. The sales unit on the 5 tons of active ingredient is ten tons. SO, you could say that the awareness brought to this subject may have reduced the usage by up to 8 tons!!! Not bad for some awareness eh?? But..... in 2010 had 10.47 tons of active ingredients were used,2011 8.33 tons, and in 2012 11.44 tons. No public data is available for sales after 2012. It varies year to year. It could go up again next year like it did from 2011-2012, increasing nearly 40% in one year. In 2012 the overall average was 6.5 lb/acre, much higher than most conventional farmers would use.

One thing holds constant through all the data I have looked at. Syngenta uses the most pesticides by far. From the Good neighbor program we know they used over 50% of all the pesticides used from Dec 2013 to present. In fact from 2010-2012 Syngenta average was 6.8 lb/acre (based on estimated planting 28%). However, in 2010 and 2012 DOW actually purchased more than Syngenta, and TRIPLED their purchase from the year before.

So, rates can vary between years, companies, analysis procedures (active ingredient vs sales data), seasons and weather. We need more information the the Good neighbor program can possibly provide and we need the information before we are exposed to the chemicals.

Anonymous said...

Joan. Oh oh. You said "hybrid". Tsk, tsk, That is GMO word.,

Anonymous said... last thing on the 18 tons - that accounts for only restricted use pesticides. Roundup and other non-RUP's are not included in that data. based on industry practice general use pesticides make up at least an equal portion of the pesticides used so, if 5 tons of RUP were used in the past year, it is very likely an equal, if not greater amount were used, doubling the total, at the very least.

Anonymous said...

What you "need," 9:47, is proof of misuse of materials or actual harm done on Kauai.
Without it, no matter what new tactics or
propaganda your Mainland Ayatollahs
come up with, your support will never
move beyond the finite number of Northshore apres yoga fear cultists and anticorporate cobsumers of corporate products.
As for legacy, by delaying biotech experimentation you'll get to stand proud with the fundamentalist idealogues who delayed stem cell research last decade and made sure the current breakthroughs for MS came too late for so many!
Pete Antonson

Anonymous said...

Is the county participating in the good neighbor program? Maybe Gary should ask that his employer act in good faith.

The county wants to act like a corporation and create jobs, so let's demand that our county "corporation" report like everyone else.

Joan Conrow said...

1::35. That is the kind of total speculation that muddies the discussion.

Anonymous said...

Joan, Speculation is the mother's milk of the anti-GMO activists.

Anonymous said...

9:47 wrote: " 18 tons coverts to 10 tons active chemical ingredient."

How do you figure? There is no set ratio. It's different with every product. Just look at the Goid Neighbor report. Your other numbers are similarly suspect, including the amount used per acre by Syngenta pre-2013. You don't even know how many acres Syngenta farms. And where did you get how much an average farmer would use? Again, there is no set number. It depends on what they are growing, where, the conditions and the prevalence of pests.

This hocus pocus with numbers shows how the antis have no credibility and will make up things to push the cause.

Anonymous said...

Hi All, This is my first post to this site. I am familiar with pesticide reporting, Excel spreadsheets, and am good at math. The previous comments prompted me to download the Good Neighbor data myself and run some tallies. I even spent the morning looking up the specific gravity and/or relative densities of all the pesticides, which are printed in their Material Data Safety Sheets and available online at I needed to do this in order to get an accurate conversion of "total used gallons" to total used pounds for each specific pesticide. A helpful density conversion calculator is here:

So, here are my numbers for the Dec 13 to Dec 14 reporting period. My numbers differ somewhat from those in the picture of Joan's article.

1.) 10,923 pounds of ACTIVE INGREDIENTS were applied.
2.) 28,710 pounds of PRODUCT (i.e. the Restricted Use Pesticide product itself) were applied.
3.) 28,710 pounds of PRODUCT equals 14.35 tons of PRODUCT. (Note: 1 ton = 2,000 pounds.)
4.) The total "field area applied to" was 17,766 acres.
5.) This is 1.6 pounds (or 25.6 ounces)of PRODUCT per acre, and 0.61 pounds of (or 9.76 ounces) ACTIVE INGREDIENT per acre.

--Math Man