Friday, February 27, 2015

Musings: Mirror, Mirror

Does Kauai County Councilman Gary Hooser own a mirror?

What prompted me to wonder was an exchange that went down at Wednesday's Council meeting. In testifying on a tax bill, a citizen criticized a former Councilman and the former budget director before concluding:

In my opinion, government is nothing more than a bunch of scum-sucking parasites off the hard-working people of Hawaii.

Councilmembers Ross Kagawa and JoAnn Yukimura both chided the man for his remarks — and he apologized — but Hooser couldn't resist adding his two cents:

You're symbolizing through your remarks, unfortunately, a community dialogue that has been going in the wrong direction in my opinion.

I would appreciate it if you and everyone addressed the issue and not the personality. It doesn't teach our children good lessons when they're talking and trying to get things accomplished. So people are watching this. You know, people's mothers and grandmother's and children and we need to look at examples we set in the community.

So I would hope that our community would get together and have conversations about the issues and respectfully agree or disagree and not call each other names.

I know we all get passionate, we get carried away sometimes, but I think it would be really good for all of us and our community if testifiers would just think a little bit more about the words that they chose because words matter and words can be hurtful.

You mean words like “bite me?” Which Gary uttered not just once, but twice, to Kauai Rep. Jimmy Tokioka in a televised public hearing of the House Agriculture Committee. 

And folks wonder why the anti-GMO activists are so ill-behaved and hypocritical. Shoots, they're just following the example of their leader.

Speaking of anti-GMO activists and their often despicable tactics, Britain’s former Environmental Secretary, Owen Paterson, took them to task this week in his keynote address to the ISAAA media conference in South Africa. After speaking about the current agricultural opportunities for Africa, he said:

This is also a time, however, of great mischief, in which many individuals and even governments are turning their backs on progress. It’s a strange time, really, in which the privileged classes increasingly fetishize their food and seek to turn their personal preferences into policy proscriptions for the rest of us.

Not since the original Luddites smashed cotton mill machinery in early 19th century England, have we seen such an organized, fanatical antagonism to progress and science.

These enemies of the Green Revolution call themselves “progressive,” but their agenda could hardly be more backward‐looking and regressive. They call themselves humanitarians and environmentalists. But their policies would condemn billions to hunger, poverty and underdevelopment. And their insistence on mandating primitive, inefficient farming techniques would decimate the Earth’s remaining wild spaces, devastate species and biodiversity, and leave our natural ecology poorer as a result.

Unfortunately, few question either its credentials or motives.

Paterson goes on to report that “2014 was the 19th year of successful commercialization of biotech crops,” with some “18 million farmers, of which 90 per cent were small and resource‐poor, planted a record 181 million hectares of biotech crops in 28 countries....For the third year in a row, less developed countries planted more biotech hectares than the entire developed world.”

He also claims that “nearly 100 per cent of all those farmers who plant biotech crops have yet to go back to the old ways. They continue to choose to plant biotech year after year because biotech plants work.”

Paterson offers data to counter the oft-heard claims that GMO is all about selling more pesticides and corporate control of seeds. Monsanto actually donated the technology for a drought resistant maize to Africa, he said, and “by 2013, in fact, almost 70 per cent of all cotton grown in Burkina Faso was Bt, which increased farmers’ yields on average 20 per cent over non‐GMO cotton. It has also dramatically decreased pesticide applications – which in Africa are often done by hand, a 40 to 80 pound backpack filled with older pesticides strapped to one’s back. Bt-cotton has cut those applications from 6 to 2 or fewer and delivers a solution that is eminently more effective.”

In reading his speech, I couldn't help but think of how Vandana Shiva, the Center for Food Safety and Gary Hooser preach “home rule,” yet they would deny African farmers the right to make their own choices about what crops to grow. It's the old “do as I say, not as I do.”

Paterson then debunks the myth about GMO-induced farmer suicides in India — still spouted by Gary and Vandana Shiva — before going on to describe how Greenpeace and other anti-GMO activists have stalled the commercial production of Golden Rice, which is enhanced with vitamin-A-producing beta-carotene. This technology also was donated to the developing world.

Paterson notes:

Vitamin A deficiency is the principal cause of childhood blindness globally, affecting 500,000 children annually of which 50% die within a year or two. Vitamin A deficiency is also a nutritionally acquired immune deficiency syndrome, so common diseases which should be survivable are lethal. Two million young children die as a result every year.

So let’s be clear.  Although these deaths are preventable, 6,000 children alive today will be dead tomorrow. (By comparison Ebola has tragically killed about 9,000 in the last year: about 25 a day.)

Paterson tells of how Greenpeace has destroyed biotech crop research in the Philippines and Australia, before saying:

The question must be asked, when did so many of our “humanitarian” organizations become so disdainful about the lives of the desperately poor, whom they are supposed to be helping? How long have they been putting ideology over humanity? Do Greenpeace supporters understand that the conduct of the organization that they give to has been truly wicked?

Sadly, the same questions could also be asked about Gary Hooser, Center for Food Safety, SHAKA, Babes Against Biotech, Hawaii Seed, Ohana O Kauai and other anti-GMO groups in Hawaii, which have taken a "screw you" attitude toward seed company field workers, many of them impoverished Filipino immigrants, and advocated moving the "poison-drenched" fields elsewhere — developing nations — because Hawaii is "too pristine." 

If you're at all interested in the GMO issue, I urge you to read Paterson's speech in its entirety. He is no doubt a die-hard cheerleader for the technology, but he also does a good job of refuting the anti-GMO myths and raises many provocative points about the elitism of Westerners who are seeking to impose their own often misinformed ideology on the rest of the world.

It's a good mirror for folks like Gary Hooser, Vandana Shiva and others who have gone on the attack against agriculture in Hawaii while lacking insight into both the bigger biotech picture and their own elitist hypocrisy.


Dawson said...

You just know a politician is circling the drain when he starts invoking mothers and children.

"Hoose -- a hypocrite so nice you gotta flush twice."

Anonymous said...

Hooser needs to be publicly and officially repremanded for his action from the Kauai County Council. Not to mention he has hidden agendas and conflicts of interest and displays himself as a Kauai County councilman! NO CAN!
Gary also need to extend Rep. Jimmy Tokioka a formal apology.

Anonymous said...

Say watcha want- The Hoos continues to control the Council with his Bills and time it takes to process the speakers. Mel should prioritize County Mt Yukimura grows daily, 3 families live in 1000s of houses, County Sewer Plants are not ready for any additional waste, roads are clogged up, drug re-hab is non-existent, County budget is exhausted.
Plus the absolute Baloney on the Southshore development plan. Hogwash. The fine details of bikepaths, tree lined lanes and other extreme effete and oh so nice frivolity (which is inspired right out of Malibu, Carmel etc) will add so much cost that fergit about any "affordable" homes. Big Land was not included in the discussion....and as Big Land goes, so do the island...just like all the Hooserites in the world will not get "organics" to the table on Kauai until Costco and Wallmart bring 'em in....Welp, I gotta cook, get my 3 kids off to school, husband to work, feed the dog, make sure tutu is OK (she's 89) and then fight traffic to my own 11 hour a day job...God Bless our politicians who really look out for our families.

Anonymous said...

The lecture in South Africa by the Cantabridgian Conservative MP and former Minister is very articulate and interesting. His description of the havoc caused by the "Green Blob" of "progressive activism", progressive mostly in their own poorly informed and fevered activist attitudes and conceits, is very much on point- and a point by point refutation of the Red Shirt-CFS-Greenpeace inspired litany of non-science and hysteria. So we have our very own Greenie HoosyBlob from HAPA occupying the okole position on the Council to send all kinds of nincompoop our way just when we are catching our breath from the last load of bullshit. Oh, Joy! I can hardly see though the smoke. And as 7:50 notes, the grinding work of government is jettisoned while the HoosyBlob cavorts, when not fouling his own sandbox, in the Legislature misrepresenting us and offending his political betters with his egotistical and crass behavior. Blimey and Bite me- not the best of all worlds.

Anonymous said...

7:50 hits it right on the button. The people of this island are struggling to survive day by day, paycheck to paycheck. The County is broke and is sending around a survey asking residents what they are willing to give up to balance the budget. Meanwhile, the County spends $100,000s of thousands of dollars ($600,000+ for the south shore) on a plan to create paradise at Poipu, not for locals but for tourists. Read the plan's objective for Poipu. For the working families, it makes us puke. With the County scrambling to cut positions, services, increase taxes, to cover a multimillion dollar budget shortfall, can you guess where this fancy plan is going to end up? Probably collecting dust on a shelf in a storage room at the Planning Department. Remember too, there are other plans coming for other sections of the island. Ask the County worker whose program is cut, whose hours are reduced or us taxpayers who will likely be giving more. What do we want : Another dust catcher or competent leadership.?

Anonymous said...

Another great column Joan. Fanatics claim to oppose chemical corporations not farmers. But in fact, they would take away the tools all farmers use, except organic farms, which are not sufficiently scalable to produce even a fraction of what conventional farms generate. Conventional farmers rely on the tools developed by the Green Revolution, which include advanced hybrid crops, pesticides and nitrogen fertilizer, among other things.

Having said that, I'm concerned about the widespread use of the last item. Several recent studies,indicate the large amounts of nitrogen added to soil are resulting in nitrous oxide emissions that are contributing to climate change:

This may be one area where I might part ways with the Green Revolution.

Anonymous said...

I don't know which Gary has less credibility at the moment, Gary Pierce or Gary Hooser ... as both are complete whack jobs with no apparent tack or decorum when seated in front of a microphone. I'm surprised Steve Hunt hasn't filed a libel and slander suit against Mr. Pierce since he's no longer an appointed public figure. Doesn't Gary Pierce know that not only did the bond refinance save taxpayers millions over the life of the bond, but that the refinance also happened during Wally Rezentes' tenure as director of finance, not Mr. Hunt's? And, for his accusations that Mr. Hunt is somehow benefiting from his "ties to big banking", that's absurd and wholly unfounded. We longtime local families appreciate those public servants who are smart, hardworking, and keep their noses clean. We don't appreciate loudmouth, mainland transplants that try to take down our pillars of the community with baseless accusations. I think Council should ban Gary Pierce from ever speaking again given the lies, conspiracy theories, and personal attacks he's espoused the past few times he's been given time to speak.

Anonymous said...

Gotta agree with 8:13 pm.

Anonymous said...

8:13 Gary Pierce said some whacky things.
Steve Hunt is a good man and does a great job as Finanace Dir and Prop Tax head.
But, Pierce is a citizen and 1st Amendment is still a Right.
Your ire would be better directed at the Council who seem dedicated to pushing the boundaries of the 4th Amendment.
Or as said by our former Senator and current Council person "bite me" also a right of speech. There ain't no f'ckin' decorum...and out of it all Jimmy Tokioka stands tall. A good man, that Jimmy!

Anonymous said...

No decorum! Careful butch,there is only chaos without it. Small island with many tribes and you be getting chaos sooner then you think.

Anonymous said...

"anti-GMO groups in Hawaii, which have taken a "screw you" attitude toward seed company field workers, many of them impoverished Filipino immigrants...."

Wait, what?

Why is Syngenta and BASF importing Filipino immigrants to Kauai. and why are they still "impoverished"?

Shouldn't a multibillion dollar biotech company be paying them living wages?

Joan Conrow said...

12:40. They aren't "importing them." They had already immigrated here, many came from impoverished backgrounds. They are paid a living wage, which is how they're able to help support their still impoverished families back home.

Anonymous said...

Help support Hawaii senate bill 1014- house less/home less bill of rights act.

Anonymous said...

David Shapiro said...

Another good post, Joan. I admire your steadfast efforts to cut through the drama and opportunism and keep this important discussion on a productive course that might actually produce a satisfactory resolution to fairly protect all legitimate interests.

Anonymous said...

Joan,do you willingly eat this stuff without any doubt of its safety? The reason I have protested against GMO's is because the industry has been hell bent on keeping the American public in the dark. GMO's or more accurately genetically engineered foods were approved and put into the food chain without consent or prior knowledge of the American public and so from the get go the industry has not been transparent. If you and your pro-gmo fans have no doubt of the safety of these foods, I am not telling you to stop eating them. Go for broke. Myself and quite a few others are not sold on the health and safety of these foods and I choose to avoid them as much as I knowingly can.

My choice however is hampered by the unwillingness of biotech and big food manufacturers to come clean about what is in the food we eat. Millions are spent to stop labeling bills that will give the public a clearer picture of what's in the food we eat and to make choices armed with knowledge. Whatever side you're on, if the American Biotech Industry and Food Manufacturers can label for other countries but refuse to do it for Americans - fuck them. Their arguments against labeling are illogical. People not bothered by the issue will continue to buy GMO's and those who are can make those choices with greater ease.

What I find patronizing is how the scientific community gives zero credit to the general public and its ability to make decisions based on personal core beliefs and good old fashioned intuition. The scientific community is not all knowing and industries backed by science have historically erred at the expense of consumer safety many times in the past. I am a strong believer in listening to your inner voice. I was raised to believe that Akua and the 'aina provide all the is needed to survive and it is man's interference that has screwed up the natural ebb and flow of life on this planet. More intervention is not what is needed. What is needed is a hard look at where we went wrong and a good place to start is with indigenous cultures worldwide who have the proven ability to live with the forces of nature and live comfortably and healthfully, not unlike the kanaka who fed themselves quite well pre-contact. The abundance of food and the marvels of agriculture were well documented in the journals of ship captains who first landed in the islands over 200 years ago. They were amazed at the bounty of food these islands produced without any imported goods.

There is science on both sides of the GMO issue. There are scientists who come down on both sides as well. There are former GMO farmers who are jumping ship and others who tout it. There comes a point in time where an individual takes personal responsibility and makes the best decision based on what they believe is best.

It's difficult to have faith and confidence in a profit-motivated industry. It is never about the people. It is always about the P&L Statement, the bottom line. Humanity is irrelevant. That is the capitalistic way. The industry is designed to keep things from the public. For that reason alone, I will tailor my food choices to what I can reasonably assess to be safe...locally raised grass fed beef, locally grown organic, locally caught fish, and anything I can produce myself. I am a life-long local, struggling to survive in a Hawaii that is ill perceived as "paradise", not materially rich by any means. Eating this way is far from easy or affordable which is why I am trying to grow/raise more of what we eat. When did "organics" become a bad thing? All I know is that it was the way my grandparents and all who came before them ate.

Anonymous said...

Americans overwhelmingly want DNA labeled on foods.
If GMO was labeled, unfounded fears would hit the food chain.
If you and your clique want nonGMO your own research.
Do not bring your alarmism to feeding millions.
As is factually and scientifically proven.......TRILLIONs of meals have been eaten with GMO and NO side effects.
People are living longer and poverty is decreasing.
There ain't no justice, but keep the elite scaremongers OUT of the f-ckin, food chain.

Anonymous said...

9:22, you make some sense, but where you lose me is the labeing part. First a disclosure, I eat almost all organic and grow a large part of what gets consumed. It is simple to avoid GMO and i don't need a label. The gmo crops are known and avoidable.
The real argument here is pesticides and whether GMO or commercially grown, there are pesticides used in the growing process. I choose to eat and grow organic, but at the same time, i don't push my food preferences on the rest of the world anymore than my religious preferences.

Anonymous said...

GMO=grow more organics
GMO=genetically modified organism
GMO=great media organization
GMO=gimme money or
GMO=gotta move over

Anonymous said...

So, let's take a premise.
Da Hoos, Yukimura, Ross, the anti-everythings and the regular working folks who toil silently, raise their kids and take care of tutu, all love Kauai.
Why is it that the Council does not address issues we can all support?
Landfill, Housing, fair taxation, roads, Drug Rehab etc.
Nope, the Council blows dough on on one fireplace, tries to kill off big land (via law and taxation) and other BS matters.
First off Mel must muzzle Da Hoos.
Get back to basics. Stress the basic lifestyle of the people of Kauai. Accepting, caring and helping.
The dismissive attitude by the Council toward several newcomers is justified. I gots my own hale on Ag or former Ag land so No DAIRY, No Corn, No Jobs, Housing etc....It is tough to coagulate a wealthy retired population with the established working generational families....the Wealthy have their Eden, they left their place of money making and now want to stop the Local economy and even, the local ways.
So Da Hoos, Mason and JoAnn have somehow found their way into this luscious wealthy enclave and have forgotten that the regular folks are working, raising kids, living in a house with 3 generations and just trying to get thru life.
WTF? Manini issues dominate, roads, budget and taxes lie in disrepair....No wonder Kauai has 1300 medical Marrywanna permits...frustration provokes smoking these Fatties.
Get off the NIMBY Bus, get off the Social Change Hooserite Fireplace Brigade and fix the f*ng roads, sewer plants and get some local housing And stop messing with Big Land...In case Da Hoos and JoAnn have forgetted, Big Land owns all of the land for future growth, roads, water and economy.... the island can not survive on dilettante Ag Estate "sustainable" farms and Wealthy TVR owners.
Be kind to your friendly Big Land Owner and
Mr Hoos, don't fergit that there are lots of folks that believe in manners and would like to see a public F^ckin' Apology to Jimmy could learn some manners from Jimmy. Sheesh, "Bite me" said in the hallowed halls of the Square Building? Pilau

Anonymous said...

improvished Filipino workers? are they part of the 20+ that just got fired from one of the biotech companies here on island? Now what?!
What about the women who had two more years to retire after 20 years of service and got layed off? What about the 63 year old man who wanted two more years so he could get medicare and now has no job with the seed company?

Anonymous said...

Lay off Ross. He has the best pro-people anti tax, common sense voting record of all of them. And doesn't have a big mouth. We were skeptical when he was first elected. He had some history. But he showed everyone he has matured.

Anonymous said...

Here is an excellent article that provides counterbalance to Mr. Petersonʻs take on GMOʻs. It is always good to explore different sides of an issue.

Anonymous said...

The reason farmers do not want labeling is because lying ignorant hysterics try to scare others with their silliness. Labels would cause waves of hysteria to be published by the left wing media who hates all businesses but their own.,Vaccines, GMO, and yes the catastrophic global warming scam. All serious money makers for the loudest alarmists.

Anonymous said...

gotta be kidding me....

Dawson said...

2:03 PM wrote:
gotta be kidding me....

Nope, it's for real. Kauai's #1 spewer of cynical disrespect for the community and spreader of mistruths in the democratic process posted a blog article decrying both.

The title of the article is (wait for it)... "On The Creation Of Cynics – Disrespecting Community And The Democratic Process."

Face, folks, the man's mirror is cracked.

Joan Conrow said...

Oh, Dawson, you phrased it so well!

Anonymous said...

@1:56, that is an activist, opinion-based article and journal. Not at all credible.

@7:09, do you know that most organic food is already GMO, using the definition in the Maui anti-GMO ordinance (which is almost identical to the Humboldt County, CA Measure P which also passed last November. Hmmm... I wonder why they are so similar...) So if that ordinance by some miracle is upheld in Federal Court, pretty much all organic production could be stopped by County? Sweet justice...

Anonymous said...

The positions that were recently eliminated at the Syngenta research station were layoffs, not firings. When the profitability of the main product (in this case, commodity corn) is declining due to market forces, there are restructurings and layoffs. This is true in any industry, whether it's air travel, retail sales, car manufacturing, anything under the sun. It happens.

I've never worked at Syngenta, but I do read the news. Syngenta announced in November last year that restructuring and downsizing were in the plans for 2015. The upside of working for a larger company is that usually some sort of compensation is offered with layoffs.

Which brings to mind a contrast with what happened to my sister years ago.

In my sister's case, she was working on the mainland for a small business, with fewer than ten employees. When the business became less profitable, the owner stopped paying the unemployment insurance that was required on behalf of the employees (effectively pocketing the money). When his theft/embezzlement came to light, and then the authorities caught up with him, the owner dissolved the company. My sister was left with less than nothing (never paid for her last month of work, no severance pay, no insurance), and eventually declared bankruptcy herself. Small businesses can be a great opportunity, but working for them comes with risks as well.

I've yet to hear of a job that consists entirely of sunshine and roses. Always some manure's thrown in there too.

Anonymous said...

And on this first Monday of March, Hooser is roaming the halls of the square building on 415 S. Beretania Street. How come, no more council business to work on?

Anonymous said...

9:02---you should try getting a job with the State or County---pretty good--lots of sunshine and roses. Hey some of the lay offs with the 63 year olds came last year---people who worked for the company for many, many years!

Anonymous said...

1:49 -- "What about the 63 year old man who wanted two more years so he could get medicare'

Calling bullshit on that one. You can get medicare at 65 whether you're employed or not.

If you mean he wanted insurance until then, if he's unemployed, he can get medicaid and/or self-insure with tax subsidies under Obama care.

Anonymous said...

Perhaps Beth Tokioka when she gores to work for syngenta can help them. But understand that GMO's are facing a worldwide backlash from pretty much everyone. Even traditionally backwards violent countries like Mexico have banned them. This is not a Kauai phenomenon by any means. To many in the world, the place that creates the product is the place that needs to be regulated more strictly and controlled. That happens to be, among other places in the world. Kauai.

Joanne is born and raised here, from Nisei parents. Ross, Mel and others have baggage, and manage to perform excellently when given the chance and opportunity. That is exactly what we said about Barca. It just seems to matter which color sock you have on your feet at any given time. Red or Blue. Conservative or Liberal.

These labels do nothing to solve anything, just separate people and cause a bigger divide.

The point is that Kauai has suffered under conservative leadership, Bernhard is a liberal in name only and extremely conservati8veand prospered for the most part under liberal ones, at least as far as the people go, which infuriates those tried and true republican dandies with those macaroni hats on.

They will keep sticking a fork in a dead pig until there is nothing left of it.

That being said, we have been saying what all of 6you are saying for years. The difference is those of us who understand that our lifestyle and ways are under attack, and our beautiful environment is being polluted know we got it right. SO the other side just has to say we don't. Bottom line is, the truth can be seen. Just open the eyes. Conservatism hurts everyone wherever it flourishes. Liberalism frees.

Anonymous said...

11:55, those bans you speak of are due to political activism and bias, and are conflated. Fortunately here in the U.S. we have a solid, science-based and effective regulatory framework for GMOs and pesticides. Last time I checked, Kauai was still part of the U.S.

And as I posted before, you do know that most food is GMO (including "organic"), as defined by the people who are promoting and advocating organic.... don't you?

Anonymous said...

to 11:50 from 1:49---yes, i stated it wrong--you are correct---the guy wanted medical coverage until 65, but got canned at 63--two years of expensive medical insurance!

Anonymous said...

@12:15 PM

Just one question. If you were the owner of a business and a employee is deemed excess at age 63 would you keep him on for two more years just so he can have free medical at age 65?

I'm a compassionate individual and in my time I have seen people get layed off at 23 to 53. To reach 63 is outstanding.