How many misstatements can Councilman Gary Hooser make in 2:45 minutes?
A fact check of his recent speech “defending Kauai” at the Syngenta shareholders meeting in Basel, Switzerland, turned up nine.
And that doesn't count his pre-fabrication; namely, this promise, issued in the press release distributed by the organization he heads, Hawaii Alliance for Progression Action:
Hooser will be speaking as an individual relating his individual experiences, thoughts and concerns and not in his official capacity.
But when Gary began to speak at the Syngenta meeting, nearly the first words out of his mouth were:
I presently serve on the Kauai County Council. I'm a lawmaker.
He then gave a rundown on his past work experience at the Senate and office of Environmental Quality Control (omitting his numerous failed campaigns and seat-of-his-pants re-election to the Council).
He never even mentioned HAPA.
In fact, he made like he was speaking for all of us:
And I appreciate your patience with me allowing me to share the message from my community.
Now on to the rest of those failed fact checks, in order of utterance:
Gary: I'm also here today to present a petition, a petition from thousands of our residents of our small island.
Fact: The petition was circulated throughout social media, and it's highly doubtful that all the signers were from Kauai.
Gary: Only 60, 65,000 people live where I live and we are very, very concerned about our community and the impacts that Syngenta has in our small community.
Fact: All 65,000?
Gary: Right now, Syngenta sprays enormous amounts of atrazine in the fields around the homes, schools and hospitals where we live.
Fact: Syngenta has just one field that is near public facilities. Field 806 is about one-third mile west of the westernmost property line of Waimea Canyon Middle School. It is even further away from KVMH and residences.
The Good Neighbor Program reporting website shows Syngenta used 1,188 pounds of atrazine on 1,527 acres in 2014.
Gary: Syngenta sprays enormous amounts of paraquat.
Fact: The Good Neighbor Program reporting website shows Syngenta used used four pounds of paraquat over eight acres in 2014.
Gary And you do it daily.
Fact: Syngenta does not spray paraquat or any restricted use pesticide daily.
Gary: There are four other restricted use pesticides that are applied daily around homes, schools and hospitals where I live.
Fact: In field 806, restricted use pesticides are applied one or twice a week for roughly eight weeks. The field is planted once a year. That's a maximum of 16 applications — each taking about 10 minutes — annually.
Gary: Imagine if you had to drive around, live in a community surrounded by GE test fields and every day, every day you know that they're spraying toxic chemicals in the areas around where you live.
Fact: Again, nothing is sprayed every day. And Gary doesn't actually live anywhere near any fields.
Gary: Imagine if the schools in your community had children getting sick like they do in my community and going to the hospital in ambulances, throwing up, while Syngenta is spraying fields right next door.
Fact: Syngenta doesn't spray field 806 until after 3 p.m. Though some kids were transported to the hospital from Waimea Canyon School in ambulances at least once, a number of years back, none of them were diagnosed with pesticide exposure. And the field is one-third mile away, not right next door.
Gary: Imagine if the doctors in your community, like the doctors in my community, are concerned about birth defects, who believe there is 10 times the rate, the national rate, of birth defects in a small hospital where I live.
Fact: Dr. Jim Raelson raised concerns about birth defects, but after his words were misused by the anti-GMO movement, he issued an open letter to clarify. It reads, in part:
The point I tried to make to Council members was that we don't know for sure if we truly have a problem of true clusters because it has not been adequately studied but as clinicians we are seeing suspicious clusters of disease. We also don't know about cause and effect but if we are seeing a true cluster of a disease that has been linked to low level exposure by good studies done elsewhere then that in itself is grounds for real concern that we are seeing serious health problems.
And in response to birth-defect fear-mongering, Dr. Graham Chelius, a Westside ob-gyn, also published a letter to the editor in The Garden Island that stated:
There is not an increased rate of cardiac defects of any kind on the Westside of Kauai.
At that point, HAPA and Kauai Ohana member Fern Rosensteil, who was surreptitiously filming Gary's talk, was forcibly removed from the Syngenta meeting. End of Gary's tape.
By that time, he had uttered one lie every 18 seconds.
Why can't Gary make his case and tell the truth?
Gary also demanded that Syngenta withdraw its lawsuit challenging Bill 2491/Ordinance 960, the bad bill that Gary and Center for Food Safety wrote, that was overturned by a federal judge, and is now on appeal.
The Syngenta shareholders took no action.
But Gary got what he really wanted: Coverage in the Swiss media — again, using the only cache he has, which is Councilman — by telling the same mistruths he told Syngenta shareholders.
Demagoguery at its finest.
And since he blew off a Council meeting to attend, your tax dollars at work.