Friday, September 25, 2015

Touring the Seed Fields: Part IV

Kauai Councilman Gary Hooser and anti-GMO activists frequently claim the seed companies are “suing for the right to spray poisons next to schools, homes and hospitals.”
Anti-GMO activists Leeona Thompson (Dylan Hooser's wife), left, and Fern Rosenstiel laugh as they hold an intentionally misleading banner. 
It's a great sound byte, if you want to portray a corporation as an unfeeling monster, and it fits on a banner. But as I learned when I toured the Kauai seed fields, it's a far cry from reality.

Bil 2491/Ordinance 960, the GMO/pesticide regulatory bill that seed companies successfully sued to overturn, states:

No crops may be grown within 500 feet of any adult family boarding home, adult family group living home, day care center, family care home, family child care home, medical facility, nursing home, residential care home, or school.

No crops may be grown within 500 feet of any dwelling....

Yet the closest fields to Kaumakani School are 1,300 feet and 2,500 feet away. Fields are 1,500 to 1,700 feet from West Kauai Veterans Memorial Hospital. And Syngenta voluntarily maintains a 1,500-foot buffer between Waimea Canyon Middle School and its nearest field, which hasn't been cultivated in years.

“We're paying [lease rent] for it still and we keep it mowed, but we have no plans to crop,” said Joshua Uyehara, station manager for Syngenta Hawaii LLC in Kekaha.

Syngenta does have one field near Hanapepe Heights, but it's never used it. Instead, the nearest cultivated field is some1,500 feet from the nearest residence. Pioneer and Dow have no fields within 500 feet of homes.
Uncultivated Syngenta field near Waimea Canyon School.
So why would companies “sue for the right to spray poisons near schools, homes and hospitals when they either a) don't have fields within the proposed buffer zones around those facilities, anyway, or b) have voluntarily imposed their own buffers?

Answer: they didn't. The seed companies'  lawsuit was about many issues, including regulatory authority, equal protection, uncompensated “takings” of private property and violations of the Commerce Clause, Kauai Charter and the state's Right to Farm act.

The question now becomes, why do politicians like Gary Hooser and activist groups like Center for Food Safety, Hawaii SEED and HAPA continue to make a claim that is patently untrue?


Anonymous said...

These activists need to tell the poor people of the world that GMO crops are bad. They are two faced to the first world people and claim it's just disclosure or the right to know. Then they propagandize the poor countries struggling to find ways to fight pests and diseases by saying something completely different. These people I appropriately use Tyrone Hayes' atrazine study to make that claim. They say that if it happened to frogs, it can happen to people. Then they say right to know here in the US but then tell those countries that it's being labeled because it's dangerous. Total dishonesty and no integrity to get their way.

Anonymous said...

Good piece, ms. joan. I hope your findings are included in the fact finding report.

Keith said...

Joan, I have the answer to your question. Its because they don't have anything else to make a claim. An untruth, it seems is better than no claim at all. Their definition of near encompasses the entire island of Kauai. That's their true goal. Not to find the middle ground. They want the seed companies out of Kauai.

Anonymous said...

Everyone is snookered by hooser and his fistees!

Anonymous said...

"the truth hurts", "the untruth doesn't hurt as much"

Anonymous said...

Joan, why are you so one sided in your approach? You know that when 2491 was introduced the company's were all tilling fields and spraying pesticides in areas much closer than they are today. Why not add this fact into your observation? It is only because of the passing of 2491 that we now have about 50% disclosure and larger buffer zones.

Joan Conrow said...

No, I don't know that, because it isn't true. As I mentioned, Syngenta hasn't cultivated the field near WC school for years.

I agree that Bill 2491 influenced disclosure — though to be accurate, the state Dept. of Ag, working with the seed companies actually brought it about. And I don't know where you get your 50% disclosure reference. They're disclosing all use to the public monthly, and to nearby residents who request it pre-notification prior to spraying.

Anonymous said...

Joan, i believe the picture of "uncultivated field" is Waimea, not near Hanapepe Heights.

Anonymous said...

that picture of the field in Waimea----it didn't happen until the incidents at Waimea Canyon School and not right away either--I live in that subdividion and suffered for years. I use to call Syngenta about their spraying schedule in 2002, luckily i had a friend working in the office who knew the schedule-----then, i closed my windows, doors and didn't work in my yard those days!!!

Joan Conrow said...

You're right, 11:56. It's the field near Waimea Canyon School. I've corrected the caption.

And 11:58, the incidents at Waimea Canyon School, none of which were linked to seed company spraying, happened a number of years ago.

Anonymous said...

The company's do not disclose glyphosate and a myriad of other General Use Pesticides that far exceed the volume of RUPs. Some of these GUP carry labels that are also very scary. Check out Tilt. We have no idea of the volume or type of theses additional fungicides, insecticides and herbicides being used. 50% RUP use is probably too generous. Most Ag operations use 90%GUP and only 10%RUP. But we don't know because they won't disclose.

Anonymous said...

When Syngenta stopped spraying next to the schools, the kids stopped getting sick. Truth.

Anonymous said...

the State Legislature passed a Bill for disclosure and buffer zones, forgot what the number was.

Anonymous said...

ok. so again as Joan is pointing out! Why are these people still bull shitting the rest of the world when all of us know, these chemical companies have become a good neighbor. Why this continued lies! Why all of you who know the change was done, go and tell the dam LYING Loosher to stop the bull shit. all you guys pointing out sentences, debating sentences, but all of you are forgetting about looking at the "actions" of these seed companies. All of you still crying, stop it and move on like adults instead of crying like babies!

Go tell your friends in this picture, "Ah, go change your poster, that's all old information and is not applicable anymore!"

Again, just an observation from a silent voting majority.

Chuck Lasker said...

12:53 said: "Most Ag operations use 90%GUP and only 10%RUP. But we don't know because they won't disclose."

So you know, but you don't know. You have numbers but not numbers. Got it. LOL

Anonymous said...

Chucky baby - the industry standard is 90% GUP to 10% RUP. But because these companies are doing experimental field tests and because they don't disclose, therefore we don't know for sure how much nor what exactly they are using. Is that clear enough for you?

Anonymous said...

1:02. No it didn't.
3:07. The field trials have nothing to do with pesticides or herbicides. They're all grow out trials.

Anonymous said...

The Pope does not know what he's talking about on so many fronts, including biotech. If he's worried about protecting biodiversity he should be preaching birth control. Or use the Church's vast riches for conservation. The Church did more to destroy biodiversity and disrupt economies than GMOs ever will.

Anonymous said...

I guess the stinkweed all gone, no more sick kids/teachers.

Anonymous said...

At 1:02 and 4:15
HB 673, Act 105 passed for disclosure and a study on how other States do it.
Buffer zones was in the good neighbor program.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for this blog Joan. Excellent food for thought.

You said, "The question now becomes, why do politicians like Gary Hooser and activist groups like Center for Food Safety, Hawaii SEED and HAPA continue to make a claim that is patently untrue?"


And it's all about ego, getting attention, and funding themselves and their agenda. As to what that agenda is, who knows? Shut down the seed farms, certainly. And what ag will take it's place? None because these people don't farm; too hard.

Frighten people to death so they buy organic, even though it's a USDA marketing scheme that doesn't provide additional safety or nutrition, and allows use of toxic pesticides?

Shut down Hawaii's "big" (efficient/productive/economically feasible) ag so they can sell more real estate to wealthy mainlanders?

Or the worst outcome that is already happening---Force locals to move out of Hawaii so ha'oles can take over more than they already have?

They've certainly caused more division in our community than anything I can remember in my 60 years.

The banner is partly correct----SHAME ON YOU GARY HOOSER and your ilk!!!!!!

Anonymous said...

Oh my Joan. You've certainly struck a nerve. Seems like there are more than a few of your readers who require some basic anger management training and race relations sensitivity classes.

Anonymous said...

The banner is somewhat sensational, but that is the point, to draw attention. Also, the introduction of bill 2491 brought much attention to very important matter. And although it did not pass, it did force the seed companies to change their ways.
Joan: I dare you to survey and report on the question whether the residents and workers
Waimea rather work in and live next to a seed test field or an organic farm.
Also, these companies will not hesitate to pack up and leave once they are done with their experiment. So, is it worth having the 600 mostly temporary seasonal jobs, or might it be time to look toward a better long term plan for west Kauai Ag?

Joan Conrow said...

9:15. The banner is not "somewhat sensational." It's deliberately false. And that has been the problem with the movement all along: It's drawn attention to the seed fields through deceptive tactics, fear mongering and lies. That's never a good thing. The whole "ends justify the means" strategy is morally bankrupt.

As for interviewing the residents and workers, what difference does it make if they'd prefer to live and work near organic farms? There are no organic farms and farmers to take the place of the seed farms, nor will there be for the foreseeable future. There are thousands of acres available on the westside and elsewhere, but no viable farmers to cultivate them. So plan all you like, but get a grip on reality first. Otherwise it's just pie in the sky daydreaming.

Anonymous said...

9:15. The polling was done during the most recent election where the westside people spoke really loud with our silent vote. The silent voting public spoke up. You go and research the election results. We said we voted for politicians who support agriculture. Especially on the westside. Our home! Once again all you factual deniers want to forget the facts. The locals voted for agriculture.

Again just a comment from one of the silent majority who voted.

Anonymous said...

Didn't the incident at Waimea turn out to be a noxious weed?

Anonymous said...

There was no conclusive evidence as to what caused kids to get sick. But once Syngenta stopped spraying near the school then kids stopped getting sick. Does anyone know of any other incident in Hawaii (or anywhere) where stink weed sent so many people to the hospital on so many different occasions?

Anonymous said...

Syngenta never even sprayed the day they cut down stink weed and kids got sick.

Anonymous said...

No kid ever tested positive for pesticide exposure at any school. If they were sick from spray it would've shown up in blood and/or urine tests. It was hysteria hyped by teaches.

Anonymous said...

No conclusive evidence either way.

Anonymous said...

Antis are quick to discount and mock those who believe that stinkweed could have caused kids at WCMS to get sick. Yet they will admit, if cornered, that natural substances are surely capable of making people ill (asbestos, arsenic, cyanide, etc.).

It is well known that plants can contain dangerous chemicals that cause illness or even death (for a quick and basic look at why and examples, see

The locally common plant, stinkweed (Cleome gynandra), produces odorous chemicals that likely affected Middle School students and staff. I believe this based on the first responders' and DOH assessments, and the DOA investigation on that day, and most importantly to me, my own reaction to stinkweed. I was surprised to find that it makes me nauseous, dizzy, and teary-eyed.

The stinkweed plant has been studied on Maui and Kauai using multiple methodologies, including plant tissue and chemical air emission analyses. A closed chamber laboratory air emission study identified 29 chemicals (some with insecticidal activities) produced by stinkweed. Those findings are consistent with the chemicals detected through the plant extraction method. The 29 chemicals were also found in a high volume ambient air sampling study within a stinkweed-infested field.

Approximately half of the 29 chemicals produced by stinkweed were detected in both indoor and outdoor air samples from passive air samplers and high volume air samplers positioned at WCMS and other Kauai schools, over a year+ UH sampling study.

One of the 29 natural chemicals found was methyl isothiocyanate (MITC). Intensive study of this compound has been done on the mainland. It is well-known that airborne MITC has resulted in numerous visits to healthcare facilities, due largely to complaints of eye
and respiratory irritation, nausea, headache, dizziness, vomiting and shortness of breath.

Stinkweed blooms periodically, over large acreage, in Hawaii. It was blooming on the day that is most cited by antis as a seed company-generated pesticide exposure that made kids sick. It is blooming NOW over hundreds of acres on Kauai. Residents far from the seed fields, but close to the stinkweed fields, are calling to complain about a chemical smell that is making them sick. Upon presentation of the weed and its sickening smell, they are identifying it as the culprit.

Why is this so difficult to understand and believe?

Anonymous said...

The nurses and doctors who are giving their names and claiming the seed company individuals are getting sick -should be written up for disclosure of private information about their patients. Shame on you whoever you are, and you better Be careful sweetie one day someone will write you up. I heard it's a felony....

Anonymous said...

WCMS parents. Go home and ask your kids about this past week at school. The principal n teachers went around in school searching for a source of an oder.

All you paranoid people go investigate my claim. I dare you. Don't ask Joan to do it. You do it. Make use of yourself. ME I trust my friends as teachers at the school to look out for my child's interest.

Good luck!

Anonymous said...

Joan. The odor comment is true. My son told me the story. If his story doesn't pan out. I'll take care of him.

The point is to make these accusing stiffs to move on with life. AND now it's time that they research this incident.

I DARE them to do it and repot back to this blog.

Anonymous said...

The odor that caused the evacuation last week was from tarring the road

Dawson said...

The real hypocrisy in this feeding frenzy of bogus activism is that at its core, it has squat to do with sprays, poisons, ag, health, kids or the environment. It's all about the activists themselves.

The process: a demagogic, self-styled leader opportunistically spots a populist Cause and its Enemy, grabs a bullhorn and broadcasts his righteous outrage to the people. The people, who hate and fear not only this Enemy but the culture the Enemy comes from, believe without question what the demagogue tells them. They eagerly join the demagogue in expressing the same outrage that he does. Like a revival preacher and his congregation, the demagogue and his followers gather in repeated rituals that mirror, confirm and amplify each other's outrage at the Enemy.

The demagogue and his followers share the same reward: the ego gratification one gets from fighting with a tribe of like-minded warriors on the side of Righteousness against an unfair Enemy, and the feeling of power one gets from turning off the intellect and letting loose one's inner breast-beating ape.

None of them realize that they are acting out the same behavior that demagogues and their followers have participated in since the beginning of civilization.

Anonymous said...

Here is a quote from Huffington Post written by a farmer ( ) - "See, despite whatever personal opinions you may hold about the safety, health benefits or labeling of GMO foods, one fact remains inarguable: In order for these crops to grow, it requires death on a massive scale. And that's precisely how GMO crops function. The genetic modification creates an immunity to herbicides such as glyphosate (commonly sold under the brand name RoundUp, for example), eliminating competition so the corn/soybean/canola doesn't die when everything else does.

And when I say death on a 'massive' scale, I'm talking massive. You can see it from outer space. According to the USDA, this year in America alone, more than 170 million acres of corn and soybeans are in production. At a conservative estimate of 10 gallons of glyphosate (the herbicide most commonly used in conjunction with GMO crops) per acre in dilution, this translates to roughly two billion gallons of herbicide poured onto American soils this year alone. Put another way, we're taking an area the size of California and Montana combined, and killing it dead each year.

Most ironically, more than 85% of this GMO corn and soy doesn't even end up as food for humans, at least not directly. 40% is used for ethanol production, and another 45% goes into animal feed. So, let's get this straight: we're killing off hundreds of millions of acres not for human food, but primarily for fuel and feed? That's a real head scratcher right there.

The bottom line is this. Instead of worrying about whether a bag of GMO corn chips is safe to eat, we should probably be asking ourselves some bigger questions. Such as, are we okay with using billions of gallons of herbicide each year, supplied by many of the same companies that provide our seeds? And perhaps most importantly, what are the viable alternatives?"

Anonymous said...

Ok but the years previous and the years after there has been no such case(s)

So definitely there was a foreign toxic substance that was deployed that day that caused over 30 students, teachers and staff to get sick.

Whatever it was caused the incident.

What about the increase of autism or other birth defects in that area?

There has to be something that is causing it and I don't think everyone on the west side is on ice or heroin.

Most of the people on heroin on Kauai are transplants that reside on the south side, north shore and that hippie Kava drug invested chronic gathering in Kapaa.

Anonymous said...

Do you know and understand what the HIPPA laws are?

Anonymous said...

At 5:56 PM:

The comments to the article you cite, by people who have more expertise in this area, reveal that the author himself has missed the point. They are worth reading. For example:

Eric Aasen a researcher at Monsanto corrects the numbers:
The numbers for Roundup application are totally wrong. Roundup is applied at a MAX rate of 22 oz/acre, 2X per season. The 10 gal/acre quoted is the total amount applied including the water the herbicide gets mixed with. At 44 oz/acre, the total Roundup sprayed on 170 million acres of corn/soy is just over 58 million gallons. A very large amount but nowhere near the billions of gallons figured by the author. The photos are also a bit deceiving. Even if none of that land were planted to GMO crops, the farmers would still need to clear and prep the fields before planting. So whether Roundup or tillage or a different herbicide were used, the fields would be brown right before planting.

Jason Max Field · The College of William & Mary
I'm not sure what the point of talking about acres of dead land is supposed to mean? Organic farmers use herbicides and tilling to kill weeds annually too. You could just as easily take pictures of organic farms from the air that looked dead if you wanted to. What is that supposed to mean about GMOs? The same acreage of weeds is going to have to be killed in advance of planting every year, no matter what farming method you are using. So going organic wouldn't lead to any fewer acres of "death".

Also, GMO's =/= Roundup. Genetic modification is a technique, not a result, and it could be used for many things, such as increasing yeild, nutritional value or salinity tolerance of crops or decreasing the need for herbicides or nitrogen. Whether or not glyphosphate (Roundup) tolerance is a great thing for the environement shouldn't affect your opion of GMOs in general, only that specific trait.

Blanket opposition to all GMOs because you don't like Roundup or Monsanto makes about as much sense as opposing computers because they are used for identity theft or because you don't like Microsoft. Please stop trying to scare people with oversimplified, dishonest claims. It would be better for all of us if you use your position to advocate for smart use of GMO technology and evidence based regulation.

CM Lux · University of Wyoming
Before glyphosate, chemical fallow. and reduced/no tillage all of that land would have been plowed. Wind and water soil erosion were rampant. Days when the wind would blow in the fall/spring you couldn't see 10 yards because of the blowing dirt here on the high plains. To even imply that farming is worse for the environment or human health now compared 40 years ago is disingenuous.

Jason Max Field · The College of William & Mary
Also your point about the opinions of Americans on labeling could use a little context. The public is generally misinformed and/or ignorant about these issues, and all that those poll results mean is that activists have succeeded in scaring people. Researchers at Oklahoma State did a scientific poll and found that over 80% of Americans want labels on "all foods containing DNA", only 2% less than wanted to label GMOs. So, are you really in favor of following the labeling preferences of Americans?

Anonymous said...

AGAIN!!! all this going back and forth this is OLD stuff. look at the actions now and what's going on. No more reports, no more up roaring! Freaking GET A LIFE people!!!

5:56: USDA's biggest concern for conservation! Nitrogen run off, nitrogen that flows into the gulf and the great lakes. Called the dead zone. Go research that one for yourself.

What your doing is speculating fear making again. You should move to the states and start your glyphosate campaign with the 170 million acre farmers. Even better, you can be like the crazies who cuts down acres of corn just like the crazies on the big island cutting down papaya field. Tell them i'm doing you a favor by cutting down your corn fields. you can tell them "I just saved you life!" you can thank me in 20 years.

Let this blog know when you've moved.

Continue to have a great weekend.

Anonymous said...

Kauai families have a lot of pride. We'd rather be silent about our family addictions, than air our dirty laundry.

"What about the increase of autism or other birth defects in that area?
There has to be something that is causing it and I don't think everyone on the west side is on ice or heroin."

With love in my heart, I ask; Has alcohol ever been linked to autism and other birth defects?
I'm looking it up now...

Anonymous said...

Where's the proof there's any increase in birth defects?

Anonymous said...

Corn for ethanol.
Ethanol to stop global warming.
Roundup for corn.
Roundup to save the planet?

Would a person who actually works, prefer to have a hundred gallons of Roundup for his fence line or a 247 pound Hooser telling you how for live?
Roundup is useful. Da Hoos is not.
Joan, thank you for your information on Ag.

Anonymous said...

I've worked in hospitals so when doctors, nurses and staff say there's an increase then there's an increase.

Medical personnel are trained to look for trends and keep data on these birth defects but won't release info because of lawsuits.

KVMH can still release general numbers to show proof that there's an increase in birth defects with its historical data to present data.

It's all political and all about the tourism dollars that this topic will never see the light of day in the local paper.

Beggars can't be choosers can they and this mentality of big corp knows that indigents can't afford good doctors, lawyers or researchers to prove that toxic soups are creating such havoc.

So they divide the community with salaries, gifts, donations and good deeds to cover their suffering experiments.

Slaves are made in this way and if you say you are free men and women then why do they hide from disclosing info and suing not to label their products?

Heck if McDonalds can label their GMO products with calories then why can't these GMO companies do the same?

Anonymous said...

@9:56. Then why did other westside doctors come out and say they had looked at the data and there was no increase in birth defects. You are so full of it.

Anonymous said...

To 9:56 PM:

So much paranoia and false info in your claims. RE the birth defects data, FYI, there is a highly specialized team working on this and it takes a lot of time. It's a methodical process requiring validation from experts trained in abstracting data from birth records. It must be done right or it's meaningless.

Anonymous said...

The OBGyn doctors said no increase in birth issues. In fact the west side is healthier than the State as a whole. And this is in spite of the meth epidemic which does seem to finally gone down in the west side.,

Anonymous said...

You say paranoia and false info but you have no FACTS.

Fricking ignorant hypocrites like you are what's wrong with this debate.

Both 12:40 and 12:42, where are your data to discredit the concerns of the medical community on the west side?

If you have never worked in a hospital than you would never know the bureaucratic BS that they play.

Concerns from people working everyday in the medical field can be silenced.

Just ask the Coroners of Kauai and the ER doctors with all the unattended deaths, faux overdose deaths and murders made to look like suicides.

Anonymous said...

The birth defect data has not been updated since 2005. Supposedly the DOH is almost complete the 2012, statewide but have yet to do 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010 and 2011. In any case between the small population and the numerous variables (mainland births, transient mothers etc), at end of the day the data will be inconclusive. Truth is the DOH will never catch up on the missing years as they will not want to spend the money. They will draw there inconclusive conclusions from one full year and then try to stay current, but will not fill in the data from the missing years. Watch.

Anonymous said...

"Tolerate" We tolerate the Bullying and Bullshitting that is going on. One can tolerate only so much of the Bullying and Bullshitting. Some people like to be always right or they will convince you that they are right. This is the Bullying and Bullshitting. When they use all means to convince you they are right. These people will not admit they are incorrect on unright.

Anonymous said...

Fact: People are living longer lives than ever before.
Kauai activists; GMO and chemtrails are killing us all. Kauaiasy

Anonymous said...

and then there's hooser and HAPA's Kuleana Academy! Hurry up! Slots are filling up fast!!! NOT

Anonymous said...

And all the local people then must be the uneducated unwashed masses we keep hearing about on this blog what a crock lots a locals don't like gmos around the world its that elitist mainland holier then thou scientists that spend too much time in the lab trying to play god and take over every single crop around the world so that enormous monocropping agricorps can alienate patronize and degrade every single small local farmer by talking pseudo scientific agrigenetics mumbo jumbo inst2ead of dealing fairly with the best ag producers in the fe7ild the small farmers even joan had a hard time getting them to her little hugfest panel on how much gmo scientist enjoy playing twister roulette with the worlds food supply for fun and profit this whole premise is a crock of stinky kukae