Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Musings: Down on the Farm

After years of printing — without question — every bit of inflammatory bullshit that Kauai Councilman Gary Hooser and the anti-GMO activists fed it, The Garden Island finally sent a reporter out to one of the biotech farms.

And guess what? She discovered the fields aren't the dead, toxic wasteland that anti-GMO activists have portrayed.

Sadly, these revelations are a little late. Because of the lazy, biased regurgitating of Chris D'Angelo — who has found a more suitable home at the uber fluffy, and staunchly anti-GMO, Huff-Po Hawaii — far too many people have a false idea of the Kauai seed industry.

They still believe the companies are doing experimental pesticide research, blithely spraying their neighbors with chemicals, poisoning school children, drenching crops with pesticides, using 18 tons of chemicals annually, dousing plants with herbicides to see how much they can take before they make, spraying 24-7 and refusing to disclose their activities or impose buffer zones.

Yes, all that has been promulgated by Hooser, former Councilman Tim Bynum and the groups that profit politically and financially from fear-mongering.

In reality, the companies are just growing highly specialized plants in a modern, conventional manner that actually uses less land and water, and fewer pesticides, than the sugar cane formerly grown in the same fields.

It's always hard to counter propaganda — Christoper Pala's hit piece is still circulating, since The Guardian has refused to even post corrections, much less take it down.

And TGI's reporter did get one thing wrong: biotech crops are not “engineered to withstand heightened amounts of herbicides and pesticides.” They're simply engineered to tolerate regular amounts of herbicides, period.

Still, the truth about biotech is slowly emerging. And that spells trouble for hard core anti-GMO activists who are so fearful of scrutiny that they seek to discredit or silence anyone who questions their rigidly dogmatic point of view.

No, biotech is not a silver bullet, or totally benign, and I've never heard its supporters characterize it as such. It's simply one agricultural tool that has been demonized by special interests — most notably, the organics industry — and ignorant, fearful people.

I was reminded of that fearful ignorance — bordering on paranoia — when I saw a Facebook post by kooky Terry Lilley, attacking blogger "Joan Crow," which I assumed was me. Though I don't know any of the people who commented on Terry's post, I did recognize some of the names as being active in the anti-GMO movement:

‪Mahana Mari We the good honest people of Kaua'i stand with you ‪Terry. It makes me utterly sick how much hate you receive by protecting what you love. 
On another note: what else is happening here? My mom plus 3 more of my friends here on Kaua'i almost completely passed out of Friday. My 80 year old mother almost got rushed to the hospital because she couldn't stop spinning & fainting. Then went to see another friend play music, a big guy, & he almost complete fainted on stage. & another friend kept fainting & went to the doctor. Is this due to another sonar blast? EMP? I can't take it anymore. The reefs are dying, the animals are dying, the people are dying... WHEN will it end?! So grateful for the small group of Protectors we are that are passionate & dedicated to saving us all before it is too late! May your enemies learn the truth & may the truth set us all FREE! Time to flush the vampires OFF The Garden Isle!

1 · 47 mins

‪Celeste Harvel U just can't fix stupid!What u do is crucial !world in denial!still we r losing reef at an alarming rate!wake up to this evidence our credited researcher finds!environment under attack!no denying

‪Celeste Harvel My friend risks his life for us!he got fried by electronic warfare and almost was killed!massive heart attack!our Ocean and her creatures r being extincted by military,pollution,warming does not help either!if u don't care u r part of the atrocity!

Derek Diehl These are worthless people , they should stuffed into a gas chamber along w all the military personnel in the world.

Mmm, why are we letting people like this drive policy in Hawaii?

On another note, I saw a flyer from Steelgrass Farm, seeking tenants to lease 1 to 20 acres of ag land:

In the foothills above Kapaa, we are returning to productivity 50 acres of ag-zoned land, and we invite growers to be part of our sustainable, organic diversified ag project.

But there is a caveat:

If you’ve always dreamed of farming the land, we applaud you, and encourage you to embrace your dream, but we are looking for people who are far enough along in their process to be ready to actualize their vision.

If that’s you, we’d like to hear from you. We’re for real, so we need you to be for real also. You need to have a farm plan, with specific crops you want to grow, and be able to demonstrate that you have the skills and experience necessary to follow through, or have a trained crew to do it for you. You also need to demonstrate financial competence. Minimum lease term is two years, maximum twenty.

Yes, folks, there you have it: farming is at core a business, even if you're not one of the dreaded “industrial corporate” farms.

And as Jan TenBruggencate points out, organics are flourishing in Hawaii — despite false claims by Hooser and anti-GMO activists that the state isn't doing enough to support organic growers as it meanwhile gives preferential treatment to the seed companies, which are occupying all the good farm land.

The reality, as usual, is something quite different. As Jan reports on his excellent Raising Islands blog:

Sixty-one farms produce $8.7 million in vegetables. One hundred twenty-six farms produce $3.4 million in organic fruits. That makes the industry worth $12.1 million.

And that’s a big increase since a survey in 2008, when the total was $7.6 million. That represents a 60 percent increase in organic farming value over six years.

Still, it's kind of manini compared to the seed companies, which grew 548 percent since 2000, at an average annual rate of 18.5 percent, according to an industry report, which went on to state:

The authors are not aware of any other Hawaii economic sector or sub-sector exhibiting such growth. 

The seed companies also reported annual operating expenditures of $243 million, tax payments of $29 million and anticipated capital investment in Hawaii averaging $25 million over the next 10-years.

Does anyone in their right mind really believe the state will, or even should, give these guys the boot?

And even the organic guys aren't focused solely on feeding Islanders, as Hooser demands of local ag. Returning to Jan's post:

The survey shows that 49 percent of organic products are sold within 100 miles of the farm—which pretty much means on the same island as where they’re grown. Another 16 percent are sold within the state of Hawai`i. 

That said, a big proportion, 35 percent of organic crops, are shipped out of state. (The 35 percent breaks down to 30 percent shipped within the country and 5 percent internationally.)

I found these statistics in Jan's piece especially eye-opening:

Only 52 percent, 3,642 of 7,000 of Hawaiian farmers do it full-time. And of those farmers, 2,666 are 55 or older. Of those, 1,445 are 65 years old or older.

If they're sincere in their call for food security, Hooser and the rest of the anti-GMO folks would be better off spending their time and money training the next generation of farmers, instead of grooming politicians. Because the latter typically only get their hands dirty when, like Hooser, they're busy slinging mud.


Allan Parachini said...

Between Jan's post and Brittany Lyte's well executed story, one can begin to see a slight glimmer of hope in terms of the future of public understanding of GMO farming and organics, but mostly about how people are coming to the realization that instead of pontificating about unjustified fears, getting out and working the land is the only thing that can make Kauai more food independent.You've done a good job of wrapping this all together, Joan. It's really something to "Crow" about, as Terry Lilley would say.

Anonymous said...

Wow Joan. You managed to mention Hooser 5 times in this post. Tell us the truth once and for all. What did that man do to you to make you so angry? I admire your tenacity and determination in bringing him down and do not doubt that one day you will succeed, but what on earth did he do to get you so focused on destroying him? Or, if he just good for you ratings? I noticed the more you mention him the more comments are driven to pile on top.

Joan Conrow said...

9:17 am -- It wasn't what he did to me. It's what he's done -- and is still doing -- to Kauai, and to a lesser extent, the rest of Hawaii. Doesn't it bother you the way he created so much distrust, polarization and fear? The way he led witch hunts against seed company workers? The way he's misused his political position? The amount of money his bullshit has cost the taxpayers? Or have you just not been paying attention?

Anonymous said...

Joan, you should run for council and replace Hooser instead of attacking him in your blog. You will be more effective.

Joan Conrow said...

Joan get a grip on it my friend. With support of a large segment of the community Hooser introduced a Bill that got a life of its own. The industry is as much at fault as anyone for creating "distrust, polarization and fear". What witch hunts? I don't remember any Hooser led witch hunts. There is more to this than meets the eye Joan, this is personal and has gone way beyond any semblance of journalism balance or objectivity. You don't write about the Police Chief v Mayor - The Police Commission lawsuit against the Mayor and all of the EEOC actions going on in the Police Department that is costing the County way more money than 2491. No Joan there is something more to this than you are willing to admit, And I agree, it is not just that you are getting paid by the Alliance for Science. There are plenty of important things going on in this County that cost far more money and are far more important that you could be focusing on, but yet you are obsessed with taking down Hooser.

Joan Conrow said...

Sorry to disappoint you, 9:57, but no, there isn't "much more to this than meets the eye." It's exactly as I laid it out in my previous comment, and that's quite enough.

Btw, nice spin job on 2491. Just because you've developed a case of amnesia about Hooser's antics doesn't mean the rest of us have. Though you may not think this issue is important, because you'd much prefer I take the spotlight off this mess, it has global ramifications, and it's also symptomatic of a much bigger issue in terms of who is influencing Hawaii politics.

Oh, and you might want to start paying better attention, because I have covered the KPD EEOC complaints at length, as well as the police commission lawsuit against the mayor, which I wrote about just last week.

Finally, I don't care what you, Anonymous, think I should be writing about. I write about what interests me.

Anonymous said...

When I look at the picture in the paper, I see a barren field devoid of life. It takes more than hard work to kill everything in a field so stop pretending they aren't spraying every inch of the fields they are using.

Anonymous said...

Now actions by the big fist has global ramifications? How so Joan? Seems you are giving this two bit small town politician Farr too much credit.

Joan Conrow said...

Not Gary, per se, 10:09, but the Hawaii anti-GMO movement he's latched on to.

And 10:09 -- Are you really that stupid? Or just that out of touch with ag? The field is newly planted. Didn't you notice the little seedlings?

Anonymous said...

Newly planted with seedlings created to withstand the chemicals that have been sprayed on every square inch of that field. Your stupid if you think that's farming.

Anonymous said...

F. Gump once said "mama said, stupid is as stupid does" or something like that. Once people make their mind, they won't change. No matter what is right. Telling the truth is a part of life that some people don't have in them. Is this what we call "hard head" "no like listen". Pupule. Lolo. For some, lying is a part of life. Who can get away with the biggest lie. becomes a winner?? Ask Geronimo.

Anonymous said...

Gmo crops have resulted in an increase of pesticide/herbicide usage. I have yet to discover any information about how poisons are beneficial to our soil, the microbes and bacteria that live in the soil, our water, the air we breathe, and for all animal life including our human bodies. Where are the studies which show spraying of massive amounts of poisons around the world is beneficial to health? Before poisons were introduced into the world, our environment was pristine- Hawaiʻi before captain cook, usa before columbus. Now we are facing the sixth extinction and our once beautiful world is crying out in pain. She is asking us to reconsider the use of poisonous chemicals which are killing our reefs, our rivers, our lakes, our atmosphere, the land we walk on, wildlife and even our own bodies. A sane society would seek methods of food production that does not require poisons- we have the intelligence to do it. I do not envision a world full of poisons for my children or their children. So the final line for me is, I do not support companies who reap immense profits off of producing and selling massive amounts of poisons to be spread throughout the world. I hope Kauaʻi can find better kinds of solutions to local food sovereignty than supporting companies like these.

Anonymous said...

Aloha Joan,
Thank you for doing the do. We really enjoy the stimulus the blogs presents. It is like listening to Cat Stevens. You tell it like it is. Keep up the great work. No mind the other guys. They haven't found UTOPIA yet.

Anonymous said...

"Before poisons were introduced into the world, our environment was pristine- Hawaiʻi before captain cook, usa before columbus"

Actually, not really. Humans, be they "modern" or "ancient" have been destroying, altering, and exploiting the land since their arrival. One could argue that the methods we're using now are much more effective, and therefore disruptive and irreversible, but don't try and state that people lived in some sort of idyllic balance with the ecosystem. We caused the fifth extinction event, or at least the localized one here:


Anonymous said...

I see the GMO nuts are still falling from the trees. A sane society makes efforts to feed people. And I note from the GI article that the vast majority of research is via the old fashioned way: cross pollination.
Without which there would be no "organic" produce at all. Since every single major food crop, all thirty on which civilization depends, relies on varietals created by cross pollination.
Can't really eat corn the size of a grass stalk can you?

Anonymous said...

12:18 You have a point. How did Kauaʻi in the past, with a greater population than we have today, survive without the use of pesticides/herbicides? If they could do it, why canʻt we?

Anonymous said...

Joan said- Re: Da Hoos -- "It wasn't what he did to me. It's what he's done -- and is still doing -- to Kauai"
Yes. This is spot on. His antics, the midnight miasma with the Anti-Ag brigade, inciting the crazies, the lies on GMO, the pandering to the big national anti-GMO whips, his grandstanding etc.
The most lingering part of his BS, is that he, Bynum, Furfaro and Mason worsened the Haole Local divide by trying to put so many people out of a job.
The westside is a long way from P'Ville Mr Jay, but what you folks tried to do is unforgivable.
Da Hoos is a persuasive man to have been able to turn the mind of a fat tub of lard like Furfaro.
Kauai has a short memory, but the fiasco these despicable council people tried to do the island is unforgivable. JoAnn don't get no pass either.
Gary's new double speak is that he wasn't trying to put Big Ag out of business but merely trying to get them to disclose their chemicals. Total Horesh*t.
Da Hoos even wants Roundup banned. Oh what I would give to have Da Hoos for one day with a f*ckin' shovel in his hand, in the westside sun, in the heat and dust...it might just make a man out of him.
And he will get re-elected or go on to a big Mainland Group Anti-Ag group.
Joan, thank you for keeping a spotlight on this Ag issue. Listening to the Council these days it seems that there is no collective memory. Mel should hold Da Hoos, JoAnn and that dumbshit Mason's feet to the fire and limit their every anti-local action. To the victor the spoils, so to speak.
Mel is the key. He is the big dog. But it appears the Big Dog went to the Kauai Humane Society and his Big Dogness chopped off and now he is a fragile shell of the strong man he once was. Instead of a woof woof he is now a yip yip.
Mel gots to do something for the people.

Anonymous said...

"it seems that there is no collective memory. Mel should hold Da Hoos, JoAnn and that dumbshit Mason's feet to the fire and limit their every anti-local action."

Mel? Talk about loss of collctive memory. I can't believe he is not doing time in the big house.

Anonymous said...

"12:18 You have a point. How did Kauaʻi in the past, with a greater population than we have today, survive without the use of pesticides/herbicides? If they could do it, why canʻt we?"

Brilliant comment, 3:27. Probably because, whatever the population, 98% were out in the lo'i and kula. You want it, go for it. Get your lard ass out into the field with all your kin or shut up- unless, of course, you are something other than maka'ainana. So 'scuse if you something else.

Anonymous said...

@12:18: I agree that humans are intelligent enough to figure out how to grow enough food for everyone without the use of poisons. The problem is those other people who insist that this is impossible, that we most certainly cannot survive without poisoning our environment, who become irritated when faced with those who desire a poison-free world. The mega-chemical companies whose billions of $$$ are invested in creating and promoting such poisons want everyone to believe that humans cannot survive them. What a joke! And the sheeple who blindly believe whatever propaganda these companies put out. But the positive side is, people all over the world are waking up to the fact that we either make drastic changes for a cleaner healthier world now, or we go the way of the dinosaurs. And thankfully, the influence of these companies is declining rapidly as the public becomes more educated. Education is the key.

Anonymous said...

Education certainly is the key, 6:02. Get some. But does CFS pay you folks by the word or are you just congenitally long winded? It sure takes you forever to get to the point of your pipedreams.
A Sheeple

Anonymous said...

5:07- You got something against food that has not been sprayed with poison? Plant couple of ulu trees,and feed your family and friends for life. If you have already done so, congratulations on setting a wonderful example for others to follow!

Anonymous said...

Before, before, before. Everybody worked or else starve. Or get put in the calaboose. Catch cracks. The Chiefs got everyone to work...farm, fish or hunt. No more free loading. Survival of the fittest. No more rich folk to bum off from. Hard to imagine anyone could handle the before . Would be great to see people knee deep in mud pulling taro.

Anonymous said...

Uh, Joan 9:57 AM was posted under YOUR name.

You really are your own worst enemy.

Joan Conrow said...

I'd originally deleted the comment. But then I decided, no, I will. respond. So I had to repost the comment.

Anonymous said...

The dirty pigs in KPD needs legal advice because they are too stupid to know that they can't set people up.

Let them get Shayme as their counselor and this is what happens: (remember she told Miyake to LIE under oath!) is she going to tell the dirty pigs to LIE under oath? Like they don't do it now, in the past or even in the future with the ongoing civil suits against the dirty pigs.

Councilman sues Kauai prosecutor for allegedly malicious prosecution

By Star-Advertiser staff

POSTED: 07:31 p.m. HST, Sep 19, 2012

Kauai County Councilmember Tim Bynum has filed a lawsuit in federal court against Kauai Prosecutor Shaylene Iseri-Carvalho, Kauai County, and a Kauai Planning Department supervisor for “constitutional violations arising out of abuse of abuse of power and malicious prosecution,” his attorneys said in a news release.

According to the suit, Iseri-Carvalho and others targeted and illegally prosecuted Bynum over alleged zoning law violations at his home.

“It is further alleged that Iseri-Carvalho prosecuted councilmember Bynum to block him from questioning the financial activities of the prosecutor’s office,” the press release said. “The lawsuit is based, in part, on tape recordings that were secretly made by Iseri-Carvalho’s first deputy, Jake Delaplane, of conversations he had with County Planning officials regarding the prosecution of Bynum for political reasons.”

Earlier this year Judge Kathleen Watanabe ejected Iseri-Carvalho’s office from the case and appointed a special deputy attorney general to investigate, and the case was ultimately dismissed.

One of Bynum’s attorneys is former state Attorney General Margery Bronster.

"False and malicious criminal prosecution of political enemies is something you expect to see in the Third World, not in Hawaii,” Bronster said in the news release. “A prosecutor cannot use a criminal prosecution against a political rival in an attempt to intimidate him and prevent him in a County Council meeting from asking legitimate questions about the operations and budget of the Office of the Prosecutor.

“Incredibly, they made tape recordings discussing their plans and they joked on those tapes about committing perjury if ever caught. Councilmember Bynum’s rights were severely injured and we plan to bring everyone involved to justice,” Bronster said.

Bynum v. County of Kauai

TGI 10/14/2015

Police doing great work

Chief Perry and his fine officers have been given the job of protecting the safety of the people on Kauai. They put their lives on the line every day even when stopping a vehicle for speeding or an expired license.

And in our chief’s wisdom of 35 years of service, he has requested a full time legal analyst to increase the efficiency of protecting our citizens.

Former police officer and now Council Chair Mel Rapozo has introduced Bill 2595 asking that this bill be passed knowing from past experience that this position is badly needed. The council defeated this bill by a 4 to 3 vote.

Since this county has spent hundreds of thousands of dollars or more over 23 years on a leaky gym roof (with still no resolution); squandered millions of dollars on bridges that could have been built for 10 times less (Olohena and Kilauea); spent millions of dollars on materials for our roads that we were not getting with no investigation, how can we possibly be balking at $124,000 for a position that our chief says he needs?

We don’t even investigate why this multi-use path is costing a horrendous $5.2 million per mile and more but tell our chief that we don’t need or cannot afford a critical position he says he needs.

Hopefully, the councilmembers who opposed this bill will reconsider and give our chief what he needs to do his job by hiring a legal analyst and not use a deputy county attorney for the position. This would save us taxpayers $20,000 annually and have a person available 95 percent of the time as opposed to the deputy who would have multiple duties and restricted availability.

Glenn Mickens


Anonymous said...

"12:18 You have a point. How did Kauaʻi in the past, with a greater population than we have today, survive without the use of pesticides/herbicides? If they could do it, why canʻt we?"

If you call that surviving. Short life spans; most children dying in infancy. Abject poverty. Bartering for food that someone else (the ali'i) controls. Gone are the days of the skinny Hawaiian and for good reason. The simple truth (for the simpletons) is that we could easily feed everyone of Kauai with organic food. Several ranches are already providing meat that is grass-fed and hormone-free. You've probably eaten it. The problem is economics. Most people want cheaper food. Most people aren't well-healed zealots and what the things that are grown and manufactured less expensively on the mainland. Most people don't have the money to buy, or the land to grow their own, organic food. But then not everyone is Graham Nash or David Crosby who live on the their huge royalties and can afford to buy expensive homes and eat exclusively organic food. Maybe this is where income equality needs to happen. Where's the cash Graham? Why aren't you growing organic food for the people of Kaua'i how have made you rich? Much easier to sing about it than do it. Shoots "doing" costs money and we're not THAT important to them...at least not as important as they are to themselves....and their Realtors.

Anonymous said...

Glenn Mickens likes to waste taxpayer dollars by spending time on camera talking and talking even when he doesn't know what he's saying.