The Joint Fact Fact Finding Group — charged with reviewing biotech crops and their pesticide use on Kauai — is entering the last phase of its work, with a final report due out Jan. 31.
According to an update by Peter Adler, whose ACCORD3.0 Network is managing the JFF process:
We are formulating and refining our findings for the central questions we are asking which are: (1) Are there detectable and measurable human or environmental health impacts on Kaua‘i associated with GM crop production? (2) If the answer is a possible “yes”, what are the documented health or environmental impacts on Kaua‘i, and how strong is the evidence? (3) And if there is a possible “yes” to the above, what should be done?
Even more specifically, we are seeking to answer these questions with the best information we can find, asking: 1) Quantitatively, what is the actual agricultural “footprint” the seed companies occupy and farm? 2) What pesticides do they use, in what quantities, where, and how often? 3) What is Kaua‘i’s overall health picture and, more specifically, especially on the West side, what do we know about the incidences of cancers, birth defects, pulmonary illnesses, and neurodevelopmental problems? 4) Environmentally, what factual evidence is there of pesticide damages to Kaua‘i’s flora and fauna, both terrestrial and aquatic?
While I'm hopeful that this process will defuse some of the hysteria associated with biotech crop production on Kauai, I still can't help but wonder why GE crops have been singled out for scrutiny, in terms of measuring impacts on human and environmental health. Not tourism, not termite treatment, not petroleum-based transportation, not health care, not substance abuse, not domestic violence, not residential use of pesticides. Only agriculture.
Automobile accidents, medical malpractice, drownings, drugs, alcohol and random violence kill and maim people each and every year on Kauai, while kids are regularly sickened in their homes by improper pesticide use. Yet the focus is solely on possible harm caused by a very specific component of agriculture, which thus far doesn't have a body count of even one.
This is not meant as a criticism of Peter Adler, whom I respect immensely, or even the JFF process, but the politics, propaganda, fear-mongering and warped mindset that prompted this exercise.
As a friend noted, when I forwarded him the report:
It may be coincidence, but I find it interesting that completion and release of the report is timed to get the maximum amount of attention as the legislative session opens.
I think — I hope — it's just a coincidence....
Meanwhile, it's been 20 years since the first biotech crop was approved. Greenpeace, which has made millions exploiting people's fears over the technology, deemed it “20 years of failure.” With the help of groups like Center for Food Safety and Pesticide Action Network, Greenpeace has mounted one of the world's largest propaganda campaigns to successfully halt the approval and use of GE crops around the globe. And then it turns around and blames the technology for failing to “feed the world.”
Despite Greenpeace's claims to the contrary, the global acreage of biotech crops has increased more than 100-fold — from 1.7 million hectares in 1996 to over 175 million hectares in 2013 — making it one of the fastest adopted agricultural technologies in history. And it's expanding because farmers who use it are making more money.
The most exhaustive study of the economic impacts of GE crops ever conducted — a review of 147 peer-reviewed papers published in the Public Library of Science (PLoS) in November 2014 — found that GE crops have added more than $115 billion in income to farmers since their introduction in 1996. Farmers who adopted GE seeds saw average profit gains of 69 percent.
A May 2014 study by agricultural economists Graham Brookes and Peter Barfoot found that farmers around the globe received an average of $3.33 for each dollar invested in GE crop seeds. Most important, the biggest income gains from GE seeds have come to the farmers who need it most: resource-poor small farmers in the developing world.
Papaya farmers in Hawaii, where GE varieties account for 85 percent of the crop, have benefitted immensely from this technology. As Joni Kamiya, the daughter of a North Shore Oahu papaya farmer, wrote:
If your grandpa started something and then your dad continued it, would you sit back and let others define your story? I won't. My brother is carrying on that legacy now amidst a war of misinformation. I'm thinking of them right now as they finish working in their fields then have to go and defend their work. They don't deserve this and nor does any other farmer. Learn about farming from farmers.
And learn about science from scientists, not propagandists.
Sadly, University of Florida scientist Kevin Folta has been silenced by anti-GMO groups. After Kevin was savaged for accepting $25,000 from Monsanto to support his ongoing science education efforts, he finally said 'nuff already:
Hi Everybody. I’ll keep it short. The attacks are relentless, I’m under a lot of pressure on many fronts. I’m taking the opportunity to disappear from public visibility and focus on my lab and my students. It has been a challenging time. I appreciate the support, I’m grateful for your wishes, but this battle is vicious and one-sided, and I think I’m well served bowing out of the public science conversation for the foreseeable future. Thank you.
And that's exactly what the bullies who started this war wanted. The bullying, and the effort to silence all discussion and any opposition, prompted me to leave the ranks of the anti-GMO groups. The bullying is wrong, and it needs to be stopped.
Which leads me to an article in today's newspaper. I commend Prosecutor Justin Kollar for rightly pursuing felony charges against Kaeden Palmeira, who punched his mom in the face — breaking numerous bones and shattering her eye socket — and kicked his girlfriend in the head, all in front of his 3-year-old kid and 13-year-old sister.
But then Judge Randal Valenciano turns around and gives the guy just six months in jail, with credit for time served. That's it? You can wreak freaking havoc and brutally beat two women, and that's all you get? Oh, plus he's gotta pay $92,000 in restitution. Like this loser is ever going to get his hands on that kind of dough.
The guy didn't even take responsibility, pleading “no contest.” Then his defense attorney says his actions were “probably fueled by alcohol and that he had potential.” Yeah, the potential to cause a lot more harm, until he gets his shit together. And how likely do you suppose that will be, when he isn't required to seek counseling for anger management or substance abuse?
The new state law that allows family abusers to be charged with a felony if they do their dirty deeds in front of minors is great. But it doesn't mean much if the judge gives the perp a slap on the wrist. Epic fail, Judge.