Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Musings: On Luddites and Lies

Perhaps it's a personal shortcoming, but I can't help but feel gleeful when folks get their comeuppance.

Especially when it's the Center for Food Safety (CFS), a mainland-based lobbying firm that has worked tirelessly in Hawaii and elsewhere to foment fear and loathing of GMOs, and backed a spate of poorly written laws aimed at destroying Island agriculture.

Now the fear-mongering group is getting some well-deserved recognition, as the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation nominates CFS for the 2015 “Luddite Award.” As ITIF notes:

CFS has many lawyers but only one scientist on staff. The organization has little or no expertise in food safety, but “demonstrated experience in promoting fear.”

“Their raison d’etre is to use misleading claims, lawsuits, and other harassment to oppose agricultural innovation and keep the world safe for Victorian farming methods. Besides opposing more affordable and healthier salmon, the Center for Food Safety also has pushed to stigmatize foods derived through biotech improvements by labeling them even when exhaustive research concludes there is no health, safety, or nutritional information to convey to the public.”

Speaking of stigmatizing by labeling, though CFS claimed credit for defeating the so-called DARK Act, which would've prevented states from imposing labeling laws, U.S. Ag Secretary Tom Vilsack is planning a little sit-down with industry and consumer groups in January to hammer out a labeling compromise.

The former Iowa governor said he is concerned about "chaos in the market" if more states implement labeling laws with differing provisions. “That will cost the industry a substantial amount of money, hundreds of millions of dollars, if not more, and it will ultimately end up costing the consumer” through higher prices, Vilsack said.

Sounds like CFS's victory celebration was a tad premature. Because no lawmaker wants to be blamed for higher food prices.

Returning to the “Luddite Award,” ITIF says the most comprehensive meta-analysis to date shows biotech innovations in crop improvement have increased agricultural yields on average by 22 percent, reduced pesticide use by 37 percent, and increased farmer income by 68 percent.

But hey, CFS makes its money suing the government over GMOs and begging the public for donations to fight the bogeymen it's created. So it doesn't matter what the facts say: CFS collects its kala fighting GMOs, so it ain't gonna stop.

Speaking of anti-GMO activists with financial interests in maintaining the fight, I noticed that Jeffrey Smith, head of the misnamed Institute for Responsible Technology, is now hawking a supplement called “Restore.” It supposedly closes the tight junctions between intestinal cells that are supposedly opened by GMOs. And such a deal: just $69.95 for 32 ounces.

Why can't folks see through these charlatans?

Meanwhile, in doing a Google search for Hawaii Center for Food Safety, I found this curious site, which claimed:

A little-known fact is that the “Original” and only Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition is a branch of the FDA.

We formed a Hawaii non-profit group called the Hawaii Center for Food Safety for the education about safe, affordable food for Hawaii. Then some time later the Center for Food Safety flew into town; that’s right we were grown here, and they flew here.

It seems that CFS applied some legal bullying, and the Hawaii nonprofit changed its name to Hawaii Center for Safe Affordable Food, though it retained the domain name. CFS then shamelessly snatched up the nonprofit's name for its own Oahu branch office.

Hmmm. This seems to be something of an MO in the ethically challenged anti-GMO ranks. As I noted previously, a new anti-ag/anti-GMO Oahu group stole the name North Shore Ohana from a legit Kauai group that successfully litigated for public shoreline access.
In closing, this quote from H.L. Mencken seemed appropos:

The men the American people admire most extravagantly are the most daring liars; the men they detest most violently are those who try to tell them the truth.

So it's not surprising at all that "the Donald," Jeffrey Smith and CFS have their ardent admirers.

As do the Luddites, who were, according to an article in the Smithsonian magazine:

neither opposed to technology nor inept at using it. Many were highly skilled machine operators in the textile industry. Nor was the technology they attacked particularly new. Moreover, the idea of smashing machines as a form of industrial protest did not begin or end with them. In truth, the secret of their enduring reputation depends less on what they did than on the name under which they did it. You could say they were good at branding.


Anonymous said...

It's all so confusing, no wonder the average person is so confused. Has GMO reduced the amount of pesticides used? If that is true, wouldn't the people who are so worried about pesticide use be happy and support that technology? If the CFS really doesn't care about pesticides , is it really just a tactic to rid the state of agriculture? Is that why the Rockefeller s interest?

Anonymous said...

Love that quote Joan. At the recent Governor's meeting at KCC, Agriculture Director Scott Enright tried to thoughtfully and truthfully answer questions about the dairy, seed companies and other topics. He was booed and otherwise mocked before he could even finish a sentence. It was really sad. The low point of the evening, though, was when a bunch of people cheered when it was mentioned that Pioneer had closed its production plant in Kekaha. Wow. We've truly lost all sense of community and compassion when we celebrate people losing their jobs.

Anonymous said...

The dirty pigs in Kpd must be pissed that they have to wear a camera.

I am legend

Anonymous said...

"....the Center for Food Safety also has pushed to stigmatize foods derived through biotech improvements by labeling them even when exhaustive research concludes there is no health, safety, or nutritional information to convey to the public.” This argument is becoming tiresome. The public asks for objective labeling of ingredients/processes, not for judgmental labeling (such as we find on cigarettes, liquor and prescription drugs). Objective labeling is exactly that- it only states facts, not opinions. The public wants facts- what does their food contain. If individuals wish to view GMOʻs as unhealthy or unsafe, that is their personal choice and has nothing whatsoever to do with labeling. Labeling a product that contains high fructose corn syrup does not mean hfcs is unhealthy or unsafe, it only means that the product contains hfcs. Labeling food objectively does not "stigmatize" foods at all....stigmatization comes when people form their own opinions based upon their own experiences. If GMO foods are "stigmatized", it has nothing whatsoever to do with objective labeling and everything to do with the failure of the producers of GMO products and technology to convince the public of their safety.

Joan Conrow said...

No, the stigmatization comes from the disinformation and fear campaigns run by opportunistic, money-grubbing groups like CFS and Gary Hooser's HAPA. They push labeling to reinforce the stigma they've helped to create and perpetuate.

Anonymous said...

"The men the American people admire most extravagantly are the most daring liars; the men they detest most violently are those who try to tell them the truth."


You like H.L. Mencken Ohhh I am starting to love you.

Anonymous said...

The anti's creat the lies about GMO foods which scare the ignorant then demand labeling to rienforce the faux reasons why their lies are valid. Labeling only supports their lies; not the truths. Forced labeling reinforces the claim that there is a reason beyond ignorant fears that one NEEDS to know there are GE components in a product.

Anonymous said...

“The essence of science is that it is always willing to abandon a given idea for a better one; the essence of theology is that it holds its truths to be eternal and immutable.”
― H.L. Mencken

“To die for an idea; it is unquestionably noble. But how much nobler it would be if men died for ideas that were true!”
― H.L. Mencken

“The central belief of every moron is that he is the victim of a mysterious conspiracy against his common rights and true deserts.”
― H.L. Mencken

“The way to deal with superstition is not to be polite to it, but to tackle it with all arms, and so rout it, cripple it, and make it forever infamous and ridiculous. Is it, perchance, cherished by persons who should know better? Then their folly should be brought out into the light of day, and exhibited there in all its hideousness until they flee from it, hiding their heads in shame. True enough, even a superstitious man has certain inalienable rights. He has a right to harbor and indulge his imbecilities as long as he pleases, provided only he does not try to inflict them upon other men by force. He has a right to argue for them as eloquently as he can, in season and out of season. He has a right to teach them to his children. But certainly he has no right to be protected against the free criticism of those who do not hold them. He has no right to demand that they be treated as sacred. He has no right to preach them without challenge.”
― H.L. Mencken

Anonymous said...

Joan, I beg to disagree with you and fully support labeling. The public desires informational labeling. 99% of the public (in the USA) have no idea of who Gary Hooser, CFS and Hapa are. Labeling does NOT stigmatize food unless the label is a health or safety warning. Labeling informs the public so that we can easily decide for ourselves what to buy. My own personal decision to buy or not buy food depending on what it contains and how it has been processed is to be determined by myself alone. Labeling helps me to make these decisions easier. I do not need food companies to tell me what is safe or not, I do not need Gary Hooser, CFS or HAPA to tell me whether GMOʻs are safe or not. Same goes for for irradiation, high fructose corn syrup, salt, peanuts, preservatives, etc. Labeling promotes transparency and truth only.....labeling does not promote stigmatization unless it states an ingredient or product is not safe or good for health. 12:58 is right, and a huge majority of people like myself agree, both in the US and around the world. That is why huge food and GMO companies spend millions and millions of $$$ to create fear of labeling, saying that it will make food more expensive. Any company worthy of respect will surely promote full transparency and labeling of their products because it is pono and they have nothing to fear by being truthful. Labeling provides truthful information about contents. Labeling itself does create stigmatization....peopleʻs attitudes create stigmatization. Labeling does not create peopleʻs attitudes. The US government just passed a law which says imported meat does not need to be labeled as to country of origin. Why do you think they have done this? To support the right of the public to know about their food, what it contains, where it comes from? Obviously not- it is to support the companies which import and sell the meat, not the public. Same with GMOʻs- lack of labeling does not benefit the publicʻs desire for transparency and truthfulness as an aid for making better personal decisions when purchasing food products. But lack of labeling does benefit GMO companies who fear the public knowing what is in their food.

Anonymous said...

If we labeled anything with
" contains DNA"
"contains organic matter"
"contains inorganic matter"
"contains deoxyribonucleic acid"
"contains monosaccharides"
"grown with Ammonium"
The public would be cornfused, mortified and apoplectic.
Clever tactic by the Fistees to use big words like Genetically blah blah to scare people.
How about having our politicians swear to simple things like "I will tell the truth"
No chance there, unless these lying liars are so used to lying that words have no meaning. Integrity, truth and justice are gone.
Schpeaking of food, I always wondered about Gary's penchant for saying "Bite me" to his foes, as in, of which or what is it that Gary's wishes to be bit. To bite or not to bite, that is the question?

Anonymous said...

The Anahola house that burned down had an illegal studio rental attached just like thousands on the island. There are way more of them than vacation rentals. When your done pretending introducing pesticides to the food chain is somehow good for the earth, I would love to hear your take on why its ok for "local" families to rent illegally.

Anonymous said...

Bite me, 6:37Pm!

Anonymous said...

Many houses on the island have extra sheds or what have you turned into rooms, while this may not be good, the TVRs and B&B's are asking for special use permits that legitimize such uses. So if or when a local family asks to get a special use permit for their uses it will be a big deal, otherwise it is just providing a substandard home for someone who might otherwise be homeless here since there is no place for regular people to live. certainly there is no shortage of visitor units.

Anonymous said...

The Donald just said his friendship with Mr. Clinton was "strictly business". “It was my obligation to get along with all politicians,” he wrote. “And I did it better than anybody.”

He was/is a developer. It was his job to get politicians to like him.

Our local politicians and department heads might do well to recognize from the above statement how they are viewed and perhaps manipulated by the friendly developers.

The anti's animosity toward certain politicians seems to work against them. But watch out for those friendly ones who make the politicians laugh. They are the ones to worry about.

Anonymous said...

I don't see any of these anti-labeling advocates clamoring to remove country of origin labels. Stigma? How about labeling these pro-GMO types "hypocritical corporate money grubbers".

Anonymous said...

Country of origin labeling is ridiculous. I got something that said made in U.S. from ingredients sourced around the globe. How useful is that???

Joan Conrow said...

Be sure to cast your vote for Center for Food Safety to win the award it so richly deserves!


Anonymous said...

Thank you Joan and commenter Dec. 29 at 9:31 AM,

This to me says it all: "We've truly lost all sense of community and compassion when we celebrate people losing their jobs."

And in Hawaii, we are losing more and more of the jobs that allow local families to continue to live here. In some cases, directly due to deliberate "disinformation and fear campaigns run by opportunistic, money-grubbing groups like CFS and Gary Hooser's HAPA".

We are being replaced by a new breed of phony, superficial-thinking, compassion-less, ingrate recent transplants who revel as jobs are lost.

What is the future of Hawaii? We will be entirely reliant on tourism and service jobs catering to travelers and the wealthy? What will the phony environmentalists allow Hawaii to produce, agriculturally or industrially?

From today's news (not sure if this will impact folks locally; I hope not): DuPont will cut 1,700 jobs in its home state of Delaware and thousands more globally as it prepares for its merger with Dow Chemical.

What local jobs are we creating as we lose those that provide living wages here?

Anonymous said...

The GREAT divide and Conquer.

Job (money) or health safety/water pollution/air quality/soil contamination/years of toxicity?

You choose.

Anonymous said...

You've already been conquered if you believe those are the only choices.

Anonymous said...

1:54p.m. this blog just wrote what you're stating are false claims. N you still claim we should choose.