Monday, January 18, 2016

Musings: Food Injustice

The Food Justice/Food Sovereignty agenda now being peddled in Hawaii, and elsewhere, is missing several key ingredients.

First and foremost among them are the concepts of justice and sovereignty. Just so we're all on the same page, let's start by defining those terms. Justice: just behavior or treatment, fairness, impartiality, objectivity, neutrality, honesty, righteousness and morality. Sovereignty: a self-governing state; personal control.

The Food Justice Summit — a series of statewide talks culminating in a “convergence on the Capitol” for Wednesday's opening of the Legislature — is sponsored by the anti-GMO groups HAPA and the mainland-based Pesticide Action Network.

These groups, in their dogged determination to ban GMO crops, are working to deny millions of farmers the right to choose what seeds they want to grow. How does preventing farmers from exercising personal control over their own production advance sovereignty?

Clearly, it doesn't.

Many of these farmers are small-holders in developing nations who are finally earning enough money, through the cultivation of GMO seeds, to send their daughters to school, buy a two-burner propane stove so they no longer have to cook over dung fires. Denying them access to the technology of their choice — good seeds — returns them to a life of poverty. How is that just?
Clearly, it isn't.

Self-serving groups like HAPA and PAN — both are making money off their anti-GMO stance — refuse to accept that peasants and small-hold farmers willingly choose these “corporate seeds” because they deem them superior. It's so patronizing — and so steeped in Western colonial thinking — to believe these farmers have been duped or forced to purchase GMO seeds. No, they all made free choices, based on what they determined to be the most productive, and thus the most likely to turn a — gasp — profit.

Because you see, farmers want to earn profits, too. Though they may feel good about doing work that feeds others, I haven't met one who is in it for pure altruism. Much as elite Western activists love to romanticize about the simple, bucolic lives of brown-skinned peasants and campesinos elsewhere, small-holder farmers want to make money so they can have mobile phones, air conditioning, medical care and educated kids — you know, all the stuff that privileged Western activists take for granted.

In fact, some of these farmers want GMO seeds so badly that they smuggle them into countries where they're banned. A Chinese reporter at the World Conference of Science Journalists in Seoul told me that's how China got into biotech crops: its own farmers smuggled in Bt cotton seeds, so the government had to get on board to meet farmer demand.
Andrea Brower,  a HAPA board member, recently wrote a Huffington Post blog in which she railed against corporations and hailed the group La Via Campensina, whose work she described thus:

They are defending against land grabs, "free trade," enclosure of seed and genetic commons, corporate power, human rights violations, environmental degradation, and policies that create hunger.

Mmm, shouldn't Andrea and her comrades be applauding the Chinese and South Asia peasants who bootleg GMO seeds for thwarting the corporate system of patents and seizing the seeds they wish to use? Shouldn't they be championing small-holder farmers who choose GMO seeds that produce higher yields with fewer pesticide applications and less tilling, thus thwarting hunger and reducing environmental degradation?

Yes, they should. But that reality does not fit with their anti-GMO dogma. So instead, the anti-GMO activists pretend that the millions of farmers who are exercising free will and practicing true food sovereignty either do not exist, or do not matter. Boy, talk about marginalizing the poor under the guise of "justice."

Andrea and the other anti-GMO activists, in their rush to demonize the seed companies for supposedly taking all the good land and stymying local production, also fail to recognize that there is ample fallow land to practice food sovereignty in Hawaii. If they were truly serious, activists could begin right now to "restore a fairer, more healthy food system." 

What's missing, however, are actual peasants to do the work. Which is why the big taro farms import Micronesian to labor in the loi, the seed companies bring in Filipinos and the large vegetable growers on Oahu use Southeast Asians.

That leads to us what else is missing from the Hawaii Food Justice Summit — farmers. Not one of the four people flown in to lecture us about food production in the Islands is an actual farmer. They're all activists.

And as we've already seen in Hawaii, while activists are good at pointing out what's wrong with ag, and blaming the seed companies and sugar plantation for all woes, they have yet to provide us with viable alternatives, much less demonstrate they know what they're talking about or are willing to do the work.
Heck, HAPA President Gary Hooser recently admitted he can't even keep up with the yard work on his own small Wailua Homesteads residential lot. Yet he is leading a movement whose primary purpose is dictating how others should farm.

Though my kanaka friends say nation-building could start today through occupying — by which is meant cultivating, not camping — loi on state-managed lands, they can't find people willing to do the work. Folks might show up for a day, but then they're gone.

Posting simplistic, distorted memes on social media, marching and blaming others is so much easier than actually hoeing or tilling.
Just like it's so easy, when ensconced in an echo chamber, to rhapsodize and rhetoricize about an agricultural Utopia, where everyone is given free land and water, and they grow crops collectively, with no thought of profit, following a formula prescribed by non-farmers who don't get their hands dirty and banish anyone who questions the dogma.

But creating and implementing workable plans that actually feed billions? Well, that's quite a bit harder. Which is why the Hawaii Food Justice Summit, with its token kanaka, imported activists and Maoist jingoism, is essentially a charade hosted by poseurs.

Andrea ended her post with a quote by Martin Luther King, Jr.:

But one day we must come to see that an edifice which produces beggars needs restructuring. It means that questions must be raised. You see, my friends, when you deal with this, you begin to ask the question, "Who owns the oil?" You begin to ask the question, "Who owns the iron ore?" You begin to ask the question, "Why is it that people have to pay water bills in a world that is two-thirds water?"

There's much to ponder in the words of Dr. King, whom I deeply admire, and few would argue that the world is full of injustice and inequities — including those perpetrated by misguided, self-righteous "food activists."

Meanwhile, Andrea and the rest of the HAPA-crites might also wish to reflect upon the words of another famous man:

You say you want a revolution
Well, you know
We'd all love to change the world
You tell me that it's evolution
Well, you know
We'd all love to change the world

But when you talk about destruction
Don't you know that you can count me out
Don't you know it's gonna be all right
All right, all right

You say you got a real solution
Well, you know
We'd all love to see the plan

You ask me for a contribution
Well, you know
We're all doing what we can
But if you want money
For people with minds that hate
All I can tell is brother you have to wait

You say you'll change the constitution
Well, you know
We'd all love to change your head
You tell me it's the institution
Well, you know
You better free you mind instead

You ain't going to make it with anyone anyhow

Tomorrow, I'll address the inherent hypocrisies of the supposedly "anti-corporate," anti-GMO groups behind the Hawaii Food Justice Summit. 


Anonymous said...

Any thoughts on this Joan? I thought you might get a kick out of this.

Joan Conrow said...

It's indicative of the kind of silliness that Natural News usually posts. My favorite quote: "You don't get e-coli in organic foods." Uh, sure, yeah, whatever you say.....

Anonymous said...

Nice reporting on a summit you didn't attend or you would have noticed no one had any pictures of chairman Mao. Promote spring farming and oppose the corporate roader!

Joan Conrow said...

9:09 -- I'm sorry that you're unable to grasp the use of figurative speech, even as you attempt to use it (badly) in your second sentence.

Anonymous said...

9:09 I understand clarity suffers as any figure of speech introduces an ambiguity between literal and figurative interpretation. My English no good but I know the ruling class and the landlord and capitalist classes have become the ruled. The landlord class and the reactionary bourgeoisie will never be reconciled to being ruled or to their extinction. They are constantly dreaming of a restoration through subversion of the dictatorship of the proletariat, so that they can once again ride on the backs of the working people. They still have great strength. They have money, extensive social contacts and international links, and experience in counter-revolution. In particular, the ideology of the exploiting classes still has a very big market. Some unsteady elements in the revolutionary ranks are prone to be corrupted by this ideology and consequently become counter-revolutionaries like yourself.

Joan Conrow said...

The landlord class and the reactionary bourgeoisie .... have money, extensive social contacts and international links, and experience in counter-revolution.

Indeed. And they're financing the Hawaii anti-GMO/food sovereignty movement. So what does that tell you?

Anonymous said...

"Too many Chiefs and not enough Indians" or is it Ali'i and Kanaka Maoli.

Anonymous said...

Weird that Hooser, Lukens and the Babes Against Biotech don't appear to be under fed. As my friend's mom used to say, "They're good eaters."

Anonymous said...

I'm confused 9:49. What revolution?

Anonymous said...

10:29, very interesting observation in light of the debunked Dr. Stephanie Seneff's statement about glyphosate (RoundUp) causing obesity. Guess, she and others are hypocrites who partake of foods which have been grown with the herbicide. Basically, the "food summit" is a parade of activists (haves) against the have nots. HAPA is led by an unscrupulous, pilau politician named Hooser, who has already used county funds to advance their agenda. Existing farm practices have left millions of the people starving. How, may I ask, can we feed them without GMOs and pesticides?

Anonymous said...

Joan, I wonder what prevents you from posting comments such as mine about Mr. Bhaskar Save. When a faithful reader takes time to compose a comment about a very famous farmer in India which may be informative and interesting for your readers, can you not afford them the respect of sharing their comment with your readers? Donʻt you think it is good to present different facets of an issue so that your readers can form balanced and well thought out opinions? Surely The Save article is relevant to the topic of your blog today, is it not? And surely, posting it would stimulate rewarding discussion by your readers, would it not? Please consider sharing. Mahalo nui loa.

Anonymous said...

10:29. Tell me what County funds hooser has used to advance his agenda?

Anonymous said...

After reading about what DuPont did to that town in Texas in order to store industrial waste - claiming all along that what they did was safe and poisoning a whole town in the process, I just don't know how anyone could trust a message from that Company ever.
I'm not an idiot and I read a lot about GMO. Looks to me like some forms are benign, and others not so much.

A small town politician like Hooser is simply not relevant. After three years of reading about his bad deeds, I am firmly convinced that he is a typical lying politician. The thing is I am also convinced that the GMO companies are typical lying corporations.

Joan Conrow said...

12:40. I didn't post it because you or someone else posted the same link and message yesterday on a previous post.

12:59. He has used county letterhead and staff time.

Anonymous said...

Joan, Here is my comment again. I cannot find it in the earlier post. It is actually more applicable to todayʻs blog anyway. Hope you will share it today on this post. Mahalo..... Following is a link to an article about legendary Bhaskhar Save, Indiaʻs Ghandi of natural farming- ( ). The article contains Bhaskharʻs own words and provides a nice counter-point to your blog today. "Bhaskar Save, the 'Gandhi of natural farming', died last year after a lifetime of organic growing and determined campaigning against the destruction of India's traditional, sustainable agriculture, writes Colin Todhunter. His 2006 open letter, published here, sets out a devastating critique of industrial agriculture and its impacts, and an eloquent and timely agroecological manifesto." "His views on farming are rooted in a vision that is diametrically opposed to the current policies of selling out farmers and agriculture - the heart and soul of India - to corrupt foreign agribusiness concerns." The article also contains a nice video, "Farming - The Gandhian Way - A Tribute to Shri BHASKAR SAVE" ( )Mr Save includes in his comments this quote- "Farming runs in our blood. But I am sad that our (now greyed) generation of Indian farmers allowed itself to be duped into adopting the short-sighted and ecologically devastating way of farming, imported into this country - By those like you, with virtually zero farming experience!" Mr. Save is addressing Mr. Swaminathan, considered the 'father' of India's so-called 'Green Revolution' that flung open the floodgates of toxic 'agro' chemicals - ravaging the lands and lives of many millions of Indian farmers over the past 50 years.

Anonymous said...

Joan why do you answer for 12:59? Because you are so eager to beat up the big fist? If you or anyone actually had proof you could take his job away. But you don't so instead you just make shit up. Whatever this guy did to you in the past must have really hurt. I know you won't publish this but at least I know you will read it. You are one evil woman and yes a woman scorned by many.

Anonymous said...

WTF are you talking about? Joan was NOT answering FOR 12:59, but responding TO a question. Talk about make shit up...Back under the bridge!

Joan Conrow said...

Gosh, 2:33, hysterical and reactionary much? I answered because I happened to be on there responding to an earlier comment. I do indeed have proof that Gary has used county resources to further his own agenda, because I have linked in previous posts to the letters that Council Services wrote for Gary on county letterhead. Unfortunately, that isn't enough to take his job. The ethics law favors the unethical.

Gary never did anything to me in the past, and I'm not personally hurt by him. My political antipathy dates from about March 2013, when he told me, regarding Bill 2491, "It doesn't matter if it's enforced. All that matters is getting it passed." I knew then he wasn't looking out for the people of Kauai, and he needed to be exposed for the demagogue that he is. Evil is in the eye of the beholder, and since you're constantly apologizing for and defending Gary, your judgment is obviously questionable.

Anonymous said...

A great deal of organic produce is from Mexico. Why? Because it is cheap and no one really knows if it is organic or not. It is all about the labeling. This is how those fools at Chipolte got into trouble. Buying "organic" vegetables from Mexico instead of California, Florida, Arizona and New Mexico. But they did test positive for fecal contamination. So it is natural. Let the GMO eat their. I won't.

Anonymous said...

12:59, apparently you haven't kept track of Mr. Pilau's misdeeds. In June of 2014, TGI mentioned that he was president of HAPA while sitting on the infamous 2013-14 council that conceived bill# 2491, along with Tim Bynum, Jay Furfaro, and JoAnn Yukimura. Mel Rapozo and Ross Kagawa opposed that bill. Yes, there were only six sitting in the council because the seventh, Nadine Nakamura, resigned to take a position in the mayor's office. The bill passed and mayor vetoed that bill rightfully so because the county had no jurisdiction over what clearly lies with the state and federal governments. The four then conspired to appoint Mason Chock, neglecting KipuKai Kaualii (8th most vote-getter), to obtain a super majority of five needed to override the mayor's veto. Naturally, the large agribusinesses sued to protect their interests and investments. The council then allocated nearly $400K to defend that bill with an additional $100K to locally fund a committee of twelve to decide whether GMOs are safe. The local federal judges have declared that the bill is invalid. The case now resides in the next higher court. Yes, Mr. Pilau used county funds to advance his HAPA's goals.

Anonymous said...

Read up on what Dupont did in West Virginia.

Anonymous said...

3:59. Yes you are a babbling fool rewriting history. HAPA was not in existence during 2491, the money the County has spent defending 2491 is more than offset by the now collected property taxes that Syngenta and Dow had avoided for years (which Bynum discovered they were not paying on ADC leased lands). Actually the County is in a net positive now. And when the appeal is finally heard, the red shirts will win and Ross will have a conniption fit.

Anonymous said...

Another insightful and entertaining post, Joan; thank you.

I wonder what the antis' Convergence on the Capitol will accomplish? What wisdom will they be sharing? What solutions will they be offering?

Importantly, will Geoff Morris show up in his grim reaper costume?

Anonymous said...

I am happy that the Fistees and Da Hoos are finally teaching the Big Land guys how for farm.
These land owners have only been farming for 150 years. They need help with the hana wai ditches, electricity production, worker housing and harvesting.
Next time you are on any road, use water or electricity blame it on the big land owners, they built it or allowed it.
Please let Da Hoos run all of the Big Land. His great faculty for allowing all people to be welcome and part of the process will allow a better future for all.
Let Mason, Gary and JoAnn control out future, they are the real farmers and architects of a harmonious future and "individual, organizational and social transformation"
They have a loving and open armed approach to everything. As long as you agree with everything they say.......Werner Erhart's little disciples, 3 chips off of the old est-hole self righteousness.

Anonymous said...

9:03, you are the babbling fool. Suggest that you read TGI, 6/4/2014 issue. It announces the formation of HAPA with Mr. Pilau as president. Hearings, votes, veto and suit were subsequent to that date. He had a vested interest in that bill but did not recuse himself. He, as state senate majority leader, should have known what the state and federal jurisdictions were. Do your research before calling someone a babbling fool. JoAnn is a non-practicing attorney and should have known what the county could do.

Anonymous said...

Joann is a 30 plus year career politician who has done way more damage than good. She came from a well to do family of stores so she doesn't know how it is to live a poor life like most of us locals. She's such a fake it's disgusting. Vote for anybody but Joann.

Anonymous said...

Ordinance 960 passed into law in November 2013. So 7:29am you are incorrect and seem to be just making shit up. Hooser did not start HAPA until after all Council action on 2491 was done. Not that thie truth matters to you or others on this blog.

Anonymous said...

The citation mentioned in my earlier post for TGI should have read 6/7/2014. To all Mr. Pilau's apologists, he has visions of grandeur - thought about running for Congress and State Lt. Governor (when he was state senate majority leader. Would be nice if he would run for a higher post than council so we can get rid of him. He teaching the big landowners how to farm? That's a ridiculous statement. The big landowners were responsible for bringing in the diverse cultures we now enjoy. Roads, irrigation systems, electricity were spun off from their farming methods. At one time 35% of all electricity on this island were generated by the big landowners. The big traffic woes we have presently could be solved with big landowners help. When defending Mr. Pilau and cussing the landowners, think what the landowners have contributed in the past.

Anonymous said...

Oh I see. Gary wanted to pass the Bill into law first and then enforce it. Seems pretty reasonable to me.

Joan Conrow said...

5:45 -- Thanks for that great example of how chumps twist things so they don't have to challenge their flawed belief systems.

So what if I told you he made the comment in the context of a conversation about the failed TVR law, which was rendered meaningless because it wasn't being enforced? And yet even in light of that, he didn't care about how, or whether, 2491 was enforced. Only that it was passed, so that Hooser's pals at Center for Food Safety could trumpet it as another state conquered. Gary was helping them to use Kauai as a pawn in their national campaign while furthering his own nest and ego.

Anonymous said...

GMO must have caused this!!!! LOL

Hawaii health officials worried about potential threat from Zika virus
Lisa Kubota
Jan 19, 2016 06:52 PM
HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - As the Big Island deals with the dengue fever outbreak, another mosquito-borne illness is causing concern for state health officials. They're urging people to be vigilant to prevent the spread of the Zika virus to the islands. The virus has recently been linked to a birth defect called microcephaly, an abnormally small head and underdeveloped brain.

Department of Health State epidemiologist Dr. Sarah Park described the Zika infection as a milder form of dengue fever.

"It presents very similarly with a fever, with headache, especially pain behind the eyeballs, sometimes redness of the eyes and aches and pains, sometimes a full body rash," said Dr. Park.

With the Zika infection spreading in Brazil, more than 3,500 women there had babies born with microcephaly in 2015. The previous average was 163 cases a year.

A baby was recently born on Oahu with microcephaly. Dr. Park said the mother likely had a Zika infection when she was living in Brazil in May 2015.

Anonymous said...