Friday, May 27, 2016

Musings: Conflict and Conciliation

It's so ironic to hear the Hawaii Center for Food Safety talking about getting along when conflict is its raison d'ĂȘtre. Heck, it's the only way this anti-GMO group can amass power and money.

Which is why I nearly gagged while reading today's phony Civil Beat commentary by CFS program director Danya Hakeem, who was endorsing the Joint Fact Finding (JFF) report on Kauai agricultural pesticides. She first wrote:

The debate over genetic engineering and pesticides has become so personal and contentious that as a collective we are losing sight of the real people behind the corporations and organizations that share our home.

And then in the very next sentence espoused:

The agrichemical industry left unchecked could severely impact the health of our keiki and aina, now and for future generations.

This is after Danya asserted that Kauai moms living on Hawaiian homesteads “are fighting to protect their keiki and the aina from toxic pesticide drift” and “small organic farmers on Hawaii Island [are] struggling to earn a living because the system favors large agrichemical companies over local farmers.”

Oh, yeah, pass the olive branch, please. Her piece comes just two days after CFS sent out an email with a petition demanding Gov. Ige take action NOW on the report's recommendations.

I guess Danya had to write it because CFS Director Ashley Lukens was too busy posing and pontificating on subjects about which she knows nothing but lies:
Yes, CFS's call to “merge our differing viewpoints” sounds so sincere.

About as sincere as JFF facilitator Peter Adler, whose cover letter for the report noted, “we want to take a point of privilege and offer three personal thoughts.” As if his own personal thoughts and beliefs aren't already mirrored in the report, and the process that led to its creation. 

Adler then goes on to toot his own horn by proclaiming, “Joint Fact Finding was a wise approach, and remains a wise choice” — yeah, because that's how he makes his living — before writing:

Retrospectively, some who originally thought the JFF panel was reasonable in its composition at the start now argue otherwise when the substantive results don’t favor their opinions.

Once again, Adler failed to grasp what’s really bugging some of us. First, the “substantive results” aren’t substantive at all, though they’re presented as such. Second, he chose anti-GMO consultants, none of whom were initially vetted with the community. And third, the panel lost the only three members who weren’t on the anti-GMO bandwagon, which greatly changed the outcome of the report. That's why some of us who initially supported the effort are now crying foul.

It really is unfortunate that Peter never took any responsibility for those three resignations, characterizing them as “bumps in the road,” and failed to incorporate their concerns into the report.

Adler then wrote:

Absolutists on each end of GMO/Pesticide debate spectrum will continue to be severe critics of any and all proposals that do not suit their goals. That is their self-declared mandate, and they will continue to make the most noise as they attack their opponents’ beliefs while defending their own.

Nice way to end-run legitimate critics by characterizing them as fanatics. That sounds so conciliatory, Peter. And I guess that explains why CFS is loving the report — it's a custom fit to its goals. Almost like it was written to order. Oh, wait, that's right — it was.

Though Adler and the panel received hundreds of comments on the draft JFF, they blew most of them off, including this one from Department of Health Director Virginia Pressler:
But then, it mustn't be allowed into the report because it doesn't fit the activist narrative of the chem companies poisoning school children.

Meanwhile, the Hawaii Democratic Party will be considering a packet of resolutions at its convention this weekend, including one on “responsible legislation regarding pesticide application.” In pressing for the adoption of buffer zones, it advances the totally outrageous claim:

Whereas some large industrial agricultural operations in Hawaii do not use modern best practices that farmers elsewhere use to protect the environment, their neighbors and the land.

WTF? Why, just yesterday state Agriculture Director Scott Enright told those big ag operators: “You folks apply pesticides better than anybody in the state ever has. You are not my concern.”

Despite the JFF — or more likely, because of it — the old misperceptions about agricultural operations remain, hyped by hypocrites like CFS, which call for cooperation even as it dishes out discord and fans the flames of fear.


Anonymous said...

Adler sacrificed his professionalism on this one.

Anonymous said...

The DOH comments are very interesting!

Also, there are many documented reports that methyl isothiocyanate, MITC (one of the naturally occurring toxic substances in stinkweed), has caused illness elsewhere.

Hundreds of individuals have reported symptoms such as eye and throat irritation, dizziness, and shortness of breath...and at levels far below the odor threshold.

The medical literature about MITC, including risk evaluations, is fascinating and available online.

Anonymous said...

To 11:25 AM
He did. And hopefully he's sacrificed his career too.

Anonymous said...

Ashley Barbara Lukens should rock her big hair back to Dallas where she belongs and where they might better appreciate her millennial selfie-absorption and manipulative self serving PR. She's a bullshit artist of the worst polemic sort.

Anonymous said...

Joan why are you so unwilling to accept some sort of middle ground? You sound so angry and hateful. This is not the Joan I used to work with and talk to years ago about environmental and shoreline protection issues. You have become a pariah among my friends who work on these and other issues. Whenever your name is mentioned people always react negatively "what happened to her" is the most frequent comment. Can't you disagree without the hateful and personal sarcasm? Is t reaching out for middle ground and compromise a good thing?

Joan Conrow said...

@12:30. Reaching out for middle ground is a wonderful thing, when done earnestly, and with sincerity. As for the rest of your comment, I can't possibly concern myself with the angry and hateful projections and perceptions of an anonymous critic who obviously doesn't know me well enough to initiate personal contact.

Anonymous said...

No because lawyers on Kauai has gotten away with worst things and then they become corrupt judges on Kauai for example Valenciano and Acoba and their quid pro quo boys Hempey, DeCosta and Meyers.

Unknown said...


Your voice has played an important role in the dialogue regarding agriculture and genetic modification on Kaua’i.

However, one aspect where I disagree with you is that I think that a major success of the JFF report is that it largely takes genetic modification out of the conversation and focuses on pesticide use.

Given that-- I don't think it’s a fair criticism to classify the JFF members as “anti-GMO.” And, I’m not even sure where that sentiment comes from.

If it’s because some of them testified in support of 2491, then that would make me anti-GMO as well. I sent in a letter supporting the concept of buffer zones, disclosure, and further study while requesting that genetic modification be removed from the bill. Concern over pesticide drift shouldn't be equated with being anti-GMO.

While I could be wrong, I haven’t seen any of the JFF members explicitly condemn genetic modification. I don’t know them all personally and I obviously can’t speak for them, but two of them have told me how biotechnology and genetic modification are integral to the future of their respective fields (medicine and agriculture). Years ago, one of the JFF members was the first person to convince me of the necessity of intelligently using every tool available in agriculture-- including pesticides, synthetic fertilizer, and GMO traits.

You recently wrote a good post about the NAS meta-analysis on genetic modification. A major takeaway of that paper is that we should not talk about GMOs as a blanket concept. I think that that applies to these classifications of pro-GMO and anti-GMO as well. I often fall into the rut of using a broad brush to classify people into one camp or the other (pro or anti), but I think that we all need to make an effort to move beyond those oversimplified classifications. As we need to recognize that while there are extreme viewpoints out there, there aren’t just two sides.

When the JFF was first forming, you wrote that "the group will use the compiled data, as well as consultations with technical experts, to recommend priorities for future studies, define their scope, and propose methodologies to better monitor health or environmental impacts associated with pesticide use on Kauai."

Given that an important aspect of their mandate was to propose better methodologies for monitoring human health and the environment-- I think that they succeeded.

Thank you for sharing your perspective and creating a respectful platform for others to share theirs.

As full disclosure for anyone else reading this—my dad was a member of the JFFG.

Anonymous said...

"Thank you for sharing your perspective and creating a respectful platform for others to share theirs. ". Luke you had me until this line which is total suck up BS. If you think Joan creates a respectful platform for others to share their opinions, then you are intellectually dishonest or perhaps just sucking up to Joan out of the fear she will turn on you.

Unknown said...

@ 3:33
Thank you kind sir.

The first lesson I learned at school here was that you need to give respect in order to get respect.

And, growing up on the Internet, I learned that I should always communicate through a computer screen the same as I would if the person were standing right in front of me.

I'm sorry if my tone seemed disingenuous to you.

Anonymous said...

Joan doesn't put up with bullshit (and why should she?) but obviously does welcome sincere, thoughtful, and educated comments on HER blog.

Anonymous said...

Where is the state, or county going to find the financial resources to fight condemnation proceeding and pay for easements for buffer zone? They can write a law demanding buffer zones, but that law is about as enforceable as Maui's GMO ban without paying for an easement.
"State v. Doyle involved claims by owners of residential properties located in the overflight path of a new runway at Anchorage International Airport that their properties had been damaged by noise resulting from use of the runway. The superior court awarded substantial compensation to the landowners on the theory that an aviation easement over the properties had been inversely condemned, and the state appealed the decision. The state contended that the landowners had not established that the value of their properties had been diminished by the aircraft noise and that the mere slowing of the rate of appreciation in the properties' values which the landowners claimed had resulted from the noise did not require compensation from the state. The state also challenged, as clearly erroneous, the superior court's findings that the landowners' experts were "competent appraisers," and that those experts' conclusions that the properties suffered compensable damages in particular amounts should be given "substantial weight" in determining the compensation award. The court, rejecting all of the state's contentions, affirmed the superior court's award.

Anonymous said...

“It is reasonable to love the Absolute absolutely for the same reason it is reasonable to love the relative relatively.”
― Peter Kreeft
“Objection, evasion, joyous distrust, and love of irony are signs of health; everything absolute belongs to pathology.”
― Friedrich Nietzsche
Luke - GMOs and herbicides are the same to many people. It is wordsmithing when some of the Fistees try to separate the two.
Big Ag is bad and cute little organic farms are good. Da Hoos and his minions speak in one voice. Down with the Big Land Owners, down with corporate Ag, Down with GMOs.
This election year, there will be lots of hemming and hawing by the politicians who have been stridently against Big Ag.
We will watch and see. Da Hoos knows that he is on thin ice and will muffle his rhetoric. But if he is not elected he has those Mainland lobby groups to work for. He knows the system.
The citizens should not be fooled. Da Hoos, JoAnn and Mason are against Big Ag.
To me the core issue isn't about Herbicides/GMOS, it is about over reaching government power.
The Council and the Planning Department have made it clear that they intend to take as many private property rights away from the property owner as they can. Clear and simple. Selective enforcement of law. Power grabbing.
Our Council made a law that effectively would have knocked out a large income stream from A&B, G&R and GF. Big Land still controls the future of the island and I wish the Council would make nice with them. But the damage that Da Hoos, Bynum, JoAnn, Jay and Mason did will linger for a long time. The big land owners have been here longer than the County and they have memories.
Da Hoos, JoAnn and Mason have no respect for private property, unless it is their own.
Never trust the County. Never trust the Planning Department. Great God Almighty, how did we allow our selves to be at the mercy of these political clowns?
An injustice to one, is an injustice to all.

Oh by the way Joan. Most of the rigid, whacked-out anti-Ag people I know - that are perturbed by your stance on Ag, still think you are smart, effective and a good person (good in the moral sense). Kauai is too small for a thin-lipped group of Fistees to hold grudges and Oh My! such umbrage.

Joan Conrow said...

Luke, I always appreciate your thoughtful comments and know that you are neither a suck up nor a coward.

I agree that there are more than just anti and pro GMO perspectives. However, the impetus for the bill that led to the JFF was clearly antiGMO. Although the groups and politicians that advanced this have shifted their focus from GMOs to pesticides in order to broaden their base, their core goal is the elimination of GMOs, the expulsion of the seed companies. Those are the groups that are now using this report as a battering ram to punish primarily "big AG." Perhaps anti-ag would be a better description as some of these recommendations, such as pesticide disclosure that could be imposed even on small organic farmers, will ultimately harm all AG. While I agree that generalizations may unduly include some not fully on board with a party line, they are useful in identifying a certain mindset.

Anon 6:25, I love your quotes and thanks for your reassurance that I am not a pariah to all! ;)

Anonymous said...

Its not that I am anti-Ag, but I have a deep distrust of AG.
Remember in the late 1980's when they were spraying Hexacore on the pineapples?
We were all told that the pineapples were safe because only the insides get eaten.
They didn't tell us they were feeding the shaved outsides of the pineapples to milk cows as feed.
I think the attorney was Sherry Broder and the suit about the tainted milk was one of the largest settlements of the time.

Anonymous said...

"The 1982 discovery that the state's milk supply was contaminated with heptachlor has given rise to a whole nest of lawsuits. Thirteen Oahu dairies won a $28.4 million settlement from two pineapple growers, the heptachlor supplier and the cooperative which had supplied the contaminated "green chop" (processed pineapple tops) fed to the dairy cattle. Those parties have in turn sued the state of Hawaii for encouraging the use of green chop as cattle feed."

Anonymous said...

Yes, it's better that we get our food from China, Chile, Turkey, etc....known for their high food safety and environmental standards. And their compliance record with any standards they might have.

Anonymous said...

Ah, herein lies the rub, pineapples were grown in Moloaa with lots of pesticides including heptachlor which was used on the pineapple tops to keep the ants away, those pine tops were fed to cows and contaminated the milk . Heptachlor is a persistent pesticide , some of it has a very long half life, so the lands sold for extra cheap, dirt cheap and was bought by hippie farmers and after 3 years they get to call the contaminated lands organic. Almost all of the organic food grown here grows in the toxic soils of Moloaa.

Anonymous said...

3:15 Those Amfac fields at Moloaa sold at market price. The "Hippie Farmers" are actually smart guys and have gamillions.
Much of Lawai, Kalaheo, Kapahi and Anahola had Pine. Hetachlor is a chlorinated insecticide (ant killer) and high levels may cause diabetes and is a possible carcinogen.
It is everywhere.
Big deal. We have never been stronger, healthier or lived longer. Shucks Ma'am, looking at all the Kauai ladies that are well past the full bloom of budding maidenhood that still dress like they are twenny somethings. Sixty must be the new thirty, at least from Moloaa to Haena. There are some sad/bad dressing grandmas in Kapaa, but as you migrate to the Westside, the ladies seem to dress more appropriately.
Love your Grannie, if she is sixty today, she still has thirty more years to go. Heptachlor, GMO, Paraquat, Dursban, Roundup, Sodium Chloride, Sodium Hypochlorite, Propylene Glycol and more.
Next time you are shopping and all you see are bunch of sixty year olds...don't worry demographics show, they will live to be 92.
There are many more important problems on this island. Like where are all them oldsters going to lay their weary heads, who's going to care for them and where are the houses?

Anonymous said...

Market price for the AMFAC lands? Low price cause those lands had no housing rights until JoAnn came along and fixed that, yes, now those lands sell for market price, but when first offered, they were dirt cheap.yes, I agree the hippie farmers maid out like bandits, with their toxic land now worth a whole lot more because of the rights to build .
My point is that some of the people who complain about the toxicity of the seed fields, live on and farm toxic lands themselves.
And no, heptachlor is not everywhere, just where pines were grown here.and what does that have to do with older ladies and how inappropriate or nice they dress?

Manuahi said...

6:46 AM said "Low price cause those lands had no housing rights until JoAnn came along and fixed that...."

I disagree. It was the State laws (not County) designed to enable larger parcels to be condo'd (subdivided) into smaller 6 to 10 acre more affordable ag lots that a small famer could afford to acquire, raise crops, and build a farm dwelling in which to live. These State laws, which by-passed many County requirements such as public hearings, paved roads, etc., were a faster/easier method of subdividing and, of course, misused to create the now famous faux farms. Why? Because the desirability of rural Kauai and an escalating real estate market caused even those smaller parcels to be priced out of the reach of serious farmers. Why do you think all these mainland real estate agents flocked to the Kauai? >>>$$$$<<< It was all about ignoring the intent of the State ag condo laws designed to help small farmers and the selling of parcels to wealthy transplants. Hence, the acceleration of the death of agriculture on Kauai.

Anonymous said...

This syndicate slave thinks Joan is cool, and while I disagree with her on both pesticide labeling and B&B, I always appreciate the good writing style and thought that goes in.

Anonymous said...

If you gonna hate on the old ladies for wearing too tight clothes, then please insist that Grandpa wear a shirt.

Anonymous said...

Think pimping woofers on your gentleman AG estates is Kool.

Buy your slaves by letting them cut your grass and buying them plate lunches.

Making them feel like Spartans because they hug on balls and sniff on ass in their jujitsu classes.

Manipulate the house slaves on council to pass your fleecing/pimping of Kauai bills so your fucked up kids can move to Kauai with their heroin addicted silver spoons.

Anonymous said...

These Northshore clowns are south park reruns. Fricking classic reliving their high school and college glory days. It's funny and no mo shame these fukahs.

Aloha+Mahalo=I'm Local.

Anonymous said...

Another pimp throwing to sell Kauai his big dreams to get rich quick.

Is there no Conflict of interest trying to sell something he's trying to fleece millions of dollars for a luxury item like Ron Kouchi using state money to buy a business partners land and also the hardy st and Rice st fix and refix for job security plans to steal millions.

What a Joker this clown is

The Garden Island News

Walking, cycling, not more roads, key to easing traffic

Tommy A. Noyes - Guest Viewpoint Posted: 12 hours ago

Mahalo to The Garden Island newspaper for encouraging a healthy discussion regarding our island’s transportation needs and plans.

Anonymous said...

Manuahi- The County dictates density. The County with a stroke of a pen can make ag lots allow any number of homes. The State just requires Ag. There would be a conversation of the Urban/Ag dynamic, but the COUNTY controls all density.
The County is responsible for the high cost of housing. If they allowed an extra 2 or 3 homes on an Ag lot, prices would be about 150 to 200 per lot. Locals could buy.
The CPR process may have been abused but there are lots of locals who have their homes because of this.
I think as many do, that an Ag estate are the Seacliff, Kalihiwai examples. The reality is there are many in Kapaa and Wailua.
If Mel said "hey lets allow some homes on Ag lots, like 1 or 2 in Wailua/Kapaa" it would be a good thing. The rich goat cheese munching, rambutan growing, down-the-nose looking, Fistee flying, elite, Berkenstock wearin', Land Rover driven', Hawaii Life/Bali Hai Realtor Buyin', rich f*ckin' Hooser/JoAnn/Mason voters wouldn't buy.
Kapaa and Wailua eeeewwww! They must be on the north shore.
Let's put some local people on the land. Open up the density from Wailua River to Kealia Stream and in Kalaheo, Lawai and Omao.
60 is the new twenny, Hey Granny, nice tube top and Gramps, get rid of that ugly-a*s tank top and shave your gnarly back.
and 10:47---You're right. Joan do write good.

Anonymous said...

Heptachlor, like the closely related termicide chlordane, has an extremely long life, Too long to be used on a plant. However it is not associated with cancer, and intense testing to prove it so by "public interests groups" (read attorneys) have not demonstrated a link. It is well to remember that virtually every home in Hawaii built until 1989 was treated with clordane,an even more powerful insecticide of the same class with no ill effects. The chemical life is estimated as 47 years and the estimate pretty much coincides with its failure to control termites in treated homes. This chemical was not banned because of cancer or even well documented ill-effects, but because it stayed around so long it was just creepy. It was spreading everywhere, streams fields etc. Farmers were using it on corn and common fodder and edibles.

Anonymous said...

Say what you will about the fistees, but they are a well-funded, well-oiled political machine.

They were the only group at the Democratic convention that was able to quickly caucus on an issue, and then print and distribute media during the convention. The texts Facebook messenger, and Google hangout messages were flying, and I witnessed an oppo research and negative whisper campaign against the labor candidates go down without anyone outside their group realizing it. I only saw glimpses of it because one fistee whispered about Dos Santos Tam's family's past conservative and Republican candidate endorsements (no idea if that's true, but that was the story being pushed to select districts with heavy labor representation) to nearby ILWU people a little too loud, and saw the distinctive group chat screen about Kong Kee's pandering (she had a Bernie supporter second her nomination) on a briefly unguarded iphone screen.

They were then able to roll labor in the party chair election by block voting for their candidate, securing the chairmanship with the lowest percentage of the vote in memory (if not ever) at just under 33% of all votes cast. Hardly a resounding mandate, but if the excited discussions at a nearby table were any indication, the sentiment is that now it is their turn to eat.

Also, the unofficial realtor caucus within the fistees was able to slide a far broader version of their typical anti-ag resolution past the resolution committee. The resolution, adopted along with most other resolutions that came out of the committee after all outer island Ag delegates had to leave to catch flights, demands buffer zones and reporting on pesticide application for all commercial farms. That's right. No carve out for small farms. Not even small organic farms. No specificity on type of pesticide. Not even organic pesticides. And buffer zones would apply to residential, hospitals, schools, and waterways that flow to the sea (also known as every single irrigation and drainage ditch in the state).

To all the pro-fistee farmers on the north shore, I hope you're happy with what you've been supporting.

Anonymous said...

why only notice for agriculture operations when the urban uses of pesticides has been higher? It seems that the urban uses affect far more people and should at least be required to report the uses.

Anonymous said...

Your attempted take down of Peter Adler is ridiculous in the extreme. You seem to have eaten your own poison. The result of his work is not that one side gets to count coup on the other. The result will be that we have a path to maybe a slightly more responsive and better funded Pesticide Branch and a body of monitoring that will provide the whole community with better information about the environmental impacts of all pesticide use in our small, fragile state. Killing the messenger should be our last response given the importance of this issue... This comes from a strong supporter of science, commercial agriculture, wise pesticide use and constructive problem taming in our world fraught with complex and polarized issues. S
hame on you!

Joan Conrow said...

@10:30. oh, yes, I've always found those who support science and "constructive problem taming" to be big on shaming. That's an anti-schtick.

No one has eaten any poison (save perhaps you, in the Kool-aid). And no one is trying to kill the messenger (and Peter has played a far bigger role than that with his transmittal letter alone), merely hold him accountable for his $175,000 taxpayer-funded contract.

Anonymous said...

Kauai lawyer Hempey is a very kind man. Not corrupt.

Joan Conrow said...

I agree, 9:59 a.m. He's a truly decent person.