Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Musings: Pesticides, Politics and Power

The Garden Island has been running a poll with a loaded question that reflects the “guilty until proven innocent” mentality that underlines so many discussions about agriculture:

Do you think there will ever be enough data collected to show that the use of pesticides is harmful to the health and environment of Kauai?

It's the same skewed mindset that drives today's Civil Beat editorial, which urges the state to spend whatever it takes to find the elusive smoking gun that will prove nasty ag is poisoning the citizenry of Hawaii.
Non Sequitur by Wiley Miller
But then, what do you expect from a publication funded by billionaire Pierre Omidyar, who bankrolls the same activists who launched the anti-GMO/anti-pesticide/anti-ag movement in Hawaii and just hijacked the Islands' Democratic Party?

The question now is, will the Hawaii Democratic Party let itself be ruled by the self-same group of witch-hunting vigilantes who have relentlessly pursued an anti-ag agenda these past several years? Lest it's tempted, remember that by its own admission, this movement comprises just 1 percent of the state's population.

And will Gov. Ige, state Ag Director Scott Enright and lawmakers let a billionaire's vanity press pull their their strings? Lest they're tempted, remember that Civil Beat has achieved only 2 percent market penetration, a dismal readership that no doubt informs its jealous attack on competitor Star-Advertiser, now the 12th largest paper in the nation.

Though Civil Beat “reader rep” Brett Oppegaard, who studiously avoids looking at CB's glaring conflicts of interest, could find much to fault in the S-A, he focuses instead on the noise of the moped that delivers it. Then he questions whether it could possibly be that popular, since none of his students admit to reading it.

That's the same sort of unscientific bias that informs the Civil Beat editorial, which unquestioningly endorses every recommendation in the Joint Fact Finding report, post haste, and then takes a nasty poke at JFF members Sarah Styan and Gerardo Rojas, who resigned:

Big Agriculture had seats at the table as part of that volunteer group, but petulantly walked away from the process over input it found objectionable. Industry reps continue to be harshly critical of the group’s work.

Not exactly the way a truly good neighbor should behave.

Tell us, oh Civil Beat, how should a truly good neighbor behave when it has been falsely and viciously accused of crimes it didn't commit, its workers demonized and demoralized, its practices intentionally mischaracterized, a fear-mongering campaign waged by well-funded propaganda experts against its very existence? Just bend over and keep taking it? Or say no, this, is wrong, this is unfair, and I'm not going to dignify this charade with my presence?

Sarah, Gerardo and Roy Yamakawa, the other person who walked away, all left for good cause, and without petulance. Since they were the only members of the panel who didn't espouse anti-GMO/anti-pesticide or anti-“Big Ag” sentiments, their departure allowed those remaining to shift the initial assessment from “The JFF study group found no causal relationship between pesticide use and human health problems and no evidence indicating harm to flora and fauna” to “the JFF can't make any determination about anything.” That's a pretty significant spin.

It's only unfortunate that JFF facilitator Peter Adler failed to acknowledge, much less address, the concerns that prompted a third of the panel's members to leave. But then, to do so would have required him to admit his own failings and bias in this process. And that might jeopardize his ability to secure more fact-finding work. 

Neither Civil Beat, nor the antis it represents, have been able to explain the sole focus on agriculture:

Beginning steps outlined in the report are appropriate now, but the 2017 Legislature must address the data gaps head on and require those businesses using toxic chemicals in farming to meet a new level of disclosure that the public both wants and deserves.

The JFF itself found that ag applies just 23 percent of the restricted use pesticides on Kauai, compared to 41 percent by pest control companies and 36 percent for water purification using chlorine. With the Good Neighbor Program, we already know what ag is using, how much and how often. How can anyone seriously whine about data gaps — and then ignore 77 percent of the RUP use?

But in any case, it's not lack of data that is "fueling the deepest fears regarding pesticide use," as Civil Beat maintains. It's a relentless, well-funded, well-organized, fear-mongering political campaign waged by the anti-GMO movement and financed in part by Omidyar.

Which is why Hawaii folks — especially locals and kanaka — need to wise up and realize that at core, this isn't about GMOs and pesticides, or even land and water. It's about social and political control —with wealthy whites, like Omidyar and his antis, keen to grab the reins of power. [Clarification: Omidyar is not white. He's Iranian. However, the general reference still holds for many of the antis.]

Last weekend's Hawaii Democratic Convention offered a serious heads-up on how those dynamics are playing out. As longtime political commentator Richard Borreca observed:

Hawaii’s new Democratic Party chairman, Tim Vandeveer, is a former unexploded-ordnance technician, which is a good thing, because today’s party is a ticking time bomb.

Vandeveer, active in the Keep the Country Country movement that fought to block development along the Windward and North Shore Oahu areas, over the weekend won election as party chairman, thanks to hundreds of enthusiastic Sen. Bernie Sanders supporters joining the party.

With Sanders’ troops inside, old-time Democrats are asking what do they want and will they stay.

What do they want? Whatever bumper sticker slogans their social media echo chamber advocates. Will they stay? Not likely. Most are about as committed to the Democratic Party as they are to farming. Heck, look at Bernie, who adopted the mantle solely to facilitate his presidential run. But they'll wreak havoc while they can, with no thought to the consequences of their actions, like the demise of agriculture, the ascent of Donald Trump.

Though Vandeveer had the numbers to become chair, he captured a plurality of only about 30 percent of the delegates. To win, he employed scorched earth tactics that effectively dissed much of the party infrastructure, prompting many party faithfuls to wonder how he'll be able to effectively fundraise. 

The powers that be need to figure how much they're willing to concede to the insurgents, which though loud, organized and focused, comprise a fringe faction. 

If the Dems roll over, they'll end up in the short term — like as soon as Clinton becomes the Presidential nominee — with a weak and divided party.  But in the long term, we'll all suffer with these folks at the helm, imposing levels of elitism and social engineering that will make the Big Five look like pussycats.

Don't say you weren't warned.


Anonymous said...

I suppose the Libertarian ticket seems the best choice. I vote for the guy that did the strip tease. But alas he quit as soon as he dropped trou.

Anonymous said...

"Which is why Hawaii folks — especially locals and kanaka — need to wise up and realize that ..."


Anonymous said...

So is the dairy protest a staged event so Omidyar can develop Mahalepu instead of keeping it in agriculture?

Anonymous said...

Joan you are so right on target. Tim V. and his anti development friends think that the only thing that matters is environmental protection. They forget how important jobs are. The Bernie contingent are dreamers who have an unrealistic view of how the world really works. They are about to screw it up for the rest of us. Idealism only works in the classroom. Thank you Joan for telling it like it is.

Anonymous said...

I've lost a lot of respect for CB. They started well but have continued to drift towards irrelevance. Pierre's ego and/or the lack of unbiased talent is taking the entire ship down.

Anonymous said...

This reminds me of when the religious right took over the Republican Party. It served to increase the number of independents as will this from the other side.

Anonymous said...

"with wealthy whites, like Omidyar"

Really? What does white have to do with it?

Couldn't just say wealthy and leave it at that, hmmm?

Joan Conrow said...

What does white have to do with it? It happens to be the skin color of that crowd.

Anonymous said...

Yes most were Caucasian.

Marjorie Ziegler said...

Based on what I know so far, the party was not hijacked by any one faction or interest group. Top leadership looks even and I am pretty sure the same is true for the district foljs elected to the State Central Committee. Curious how you come to the conclusion you do about the anti-GMO, anti-pesticide, anti-ag folks taking over the party. Mahalo.

Anonymous said...

Pesticides and herbicides are now being found in almost everyoneʻs bodies. Pesticides and herbicides do not promote health. Pesticides and herbicides are found everywhere these days- oceans, rivers, soil, air, and the bodies of fish, animals and insects. They again do not promote health. Why do we promote those things which do not benefit health? We need alternatives which people feel are more healthy for ourselves and the whole planet. Here is a great example of how we can feed the world by creating energy, recycling waste, and growing healthy food locally in our own neighborhoods. This is much better than depending upon chemical companies to feed us and the world. I want a world for my children where poisons in our bodies and in the environment become obsolete. We will all be happier knowing our bodies are free of all poisons. Here is an excerpt from the article......"By using the most advanced methods for growing food—a combination of aeroponics, aquaponics, permaculture, food forests, and high-yield organic farming—the neighborhood will grow many times more food than a traditional farm of the same size, with fewer resources. Aquaponics, for example, can produce 10 times as much produce on the same amount of land, with 90% less water.

"We anticipate literally tons of abundant organic food every year—from vegetables, fruit, nuts, legumes, fish, eggs, chicken, small animal dairy and protein—that can continually grow and yield in the vertical garden systems all year long as supplement to the seasonal gardens and farming adjacent," says James Ehrlich, CEO of ReGen Villages, the California-based developer, which will also manage the neighborhood-slash-farm. The company partnered with Effekt, a Danish architecture firm, on the design." You can read the whole article here...... http://www.fastcoexist.com/3060167/this-new-neighborhood-will-grow-its-own-food-power-itself-and-handle-its-own-waste/2

John Kauai said...

Javier Ocasio is not white. He is running for Congress in CD1

There were several Sanders supporters from Kekaha.

Many Sanders supporters voted for Flo Kong Kee. I switched my vote at the last minute to Vandeveer from Flo.

It would be informative to hear what those "scorched earth tactics" were that Vandeveer used actually were. At the Sanders caucus (where there were a significant number of non-whites) the night before the vote for party chair, Flo, Tim and JC were all allotted time to make their case. It was a very respectful discussion with much Aloha. Bart Dame, the head of the Sanders campaign here in Hawaii actually advocated for Flo Kong Kee. (Bart was the only candidate for National Committeeman and so will represent Hawaii on the DNC. If the Clinton people cared, where was their nominee?)

The most vocal individual for suppressing party membership and restricting participation in the nominating process was Michael Golojuch. This included his efforts to suppress a resolution calling for the end of Super Delegates. He was very loud, presenting (IMO) a fairly angry face as the convention delegation overrode his anti-democracy positions. I find it interesting that he demands support of his gay-rights issues but refuses to support the rest of us in return. (Please don't turn this comment into me attacking the LBGT community.)

Brian Schatz gave a "Sanders" stump speech although he did not mention Sanders.

Whether the new Democrats stay or not greatly depends on the whether or not the old Democrats treat them seriously and addresses the issues that concern them. Mostly the rallying cry I hear is "Trump Bad -- Clinton not Trump", which hardly excites anyone, even old Democrats. May I recommend you look at the issues that concern the new Democrats. I don't see anything about GMO or pesticides here. Nor do I find anything about those issues on the Progressive Democrats of Hawaii.


All in all Joan, the portion of your column on the convention is an ad hominem attack filled with glittering generalities that appeal to the preconceived notions of those who are angry. I do not know what they are angry about since rarely are informative comments made.

Concerning whether or not Sanders should quit now and leave the field to Clinton, Robert Borosage answers it quite well:

Borosage's most important point I think is:

"If she wins the nomination, Clinton’s challenge isn’t winning Sanders support, it is reaching out to inspire the young voters and independents that are the heart of the Sanders coalition. Sanders can’t do that for her, no matter how hard he tries."

Yes the Sanders supporters were quite happy with the results of the convention and the Clinton people seemed to be sullen. But it would not be true to say that there was any animosity directed from the Sanders camp toward the Clinton camp.

The Sanders camp is hardly fringe. The PPP went 70/30 for Sanders. You can make all the excuses one wants about how the PPP is rigged, but in the end, people who cared showed up to vote. (and Golojuch did his best to ensure that wouldn't happen again.) People who care contribute. People who care take action.

The Clinton people making comments here sound like whiners to me. I do not see anything here about Clinton's support for the issues.

Joan Conrow said...

10:51 -- Yes, it sounds so idyllic, doesn't it? But did you actually read the article? Two things jumped out at me:

First, they are doing these neighborhoods "as supplement to the seasonal gardens and farming adjacent." They aren't replacing all farms.

Second, it's elitist: "We're really looking at starting off as the Tesla of eco-villages. So we're coming out as a little bit higher-end for Northern Europe."

But hey, let's see if the first village for 100 works before we talk about jettisoning the agricultural system that is currently feeding billions.

PS: In some applications, pesticides can indeed promote health, such as spraying to kill the mosquitoes that spread malaria and purifying water.

John Kauai said...

Not to replace traditional ag, but since we're on the subject, this is fun. A nice video.

Anonymous said...

11:27 AM- Water purified with poison? Emergency only, but even then, canʻt we come up with water purifying methods that do not use poison? My preference is no poison. Same for mosquitoes. DDT is not something I wish to see being distributed in our precious environment. We are intelligent enough to find better solutions, I think. Time to do research on mosquito control and water purification without poisons maybe? Time for humanity to wake up and begin removing poisons from our environment. I read the article. Very good example of sane alternative to growing food locally for local consumption using non-poisonous methods. Of course, there are many more excellent examples, alternatives and methods which are appropriate to the specific localities and parts of the world where they can be used or are presently being used. Nice to see articles like this which can inspire us with positive solutions for a healthier world.

Dawson said...

9:18 AM wrote:
"with wealthy whites, like Omidyar"
Really? What does white have to do with it?

Colonialist elitism -- the centuries-old belief that whites know what is best for indigenous lands and people, and are entitled to express it via religious, economic and cultural domination.

Joan Conrow said...

@11:54 So you don't think there are any "poisons" in the building materials used in that little village you covet, or the materials used in creating hydroponic and aquaponic systems? What about the "poisons" in the laptop/smartphone you're using to comment here? Or the electricity that powers it and the server? Oh, and good luck trying to find some water that hasn't been "purified with poison."

But there has been research done on mosquito control without poisons. The result? A GMO mosquito. But I bet you're afraid of it, too.

You exhibit the kind of ignorance and wishful thinking that plagues far too many who imagine they are making a meaningful contribution to discussions about ag and a sustainable future.

Anonymous said...

Yes, 10:51, "Pesticides do not promote health". By all means let's get the chlorine out of the water we drink so we can succumb to cholera, typhoid and any number of the many diseases that carried our ancestors off to "poison"-free pesticide-free Valhalla before their time. Sweet suffering succotash, do you really believe the crap you so blithely spew? If so, you should depart now for any number of places where people die young from cholera,typhoid, water carried parasitic diseases, insect borne malaria, smallpox, yellow fever, bubonic plague and other diseases. You are advocating a public health disaster and should be banished from society to places that believe this shit like, presumably, ReGen Villages if they ever come to fruition at a cost that anyone other than Silicon Valley billionaires can afford. Take the vertical garden systems and shove ....... In case you haven't noticed, not everyone on Kauai can afford a house let alone pie in the sky shubbery like ReGen Villages.

Anonymous said...

Pierre Omidyar is white?

Anonymous said...

I am a Sanders supporter but if Clinton is the nominee, I will support her with enthusiasm because the alternative is unfathomable.

Anonymous said...

@John Kauai re: "where was the Clinton candidate"

It's not the Party Chair's job to be a supporter of a particular candidate... It's their job to work for the success of Democrats. By having a Chair that is so obviously partisan to one specific candidate, many were alienated and the party's future jeopardized. The party can never be only about a single candidate.

Anonymous said...

Honolulu Civil Beat

Why Is It So Hard To Pass Police Reform In Hawaii?

Lawmakers concede that tougher police accountability measures haven’t been a priority despite numerous high-profile cases of serious misconduct.

ABOUT 16 HOURS AGO · By Nick Grube

Anonymous said...

Clinton is a sellout. She is bought and paid for by Big Corps/Lobbyists. She's only democratic by name.

Anonymous said...

@4:38 even if she is, the next president is going to either be her or Donald J. Trump and you'd do best to think long and fucking hard about that and what the acceptable outcome is there. Get over yourselves already.

John Kauai said...

Anonymous @ 4:38

It is not helpful that you make such a comment without backing it up. I understand the frustration you feel since I feel it also. At least try to back up your claims with some pointers for the others to review.

Not that anyone reading these comments will read this but I've found Thomas Frank to have an excellent explanation of the facts:

"None of the Bankers Think Hillary Clinton Believes Her Populism, a Financial Journalist Wrote"

Or we can review Clinton's role in the overthrow of the Honduras government:

"She's Baldly Lying": Human Rights Expert on Hillary Clinton's Defense of Her Role in Honduras Coup

Or we can compare Clinton's changing position on issues vs Sanders rock solid stance.

The Definitive, Encyclopedic Case For Why Hillary Clinton is the Wrong Choice

Of course, claims will be made that the source of these documents is suspect, as if the main-stream media provides rock-solid evidence that will denounce these stories. There's a saying about "leading a horse to water".

The DailyKOS is one of the most strident supporters of Clinton, actually verging on Rabid.

Anyway, you cannot make wild claims without backing them up, which is the easiest thing in the world to do.

Anonymous said...

People need to educate themselves. I am not their teacher nor do they pay me to be.

@545pm is a fool and will never achieve what his purpose in life was meant to.

For those who are enslaved by their massa's, let them be. For they are comfortable at never being anything more.

Anonymous said...

Jesus Christ you people are fucking crazy.

Anonymous said...

So Civil Beat may be biased. The Fistees are all a flutter as they extol the virtues of Pierre Omidyar and his political arm that bashes Kauai Big Land.
Is this Omidyar the same man that the Fistees, Da Hoos and their incestuous offspring adore? The same Omidyar that wants to cover Mahaleupu with Cow Poo Poo, changing the name of Poipu to Cowpoo? The same Omidyar that wants to rebuild the old Hanalei Plantation/Club Med site with gamillion dollars homes? Homes that will change forever Hanalei? Hanalei Bay will be renamed......HanaEbay
Da Fisttees and Omidyar. What a combination.
The nice leftist Billionaire. The richest man in Hawaii. A true lefty by all means. A true red shirt. The Fistees love him, they supplicate and tremble in his presence.
He can take 500 acres and threaten the rich elitists of Poipu with the Cow Dung and he threatens the more elite NS Fistee gobblers with houses on a hill.
A man who will change the character of the 2 most whacky communities on the island forever.
And how they adore him.
Goes to show these Fistees are not one subject thinkers. They can hate Big Ag because of Roundup, BUT they can accept 396 million gallons of Cow Pasture Pastries flowing as a river to Poipu and they are OK to take out views and privacy at Hanalei.
Both projects are environmentally unfriendly, may cause economic damage...but it is OK.
If he is against Big Ag he has a pass to do anything and is loved. I want to be a Fistee. If I am against Big Ag, I can do anything and I want to be loved

But notice, Da Hoos has calmed down his rhetoric a bit. He ain't saying that 1 out of 4 babies born on the westside has cancer, autism or unknown medical problems. Gone are his marching against PMRF and he even is being NICER to the Council staff. He is very unpopular with the staff,ya know he is rude, and treats no one with respect. I heard he even said "thank you" once to a helper recently. A rare kindness from an angry man.

Anonymous said...

@12:07 from 11:54- You say,"So you don't think there are any "poisons" in the building materials......" I never said that. I was talking about poisons from pesticides and herbicides. I said that I found the article inspiring. I love to learn about any alternatives that will help prevent poisons from entering and remaining in our bodies. I love to read about local communities growing food for local consumption using the least amount of poisons possible. You then proceed to call me ignorant and guilty of wishful thinking. I assume you also hold that same opinion for anyone else who finds this article inspiring for the same reason? I encourage all readers of these comments to check out the article (10:51) to find out if they also are ignorant and wishful thinkers because they find something positive and inspiring there. Share the article with friends and families and find out how ignorant everyone is. Maybe even research other alternatives (there are literally thousands,) to pesticides being used and developed around the world. You may be surprised at what you find. Not ignorance or wishful thinking, but real intelligent people working diligently together building and creating a better and healthier world for us and future generations. Real ignorance comes when we fail to see the value of growing healthy local food for local consumption, instead of relying on Monsanto and other chemical companies to "feed the world" by making farmers dependent on the very same chemicals and seeds these companies produce. Their bottom line is profit, not feeding the world. But of course, I am ignorant for making such a statement!

Joan Conrow said...

@8:36 I know you weren't talking about poisons in building materials. That's where my reference to your ignorance comes in. For some reason you seem to think only ag pesticides are a concern while glossing over all other poisons. Your ignorance also shows in your comment about how the companies are "making farmers dependent on the very same chemicals and seeds these companies produce." I've got news for you. The farmers willingly and happily purchase these products because they see real, tangible benefits.

Nobody is stopping anybody from growing local food for local consumption, or from seeking alternatives to pesticide use. Biotech already has resulted in significant reductions of insecticides. The goal always is to reduce or eliminate pesticide use.

I'm glad to see that even you realize the ignorance in your statement, "their bottom line is profit, not feeding the world." They're interested in both. And surely even you aren't deluded enough to believe the company pushing this model village isn't in it for the dirty profit, too!

Anonymous said...

Another great post, and such a perfect response to 8:36, Joan (9:17 AM today).

Anonymous said...

Zuckerberg is worth over 4X more than PayPal Omidyar. 33 Billion to 8 billion. Princeville and Hanalei are where the Billionaires play and the millionaires left to poipu with their chump change.