An anonymous commenter yesterday asked why, when years ago I supported Gary Hooser, I'm so opposed to him now:
So for you too it seems that the GMO issue eclipses all the other good stuff he may have done in the past?
It's not the GMO issue, per se. It's what it says about Gary as a person, his ethics and character, and none of it good. So yeah, that present day reality eclipses everything good from his political past.
The commenter responded:
So it is not the GMO issue, then why are you obsessed with it Joan? Because you get paid to do so? Da Hoos also led the transplant north shore hippies in their fight to stop the Superferry. They were loud and obnoxious also just like the fistees. Same with his gay followers. All are backed by mainland people and money. Why only now do you hate him?
First, I don't hate Hooser, or anyone. I find his behavior in the anti-GMO/pesticide movement to be despicable and dangerous, but I don't know the man aside from his actions in the political arena. Hate requires a personal connection, and there's never been one.
Second, I have never been paid to write about anything on Kauai Eclectic. The topics I choose to cover in this blog reflect solely my own interests. I focused similar scrutiny on the 2014 prosecutor race and the TVR issue.
Third, the anti-GMO movement is not analogous to either gay marriage or the Superferry, and Gary's role is far more prominent and perverse in the anti-GMO drive. No movement in Hawaii has ever employed the same abhorrent tactics as used by the anti-GM crowd — the hateful memes and social media attacks, ostracizing and shaming farm workers, frenzied fear-mongering and a deliberate disinformation campaign.
These no class, no aloha tactics, especially the mistreatment of conscientious and dedicated ag workers, turned me against the movement even before I documented the lies and dirty funding. Sadly, these same deceptive, fear-based tactics are being used throughout the world.
I continue to “obsess” over the movement, and Hooser's role in it, because it's causing great harm to our community and viable Island agriculture, with global ramifications. And worse, it's doing so wrongly and needlessly.
There is no danger from eating or growing GM crops. Organic agriculture is not superior. There is no indication that pesticides from the seed fields are migrating off-site in anything but negligible amounts, much less causing the kind of harm that antis continue to claim, even in the wake of disproving documentation provided by a Joint Fact-Finding report that favored their cause.
It's all a bunch of shibai. It's made up by those who stand to benefit politically and economically from pushing this particular agenda — namely, the organics industry, Center for Food Safety, Earthjustice, HAPA, Hawaii SEED, SHAKA, Babes Against Biotech, GMO-Free and the high-end Realtors who will gentrify and sell Hawaii land once ag is destroyed. They make it up for the ignorant sheeple to promulgate.
As I have repeatedly documented, these groups have used fear-mongering to create a cottage industry that feeds their bank accounts, egos and political aspirations. They have a vested economic interest in keeping the conflict alive.
Consider Hooser's comments about today's court hearing on the appeals of the three anti-GMO laws, delivered at last Sunday's “Aina Warrior” rally:
“It doesn't matter what matter what happens on Wednesday. We will continue to fight.”
Really? Even if you win? It's not unlike Hooser telling me, before the passage of Bill 2491:
“It doesn't matter if it's enforced. All that matters is getting it passed.”
That's because these bills have nothing to do with human or environmental health. Those claims are merely a ploy for using Hawaii as a pawn in a national strategy that engages small, rural, easily- manipulated communities in legislative action with the intent of setting national precedents that could never be achieved on a broader scale. An example is Vermont's labeling law.
That's why anti-GMO bills were pushed only on the Neighbor Islands, rather than Oahu, where it would have much harder to monopolize the media and scam a large population.
Gary uses his title and position as Councilman to advance himself and the movement. He'd never get media coverage if he were just another failed politician, which is one reason why he needs to lose his Council seat. He also deserves defeat because he continues to lie and fear-monger.
In this video, recorded after last Sunday's march, Hooser once again reiterates claims about cancer clusters, birth defects 10 times the national average, sea urchin die-offs, children getting sick in the schools — without ever noting that these claims are either bogus, or not due to the seed companies.
Indeed, there are no cancer clusters, save for melanoma on the North Shore; no elevated rate of birth defects; not one school sickening was caused by ag and nobody knows what happened to the urchins.
Hooser admits in the video that he had no clue as to the cause for the anecdotal concerns that constituents alleged raised. But rather than try and find out, he went after the seed companies in a classic case of ready, fire...uh...bruddah, you don't even know if you get the right target.
But of course he had the right target, because the movement was intended all along to destroy GMO ag — not determine if there was any validity to the concerns.
Hooser claims the four seed companies operating on Kauai “use more restricted use pesticides on those fields than they use anywhere. Anywhere.” Now that is a flat out lie.
He also claims that he and citizens are pushing this legislation “for the right to protect ourselves.” But from what? And if their fear is pesticides, why are they targeting only ag products, when pest control companies use far more?
It's reasonable to ask them for disclosure. It's reasonable to ask for modest buffer zones. And we can take that information and study it to determine if those heart defects are a result of this industry or not, determine if the increased cancer rate is there or not. We need the disclosure to do the studies.
But wait. The companies have been voluntarily providing disclosure and buffer zones for a couple of years now. And it's already been determined that there is no increased rate of cancer or heart defects. It's time to move on.
Knowledge is power. The more knowledge the community has, the more informed they are, the better decisions they can make, and they can hold these companies accountable. They're suing us today for the right to spray poisons next to schools and not tell us about it.
And that's why I focus on Hooser, and this issue. I want people to have knowledge, and thus power, so they aren't scammed by opportunistic demagogues and special interests. I want them to make better decisions, rather than blindly follow faux leaders. And I want them to hold people like Ashley Lukens, Paul Achitoff, Nomi Carmona, Fern Rosenstiel, Margaret Wille, Autumn Rae Ness, Jeri DiPietro, Mark Sheehan, Dustin Barca, Walter Ritte, Gary Hooser, etc., accountable for the financial and social damage they've inflicted on our communities.
Because there are lots of reasons why the seed companies — and other farmers — are suing over these poorly written anti-GMO laws. And not one of them has anything to do with the desire to surreptitiously poison school kids.
Nor, as Gary claims, is it about “small communities stepping up to regulate big industry. That's what they're concerned about.”
No. They and other "agvocates" are concerned about fanatical biotech activists frightening people into railing against a safe and beneficial method of agriculture. They're concerned about the influence that fear and fanaticism has on politicians, who impose illegal and arbitrary restrictions on a well-regulated industry, with no regard for common sense or science.
And locally, they're very concerned about the total mischaracterization of agriculture and demonization of farm workers by people who don't know a shovel from a spade.
All of that bothers me, too, which is why I write so often about this issue. I just keep hoping people will wake up.