Syngenta plans to sell its operations on Kauai and Oahu, and contract with the buyer to grow its seeds.
The company is not ending seed production in Hawaii, merely pursuing a different operating model. Its activities and staff will remain status quo until the sale is finalized, likely in the first half of 2017.
The announcement reflects some of the many changes occuring within the global seed industry as companies merge and adjust their operations. Locally, that has included returning leased land to the state.
Which means there's never been a better time for all those farmer wannabees to get public land. So where are they?
In a recent video interview, Ashley Lukens, director of the Hawaii Center for Food Safety, asserted that CFS wants to “support the [indigenous] food system and help it re-emerge.”
Yet CFS has done no farmer training, no loi restoration. It's done no consumer education or outreach to build public acceptance of a diet based on taro, sweet potatoes, banana and fish, and a lifestyle requiring nearly every resident to be involved in food production.
It's done no marketing to build support for local products, opened no poi mills, funded no research into reducing disease among native taro varieties.
Indeed, neither CFS nor its allies, such as Councilman Gary Hooser's HAPA, have taken even one small step to secure state ag land for food production. Meanwhile, thousands of acres of public land — much of it irrigated, some of it ancient loi — lie fallow as the activists sow seeds of rhetoric.
Ashley went on to ask:
Do we want a food system driven by large-scale, multinational corporate interests? Or do we want a food system driven by the grit, tenancity and creativity of local people, local businesses and local farmers?
So why haven't they come up with a plan to help local farmers, support that “grit, tenancity and creativity?” Why haven't these groups pooled their resources to actually get people on the land, growing food? Why are they more familiar with the Lege than a loi? Why aren't they aggressively modeling the food-farm change they want to be in the world?
Perhaps because, as Ashley admitted, “We're primarily a law firm. We're a think tank.”
In other words, they don't get their hands dirty. CFS makes money by suing federal agencies — taxpayers have deep pockets — and soliciting donations to fund its legal work.
Their interest is not farming, but exploiting a romanticized notion about farming to change laws to achieve an organic-only political agenda. As Ashley noted:
If they're growing organic in Kunia, I won't knock them.
But the rest — the family-owned papaya farms, Hanalei taro growers, tropical flower farmers, dairies— in short, any ag enterprise that uses synthetic pesticides and/or GMO crops is fair game. Though the antis love to talk about food and farming, in practice they're all about destroying GMO and conventional ag.
And they do that, in part, by spreading lies, such as Ashley's oft-uttered claims:
What they do here by and large is herbicide-tolerant corn and soy. So they are by definition using high volumes of herbicides to demonstrate the virility of what they're doing.
Children are doing to school right alongside where this [Chlorpyrifos] is being sprayed.
In fact, the companies have already created voluntary buffer zones and notification policies for schools. None of them are spraying Chlorpyrifos next to school kids.
As for what they're growing, herbicide tolerance (HT) is but one biotech trait. They're also growing varieties with traits such as enhanced yield, insect and virus resistance, efficiencies in nitrogen utilization, drought tolerance, increased growth rate, improvements in flowering and photosynthesis enhancements, as well as conventional hybrids.
Though Hooser, Lukens, Hawaii SEED, Earthjustice and other anti-GMO activists love to claim that it's all about growing plants to sell more pesticide product, the reality is quite a bit different.
And as I've pointed out numerous times, they are not spraying the crops here to see if they can withstand herbicides. That testing is done in confined labs on the mainland. They are merely growing plants that produce seeds with the HT traits.
Ashley goes on to justify her fear-mongering and deception with this bizarre statement:
If they're going against you, you're doing something right. The amount of ire our movement has earned, tells us we're being effective.
No, Ashley, people are mad at you and your movement because they're tired of your lying, narcissistic, delusional, self-serving, fear-mongering bullshit. It's time to leave la-la land — she's currently at Burning Man — and join the world of science, morality, ethics, justice.
Ashley concludes with:
We really need to say yes to what we want.
So do it. Get people out there farming the way you say you want it done.
But until you do, leave the people who are actually growing stuff and addressing food security issues alone.
Which leads me to a really excellent piece in Wired. It featured an interview with a man — beekeeper Jerry Hayes — who, like me, once considered himself an environmentalist. Like me, he came to the same conclusion once he started looking critically at both the enviros' tactics and the reality of the demonized “other:”
I saw how they were using terms like Monsanto and Bayer as fund-raising mechanisms. But if you believe in science, if you take a hard look at the science and data of some of these groups, they’re cooking the books in order to make themselves look better and others look evil. So they can raise money. To be successful.
The rhetoric offended Hayes’ sense of fairness.
As it did mine.
Unlike me, Hayes went to work for Monsanto, where he is trying to improve the health of bees. Like most scientists, he believes they're facing multiple threats: varroa mites, inadequate forage and nutrition, viruses and exposure to a range of ag and garden pesticides.
But environmental groups and their followers want only to focus on a very specific class of pesticides — neonicitinoids — because it supports their agenda against “industrial agriculture.”
They'd rather retain their rhetoric — and its fundraising prowess — than address the problem. Meanwhile, as Wired reports:
Despite unremitting losses, the number of bee colonies globally has held steady.
There’s also this stubborn fact: While neonic use continues in the US, the particular symptoms of colony collapse disorder have not. “I haven’t seen CCD in five years,” says [University of Maryland entomologist Dennis] vanEngelsdorp, who surveys the nation’s bee losses twice a year. He now believes what he saw back in 2006 was some sort of emerging viral infection.
You won't see that inconvenient truth shared by the fear-mongerers at Sierra Club, Greenpeace, Center for Food Safety, etc., etc. Not so long as there's money to be raised fighting pesticides — but only those associated with agriculture.
As we move forward to address pressing issues in agriculture, we must distinguish between the do-ers and the talkers — especially those who are just talking shit.