Monday, September 12, 2016

Musings: Just Plain Wrong

People have often asked me, how can I learn more about GMOs?

If you're looking for solid information that is intended to educate, but not influence, check out the new Cornell University online course — “Science and Politics of the GMO."  It's a free, five-week class that you follow at your own speed, with fresh content uploaded every Tuesday. 

Topics to be covered include the basics of genetic engineering, the political debate around the GMO, arguments for and against the technology’s use, its impact at both an individual level and on society as a whole, and problems, perceptions, benefits and risks associated with GMOs.

It launches tomorrow. To learn more about the course,or enroll, click here.

Yet opportunity for free educamation: A livestreamed talk by University of Wyoming Prof. Andrew Kniss about the impacts of GMOs on herbicide use and weed management in the U.S. It starts at 6:20 a.m. Hawaii time, or 12:20 EDT.

It's the first in a series of lectures offered to the international students participating in the 12-week Cornell Alliance for Science Global Leadership Fellows program to help them understand the science and issues about biotechnology.

I had to laugh a little at Councilman Gary Hooser's take on the Fellows, as told to a Oregon anti-GMO activist Chris Hardy:
Actually, the Fellows have diverse backgrounds, ranging from a guy in Venezuela who got activated after watching anti-GMO zealots destroy papaya test fields there to farmers, educators and journalists. They aren't trained to shut anything down, merely to speak up with science and facts when people start spouting the usual bullshit about biotech. 

No wonder they're making Gary nervous.

As for the anti-GMO movement being “grassroots,” I think we've all seen ample evidence that it's orchestrated by groups like Center for Food Safety, Greenpeace, US Right to Know and other national and international entities that pour big money into fear-mongering as a way to rile up local constituencies.

Hardy also notes:
It makes me wonder if Gary is a pathological liar who is simply unable to tell the truth. Because surely even he isn't trying to take credit for downsizing that has everything to do with international commodities and corporate restructuring, and nothing to do with his protests. 

Oh wait. He is:

Gary Hooser shared Mahana Mari's video.
8 hrs · Great memories. We are still fighting and still winning, but soon we need to march again. 3 years ago there were 4 Agrichemical companies operating here and today there are 3 with Syngenta and DuPont severely downsizing their operations. Because of our communities strong voice and hard work, they no longer grow and spray directly next to schools, homes and other areas where people are actively present. The vision and fight now is for the opportunity of local residents to step in and establish true diversified agricultural operations that grow real food using sustainable practices that are not chemical intensive. Imua!

Actually, the BASF operations have been bought by a new entity that takes over Oct. 1, so there are still four companies  And if Gary is admitting here that the companies are no longer growing and spraying next to schools, homes, etc., then what is the problem?

What's sad is that Gary thinks there has to be a "fight" to "establish true diversified agricultural operations that grow real food using sustainable practices that are not chemical intensive." 

Wrong. Just focus on recruiting legit, qualified farmers. Nobody is trying to stop diversified ag or food production or local residents. There's plenty of land and water. What's needed are farmers who have experience and commitment. 

Aside from his jaunt to Oregon to schmooze with the antis there, Hooser is taking his failing campaign seriously, as noted in an email he sent over the MuseLetter:

My commitment is total.  I will be working every single day from 5am until I drop at around 8:30 or 9pm. 

But to finish strong and ensure a win that sends a strong message of support for the values we hold dear, we need to significantly increase both the number of people who can physically help, and the amount of donations received.
Please join us and help send a strong message that we are in this to win and that the values we stand for represent all Kauai.

So this is what's at stake, folks. If Hooser wins, he's going to be making like he actually speaks for all of Kauai. And we know that's not true.

Here's his core, the 35 people who showed up for his campaign “re-launch” after he tanked in the Primary. Do they look like a representative group of Kauai residents?

Similarly truth challenged is the Hawaii Center for Food Safety, which has invested in bringing Vani Hari, the self-described "Food Babe" to Hawaii:
Good point, Danny Sullivan. Why does CFS continue to intentionally spread a message that is scientifically illiterate and just plain wrong? 

Here's something that's just plain right: the launch of Namahoe! Congratulations to Dennis Chun, Marshall Mock, John Kruse and the other voyagers who have stuck with this for 20 long years, devoting countless weekends and much of their spare time to this effort

I must say, when I interviewed Dennis a few years back, I wondered if it would ever come to fruition. But it did. The smallest island built the biggest canoe. What a feat!


Anonymous said...

The truth is elusive. You have done a good job in detailing how the anti crowd plays loose with the truth.

However, corporate America, and presumably Syngenta/Monsanto/Bayer etc. also has a proven track record of fudging the truth. They cite to studies to show what they want us to conclude, but can we really even trust their studies. Just today the NY Times is reporting yet another instance of corporate america paying researchers to get the results in wants.

"The sugar industry paid scientists in the 1960s to downplay the link between sugar and heart disease and promote saturated fat as the culprit instead, newly released historical documents show." Is there any chance that Seed Companies are paying scientists for results too?

Thanks for the links to getting information. Personally I'd like to see the debate move toward a scientific evaluation of the legitimacy of the various studies - as I think both sides tend to say anything to win over public opinion.

Joan Conrow said...

I'm not here to vouch for the truthfulness of the seed companies, and certainly not for all of corporate America. People on all sides of all issues lie all the time.

I'm just trying to provide people with credible information so they can make their own informed judgments and decisions.

I'm also trying to underscore the lies of activists, primarily because they invariably claim to be walking on the side of truth, and point out the repeated lies uttered by Gary Hooser. Because why in the world would a voter want to return a proven liar to office?

Joan Conrow said...

PS: If you're interested in a scientific evaluation of the legitimacy of the various studies, then check out the report from the National Academies of Science, Engineering, and Medicine. You can download a free PDF.

John Kauai said...

WRT comments on previous days...

I worked briefly with Norma Sparks. She was nice. I think she might be a good council member. She certainly has a more interesting resume than many of the council members.

Like I said "briefly".

Anonymous said...

Hey Joan,
I just thought I would let you know, Hoosier is coming on strong, not! He actually had another person sign waving with him on the side of the road this morning. that's a 100% increase in participation. He gave me the shaka sign, I did not acknowledge him. I have him down as the most damaging individual that Kauai has ever had in the 20 plus years I've been here. His extra person looked like a foreign student. Can this election get any more bizarre?

Anonymous said...

John Kauai, use anonymous like the rest of us, your insinuation that you are some kind of important Kauai voice is ridiculous. So are most of your views.

Anonymous said...

Thanks. That is useful a useful. And I appreciate your non confrontational response to my post. Too often people's thoughtful posts here get met with "you're stupid" or "move back to LA" and other troll manure.

Unknown said...

Kevin Folta's pod cast and MylesPowers1985 are other good sources of GMO information.

John Kauai said...


That you think I'm "important" is your problem not mine. It is just an opinion. You are welcome to ignore it. I did say "FWIW": for what it's worth. You think it isn't worth much, OK.

For all anyone knows, you could be one anonymous person having arguments with your alternate selves on this site.

There is also the possibility that I've posted many comments as anonymous, where i argue with myself. (I haven't but there's no proof of that.)

I provide an identity so that those who think I'm an ass (or a saint) can easily filter out (or read) my comments. That should have included you. I sometimes say stupid stuff. I know it. So? It isn't as if "anonymous" doesn't say stupid (or smart) stuff.

It isn't hard to provide an identity so that readers can see some consistency (or inconsistency) in the opinions posted.

I'd prefer Joan not permit "Anonymous" posts. That is her choice and "my preference" is just a single data point in a whole slew of choices. Its kind of like I prefer no string beans on my plate, but if the cook puts them there I might eat a couple. (probably not -- they make me puke) I'm surely not demanding "the cook" change her process to comply with my predilections. And it doesn't mean I like/respect/admire "the cook" any less.

If you don't want to vote for Sparks, fine. If you want to provide resumes for council candidates you support, I'll read them.

I have to confess that I have no understanding of the support for Mel.

Anonymous said...

"Because why in the world would a voter want to return a proven liar to office?" Isn't that precisely what America is about to do with Hillary Clinton? Sometimes there are more dangerous alternatives than liars ... just maybe not with Hooser.

Anonymous said...

9:30 a.m. "I'm just trying to provide people with credible information so they can make their own informed judgments and decisions."

Monsanto funds Cornell's "credible information," a fact which undermines its credibility.

Joan Conrow said...

@1:43 -- In keeping with this post's title, you are just plain wrong. Monsanto is not funding this information.

As I've noted about a zillion times, and is clearly stated on the Cornell Alliance for Science website, funding comes from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. The Alliance accepts no money from industry.

Unknown said...

Wow, a post by John that I actually, sort-of, agree with. (The sky must be falling.) At first, I thought 12:12 was John posting anonymously (my apologies). My college english professor said, "Never be willing to write anything you are not willing to sign your name to." That's why I post my name, when I could have posted as anonymous instead. This whole @such and such a time and/or date is so much more complex then directing a comment towards a name. Using names also makes it easier to ignore comment from people who talk out their ass (like Geoff Morris).

Anonymous said...

The canoe people are all good people. Should anyone wish,Na Kalai Waa accepts donations and will always use them well. Before long, you will see every child on the island experiencing this adventure. Be part of it.
And no, I am not a member, altho I did make a small donation. Just an old six man paddler that remembers the first Hokulea landing on Kauai and the excitement.

Anonymous said...

Let's hope the majority of Kauai votes ABG (anybody but Gary). I for one have had enough of his BS, missing council meetings to advance his own agenda... send a message that 2491 was not the majority position of Kauai, but rather the few loud mouth self righteous crybaby know it alls!

Think wisely this general election, vote above or below Gary, BUT AGB!

Anonymous said...

So for you people on Kauai what do you think of the dairy farm that they're planning on opening up on Maha'ulepu dairy farm? Also what are your thoughts on the Friends of Maha'ulepu group protesting the development of the farm?

Anonymous said...

There are millions upon millions of acres of flat farm land on the mainland far from communities, where the seed/chem companies can spray and experiment all day long without posing a threat to humans(besides their workers)

Kaua'i is a mere 25 by 33 miles with communities circling her perimeter. Trade winds blow all year long carrying fresh winds through our homes and daily downpours across the island.
But don't worry... 'experts' have assured us that we're safe from any airborne chemicals or run-off

but regardless, these corporations have an obligation to their shareholders to crank out profits so we need to suck it up

Anonymous said...

You suck up pesticides at the Hyatt too, do you have any idea how often they spray the rooms? Do you have any idea how much sewage runoff there is from the Hyatt? Do you have any idea how many pesticides the Hyatt uses on its landscaping? Have you ever smelled how pesticide y it smells by the pool?

Anonymous said...

I understand there are a large number of cesspools, injection wells and the like in the Poipu-Koloa area; no one seems to know the exact number with injection well estimates ranging from 18-28. Why all the worry about some cows on Important Ag Lands? Issue everyone in Poipu and the Grand Hyatt a cork- and two for the ones with big mouths like Hammerquist. Ram through a sewer improvement bill and make these folks pay for their pollution before spending any more time and money on cows. The place is starting to smell like Eau d'Ali'i Drive anyway.

“Based on what was discovered with part one of the survey, we have turned our attention to the more serious issue of human fecal contamination that may exist in the Poipu-Koloa watershed,” said Keith Kawaoka, DOH deputy director of environmental health. That is a true No shit, Sherlock proposition.

Anonymous said...

The Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS) is investigating the Chem China buy-out of Syngenta. The sudden withdrawal of Syngenta here on Kaua'i could indicate the fall-out of this investigation. Proximity of Syngenta operations here to military installations on the west side are a huge bone of contention in the acceptance of this buy-out by US regulators.
Just google Chem China/Syngenta CFIUS. Several different reports and takes on the national security issues that are posed by this merger can be read on-line.
As a member of the Hawaii Farmers Union, I am glad to see that the National Farmers Union is taking a strong stance against this merger which threatens national security, food security, and the future of farming in the United States. The July 21, 2016 joint letter from National Farmers Union and Food and Water Watch to CFIUS can be read on the internet.
Anything our "Good Neighbor" Syngenta is telling us, well there is a whole lot more to that story gang-y.

Anonymous said...

And here you go...this just in:

China is on the hunt to control everything to do with our food.

Syngenta supports farmers? Give us all a break.

Farmers are waking up and screaming!!!

Anonymous said...

Look at the sponsors for the 'Food Babe' event. I am really disappointed to see KUPU Hawaii on that list. I wonder if this is like the 'Planned Parenthood' sponsorship of HAPA Kuleana Academy a few weeks ago. Does KUPU know they are being used to support this non-science based program? KUPU is well regarded as a great pass-through for Federal and State dollars to support conservation research. Are those Federal/State dollars in jeopardy? I bet faculty that work with KUPUs interns would be very upset to hear they are sponsoring this terrible 'Ethics of Eating' program at UHM (UHM 'sponsorhip' is bad enough).

Anonymous said...

National Farmers Union represents all sectors of farming. Read the well written letter that expresses their concerns about ChemChina Syngenta.

Anonymous said...

anybody game to pull a grim reaper like stunt at the food babe event? hey turnabout is fair play

Anonymous said...

The Alliance was formed for one reason - to put a more positive spin on the gmo movement. And that ain't wrong.

Joan Conrow said...

The Alliance was formed to bring science, evidence and facts into the debate around GMOs. And yeah, compared to the lies and fear pumped out by the antis, that is positive.