The misinformed commentary in today's edition of The Garden Island underscores just how deeply confused and utterly misled the public remains on the pesticide-GMO issue in Hawaii.
That's not surprising. The anti-GMO movement, which has morphed into an anti-pesticide movement, is based on intentionally sowing and fertilizing lies. It's one of the best ways to whip up fear and win converts to a false cause. But it leaves people cynical, disenfranchised and ignorant when things don't go their way.
Which is what we see in today's guest opinion by educator Mark Jeffers and letter to the editor by the perennially deluded Linda Bothe.
She unleashes one of her typically clueless rants, making such bogus claims as:
These ag companies can spray their poison near our schools, hospitals and our homes, anywhere they feel like it. We cannot complain because the law says so.
Like so many others, Linda is clueless about the many rigorous regulations imposed on commercial pesticide use, especially restricted use pesticides. And yes, people can and do complain, which is why the pesticide enforcement officers are kept so busy.
But who can fault Linda when people who do know better — people like defeated Kauai Councilman Gary Hooser, Center for Food Safety's Ashley Lukens and Earthjustice attorney Paul Achitoff — continue to make like Hawaii is some wild west where pesticide use is totally unregulated and out of control?
That is a flat out lie uttered for one purpose only: to make people afraid so these groups can hit them hard for donations.
Linda goes on:
Why do I feel like I am in the Jim Jones Cult? Just drink your Kool-Aid and everything will be fine. Are we really that gullible? This scares me to death.
Yes, sadly, you are that gullible. And so are too many of your fellow residents. Only your leader is not Jim Jones, but Hooser-Lukens. So yeah, drink their Kool-Aid. How else are they gonna get people to keep sending them money for another dose of fear?
Mark Jeffers starts by spouting nonsense about how Kauai folks supposedly stopped the Superferry and halted nuclear missile launches at PMRF. Uh, the unsuccessful PMRF protests were about launching missiles from a sacred dune, not nuclear warheads, and the ferry was halted because it violated state environmental laws. Neither issue had anything to do with county initiatives, or "home rule."
Mark then claims:
When the agri-chemical companies were accused of field testing restricted-use chemical pesticides, there were protests and the county began to take action to preserve the life of the island. County government set about building regulations and laws to preserve the life of the island and its people.
First, the seed companies are not testing any pesticides, restricted use or general, in Hawaii. This is another lie spread by Hooser, the late Tim Bynum and anti-GMO activists like Hawaii SEED, CFS and Babes Against Biotech. Pesticide testing is done in enclosed facilities on the mainland.
Second, Bill 2491/Ordinance 960 did absolutely nothing to eliminate or even reduce pesticide use in Hawaii. Its claim to "stop poisoning paradise" was total bullshit. The bill called for buffer zones and pesticide disclosure, both of which the companies voluntarily agreed to do. The protests — which were especially misguided if they were indeed based on a false belief about pesticide tests — did not result in any “building regulations and laws” being passed “to preserve the life of the island and its people.”
Jeffers then falsely asserts that "the county lost its sovereignty on this issue and now may not make law or regulate the actions of the agri-chemical seed-growers. And so, therefore, the county has now lost its ability to preserve the life of this island in that arena."
The County hasn't "lost its sovereignty on this issue," because it never had it. Indeed, the entire purpose of the bill, as well as the resulting lawsuit and appeal, was to clarify the state and federal pre-emption issue. Earthjustice, CFS and Hooser were warned against this strategy by those who said it risked giving the seed companies a definition of pre-emption that they never could have gotten from the Legislature.
But the groups took their chances, in hopes of setting a precedent in their own favor. They lost. Now they and their followers are making like they've been screwed by the seed companies and a corrupt system. No, they're just seeing the end result of their flawed legal strategy.
It's not surprising that people like Jeffers, Boethe, Dustin Barca and other "red shirts" feel let down and disenchanted by the recent court rulings. They went in as true believers, not knowing the activists were using them as pawns in a bigger game. The movement was never intended to make Hawaii safer and cleaner. It was all about trying to shut down the GMO seed industry and set a precedent for local control.
Furthermore, the counties can regulate some actions of seed-growers — just not those related to pesticides or GMOs.
What really got me, though, was Jeffers' closing statement:
I put my hope in the clear thinking and pono actions of the children as they grow to help to preserve the life of our island home.
How are the keiki going to engage in clear thinking and pono actions when their elders — including educators like Jeffers — are setting such a poor example by demonstrating their own lack of critical thinking, their own loose grasp of the facts?
This is the sad, and lasting, legacy of the anti-GMO movement in Hawaii.