Following court rulings that overturned GMO/pesticide laws passed by three Hawaii counties — the Kauai County Council formally rescinded its law yesterday — activists have turned to the state Legislature, where their anti-GMO agenda is now cloaked in the rhetoric of pesticide reforms.
Anti-GMO activists have relied upon sympathizers like Sen. Josh Green, who is eying a gubernatorial run, Rep. Chris Lee, and Sen. Russell Ruderman, who appears untroubled by the conflict of interest inherent in his ownership of organic grocery stores, to introduce more than a dozen bills related to pesticides.
In keeping with the activists' anti-GMO/anti-ag mantra, these bills target farmers. Pest control and termite treatment companies, which apply more restricted use pesticides than any other group in the state are given a free pass.
Since the activists are, at core, against GMO and conventional farming, they continue to inist that only agricultural pesticide use must be monitored and controlled “to protect keiki, kupuna and the aina” — though no actual threats have been documented, even by the anti-GMO dominated Joint Fact-Finding Group (JFFG).
SB 19, which requires any person growing a crop to provide a detailed public disclosure of all pesticide use, would hit small farmers especially hard.
Other bills banning the use of chlorpyrifos and requring a stringent permit to use neonicotinoid insecticide or coated seeds directly target the seed industry, which comprises the most valuable and viable sector of Hawaii agriculture.
Another bill calls for giving each county the authority to enact pesticide laws more stringent than those imposed by the state and federal government, which could result in a tremendous financial burden on local taxpayers.
And companion Senate and House bills would allocate $3 million in each of the next two years to implement recommendations by the JFFG — even though toxicologists and other experts have said the proposals aren't warranted by report's findings.
Anti-GMO activists, armed with ample free time and buckets of mainland money, are well-poised to whip up hysteria and trot frightened baby-carrying moms before lawmakers, who typically know little about ag and even less about pesticides.
Farmers, meanwhile, find it difficult to visit the Lege because they're busy trying to pull off a crop. What's more, many have been intimidated by activists who have boycotted their products, attacked them in social media and even threatened their children at school.
I got a little taste of that myself the other day when drama queen Lauryn Rego of the anti-GMO Babes Against Biotech launched a Facebook diatribe against me. Kauai activists Gary Hooser and Jimmy Trujillo quickly piled on — and in the process revealed themselves as authoring some of the most vicious anonymous comments left on my blog. (Another offender is Joan Ben-dor, who is mad because I exposed her family's attempt to pass off its illegal TVR as legit.)
It was easy to identify Gary and Jimmy because they used the exact same language on FB as they do in my comment section. These folks are not only dishonest, cowardly and hateful, they're not too bright.
That's why good people who support Hawaii agriculture must speak up. Though it's a craven attitude that strikes at the heart of thoughtful lawmaking, legislators have already admitted they're swayed by the numbers game. The antis, by their own admission, represent less than 1 percent of the state population, but they're loud, aggressive and skilled at social media blitzes.
It's not overly dramatic to say that the future of Hawaii agriculture, rural lifestyles and extensive taxpayer dollars are on the table in the high-stakes game being waged by anti-GMO activists at the state Capitol. People who are must get involved.
Meanwhile, farmers in Europe — a region that activists tend to eulogize as an agriculture model for the world — are fighting to keep glyphosate, the active ingredient in Roundup. The National Farmers Union (NFU) has launched a Twitter campaign warning its loss would increase production costs and carbon emissions, decrease yields and lead to environmental damage. Their action comes in response to efforts by activists to ban the popular herbicide, which farmers use to reduce the tillage that acclerates erosion and nitrogen runoff.
According to NFU vice-president Guy Smith:
“It’s interesting the scientists behind the latest scare stories are the same ones who have tried to prove GM food causes health problems.”
Speaking of health problems, the anti-ag activists who helped destroy HC&S through their unrelenting complaints about smoke from cane fires glossed over the real culprit: power plants. According to an article in the Maui News:
Three Maui facilities spewed nearly 190,000 pounds of toxic chemicals into the air in 2015 with the two Maui Electric Co. power plants logging the largest releases in Maui County, the Environmental Protection Agency reported.
And the loss of HC&S makes it even worse:
“With HC&S no longer available to provide power to the electric grid and with Maui residents and businesses continuing to use more electricity during typically peak evening hours in recent years, we’ve needed to run the Kahului units, including K1 and K2, to maintain reliable electrical service,” said MECO spokeswoman Shayna Decker on Friday.
Now if only we could get rid of all those nasty electic users.... And please don't be saying all we need is more alternative energy — unless you're willing to ignore all the bat and bird deaths caused by wind and solar. There is no truly green solution — aside from reducing consumption.
And while we're speaking of green, I previously reported that New Zealand is very serious about biosecurity, and that includes spraying incoming aircraft that may be transporting invasive pests. This didn't sit well with anti-cane, anti-GMO and anti-Superferry activist Karen Chun:
Not nearly so inhumane as inflicting Chun on the Kiwis....
As an aside, New Zealand has also taken a practical approach to controlling the introduced possums that wreak havoc on the native flora and fauna. The super-soft, non-allergenic fur collected from harvested animals is added to wool products, while their meat is made into pet food.
Now if only we could figure out something to do with cats....
Now if only we could figure out something to do with cats....