It's spring, which means flowers, long days, baseball.
But to paraphrase the classic poem Casey at the Bat, “there is no joy in antiville — Lukens and Hooser have struck out.”
Yeah, despite — or perhaps because of — all their fear-mongering, threats, mob action and baby-toting mamas flown into hearings, Center for Food Safety and HAPA had a dismal session at the Lege:
Of course, that's all part of the plan. Because without "bad guys" — seed companies, conventional farmers, thinking citizens, politicians who don't cower and cave — they've got no battle. And without a battle, they've got no raison d'être. And without a raison d'être to attract donors, they've got no cash.
See how it works? It's not about protecting the keiki and kupuna. It's all about protecting the cash flow.
I had to laugh when Ashley recently thought she'd uncovered some dirt on me:
I know it's an unfamiliar concept, Ashley, but that's what's called balanced and accurate reporting. I wasn't actually building an argument for anything, just presenting different viewpoints on the use of herbicides on parks and along roadsides. The counties make a good case for why they still use Roundup.
Though she and others have tried to paint me a poison pimp, I've never maintained that pesticides are safe, or that some people aren't extremely sensitive to them. My position has always been that we have essentially no evidence to indicate that the seed companies are misusing pesticides, or that the pesticides used on seed crops are harming human or environmental health. It's always best if the problem can be solved without the use of pesticides, which is what the seed companies do with their Integrated Pest Management practices.
It's also consistently been my position that the seed companies have been unfairly singled out, even though they use far fewer restricted use pesticides than the termite and pest control companies — something Gary Hooser knew when he introduced Bill 2491. The agenda has always been to destroy GMO ag, not reduce pesticide use.
What Ashley doesn't realize is I was never “paid off” by the Alliance for Science. I sought them out, because I wanted to fight people like Ashley. But the Alliance doesn't do battle with antis. We work to present the facts about crop biotechnology, share the positive stories of public sector research and amplify the voices of farmers who want to make their own choices about which seeds to plant.
So the Alliance pays me to help them do that, and I continue fight Ashley and the antis here in my personal blog.
But frankly, I'm growing weary of the blog battle, largely because the opponents are so banal. This hit home last week when I actually engaged with a few antis in the comment section of an article on Maui vs Monsanto, which is something I rarely do. Nearly all of them were posting under a pseudonym, so it could've been the same sock puppet posting comments that were the intellectual equivalent of “your mama wears combat boots.”
Needless to say, I didn't waste much time in that forum. But made me profoundly sad to think that agricultural innovations developed by brilliant, altruistically motivated scientists are being stymied by dolts, some of whom also appear to be mentally ill.
On the other hand, that injustice also motivates me to keep going, because I fear for our food future if policies and laws are dictated by dullards and self-serving demagogues. So I keep pointing out their idiocy and doing my best to marginalize them and undermine their credibility.
Still, I keep thinking there's got to be a better way. Which is why I have engaged with Dr. Lee Evslin. Though I've criticized his writing, and we disagree on some things, we can talk. He's intelligent, and willing to consider other points of view. He's also actually motivated by a sincere concern for the common good, as opposed to the sickening self-interest of Hooser, Lukens, etc.
In our most recent correspondence, where I questioned his support for pesticide bills that were not grounded in science, he replied:
I had a career that contained virtually no contact with the legislative branch of government. This has been a learning experience for me. I did not consider any of the bills perfect and hoped that their issues would be ironed out in conference. I actually made an attempt (at my own expense) to go to Oahu and discuss the bills with the legislators involved. I support the concepts in my column and I made an attempt to point out areas that could be improved in the bills when I met with legislators.
I walked away from this endeavor with the feeling that the legislature is possibly not the place to create legislation of this nature. The DOH sponsored a symposium on Environmental Toxins and the speakers were experts from the West-coast. They spoke about California as it has some of the strictest rules on reporting and is working hard on a buffer zone policy and has a very robust farming economy. Two comments made by the presenters were particularly interesting to me. They said that although they were researchers and were often at the forefront of studies suggesting possible harm from pesticides, they work well with the farms and actually are asked to help the farms safeguard their workers and participate in studies to show if they have been properly safeguarded. They also said that the statewide buffer zone regulation they are working on is being designed by their Department of Pesticide Regulation not the legislature. This certainly provides a very different forum to work out regs.
I am very interested in this whole area of health and am glad to continue this conversation.
Now, this is the kind of conversation I am also interested in continuing, and I hope it's the kind of conversation that many more of us can have before the 2018 legislative session convenes. Because the Lege isn't the best place to deal with complex issues like buffer zones and pesticides.
We need to exclude people like Ashley, who claimed "there is no debate." There's a lot of debate, and it needs to be done by thoughtful, knowledgeable, reasonable people who are willing to compromise and be guided by science, not anecdotes and fear-mongering.
And then, perhaps, we can begin to heal some of the divisiveness caused by this manufactured drama and rediscover the joy of a connected, caring community.