A March for Humanity

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Given all the brouhaha happening around the March for Science yesterday, I was a bit hesitant to see what would unfold.  There was a lot of talk on the social media to be present at the march to protest my presence and the group I represented, the Alliance for Science.

As people started to gather for the rally, I started to see the protesters’ signs out in the crowd from anti-corporate accusations and about the Papahanaumokuakea Monument.  There was 4 gathered right in the front of the media folks with their anti-alliance signs to make it clear that I was not welcomed at this march.  Oddly, organizers were told that any hot topic signs or gear would not be allowed at the march, however, these people were allowed openly.  I even saw multiple people wearing anti-TMT shirts also.

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A fan club protesting the Alliance for Science.

As the rally opened, more and more people gathered around.  I didn’t see more anti folks though.  I was expecting to be heckled and yelled at but surprisingly, none of that happened.  It might be because my 2 year old wanted to be held and my 6 year old wanted to show off her “Science feeds the world” sign she had drawn.  It was a relief after I spoke, my children did not have to face rude adults.

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After speaking, I headed towards the table I had set up to spark conversations and talk about science.  I brought my beautiful red Indian corn cob, cotton bolls, photos of GM papaya and virus infected ones, diseased plants, Norman Borlaug stickers, some Alliance pens and stickers.  Our table was filled with things to look at and touch to help bring curious people in.

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It was really funny when people would lean in close and whisper quietly if we were about GMOs.  People were afraid to ask us what we stood for.  Between several of us volunteers there, we worked on educating people about evidence based policies and access to technology on a global scale.  When they realized what the Alliance stood for, there were so many sighs of relief and so many shared their thoughts about how cool genetic engineering was looking out to be.  Many great conversations happened.

My other Alliance member, James Green, was quite clever in his approach to manning the table.  He stood with a cardboard sign with a graph of the Dunning-Kruger effect on one side and the other side explaining what it meant.  He started out by explaining to curious people why there was such strong opinions about the technology but in reality, the true knowledge and expertise was not there.  I’d have to say that many people learned about why GMOs sounded bad but in reality wasn’t when you delved further.

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As the day went on, one of the protesters decided to stand in front of our table with his sign raised over his head to show his stance against us.  He stood there for several minutes and I realized that he’d probably stay there for a long time.  I thought to myself, “What a rude guy to do this kind of shenanigan?”  I assessed the situation make sure that if it got ugly, my kids were not around.  I decided to talk to this guy and see what his deal was.  I figured that if he’d do something ugly, there were lots of witnesses around.

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The protester who decided to stand at our table.

I came in front of  him and read his sign and said, “Why are you standing in front of our table and not coming to talk story?  That is so not local style.”  He proceed to tell me that he heard that the Alliance for Science was being funded by Monsanto.  In my own head I was like, oh, geez, again.  I might have a crazy one ranting about all the horrible accusations.  What have I gotten myself into now?

I continued to talk to him and said, “You think that I’m working for Monsanto because I’m supporting GMO technology?” He said that only Monsanto would put on a booth like this with all the information and stuff.  I said no way.  I told him that I was up until 2:30 in the morning getting prepared for today.  I had set up the photos, stickers, and stuff and even paid for it myself.  He was in disbelief and said that it couldn’t be true.  I replied that if he wanted to see my receipts, I’d be happy to show him.  I continued to tell him my story about my dad and brother’s farm being saved by technology.

As that story came out, he started to realize that I wasn’t Monsanto and that GMOs like that were good.  He said that he was a marine biologist with some training in molecular biology so he understood that.  Then he said that GMOs are bad because of pesticides.  I wanted to bang my head but instead, smiled and took his hand and brought him to my table.  “Come here and let me show you what I’m talking about,” I told him.

I pulled out one of the lectures I had heard at Cornell on GMOs.  I showed him photos of the Bt eggplant damage from the shoot borer and how small farmers had to spray many times to prevent damage.  Then I showed him a photo of the Bt eggplant and how it had no damage and needed little spraying if anything.  I also talked to him about witchweed and how it destroyed people’s crops but if the seed was coated in herbicides, a crop could grow and yield something.  He told me that he was a scientist and agreed that this applications were a good thing.

Despite this he kept going on about how the pesticides was the issue.  I responded that if he wanted less pesticides, then how could it be done? I waited for his answer and he realized that GM technology could be utilized to change the plant to need less spraying.  I could see a light go on in his head when he realized that.

I pushed back on him a bit and asked why was he hanging out with anti-GMO people who were sitting across the way, refusing to interact.  I told him that if he was a scientist and knows the benefit of GMOs, why isn’t he educating his friends on it?  He said that he knew the benefits of biotech being from Costa Rica but that some people don’t understand it.  I reiterated to him that if he wants less pesticides and better farming, we need research and science leading the charge.  He agreed but then went back to Monsanto.  I was losing my patience and said, “Would you please think about what we just talked about that it’s not about Monsanto.”  He laughed and our conversation didn’t divert but luckily, my attention went to someone else who wanted to talk to me, a cousin who found me on 23andme.

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My newly found cousin found through genetic testing, Jason Higa!

After I had a great talk with Jason, I went back to help at the table and my protester was still hanging out.  We continued talking and eventually got on to the subject of vaccinations which he surprisingly supported.  He was upset at babies dying around the world because of the anti-vaccination movement.  I pointed out to him that supporting the anti-GMO stance he had contributes the anti-vax movement by promoting science denial.  I asked him if he wanted more babies dying because of this rejection of the evidence, to which he stated no.  He was appalled at the anti-vaccination movement and the spread of preventable diseases like measles, whooping cough, and mumps.

My protester friend was still standing in front of our table but he had dropped his sign.  We continued talking about the amazing things happening in the world of science and agriculture and decided to take a photo together.  He said that he would try to educate his fellow anti friends that not all GMOs mean pesticides or corporations.  I hope he follows through with his word.

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Javier and I became friends after talking story.

A day that started out with a bit of apprehension actually turned out to be terrific as another person came to talk to me too.  I had first encountered this student in a group on Facebook when she had posted some buffer zone links to gather testimony for it.  I countered her on it to get her to look at the facts. I also encouraged her to dig deeper and find the actual evidence to her claims. She decided to stop by our table and talk story with me wanting to learn why I held the stances I did against the buffer zone laws.

I pulled out a photo of the papaya tree kicked down by my dad’s fearful neighbor.  I explained to her that this issue about buffer zones isn’t based in science if people are taking those kinds of actions.  She was a bit surprised because she had believed that children had been sickened which necessitated it.  I asked her if she had looked up the evidence for the claim to which she couldn’t answer.  I told her that I’d be happy to show her the evidence so that she doesn’t contribute to the attacks against farmers.  She seemed more than willing to learn and gave me her card, which I’ll be contacting her in the future.

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As I spoke with many children and parents, it was clear to me that few understood the story of agriculture when they picked up my stickers.  I asked them if they knew who was pictured on it.  Very few were able to identify Norman Borlaug.  I explained to the children that he believed that all people should have food, which they agreed upon was a very good thing.

A lot of learning took place at this March for Science event despite me being censored from talking about GMOs, the Thirty Meter Telescope, and vaccines.  The mood of the marchers was so different than the marches against the TMT and GMOs.  Those marches were full of angry people whose only bond was being against something.  Anger bonded these people together and it made for some ugly after effects.  This same anger fueled more anger and hate that spewed out into the social media for years to come.  This group of people armed with emotion is what led to the breakdown of communities across our state because logic and rational thinking was lost in the equation.

However, at the March for Science, the atmosphere was very friendly and people were curious and willing to talk story with each other.  We were all for something, with the exception of those protesters. The censoring didn’t stop the truth from being discussed or heard.  In fact there were lots of signs about science saving lives and astronomy.

When the march was done, the lawn wasn’t full of garbage or signs thrown the ground like so many other marches.  I saw many people taking home their signs instead of dumping it in the trash cans.  Everyone cooperated and helped to fold up tables and chairs and put it back in it’s place.  The march for science brought out a different crowd indeed and it was pretty amazing to see the civility and cooperation come out in people from all walks of life.  My daughters made many friends from various marchers and even took some photos with their signs.

What I learned from participating in this march is that those who support science and the scientists themselves must be willing to take the brave step in leading our communities in the right direction.  When we are focused on a common goal that helps the greater good, we can put our energies towards the pressing problems ahead of us.  Standing aside and being unwilling to even acknowledge another person isn’t going to create a movement for a better world.

I learned the name of my protester that day.  His name was Javier and despite starting the day feeling apprehensive about him, he is just another person and by taking the first step to talk to him, he was able to have a civil, factual, and rational conversation about a “hot topic.” The rest of his friends who protested didn’t even come near the information that was available to see and learn from.  Even the environmentalist guy who showed up to protest me refused to even show an interest in our table, despite me sharing his post encouraging him to learn.  Javier thanked me for coming up to him and talking with him and I said thank you for talking with me!

We need learners in this world who are willing to be curious about what is happening.  Those who are capable of talking story so that we all can work together to make it better.  The more we focus on collaboration, the better we can sustain our communities for all of humanity.

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The ahu is symbolic of building communities and working together.

 

 

Why I Won’t March for Science

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Tomorrow is the Hawaii March for Science.  I’m not marching for science.  Instead I’ll be walking along scientists and their supporters.

A march is supposed to have a clear leader to guide the group in the right direction.  With a coordinated attack against me and the Alliance for Science planned, it only tells me that there is no leader to guide the public on science.  Instead, this march is one that has turned political where opposition is allowed to co-opt the evidence and anyone who stands by it.

I’m walking with scientists tomorrow to learn their stories and the work that they do.

I will walk with scientists who are trying to make farming more efficient and environmentally friendly.  One day, they will have crops that won’t need fertilizer or other inputs.  These crops may even grow on more land and have better nutrition for people.

I will walk with scientists who are studying the oceans and learning about how to balance our need for food and yet sustain a way of living for island people.  They will know what these creatures eat and see what needs to be done to keep their populations healthy.

I will walk with scientists working on improving the quality of life of those with debilitating illnesses and disability.  One day, someone with paraplegia may be able to walk again and lead a normal life or a person with ALS can no longer fear a slow decline in function.  There may be a scientist who is working on keeping dementia from robbing memories of a grandparent so that their grandchildren will no longer see them lose their loved one.

I will walk with scientists who are creating new ways to harness energy from the sun, oceans, and winds.  One day, we will no longer have to fill our tanks with gasoline and our homes can be powered with the elements around us.

I will walk with a scientist who studies our island’s indigenous plants and wildlife to help preserve it for generations to come.  Our great grandchildren will be able to see the ohia tree dotting the forests with its beautiful blossoms.

I will walk with scientists to learn about their work and passions.  I hope to see that these scientists will be the leaders of the march the help teach the public about the value of their work and why it needs to be leading the conversations around policies and innovation for the future.  I want to see these scientists inspiring others to join their fields to help make this world a better place and improve the lives of people globally.

Science is universal and the best thing we’ve got at understanding our world and knowing what is happening.  The scientists and their work must lead policymaking which is why this march was organized to begin with.  Until scientists become the lead and speak up for their work and the evidence, I will walk with them.  The day they lead us, I’ll march with them.

Those Life Saving Facts

Those Life Saving Facts

It was announced a few weeks ago that Kamehameha Schools is looking to put in more affordable homes in Haleiwa.  Despite the fact that this had been planned for nearly 10 years now, the community became very aware of the loss of ag lands.  We all know what happens when farm land disappears.  Homes come up and farms are gone forever and communities are changed.

As I watched the North Shore Community Hub group fill with these posts and complaints, I couldn’t help but shake my head.  Just a few years ago, the North Shore Chamber of Commerce had asked farmers to speak up at neighborhood board meetings to educate about agriculture.  My dad and brother drove out there to speak up and was faced with a hostile crowd who thought conventional farms were poisoning them.  At yet another meeting, long time farmer Dean Okimoto tried to speak to this same crowd and didn’t face friendly people.

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The imported disinformation campaign of the Center for Food Safety had dug deep into people’s deepest emotions that there was a need to be afraid of the farmers out there.  The well established farmers with proven track records were made to be thought of as horrible people.

Even in the community where my dad farmed in remains distrusting of our farm.  It’s evident when they call the ER afraid for their own health assuming my brother was poisoned but actually had a medication reaction.  A neighbor there even posted this ill informed comment to the GMO Free Hawaii group the other week.

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My brother and his coworker know firsthand the effects of misinformation on pesticides.  Every time they go to the field to spray for pests, wary neighbors look out their car windows and wind them up as if they are being poisoned.  My brother has a sense that he’s the most hated person out there in Punaluu but he knows that he isn’t doing anything wrong.  It’s the contaminated minds that are filled with fear that remains to be the problem.

What’s wrong with fear mongering on pesticides? Well, eventually, the unintended consequences will be seen and right on cue, a Civil Beat article told the story of a Maui woman who is suffering from rat lungworm disease after consuming food from the Big Island.  This has remained a problem on the Big Island and it’s being studied there to figure out the best practices for dealing with this.

It’s ironic that there’s so much attention to pesticides on farms here in Hawaii but not much being said by the supposedly food safety group about this issue.  One would think that given the increasing numbers of people being affected by this, the Hawaii Center for Food Safety would be right there working on an awareness campaign.  Instead, in their last email newsletter, they are bragging about their new Pesticides in Paradise website.  There’s something wrong when people are getting sick and this group isn’t doing a thing to protect them from a very preventable illness.

I asked why CFS and other groups like Shaka aren’t informing followers of rat lungworm disease and a friend give the painful truth.

“Those who seek to oppress people deny others access to accurate information.”

Misinformation has consequences and that is what we are seeing right now with this brain infecting parasite that’s made a comeback partly due to the fear mongering of pesticides.  The poison of fear has contaminated minds who can no longer think and question what they are being told and people start to suffer as a result.  Facts can save one from a life of misery and pain if we use it.

 

 

 

Harsh Truths

Many folks are wondering why I told the story of my brother in the last two blog posts I wrote.  Knowing how fast rumors can travel in this day and age, I asked him if he wanted me to write it.  He did tell me that he wanted his story told so that it brings greater awareness to his health issues and what’s happening on the farm.  At his blessing, I told his story.

I shouldn’t be surprised that people started accusing me of lying and “using” him.  The facts are the facts and I can’t change the way events are happening and how it’s unfolding.  He’s sick with lupus and still trying to work on the farm while also worried about defending it.  This life in real time for real farmers.  That is our story and the truth about farm life.  It’s one too few will hear.

There are many people who are suffering with debilitating illnesses that there is no cure for.  There are many scientists working to find a cure or treatment for it.  We can’t address this problem if resources aren’t directed at this issue.  When loud, uniformed people try to influence policies with poorly vetted information, society suffers as a whole.  When science becomes dismissed as “propaganda,” we are headed down a slippery slope.  Who will solve the many problems in this world like impending famines, droughts, infectious diseases, and other things that will plague mankind?

The attacks against science and innovation in Hawaii isn’t going to help our future.  It leaves us disabled from solving real problems in the near future.  I myself am getting tested for lupus and as a possible carrier, my children may face this disease too.  What options will they have for a better life?

I truly believe that society has to embrace science and the many advances we are seeing over fearing and blocking it.  Solutions aren’t going to come from blockers but from the knowledgeable ones who are working at improving lives.  May stories from my family help move us towards that future.  That is our hope with telling these stories.

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The Real Poison in Paradise

Just when I thought I couldn’t get more bad news, I did today.  My brother, Mike, who recently got diagnosed with systemic lupus erythematosus and lupus nephritis, received the results of his kidney biopsy.  He was found to have stage 3 lupus nephritis and may face some grueling treatment to stop his immune system from attacking his kidneys.  Our family is just stunned but hopeful that this is the right course for his long term health.  Opening up about this condition has also made me more aware of other family and friends who have the same condition and help me to get support. (I also realize that disclosing this information will also stir up the antis claiming that his exposure to pesticides caused this however, we know that truth behind this as many family members have similar conditions from the great-great grandfather and other cousins who

As I was talking to him today about his test results, he told me a very disturbing story about last week Friday when he was taken away via ambulance for his allergic reaction to his medication.  As he was lying in the emergency room at Kahuku Hospital, he heard a phone call at the nurses’ station that was in earshot of him.  The caller had reported that she had seen a farmworker taken off of the field via ambulance and quickly assumed he had been poisoned.  She wanted the nurse to get her the DOH Clear Air Branch hotline to assure her that she was not being poisoned.  Due to privacy laws, the nurse could not give any details of my brother’s condition.  But once again, it is faulty assumptions that create hysteria and it isn’t even near the truth.  My brother sat there listening in disbelief at what he had heard.

Apparently, this neighbor by our Punaluu fields quickly jumped to conclusions that my brother had been poisoned and never came to talk to us about what happened.  If an ambulance came, wouldn’t a normal person be in worry that someone needed serious help and not assume poisoning?  What if it was a heavy equipment accident or a fall in the field? Because of the fabricated fear around pesticides have reached the public, there’s no rational thought anymore.  The uninformed public assumes all farms use highly toxic pesticides.  I’m sure this woman will be telling her fellow neighbors that she saw someone being poisoned even though that is furthest from the truth.  That rumor has a high likelihood of spreading in the anti-GMO forums and other social events to bad mouth our family farm.  Instead of seeing if anyone needed help, the witch hunt already started.

It’s that same kind of assumptions that get people all in a huff over something and starts riling the angry mob against farmers like my dad and brother.  The organic industry lobbyist, Ashley Lukens, will tell legislators that this anti-pesticide bill is only going after large farms but knows full well that it’s furthest from the truth.  Just like an organic farmer named Dave Burlew, who jumped to conclusions and essentially accused my dad of causing runoff from his fields then offered to help in a recent Civil Beat article on the pesticide law’s failure to pass.

“BTW, your Dad needs to do something about all the soil that erodes onto the road fronting the farm when it rains. It’s been going on for years now. The soil keeps washing into the road making a mess. I can help if he needs me to. Maybe cover crop it for him or lay some hay bales down. I’m the first farm on the left past the white gate in the valley, or he can flag me down in the morning, I drive the blue Dodge Ram truck. Mahalo, Dave”

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This is a photo of one of his fields that’s separated by an unpaved, dirt access road that leads up to other lots beyond us on a hill.  If you look at the road, there’s deep grooves showing lots of erosion.  It has been here decades before our fields have ever been there.  As a service to the neighbors above, my dad takes time to grade the road after heavy rails to minimize the little ditches that form so people can drive up without destroying their shocks.  As a farmer, he also has an obligation to follow soil conservation regulations and has berms around the field to minimize runoff.  In fact, the lower part of the fields get so filled with water that he can’t grow trees there.  Those berms also keeps the homes downhill from the road from being flooded by the rains too.

When “Farmer Dave” made that accusation the our farm was responsible for the runoff, it is yet another dishonest statement to disparage farmers who speak up against misinformation.  His solution was to put hay and cover crops.  Now would that work on a road that so many people use? The muddy waters he sees is really running off of this road and if you sit outside the field on a rainy day, you can see exactly what happens for yourself.

Even politicians trained in applied sciences get caught up in this fear.  Senator Josh Green responded to my post pointing out the declining resources directed to lead testing in Hawaii and the growing numbers of children who aren’t being monitored.

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In Hawaii, we have a large number of old homes that are sources of lead but the funding  has gone down significantly.  Thanks the CFS, millions of dollars will go to testing of pesticides leaving less for lead testing and prevention.  Instead of expanding on the issue at hand, Senator Green pulls out the ad hominen attack which remains false.  How is he serving the public interest by not funding a real problem in our state? How is his testing going to continue if there’s no funding and an effort put towards it? Generations of children can be affected by this and no one is protesting it.

When people jump to conclusions and refuse to talk to the farmers, poorly crafted legislation and mass hysteria is created.  The anti-GMO, anti-agriculture bill disguised as an anti-pesticide one has done just that in our once tight knit communities.  Thanks to Ashley Lukens of the Center for Food Safety, there’s no trust in neighbors as we are seeing.  If there were to be an emergency at our farm, these people would be so scared that they probably wouldn’t even bother to help because they’d think we’re poisoned or that the field is poison.  The fear she has planted in people’s heads are becoming more deeply rooted that it prevents rational discussion and exchanges or the talk story that used to be common at our farm.

While farmers are accused of poisoning people, the real poison is what the Center for Food Safety has brought to Hawaii.  Agriculture can’t survive in this toxic environment where distrust and fear are leading the charge.  Ashley Lukens and her ilk want no collaboration with the agricultural community and prefer to stand on lies and deception.  You’ll never see her set foot on a farm or bother to take a tour.  She takes her little slideshow and scares people then runs when her presentation is questioned.  If not, she funds movies where people are a captive audience to watch and believe with no ability to question what was presented.  The Food Babe event and even the Vandana tour was all set up so people only nod in agreement and allowed no questions.  Thinking is dangerous to this movement that’s built upon deception.

No one will want to farm if you’re going to be found guilty without any evidence.  When you’re not truly invested in agriculture, it’s easy to say and do things to destroy it and that is what we see is happening.  Our communities cannot heal when people are manipulated in fear and our small farmers have to bear the burden of this toxic environment.

 

 

The Fight for Family

The Fight for Family

Today was both a sad and happy day for me.  The anti-GMO bill disguised as an anti-pesticide bill, HB790, did not move out of the House of Representatives, which was the good thing of the day for the farmers.  The sad thing of the day was a phone call I got in the afternoon from a long time friend and former patient of mine.

For the last 8 years, I have sent my friend Christmas cards to keep in touch with her.  I had developed a wonderful friendship with her during her rehab stay for an injury from a fall.  I witnessed her start from not even being able to stand up or move in bed to walking out of therapy and going home.  There were  many days of tears during her recovery that we both shared and I gave her the support I could to help her get through it.  We maintained our friendship since then and she became a friend of my family too.

She called me today to let me know that she appreciated our friendship and that she enjoyed my yearly Christmas cards and seeing my children growing up.  We caught up on what’s happened over the last year.  She told me that she wanted me to know that she had terminal cancer and was given 6-9 months to live.  She said she thought she would feel scared of it but said that she was truly at peace with it.  She was going to catch up with old friends and tell them how much she loved them and do what she can in the time she has.  I was so touched that she called me and wished her the best on her next journey through life.

On top of my friend’s call today, the last month has been very emotional for me.  My brother Mike has been having lots of joint swelling, pain, and odd reactions that could not be explained by the doctors.  He went through many tests and found out that he has lupus.  It’s great that he found out what was going on and now a good treatment can be found for him to alleviate the symptoms.  He’s always had unusual allergic reactions as a kid to Tang drink and bee stings so this diagnosis really took us by surprise.  As we look back at what my grandmother went through with her rheumatoid arthritis, interstitial lung disease, and diabetes, we suspect she had some form of autoimmune issues that went undiagnosed.  On top of the lupus, they also discovered that it is attacking his kidneys too.

Last week Friday, I had a big scare when my mom called and said my brother had to be taken off the farm to the hospital because he was having anaphylactic shock.  He had gone down the field as usual to scout for pests and spray trees.  It was just a regular day.  However, as the day progressed, he began to swell up and his quick thinking coworker recognized the symptoms and called 911.  Luckily, the ambulance was able to get into the field to get him to the hospital to be treated.  He had a severe reaction to a new lupus medication he had taken the night before.

All I could think about was I wish I could help him.  I wish there was a cure where stem cells could restore his immune system.  I purposefully donated my son’s stem cells when he was born and got confirmation that it had made it to the cord blood bank.  I would even donate my organs or stem cells if he needed it.  If I can give the gift of life to him, I would do it in an instant even if it may cause temporary pain.  He’s my little brother and I want him to have his health back.  I would do anything for family.

At my job, I see firsthand what can happen when we lose our health.  There’s a lot of pain and suffering when a healthy person gets hit by a stroke, ALS, or some other life altering disease.  I so wish that science can help find a cure to stop symptoms and help people lead full lives.  Although I help teach people how to live with disability through compensation and adaptation, I see the consequences when bodies fail.

I wish that there would be high tech research happening in Hawaii to treat diseases like lupus.  Maybe one day there will be a genetically engineered treatment to help normalize immune systems.  Instead of chemotherapy, maybe cancer could be treated with some other medication that doesn’t have as many side effects.  What if people could get a easy screen to detect these diseases before people have to suffer symptoms?  There are so many what ifs but that can only happen if we dream and invest in that future.

As a parent, I want the best for my children.  Just like my parents wanting to best for me and my siblings, it’s a value that is universal.  I will continue to fight for science and hope that it will help my brother and others live a full life.  I will continue to push for education in Hawaii to help create innovations to have a brighter future for my children and others.  There are so many problems in the world and we need problem solvers, not protesters.

Truly Invested

Tomorrow, the anti-GMO activists will be pounding the pavement at the Hawaii State Capitol to demand that the House of Representatives pass their “right to know” pesticide buffer zone bill.  They tout it as a “common sense” measure but never disclose that there’s a penalty included in the bill that opens agricultural entities up to lawsuits.  Of course, the public doesn’t need to know the whole truth as usual.

The legislators will be faced with a lot of emotional pleas from mothers to pass this bill that is really an anti-GMO bill that will be used to scare people globally from this technology.  The Center for Food Safety will tell the Hawaii politicians that they are protecting people from pesticides but then travel to Asia and Africa and say that the chemicals in our food is causing us to be gay and infertile.  This kind of fear mongering led to the starvation of so many Zambians who eventually broke into warehouses to eat the so called dangerous food.  It is sickening to me knowing that this anti-GMO issue is using Hawaii to cause pain and suffering globally.

For every activists that doesn’t have to work and will fly from Maui or Kauai to persuade legislators, there’s the real farmers working on their fields and getting their crops ready for market.  Many simply don’t have the time to hangout in downtown Honolulu to chit chat and play the emotional card.  They have work to do on their businesses because people depend on them.

How many of these anti-GMO activists have vested piece in Hawaii agriculture?  I know for a fact that we farming families have a lot at stake.  Here’s just a small piece of what it takes to run a real farm to feed thousands day after day year upon year.

2 small loading forklifts: $30K

Large forklift for harvesting: $20K

Backhoe for putting in water lines: $35K

Custom made forklift: $55K

Shed for processing for compliance with food safety regulations: $35K

Small lot for building a shed in Windward Oahu: $600K

As you can see, it takes a lot of money to get a farm off the ground to produce food for the consumers.  This list doesn’t include the utilities, supplies, and other costs that come with farming.  When someone wants to talk about farming, you’ve got to take a look and see if they really are invested in it.  If they are the typical anti-GMO activists claiming to save people from pesticides, they have ZERO investment in agriculture.  They can say whatever they want and act in any fashion, including outright lying, because they truly have nothing to lose.  Protesting GMOs and pesticides are hobbies for them and social events.  It’s not about helping people.  If anything, it’s about taking advantage of people’s ability to think by replacing it with fear and emotion.

When these activists go around parading that they know farming and actually care about Hawaii’s agricultural legacy but then start with the accusations that we are poisoning people, that’s when I lose it.  Repeating that claim clearly shows that they are nothing but rhetoricians who can’t think any more.  When politicians start saying the same thing, they too  have shown their lack of critical thinking and set a terrible example to the public.  Ignorance shouldn’t be celebrated in Hawaii.

Farmers will be farming on Thursday and I’ll be working my 6-7 day a week job.  I won’t be there at the Capitol to fight for our family farm and legacy but I’ll be there in spirit for all of those who will show up.  The legislators owe the farmers, the ones truly invested in agriculture, the podium to say their piece and be heard over the loud, angry, and fearful voices of people who have rejected the ability to learn.  We can’t let the refusers dictate policies in our state because they will disable us from our future potential.

The farmers aren’t only invested monetarily, but also in people power.  We are trying to protect a way of living that few want to take on.  We want an environment where young people will want to come back to the fields and hang out with their grandpas to learn the skills that he learned from his dad.  We are invested in our families and people.  Let the farmers be heard!

 

 

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