Hawaii Leaders: Let’s Work Collaboratively in Agriculture

My mind is always thinking about things, reading, learning about what’s going on, etc.  It’s always busy.  I even dream about some of the issues that go on in Hawaii.  The other night, I had a crazy, innovative thought that might really solve a lot of problems with agriculture in Hawaii.  Read on…

Remember this poll on the Star Advertiser a few weeks ago?

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Note that these polls aren’t too reliable for multiple reasons, but the fact that homelessness is a top priority on the minds of the voters is telling.  No one can ignore the fact that there are homeless everywhere throughout our entire state and it’s an eye sore as well as saddening.

In the practice of occupational therapy, we know that by engaging in meaningful activity, we can restore well being physically and mentally.  As I watch many of these folks, they appear to be functionally doing pretty well.  I see them lowering themselves down to the sidewalk, laying down on it and getting up with ease much of the time.  Some of them can pace back and forth on highway medians begging for money for hours.  Others are able to squat down for hours outside of public places looking for handouts.  There is a lot of meaningless human energy here being wasted that could really be converted into meaningful work like being on a farm and growing food.  Voila!

Why not create a community based program that combines these two issues: growing food and homelessness. For one, you’d get people off of the street and into some form of meaningful activity and work.  They could work on a farm growing food as well as have a roof over their heads.  These people will be able to receive treatment for their conditions as well as not be an eyesore in public places.  They would also be doing something good for others and themselves by growing food.  That’s beautiful to me and I know it works based from my own experiences.

As a Star Advertiser Off the News post today said, we should end the food fight, and they are right.  Rep. Jessica Wooley wants more people to grow food and to keep agricultural lands in farming, while others want to take care of the homelessness problem here.  Let’s give Rep. Wooley her farms and walk the talk by doing what she proposes to do with it.  Then other’s like Rep. Tom Brower don’t have to get frustrated with the carts and homeless people all over his district.

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From an email sent out by Jessica Wooley’s camp showing how she thinks biotech is only about the agribusiness companies.  Note that HB147 is about firearms and not about GMOs.

We all know that Rep. Wooley isn’t a local person when she only stands for the activists and their demand to only go organic.  Local style is to take all sides and work together and come to an understanding and a plan.  As she states in her letter, she doesn’t like the “status quo.” You might not like how we do things here, but you can’t just come in and tear our livelihoods apart the way your activists demand.  It’s also too bad that other locals like Rep. Kaniela Ing have jumped on this fighting attitude.  That’s not the way we do things local style.  This is our Hawaii as much it is yours, but to point a finger at us law abiding family farms is basically standing on our yards telling us how to farm.  I don’t like this and many others too.  Your letter refers to fighting, and we don’t like to fight but are forced to.

Let the farmers farm, and go start up your small sustainable farms in the country.  Do your job for agriculture and work collaboratively for the sake of everyone involved.  Be creative in your plan, not just worried about your way or the highway attitude.  Take care of people too, including the homelessness by coordinating with other committees and do it.

The farmers have had enough of your activists attacks and here’s a way to give them what they want.  The attitude needs to change from “only organic” to “how can we solve this problem together.”  I ask that we end the fight now and actually do something purposeful with your talks about growing food and be that leader to stop the attacks against the biotech farmers big and small.  The bottom line is that we need all forms of agriculture.

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Live, eat, and drink farming rather than continuing to legislate what you don’t know on, and see a whole different side of the picture.  Take the path that will lead to helping people based upon evidence for it is better than leading us into a war.  That’s what a true leader would do.  Can you be that true leader and work with everyone?

Where’s the Logic? Legalize Raw Milk but Label GMOs?

I happened to be perusing some of the bills that are coming into play this session and came upon this very interesting one, SB1987/HD1.  This bill pertains to the acquisition of raw milk.  

Permits the acquisition of raw milk and raw milk products by owners of cows, goats, and sheep and cow shares, goat shares, and sheep shares if certain conditions are met. Requires farms and dairies that produce raw milk or raw milk products to register with the department of health. Permits farms and dairies to set up a location near an improved road to distribute their products to owners of cow, sheep, or goat shares. Prohibits the sale and redistribution of raw milk and raw milk products. 

The sponsors of the bill include:  WOOLEY, BELATTI, CACHOLA, CARROLL, CREAGAN, HANOHANO, C. LEE, LOWEN, MCKELVEY, MIZUNO, MORIKAWA, THIELEN

It is also interesting to note that while we are trying to legalize raw milk, there are others also trying to label genetically modified organism labeling.  They include:  ENGLISH, CHUN OAKLAND, GABBARD, GREEN, RUDERMAN, SHIMABUKURO, Ihara, Keith-Agaran, L. Thielen

That bill reads as such:

Establishes, beginning January 1, 2015, labeling requirements for any food or raw agricultural commodity sold in the State that contains a genetically engineered material, or was produced with a genetically engineered material; establishes exceptions; establishes violations; requires director of health to adopt rules.

(Note that it does not include any prepared food either to be labeled and establish any reasons for this law to begin with.)

I find it really odd that Representative Wooley, who championed the failed “right to know” and label it campaign last year, is supporting a bill to allow people to consume raw milk.  Raw milk as we know it has caused many deaths and disability due to contamination issues.  The chances of getting ill on raw milk is 150 times greater than consuming pasteurized products according to a CDC report.  (That is very scary to me that I would never want to expose my family to ever.)

So what do some of the health organizations of our country state regarding this policy about raw milk?

The American Academy of Pediatrics have issued a new policy statement urging pregnant women, infants and young children to consume only pasteurized dairy products as opposed to raw milk and milk products.

 

The CDC state that the risk of becoming ill from raw milk or milk products is significantly greater for people with weakened immune systems, the elderly, pregnant women, infants and young children.

There are even documented stories of many children, who have been harmed by raw milk and it is terribly sad for the entire family affected by this.  It’s not just one family but many already.  The costs to life and health are just not worth it.

Of course, the advocates for drinking raw milk will tout all the so called benefits of it, however the data does not corroborate this claim.  (Note that the word, “believe” is used frequently in the video below, which indicates that this is an ideology not backed with data.)

So where is Representative Wooley getting this information from about this bill?  It isn’t hard to find since her alliances with the Organic Consumer Associations are hard backers for people asking for the “right to drink” raw milk.  Really, a right to drink something that has a high risk for contamination and proven deadly or harmful?  These are the same people asking for the “right to know,” when we really know that it is far from the truth.

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Nary a biotech papaya, that she so wanted labeled, has ever caused anyone harm compared to raw milk.  A papaya is pretty much guaranteed to help keep you living longer, as my grandmother lived to the ripe old age of 96.  Raw milk would have likely killed her.  Where’s the logic in these lawmakers?  

 

There Is Real Harm in Misinformation

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It is good that there is an effort to teach people how to grow food in their own gardens and possibly start up their own farms.  What is quite disturbing to me to hear that the Hawaii Organic Farming Association in alignment with Representative Jessica Wooley are touting that only organic is the way to go to doing this.  There is a major problem with this and papayas.

As much as people would like to think that there is no papaya ringspot virus around and that organic methods will prevent this, they are far from the truth.  No amount of dirt that Senator Russell Rudeman proposed as  a solution to this problem is going to solve it.  Nor is Jeffrey Smith coming up with any solutions either to deal with this.

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It’s even sadder when a senator continues to perpetuate myths that harm his very own constituents on his own island.  He doesn’t even support his own papaya farmers in Puna!

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What he fails to realize is that every single thing we eat is a result of some form of modification.  We humans have been tampering with nature since the beginning of civilization.  Genetic modification is just another form of plant breeding.  So technically, yes, Senator Ruderman, we are all eating a form of genetically modified food for thousands of years, regardless of how it was grown.

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While Ruderman and Wooley, both of whom are not farmers, keeping harping their organic wheels of misinformation, there are those who believe this campaign.  Those are the people who have the learn things the hard way.  You can ask any long time farmer, not yardener, if one can grown GMO free papayas here on Oahu.  Most will tell you that it is hard because the virus is still around.  Piling soil on the roots isn’t going to prevent the papaya from getting a disease spread by aphids.  Learning the hard way doesn’t hurt the yardeners much but it could do harm to those investing in growing the fruit for an income.

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Example of a non-GMO papaya tree infected by the virus next to a transgenic variety that remains unaffected. Trees were grown on the Windward side of Oahu.

Why would you knowingly grow a crop that is known to be at high risk for disease?  No farmer would ever risk their livelihoods for that, which is why they are fortunate to have the choice to grow such crops, and provide fruits to their customers year after year.  Misinformation against this choice hurts every farmer and every farmer to be.  Of course, it isn’t Jessica Wooley’s or Russell Ruderman’s investments that are being harmed, so they really don’t care and it’s glaringly obvious.

The Hate Towards Farmers Must Stop

Today there were two articles featured in Civil Beat.  One was on Senator Nishihara’s introduction to the SB110, with the Right to Farm Act provision, and the second one was one done by Ross Sibucao, a papaya farmer and Hawaii Papaya Industry Association President.

I had thought that the hateful comments would stop, boy was I wrong.  The hate and nastiness is coming out in full force against the farmers.  It’s just despicable that our leaders can’t see this or choose to ignore it.  Read on below to see what heinous things are being said.

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This is not what Hawaii agriculture needs right now.  We need leaders who will foster its growth and development.  It’s amazing to me how so many people believe the earth is changing, but then reject the same technology that can give farmers the tools to overcome this.  A recent news article shows that this is indeed a real problem that will eventually affect us.  The farmers and scientists all know this but somehow the news has missed our government leaders.

It will be more important than ever to have the latest tools available to maintain our food supplies.  When there is a drought or some other extreme weather, we’re going to have to choose what works and in many cases, it may not be organic.  Whatever the case, the most efficient and highest yielding methods must be used.  Why limit the tools now with popular opinion vs. what the data says?

As legislators, you have a responsibility to all of us to do what is right, not just to the loudest shouters and conspiracy thinkers.  Many of you were able to make that same hard decision when it was the issue of gay marriage.  You chose to look at the evidence and support the minority that needed their rights protected.  I still can’t understand why you as leaders, can’t step up and do the same for the rights of farmers.  When there are no tools available to the farmers and too many burdensome laws, will you leave that as your legacy to our islands?