Why Hawaii People Should be Wary of the Center for Food Safety

I was browsing through some environmental groups here in Hawaii and noticed how there is an irony about them.  There’s one group that claims to want  to “empowers people to build more environmentally sustainable, compassionate, and resilient communities rooted in personal commitments to change.”  They support alternative energy, reducing waste, locally grown food, composting, and so on.

Their stance on energy is interesting because it focuses on a using high tech advances to harness the energy.  They have people committing on wanting to use LED bulbs, solar, wind, and electric cars.  All of these things require advanced technology to convert these renewable sources of energy.  Much of the research done to create this was done by corporations too!  The future for energy looks to high technology to minimize our impact on the earth which is definitely a good thing.

Then a few days ago, I saw their Facebook page with this posted that made my jaw drop…


Original post on Kanu Hawaii’s Facebook page a few days ago.

So when I saw Kanu posting this message with the activist group, The Center for Food Safety Action Fund, I was extremely disappointed and upset.  This is a Washington, D.C. based group that is run by organic food activists and not about food sustainability or security.  They operate by bringing lawsuits to court to block agricultural technology and keep it from getting to farmers to use.  They aren’t here to HELP Hawaii agriculture or the environment as they claim.  No one ever researches these groups out either to learn who and what they really do.

The Center for Food Safety wants no technological advances allowed to agriculture.  They use a lot a fear and misinformation about the technology to promote their message also which is all emotion based.  This group also fights aquaculture and nanotechnology as listed on their website.  They also have a long history of lawsuits against companies and the government also.  Their MO is to sue and then win or lose, collect back court costs and fees from the Equal Access to Justice Act, through loopholes that they have found.  None of this money goes towards helping the farmers or the environment for that matter.  Hence, the likely reason why they went to Federal court to be added as defendants on the Ordinance 960 lawsuit.

The way this group operates is very much like the Sierra Club’s legal arm, Earthjustice, where they claim to help the environment through lawsuits.  Here’s a case where they were paid $2.6 million from the EAJA from a lawsuit that they won.  These groups have figured out how to funnel monies out of the Federal government and get paid exorbitant amounts.  Note that the lead attorney, Andrew Kimbrell, was paid $650 per hour for his work on this case and other attorneys got paid $250 to $450 an hour too!

Screenshot 2014-05-11 21.29.29

Just an example of how CFS operates and the take advantage of the EAJA.

The ringleader of CFS is Andrew Kimbrell, the person that former Representative Jessica Wooley brought in via Hawaii SEED as a expert for her labeling issue.  They both claim in public that it is about the so called “right to know.”  The truth of it is far from it.

Screenshot 2014-05-12 09.21.35


Andrew Kimbrell, who Jessica Wooley fondly refers to as Andy, is also very much against technology, but calls herself a progressive.  Here’s his rambling thoughts on this “cold evil,” as he calls it.  He also is against anything corporate as he considers it evil.  Here’s some telling quotes made in that lecture.

I have been in many corporate law firms and boardrooms and have yet to see any “high fives” or hear shouts of satisfaction at the deaths, injuries, or crimes against nature these organizations often perpetrate.


Whether it’s a hammer or a nuclear bomb or a piano or genetic engineering, technology always represents power, an extension of human power. And the question always arises, Is that power appropriate. Simply put, when power is inappropriate, evil results.


The tragic result of this failure is that cold evil flourishes, causing ever greater ecocide and genocide even as it remains unnamed and unaddressed.


There is absolutely no doubt that we cannot be a democratic nation, we cannot be a democratic people, and we cannot free ourselves from the cold evil of technological control that now has spread even to our genetic core until we stop allowing technology to control human choices and instead see to it that our human choices control technology.


To face cold evil we must become creators, not consumers. We must break out of our techno-cocoons and recognize that the actions we take in deciding which products to buy or which services to use or render will create a better future for ourselves and the earth. We must take responsibility for the consequences of how we fulfill our basic human needs. Further, we must become true citizens, asserting our sovereignty over corporations and not allowing ourselves to be mere consumers of what they provide us.


He even wants to charge Galileo for a crime for creating this “cult of objectivity.”  This really is a key indicator that this movement really is the anti-science.

One of the epochal moments in the history of Western science occurred on June 22, 1633, when Galileo, under extreme pressure from Church inquisitors, “abjured” his heresy that the earth revolves around the sun. Since that time Galileo has remained an ultimate symbol of modern enlightenment martyred by the forces of superstition and prejudice. Yet if we consider the nature of the cold evil so prevalent today, we can bring charges against Galileo anew. For his real crime was not his understanding of the nature of the heavens but rather his seminal role in creating what could be called “the cult of objectivity”—resulting in a science and science community that have largely been purged of subjectivity and qualitative human thought.


Kimbrell doesn’t stop there with his corporate hate but continues his tirade against any technology including computers in schools.

I’ll use the question to say that computers in the early grades are extremely dangerous. I cannot tell you how strongly I feel about this. It is the most destructive trend I can imagine. Television is already omnipresent for these children. Now computers in school lure their young minds away from wonder and into calculation, and in so doing eliminate arts, sports, and social interaction. Computer programs in school are a frightening incarnation in the early grades of the cold-evil ideologies. To be sure, the ideologies of efficiency, competition, and reductionist science have existed since the days of Horace Mann and John Dewey, but to actually take these young minds and enclose them in the technological milieu, shutting out wonder and substituting computer programs, is tragic.


I find it great that Kanu Hawaii and its funder, Ulupono Initiatives are about a cleaner world while promoting technology to achieve that.  There are lots of high technology advances being used to improve the environment from solar technology to wind technology.  The founder of Ulupono, Pierre Omidyar, also profited from his own corporation, Ebay to help fund these investments in Hawaii.  To have some of Kanu’s former members like Kasha Ho join the Center for Food Safety is quite an odd match in that they perpetuate the complete opposite message.

Ulupono is also interesting in that they tout high tech for energy sources but then support and fund old ways of farming like Mao Organic.  I find this message pretty contradictory at many levels.  Many of the same activists all love their organic farms and are the same ones fueling animosity and controversy towards Ulupono’s other project, the Kauai Dairy.  Many activists think that because Mao Organics is a successful organic farm that anyone can do it, which is farm from the truth.  How many farmers get to have the backing of a billionaire to run their business?  Hmm…

What bothers me even more is that on Kanu’s FB page they also tout things like the Seed Exchange event.  The world of agriculture has evolved and changed with technology just the same as the energy sector and yet they still cling to the old ways.  Where’s any discovery and innovation presented on how biotechnology is making crops more sustainable and environmentally friendly?  We no longer have to use old, more dangerous pesticides to grow food which is a great thing to have.  None of these aspects on how agriculture is being more “green” is ever presented and it’s sad because that is what’s where ag has advanced in leaps and bounds, and yet it is never acknowledged and an opposite message is presented.

I would like to see Kanu and Ulupono stay as far away as possible from anti-progress groups like the Center for Food Safety at all costs.  This group will only block the progress needed to achieve their goals of a cleaner, more sustainable Hawaii.  They don’t give anything to making Hawaii better, but take away tools that could.  A better Hawaii can only come from education and research, not pure activism based in fear and misinformation.  And who’s to say if this group will start to block renewable energy options in the future that could help everyone with their anti-technology bent?

Screenshot 2014-05-11 21.25.15

Visit the Center for Food Safety webpage and you’ll be treated to fear mongering! It works and they know it.

Why should an activist group have a say in who gets access to technology?  They provide no evidence or options for the people of Hawaii and are out to block progress and line their own pockets.  They are not about working together with different sectors or collaborating with anyone who disagrees with their stance.  That’s now how we move forward in Hawaii!  We all have to work together to reach goals or remain stuck in the ideological muck.  The evidence must move us forward for the future.

The more I read about the Center for Food Safety, the more I feel like being despise this movement.  This is such a hypocrisy of the environmental movement that makes me lose faith in it.  They hate greed but are greedy themselves.  They hate corporations but support corporations that agree with them.  These groups take away taxpayer funds that really should be used for making our planet better and not for lining their own pockets.  They block a technology that could help farmers in developing countries have less reliance on highly toxic pesticides and provide no alternative.

Technology for all sectors are good and why are we getting picky about who gets access to it?  It’s a tool that we have to use and let it do its work.  Isn’t the goal to make our world better and cleaner?!

Based on the stance of this group, they have a lot to go after here in Hawaii.  They can help block or make aquaculture projects more difficult like the Kona deep sea fish farm, the abalone farm, or even the shrimp farm on Kauai.  They must want more depletion of wild fish populations and less research on how to protect it.  They might even try to ban people from fishing like their linked group Earthjustice has succeeded doing in California.  They might even block other companies from coming to our islands for high tech research in nanotechnology.  Who knows what these groups will take on next but I’m not waiting to not speak up.

No where on their website is there any humanitarian efforts made other than to “protect people and environment,” with no real evidence that they are actually doing such thing.  They want to block any corporation who may be heading such efforts also but offer nothing in return.  These groups are takers, plain and simple.

Everyone should be worried when an anti-progress, regressive activist group takes stake here.  From the scientists and researchers at UH working on solving plant diseases, the UH cancer center who might be researching nanotechnology, to the shrimp farms on Kauai, this should worry all of us.  This group might even block genetic engineering that could solve so many human illnesses because they are against this technology completely.  The new dairy should be worried too because they might block a genetically altered grass or feed that can be fed to their cows.  Ranchers should be worried that this might affect their ability to feed their herds with GE feed or other technology available to them.  Every consumer and Department of Ag inspector should be worried because they are out to block irradiation and other technology from bringing in pests to our islands that could decimate our food security.  They are also seeking out to label GMO foods and don’t care if the exorbitant costs will be spread to our people already struggling with high costs of food, all over their deceitful “right to know.”  These activists are a real threat to everyone with what they propose for our islands.

It is even more disturbing to see legislators participating in talks with the Center for Food Safety.  Some of those include Jessica Wooley, Lauren Matsumoto Cheape, Chris Lee, Russell Ruderman, Gary Hooser, Elle Cochran, and others who align with them.  They want extremist groups to run the roost here in Hawaii?!  It’s like letting Greenpeace have decisions over what our farmers can farm and I abhor that completely.  I can’t understand why these leaders have chosen such a route for Hawaii despite calling themselves progressives!

I want to save our land like others but there are better ways of doing it other than activism.  I applaud groups like the Nature Conservancy in Hawaii ,who are actually out there cleaning our waters of invasive species, or ridding the forests of miconia or controlling the feral pigs out from our precious rain forests to protect the native plants from extinction.  They aren’t paying for protests or websites that make people feel like their being poisoned or use fear mongering to get their message across.  You will never see a fear mongering picture out there either because that’s not their goal.  They work with the different sectors of private and public agencies to take care of Hawaii, which is a great thing.  They actually DO something for Hawaii and those are the kind of environmentalists that GIVE to our a’ina and exactly what we need!

When I did point out that I had a problem with Kanu posting the Center for Food Safety on their page, I’m glad that the director edited the post that they do not support or endorse them.  I really do hope that it stays that way for the future.  That’s another step in the right direction for that sustainable and compassionate Hawaii that we are all seeking.



10 thoughts on “Why Hawaii People Should be Wary of the Center for Food Safety

  1. Hi Joni, our FB post that you have copied on this blog was edited shortly after I saw it posted. The original post was not inline with our work to create safe places for folks to have meaningful and respectful conversations around important food, energy and waste issues. That was corrected.

    I am sorry that you are bothered even more about our posting of a seed exchange event. We invite the public to share upcoming events on our website and if they are inline with a healthy, local food, energy or waste event, we’ll share it! That seed exchange was an example of such a community post. I am personally confused as to why sharing a seed exchange is a bad thing. Could you point me to some references as to why people should not share seeds? I have shared many seeds over the years and have gotten seeds from others. I actually think it to be one of the most powerful ways we can connect with each other. For instance, I recently got some Swiss Chard starters from a friend. Every day that I see the Chard growing in my yard, it reminds me of our friendship. I even passed some on to my mom and that started some great talk story!

    I encourage you to contact me at anytime. I am happy to talk story about our commitments to healthy, local food, energy and waste activities statewide. We really need to have honest and respectful dialogue with each other. If you haven’t visited, may I suggest a quick stop to our Flickr page at https://www.flickr.com/photos/kanuhawaii? You’ll find nearly 5,000 photos from the dozens of projects statewide that we have worked on that really do share our story of supporting our community. It’s not, as you have made a case for here, supporting fear and misinformation.


    Executive Director
    Kanu Hawaii

    • Aloha Olin,

      Thank you for taking the time to visit my blog. Thank you for also making the correction to that post online, which I did mention in the content.

      I have no problem of the seed exchange among people, it’s the message of the groups sponsoring many of these events that I do not agree with. It gives perpetuates this naturalistic fallacy about growing things in general. I dislike the promotion of that many of these groups about GMO free as if it is so superior, which it really isn’t different than the regular type. I recently heard from a scientist who was invited to one of these events to speak and was trumped by an 11 year old “organic” farmer. Growing food in your yard is a great thing that I commend but that does not make these people farmers by no means. That to me needs to be conveyed to people that it gives them no right to expect farmers to grow chemical free because they do it. That’s misguided to me.

      My thoughts are that a sustainable and compassionate world can only be achieved with more education about the whole issues going on. To allow groups that defeat that to perpetuate fear only fuels more fear and ignorance about where this technology is going in the world. I see GMO as sustainable and environmentally friendly which is a great thing. To use less water, and less inputs and maximize production on less land is a terrific thing to educate people about. That leaves plenty of land for wildlife and nature. I want Hawaii to be a place of wonderment and discovery, not people thinking that high tech is only good for some things and not others. I had hope to see that conveyed in some of the messages on sustainability through Kanu but have not.

      I write these things out to challenge people on what this trendy buzzword sustainability really means. I’d have to say that having a dad and brother who will be farming for a total 4 decades is definitely sustainable!

      • Aloha Joni, thanks for sharing. OK I think I understand better now. Was there a sponsor that was promoting something specific at that seed exchange event that we shared that upset you so much? Also, not speaking for Kanu but I personally love what the folks at MA’O Farms are doing. Love their farm, their training programs and the leadership. Can you help me understand why we shouldn’t be investing in groups like MAO? Thanks, Olin

      • People are free to choose what they want to invest in, that is fine. What the general public doesn’t realize how this funding does help the economic viability of this operation. That is a message I feel needs to be conveyed.

        I’m not sure if you are aware of what is happening to a competitor of MAO either. Because of the efforts of the organic industry supporters, a well know farmer is nearly bankrupt from having to continuously defend farmers against such laws for the past 2 years. How can he take care of his business when law after law comes down that attack an them? For that matter, consider all farmers who have lost time and money having to defend their work. This person was the key person who brought us farmers markets and has suffered as result of this industry.

        Everything is tied together even if it is not obvious. If we are to have fresh local food, we have to stop attacks led by groups like the Center for Food Safety and let the farmers farm.

      • Thanks. Just to close the loop on the seed exchange, was there a message shared at that event (I didn’t attend) that caused you to be so upset? Or was it simply that we shared a seed event on our Facebook page and that alone caused the upset? We shared that even long ago and based on your post you are still very upset. I want to make sure we understand specifically our role in that upset. If you don’t feel comfortable sharing that info publicly, feel free to send to me via email (olin @ you know our kanu domain . org).

        We need more farmers! I’m sorry to hear that a farmer is nearly bankrupt. I’d love to understand why this is happening. Do you have information about what specific efforts from organic industry supporters are causing this two year constant defense? I am not aware of this problem.

        We love farmer’s markets! We even worked on popping up farmers’ markets directly in disadvantage communities like public housing and helped to get the first food stamp processing systems at Oahu farmers’ markets. I personally thought the food demonstrations we organized at these markets was a fun way to engage folks in how to cook some of this local food quickly into inexpensive meals. We have asked our members to go to farmers markets and have even done events like a carrot mob to try and buy all of the local produce in one store (that effort led to one store’s second largest sales day ever…second only to the grand opening).

        Our efforts to support local agriculture is diverse, innovative and annually since our founding. I hope readers of your blog get to the comment section as your post paints a really unfair and inaccurate representation of our organization. In the future, I would be grateful if you at least called us to get info before publishing posts like this where you even bring in one of our past funders. We have hundreds of funders by the way and have not been told by any of our funders in any way how to operate our nonprofit.


      • Aloha Olin,

        One reason why I was not happy with Kanu’s endorsement of the seed event can be explained through this link. http://permablitzhawaii.com/2014/04/24/2014-community-seed-plant-exchange-expands-to-east-west-coasts-of-oahu/

        Once again the statements on there are fueling the fires once again. What that link fails to state that these seeds are developed to help decrease pesticides and reduce the need for inputs and increase yields. There is no message placed in posts written by this group. This is what only fuels conflict when only partial information is provided.

        I will email you more on the issues with the attacks on farmers. This is something that people have no clue about.

  2. i listened to tyronne hayes last nie, wow really good speaker… i learned a lot about the people in the movement

  3. Thank you for pointing out that the Center for Food Safety is actually an advocacy group that funds itself by taking advantage of the Equal Access to Justice Act; It can be very helpful to follow the money, when groups such as this are spreading misinformation and fear based messages – helps to put all of their “information” into perspective.

  4. Pingback: Hawaii Candidates: Beware of the Hawaii Center for Food Safety Questionaire | HawaiiFarmersDaughter

  5. Pingback: A ‘Seedy Business’ For Sure | Iowa Meets Maui

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