Big Picture Thinkers Have the Smallest Minds

There are certain buzzwords and catch phrases of our time that bug the hell out of me.  The word “sustainability” is one and the catch phrase “big picture” is yet another.  Why do I dislike of the overuse of these words?  Too many people say it and don’t even know what it really means.  From the politicians to community leaders, they brag about being able to see the “big picture” for making Hawaii and the world a better place, but then take actions that show otherwise.

If someone truly saw this beautiful “big picture,” it would mean that they could see how everything is interdependent upon each other and all affects it.  They would be able to pick apart all the different entities that would be affected by a single decision. They would know such a decision has many impacts far beyond the obvious and will trickle down into other areas. What seemed like an “easy fix” tends to cause other consequences in others aspects that maybe unforeseen.  It is pretty hard and complex to think like this and makes you really see how BIG the picture really is.

For the anti-GMO activists around the world, they think that they are doing their part to save the world of this perceived evil.  Whether it be stopping Monsanto, or some other evil agrochemical corporation, they are doing us a favor by taking such action.  Whether it be a ban of growing GMOs on the Big Island or petitioning for a moratorium of crops on Maui, all they can see is that this evil must be stopped.  There’s rich people paying money to influence this yet there is not a shred of credible evidence to back up the rationale for such legislation.  They also use powerful motivators with fear and misinformation from Don Huber’s unidentified organism, to Tyrone Hayes Atrazine and mysterious frogs, and now Jeffrey Smith’s legit sounding Institute for Responsible Technology.  They see their big picture as ridding the world of GMO and pesticides to make it a better place and don’t even realize the full implications of such actions.

What these people don’t see is what else they are contributing to when they protest and hold concerts together.  They don’t see the things happening beyond our own world that their actions have a significant impact upon.  The big picture goes way beyond our islands and around the world.  We have no worries about where our food is coming from and whether or not we will have another meal.  Food is not an issue for most of us.  As a result, we are free to pursue other aspects in our lives with work and leisure and activities.  What about the rest of the world who does not have such luxuries of us?  Shouldn’t we as a nation of wealthy, well fed individuals consider how we can help our fellow human that doesn’t have such opportunities?

When one says that all GMO needs to be banned, consider what is happening around the world…

  • A bananapocolypse? Banana crops around the world is in danger of decimation due to a fungal infection.  In some parts of the world, people consume up to 500 lbs of this crop as it is a staple.  Research is being focused on the genetics of this fungus to determine what the source is and how they will solve this problem.


  • A deadly staple with a touch of arsenide.  Cassava is the “ultimate food security crop in Africa” and it is under attack by the Cassava Brown Streak disease that renders it toxic and inedible.  Scientists are working on a transgenic crop to help protect it from this disease so that crops are protected.


  • California is experiencing the very severe drought and is one of the main regions where most of our food comes from.  It is positioned as the “agricultural powerhouse of the United State” when it comes to food production.  When things are this dry, nothing will grow and how will our current crops stand up against climate change?  Neither organic or conventional crops may be able to tolerate those kinds of conditions if it persists.


  • Bt Brinjal can help decrease developing world farmers against old world pesticides.  A public sector developed this crop to help save farmers the need for the conventional methods to grow this essential crop in Asia.  It also protects the children of farmers from having to handle such pesticides.  Without the treatment of pesticides, these people can lose up to 30% of their crops leaving significantly less income and food for their families.


  • An estimated 250 million preschool children around the world become vitamin A deficient by the WHO estimations.  About 250,000 to 500,000 become blind every year with half dying within 12 months of losing their sight.  Consider this perspective, that there is estimated to be 1.392 million people in Hawaii.  If we let 500,000 or 35.6% of our residents succumb to this preventable illness, what would that burden be upon us as a state?  Consider that Honolulu has 973K people and to let 500K die or become disabled, where would that leave us?


While we in the US and other western countries are busy fighting about banning and labeling GMOs, what message does that send the world who live far away from the conditions that we experience?  We have clean water, lots to eat, access to education and technology and a hell of a lot of energy to complain about our food.  Some people have a lot of energy to get together to organize marches against some evil corporation or exchange seeds in hopes of a revolution against a corporation.  What good is that kind of action and message send the world about us as individuals?  It tells the world that we don’t care about what happens in their neck of the woods and what happens to them because we never have to worry about these issues at all. What kind of human have we become when we don’t think about our fellow human being?

I really admire how the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation have really learned about the plight of people around the world and figure out ways to help them.  If we help others, our goal for a better world can truly be fulfilled.  Several key issues that they work on include education of women, access to technology and energy, and food for all.  These are all basics that we are so fortunate to have access to that we take for granted.

If you watch the video posted above, you can learn about the naiveté of Bill and Melinda Gates had about the problems of the world.  They sought the consultations of scientists to help study the problems and how they could best help the issues that we don’t even think twice about.  Multiple issues from birth control, vaccinations, education, and food impact the quality of life of others across the world from us.  Much of why these people don’t have access to some of these tools, are political, which is what Melinda saw as a crime.  They both decided to do something about it.

It is sad to think that we have the power to share the right information for others if we’d take more time to research exactly what we are supporting.  GMOs are not about agro-chemical companies poisoning the world or evil corporations owning the food supply.  If people keep protesting it, it will only force this technology into the hands of companies with the financial backing to bring it to fruition.  It’s about a powerful tool that if given a chance, could do so much to help others that I will never meet, but ultimately have a positive impact upon because I chose to speak up for what it can do for others.

Instead of just wanting that sustainable and compassionate Hawaii, how about thinking beyond that?  If you’re going to do something, why not think about that bigger picture?!








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