The ohia is so important that Hawaiians even tell a story about this beautiful tree.
The legend says that one day Pele met a handsome warrior named Ohia and she asked him to marry her. Ohia, however, had already pledged his love to Lehua. Pele was furious when Ohia turned down her marriage proposal, so she turned Ohia into a twisted tree. Lehua was heartbroken, of course. The gods took pity on Lehua and decided it was an injustice to have Ohia and Lehua separated. So, they turned Lehua into a flower on the Ohia tree so that the two lovers would be forever joined together. So remember, Hawaiian folklore says that if you pluck this flower you are separating the lovers, and that day it will rain.
There is a potential tool to help save it but I have a feeling that the global anti-GMO will be hastening the demise of this tree. We are learning that science can help trees be restored in the forests, just like the GE American chestnut may be returning to forests. The question is, will we let this happen?
Yes, the native Hawaiian groups who decided to join the anti-GMO movement, the Center for Food Safety, the Sierra Club, Earthjustice, the Babes Against Biotech, Greenpeace, Whole Foods, Representative Tulsi Gabbard, Senator Josh Green, Representative Chris Lee, Senator Russell Rudeman, Councilmember Gary Hooser, Vandana Shiva, USRTK, and Hawaii SEED will likely be behind the loss or extinction of the ohia. Why? All of these groups and leaders reject the science that could help to rescue the Hawaiian forests. They stand in the way of innovation that can save the native Hawaiian ohia and other plants being attacked by disease, climate change, and other factors.
These people have spread the message around the world to ban GMO technology based on unscientific claims. They want to take away our ability be able to save our forests and native plants based in emotion and not in science and in the name of misinformation. Yes, even the organic industry itself is behind attacking scientists who may have the expertise to improve the survival of it. To these people, their actions show that they could care less about what the dangerous consequences they make. There is no integrity in people and leaders of this movement who personally attack researchers, send death threats, and vandalize crops. They are not out to save our Hawaiian forests or provide tools to do so.
Instead, they create burdensome regulation that limit the potential of any GE trees from making it back into our forests. Will their profits and GoFundMe accounts donate to saving the ohia? No. Instead they will tell the public that science propaganda and that biotechnology is all about Monsanto to encourage others to the reject any research or funding of preserving the forests. I find it so hypocritical that those who love the environment destroy potential ways of doing things more environmentally friendly with less resources. If one really loved the trees, they wouldn’t work on destroying living things that can help lessen our impact on earth. These people are about doing attention seeking actions that do little to solve real problems. It’s short lived and plainly not sustainable but gets them lots of press.
These so called environmentalists who care for the aina accept the science of climate change but then deny the consensus on biotech applications. How can you love the forests and hug dying trees? When you block the technology that would save that tree or plant, there will be consequences of that choice. What will we be left with?
So if you’re protesting GMOs and any scientific endeavors, rethink your stance and question if you truly understand what you’re protesting. Does your protesting help to save those culturally important symbols of Hawaii or will you leave only a picture of that ohia to tell the story of it to your children? When you walk in the native forests, will you walk among those native plants of your ancestors or will you just see dead stumps of trees because you refused to consider the possibility of using science to save them?
We have the potential to save this native species and should seek to do so for the sake of its cultural and ecological importance. The protectors on Mauna Kea blocking the Thirty Meter Telescope need to protect the ohia now or face the loss of this precious tree. Like the plucked flower of the ohia, we will all weep forever when that happens.