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.
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.
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.