This weekend was the 56th Annual Hawaii State Farm Fair at Kualoa Ranch. Once again, we spent the whole weekend working it. We didn’t sell our papayas but donated it to be sold in the Farm Bureau ag tent. We passed out thousands of samples to many families.
As always, we get hit with anti-GMO activists here and there. This farm fair was a bit more prevalent than the last 2 years, which was odd. We had one lady drooling when she saw the slices of papaya, but then abruptly changed her mind when she saw the dreaded “GMO Story” on our booklet. While she rejected it, half a dozen little kids were chomping down on papaya. A few minutes later, she came back and took a slice and ate it to the skin.
Several other people saw the papayas asked if it was GMO. When we told them they were, they weren’t even nice and said, “I don’t want it then.” These folks did this in front of their kids displaying no manners. It was quite irritating. Other realized it was modified but thanks to photos of diseased fruit posted, I was able to start a conversation about it. Others were curious to learn the story joined in and asked questions.
I had many people saying that they thought GMO is dangerous. I asked them why and most could not articulate a reason other than saying they read it somewhere. Many of these folks were teachable and willing to learn. They simply lacked critical thinking skills and did not know how to find good information.
I did get the GMOs means pesticide bit too but easily walked them out through photos. It helped that the Department of Ag had a contest that made people seek out answers of the farming booths. By presenting a question, many did not know where to find the info. Great learning experiences happened through that.
I have to say that it wasn’t a surprise that the rejector of GM papaya went right to the food trucks. There were no organic food serving trucks and has never been at the fair ever. These folks think a fried lumpia is better than a slice of fresh papaya. Many were also wearing cotton clothes while saying no to GMO.
Several who expressed being afraid of pesticides had dyed hair and covered in tattoos. They inject synthetic inks into skin and apply it in their hair but fear Roundup. I’m simply amazed and saddened by the level of ignorance in people.
Politicians even came by to talk story. I reminded them that ag needs support in words and action, not pandering to the loudest activists. We need facts and more science to adapt to climate change or face devastation. We need tools to sustain us, no fear mongering attacks seeking to remove options. They nodded in agreement and hopefully will pull through but I have my doubts.
Despite the few rude anti-GMO activists, learning was happening this weekend. I’ve realized that those who tend to know the least but avoid GMOs are victims of heavy handed fear mongering campaigns. They’ve been deceived by what they read on the internet. All we can do is treat them fairly even though they cannot do the same.
Many people learned our story and why the technology is needed. They saw pictures of the disease and how farmers are hurt by it. The reasonable person can learn our story and hopefully share it with others to combat the fear against the very farmers they rely upon.
Hawaii cannot afford to be manipulated by outside influences. If farmers are to be successful, we need communities on board with our work. There is land to be cultivated and we need the people and communities supporting us.
If you want local food, you got to be supporting those who are working towards that goal.