Pandemic Priorities

Life changed for many starting in March. Thousands of businesses had to close putting lots out of work. Things are still not back to normal yet.

What have we learned from this pandemic? Based on my observations while shopping, people want what works, and they don’t care about the toxicity either. Bleach, Lysol, and other disinfects were flying off shelves in a matter of minutes while the all natural, earthy marketed stuff sat on shelves untouched. The more expensive organic toilet papers and cleaners sat untouched while the conventional stuff were completely gone. People even listened to the EPA’s findings that found Lysol to be effective at killing this virus but scoffed when it came down to glyphosate.

With hundreds of thousands out of work, food became a priority. Cars would line up for hours to get a food box and I doubt any drove by demanding organic food. The carcinogenic stuff like Spam, Vienna Sausage, and corned beef were hard to find on the shelves. Even flour has been hard to come by while the expensive gluten-free, organic flours remained well stocked. Why were consumers not buying up these products that marketers were so keen on labeling as “better” for you?

Truth be told that people know that those “harsh” chemicals work and food is food when a pandemic hits. So many were demanding GMO labeling years ago really didn’t care about that label while shopping. People were scared and stocking up on what they know are comfort staples. Food elitism took a backseat.

Right on cue, the disinformation activists have started up again with spreading doubt and distrust. Facts have been distorted and fantastic stories are spreading all over the internet like wildfires. Claims that Bill Gates has a devious plan is being believed by so many. Public health officials are being threatened and harassed to the point that they are quitting. Why is this happening?

I have a theory as to why this has been happening. For years, politicians allowed anti-vaccine and anti-GMO forces to have a spotlight. They believed that by allowing them a say was important for making policies. None of what was being claimed could be refuted by the politicians. This was basically a mish mash of beliefs that was allowed to stand. The scientific community being the minority could not compete to get facts at the forefront. For years this was allowed to happen and distrust has grown to the point where the US is losing its grip on the pandemic.

Many want to blame one person for this problem but do not look further than our own politicians across the states and globally who supported the squeaky, factless wheels to garner votes. Now these same politicians are facing the screamers amidst a pandemic and are frozen to act. They’ve dug themselves into a hole and it’s taking everyone down.

Will it take the devastation of a pandemic to make us see the importance of science based policies?If we don’t, we will all pay for the consequences of the muddying up of facts in some way or another.


A Time to Return to Science Based Policy

For too long, Hawaii’s politicians had their attention focused on the squeaky wheels. It all started with the anti-GMO taro bill to a GMO ban/labeling, then to pesticides. Much of their time was focused on caving to the anti-GMO folks demands which were not based upon scientific evidence. So where did that leave us?

While global issues of food security and innovation advanced, Hawaii willingly ignored those facts. We were told that going back to the old ways were better for us as a state by women in bikinis. Tons of misinformation focused on discrediting scientists and experts in the field for years. It caused many in the sciences to quietly back down from speaking up and educating. Superstitions and conspiracies ruled our state’s legislation from very loud activists who said they represented everyone.

As the movement towards ignoring science continued, my dad said that one day, we will be forced into looking towards science for the answers. He said years ago that the fearing of chemicals and pesticides will cause a return of rat lungworm disease back and sure enough, like a prophecy, it came back to destroy people’s lives.

Fast forward to the present day— following years of anti-vaccination rhetoric— we are seeing a world where vaccinations are not available. People are dying of this novel virus across the globe with no herd immunity. The economy is halted as the only solution right now. Many communities are facing hardships because of the stand still. Our society needs healthy citizens and good public health to operate and function despite the contagious nature of this virus.

When faced with a deadly virus, the focus of the politicians are on science right now. They are telling people to stay at home based upon the current evidence gained through managing this pandemic. They are telling people to listen to experts from the CDC and use disinfectants registered with the EPA. We are told to stay with facts throughout this pandemic. It is ironic that officials are directing us to trust the EPA on this yet went against the same agency over certain pesticides. Even the organic agriculture lobbying group, the Center for Food Safety, is directing people CDC advice while suing the EPA on glyphosate safety.

For too long, our Hawaii legislators caved to the science rejectors’ demands to fund restrictive laws on pesticides and monitoring of it. Hundreds of thousands of dollars went towards increasing organic agriculture and trendy farming studies. The Department of Health funded studies to detect pesticides and found nothing significant each time. Conventional farmers got thrown under the bus for years with false claims that had no evidence, just emotional pleas from moms flown in to stage the show. Our legislators even tried to stop the water from farms using propaganda from activists. Farms are still at risk for closure because the politicians can’t get their act together.

So what are politicians doing right now? They are rallying the public to support our farms and other industries reliant upon agriculture, specifically the restaurants. Wait a second! Just last year, the City Council made very restrictive plastic bans that increased the cost of business to run a restaurant. I cringe when I see the same politicians who refused to keep the waters flowing to farms asking the public to support those farms. Seriously, do voters have that short of a memory of what actions they supported to undermine these industries?

Imagine if we had that dairy farm on Kauai at this time and how we would have a local supply of fresh milk. Wouldn’t it be nice to have more piggeries with fresh pork in the stores? What if we had more egg farms across our state to feed our communities? Alas, we know that the anti-ag sentiment will keep this from ever happening thanks to the politicians’ stances.

Right now, we are all being forced into looking towards science for answers. That is all we have left. Science gives us evidence to use anti-bacterial soaps and disinfectants to protect us and not the all-natural, no harsh chemical products. Many have turned to using corporate made masks to protect them from these infectious particles. I recall so many antis marching in Waikiki with those precious N-95 masks and hazmat suits that are needed now. During these times, we are relying on the experts to give us the answers. No one is putting the Food Babe or Ashley Lukens as experts, nor are chiropractic and naturopathic views being promoted on the news.

There are more questions than answers right now that can only be addressed through science. I hope that the legislature really starts to use evidence in guiding policies and ignoring the squeaky wheels. I know for a fact that public didn’t even listen to the imported lobbyists when all of the conventional foods and products are wiped out on the shelves across the nation. Few gave a damn about that GMO label or how it was grown. We’ve learned a huge lesson that we are fortunate to have an abundance in agriculture to allow for so many panic hoarders.

Our state needs to retune its focus on science. If we don’t start using evidence based policies, we will not fare well in the future.

A Pledge for Humanity

A few months ago, I received an email from a professor of cultural anthropology from the Netherlands. He had been in Hawaii years ago to study the GMO opposition in Hawaii. He had focused his study on the anti-GMO folks here last time and decided that he wants to hear from the other side. Apparently, my name was frequently mentioned by the anti-folks and he wanted to talk to me.

We had a nice chat one afternoon going through my involvement in the anti-GMO movement. I shared my story about our papaya farm and the journey to save it. He had some knowledge of the issues and was trying to understand the driving forces for the opposition as well as to why I was so passionate about the GMO issue.

Was it money? No. Was it fame and attention? No. What did I get from being outspoken about the issue?

I had to think about what was driving me to fight for GMO tech and I realized that it was a fight for science. Why spend hours blogging and trying to educate when my bank account never had any huge deposits from it? Why take time off of work to meet with politicians and students who were not supporters? Why do all of this if I got nothing out of it?

I do get something from science outreach via my Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook platforms. I get to read and learn about stories of hope. Yes, that story on genetically engineered cells curing lupus in mice made me break out in tears.

Why? I have friends and family who are affected by this disease and I hear of their stories of pain and suffering. If this piece of research can materialize into a cure to alleviate their pain, you can bet I get excited about it. I put hope in science finding a cure to help others and sharing those stories to spread the word that science is not something we should fear. We have to embrace it to help others.

I am not a scientist doing the research but I sure can help spread the word that we need their work and innovations to help us live our lives to the fullest. Our lives are short and we want to live without pain or illness with the help of science and technology. You can bet that Whole Foods will not be paying for research to cure for diseases but will be willing to sell you some quack cure like CBD or hemp claiming to cure every disease from A to Z.

Those profiting from science denial are not anyone’s helper as they claim. None were sharing stories to help the Samoan measles crisis by promoting the public to be vaccinated. Many anti-vaxx promoters were still spreading pseudoscience claims while 80 people, majority being young children, died over the last few weeks. I cannot imagine being one of those parents affected by such a loss. Children do not have to die like that in this day and age.

You can bet that I will still be fighting for science long after the anti-everything folks have moved onto something else. They have their bumper stickers and t-shirts proclaiming their cause but it won’t last as we all know. These movements are fickle and not sustainable. Science goes on to solve problems because it is not a fad but directed to solve real issues.

The professor from the Netherlands discovered for himself that the anti-folks don’t stick around in the communities they supposedly cared for. They have all left the area and were nowhere to be found. It leads to the question if they genuinely care about the community or were they just hobby activists stirring it up to divide people then leave once the damage was done?

No matter what the case may be, I will continue to advocate for science because I know that the goal is ultimately to help humanity.

Real Pain

For the last week, I’ve been down with a terrible sinus infection and bronchitis. I usually don’t get this sick but it really wiped me out. Luckily, I saw the doctor and was treated to hopefully make my trip out to the Michigan State Plant Biotechnology symposium. Well, I did not get well enough to fly.

Just as I thought I was on the mend, I did a really dumb thing. I felt so good that I wanted to finish making my guava jam. Doing nothing makes me antsy and I wanted to get a project done. My guava jam was all ready to be canned when I somehow spilled the pyrex I had it in when a lid dropped. A nice cup of hot jam landed on my neck. I was sure glad it wasn’t the whole pot!

If you’ve ever had a burn, you know how badly it hurts. I went into first aid mode and quickly washed off the sticky jam searing my skin. I could feel the layers slither off as the water cooled it. After the hot stuff was off, I cooled it with a cold compress. It helped but the pain was just horrible.

As I sat waiting to hear back from the advice nurse, the pain just intensified for nearly 2 hours. It did eventually subside but still seared. Having intense pain really starts to grate on the mind. It started to make me think about how the anti-ag folks would constantly testify if the pain that they were in from living by farms.

The anti-ag folks would easily get packed up and on a plane to get to the hearings at the Capitol. There they would sit in front of legislators with their myriad of illnesses. Those emotional stories captivated the politicians who were so compelled by these actors. After testifying against farms, they’d all enjoy happy hour at the local bar to drink up some GMO appetizers and carcinogenic alcohol.

As I am sitting in pain right now, suffering is horrible. Real suffering is awful. The well-abled, claiming to be sick say they are in pain but look quite well functioning to me. These people have zero clue of real pains that they cause. If you are truly in pain, you will not want others to have to face it. They are well fed but make so many false claims that inflict real hardship in the others around the world.

If these anti-ag folks were truly suffering, they would be able to genuinely empathize with others. The truth is, they are not able to feel the impact that they have upon the millions around the world. They can only think of themselves and how they want to promote elitist organic, regenerative, Korean natural farming, permaculture, or whatever-is-trendy-sounding fairy farming terms to the non-farmer masses. They also thrive on using the courtroom to advance their claims while harming those farming.

As my neck still hurts like hell from my burn, I hope the politicians stop causing intentional pains to the ag community. We have been hurting for years because of your stances and decisions. You can ask for the farmers to shield you from the activists but we aren’t going to take it. Don’t smile at me while enjoying our papaya then legislate against us. Two faced people are saved for Halloween and aren’t appropriate for real life already.

Who needs zombies? I am one on Hallow’s Eve!

Mourning the Past Sacrifices the Future

The trend right now is to fight for the old ways. There are some who want to restore the Hawaiian Kingdom and others claiming “desecration” of a mountain in the name of preserving culture. Whatever the case may be, these groups are still on the mountain blockading the road.

Many are mourning the past and have been for some time. With the construction of the Thirty Meter Telescope and the social media, people have decided to “rise up” against this. They all have their flags and attire to show their stance across our state.

I see many others also jumping on the bandwagon of standing up for the mountain. It is pretty fun to belong to a cause and feel as if you’re making a difference. The sad thing is if you ask the majority of folks against the telescope, few have any idea on how it came to fruition. None have a clue as to why the community and majority of the state were for it to begin with.

The very human tendency to operate on shortcuts is once again evident in this issue as it was for the GMO one. I remember the anti-GMO folks using a poll to claim 90% of people wanted it labeled but when the questions of the poll was changed, the result was much different. It is easy to quickly answer a question given the rhetoric on the media but when one is asked to think, the opinion is likely to change.

It is easy to get caught up into the emotional tsunami happening now where people feel compelled to join and say no, no, no. How sustainable is this wave going to last? When the hype over this issue is over, there will be another one and another. Is there a genuine goal of this movement who blocked taro research, GMOs, crop protection, water rights, and now the telescope? Did the Hawaiians become closer to becoming their own sovereign nation once the protest was over? Sadly, that goal was never met or will be met when one is constantly used for protesting.

Public opinion is easily swayed as we are seeing by the latest polling done on the telescope. Should we be surprised once we understand human nature? Nope. The protesters continue to mourn the past with no realization that their attempts to go back to the ancient days are robbing the future. The very keiki given opportunities to rise above their circumstances will be affected by the loss of opportunities. We as a society should be encouraging others to pursue an education and not stand static holding flags blocking a mountain. We humans are born to continually strive to do better in life for it is is the natural order of things. It is not natural to want to stay in one place for most.

What if my grandfather had told my dad that he could not join the Air Force and go to college? What if he forced my dad to only work on the farm the old ways and not trying technology? Our farm would have failed if we had been coerced into one path. Luckily, my grandfather supported my dad in his journey to become educated in what he loved which was farming. That little bit of support changed our family’s path forever and will impact my children’s future.

The protesters are thinking that forcing others to reject astronomy and follow the emotional path is better for the future. Sometimes we have to let go of the past but not forget it. We have to take leaps into the unknown to make discoveries that will have an impact on future generations. Humans are not stagnant beings but in constant motion to achieve and challenge ourselves.

We must move forward instead of backwards. The anti-crowd is determined to pull everyone down with them and they don’t care if it includes the future. That is why we must not let these loud voices guide the canoe in this direction where we as a state head against progress.

The early voyagers would have all perished if they were not determined to get out of the ocean’s doldrums. They paddled their way out and found a path towards a better life. The leaders of our state must lead and move us all forward so everyone can find their own life’s journey, albeit better ones.

The Power of a Small Band of Folks

This past Friday was our annual Kaneohe Elementary Fun Fair. I decided to help out as the food booth chair. I had no idea what I needed to do but did so to help out my friend who needed someone to organize it. It is a big responsibility because it makes a significant amount of money for the school also.

I was in charge of securing the food which meant getting it to the school. I had to order 240 pieces of pizza, tens of pounds of noodles, nearly 50 lbs of poke, as well as coordinating the set up, serving, and clean up after. Luckily, this rookie had the help of so many veteran food booth volunteers to get the ball rolling.

At the end of the fair, with lots of coordinating, every single bit of food was sold off. Based on my calculations, we should have made money from it. That money will go towards funding programs not covered by taxpayer funds.

As I ran around the booth getting food down and training volunteers as well as working the front to keep lines short, it was an amazing feat to realize our impact upon the 600 students of the school. Here were dozens of parents, teachers, staff at one given moment working together to better the lives of many. We all did this for every kid who attended this school.

Some of us spent hours preparing for the event and others gave an hour or two but the goal was the same. We were all there for all of the keiki in our community. What we raised impacted so many that day for years to come by enriching the curriculum. Kids get a better educational experience because of our efforts that will help guide their future by learning to love education.

Our small band of folks could reach out for so many. Our hours of meetings and behind the scenes work are investments for the future. By working together for a greater cause, we were doing something big. That is what we need in this day and age is to ask ourselves what do we want at the end of the day and we will find that the goal is the same. There are some who will never give of their time or step up but still reap the benefits of the work of few. That small band of folks still trudges on despite that.

If each and everyone of us gives to the greater community with a goal to invest and improve it, we can do amazing things. I hope others can look beyond what is in front of their noses and look to the future to shape it. Do we want a better future for all us? If that indeed is the case, then that is what we invest our energies into. Giving back will reap rewards for everyone in some form or fashion.

Vicious Rumors

A recent story in the news has had some protesters double checking their social media accounts. A prominent Honolulu attorney may be suing them for spreading “vicious rumors” against certain people. I find this an interesting turn of events if this indeed does happen.

Years ago, I spent many hours sitting in front of legislators asking for them to stand with facts and the farmers. The same people who are spreading rumors against the Governor were the same ones accusing us of “poisoning” them. Legislators would nod in support of us then, but during the session, they actually sided with those spreading rumors about us. The excuse I heard was that they needed protection from the activists and had to listen to them.

When the whole anti-GMO debacle unfolded, many county council members and legislators sided with these activists to protect their seat to support us. Essentially, farmers were used as the shields to keep the politicians safe. If you want to talk about vicious rumors, we faced it all from killing and disabling babies, gassing people, killing the earth, and so on. We faced the hate of the public because the political leadership could not stand with the facts.

I find it utterly ironic that Governor Ige has been posting lots of facts about astronomy and the Thirty Meter Telescope. I am in disbelief that he is out at the front lines fighting for facts to be heard! I can’t help but feel sad that he and so many of the other politicians did not do the same for us. Politicians had hoped that bowing to activists demands would keep them away from attacking them but as we can all see, the antis have zero loyalty.

So to the politician who quietly supported us in word but did the opposite in action, you’ve created this mess. You cannot make these activists happy. By playing along with their charade to use Hawaii in their sensationalized news stories, you’ve empowered them to use any means to get what they want. You thought you had your back covered when you voted for the pesticide buffer zones and then the banning of chlorpyrifos. You didn’t stand with facts and fell for their narratives in hope of being safe.

As we can all see, the mess we have now is of your own making and was due to happen given the disregard for facts. The activists care nothing about facts as you can see and blatantly make up claims that are far fetched but spreads like wildfire to stir the flames of emotion. The political leadership is surrounded by the the emotional social media mob holding their torches and definitely feeling the heat. I sure hope that he either douses the flame now by standing with facts and taking the right course of action.

You’ve played with the fire too many times and now the activists don’t care who they take down with them.

When you let activists define the work of farmers, it affects the next generation’s ability to continue farming.

Tattered Flags

Thanks to the social media, lots of folks have fastened big old upside down Hawaiian flags on their vehicles. It has been about 6 weeks since this debacle started and I’m noticing many flags are showing fading and wear. Many flags are starting to unravel at the edges, showing its threads.

Not only are flags fixed onto cars but so many users across Facebook have changed profile frames to show their stance against the Thirty Meter Telescope. I recognize many names because they were the same folks testifying at hearings and posting false information against GMOs. It’s same emotion-laden claims being repeated but it’s directed towards astronomy. Many use the language that this is “colonization” and “imperialistic oppression.” Some will even add a new term called “ethical science” and that Western science is the issue because of an alleged lapse of it.

Any anti movement starts to show a pattern, whether it be anti-vaccination, anti-GMO, anti-anything. One of the most effective tactic is to stir emotions up because that shuts down a logical brain that would ask questions. By planting false claims, many of them emotion-based, one can be sure that someone will repeat it, get mad, and it will be spread with one click. None if any will question the information because they operate from emotion. The tactic is simple and effective at shutting down minds.

I know I have heard several of those claims before but could not recall where it was from. I know I’ve heard them somewhere in my readings. Then it dawned on me that it was from a an article I read about Trofim Lysenko. His views and claims led to millions of deaths due to rejection of “Western science” views across the world in the Soviet Union and in China. People suffered because of this man’s beliefs but few in this day know this history.

The claims of desecration reminds me of the religious fervor of the anti-gay marriage folks who said the law had to protect the sanctity of marriage. I saw so many church folks turn mean and angry at protests against gay marriage. Here were supposedly good Christians turning hateful against a fellow human being. I see the same thing in the anti-TMT folks telling foreigners to go home. Forget the fact that there are few Native Hawaiians who have no foreign ethnicities in their ancestry. I bet these same folks get angry about Trump’s tirades but have no idea they are doing the same.

The media is so focused on the protesters show right now and the Governor is sitting there letting them obstruct progress. It is fun to have so many selfies with Hollywood stars on the mountain. One picture represents a brief second in time. Did it change one’s life to take a photo with The Rock or Jason Momoa? Nope. Will The Rock and Aquaman start up a long term Native Hawaiian education plan and work with Big Island community leaders to help diversify the economy and strengthen the community? Nope. Nope. Nope. They got their selfies and they are gone. They have nothing invested in seeing the community thrive there.

Meanwhile, Governor Ige is going strong posting facts and stemming the disinformation campaigns against the telescope. I have to ask where were these same actions when fishermen and farmers were thrown under the bus for years. How come he never set the facts straight about pesticides and longline fishing? What gives? Fishermen and farmers are still farming but their reputations have been smeared thanks to politics and the weak leadership in our state. People are still buying from us farmers and eating up poke.

Months from now, more flags will be tattered and need replacing while many hold their hands up shaped like the mauna. It is symbolic of the short life and narrow views of these movements that come and go in Hawaii. The mauna is enormous unlike the view from one’s hands. If the protesters put their hands down and looked beyond “their” mountain, they can see a brighter future that so many are hoping for. Mauna Kea is not “their” mountain but it is a place for all to gather and learn from the discoveries to be made.

Setting Off Hysteria

Today my kids learned a lesson about thinking logically the hard way.

My oldest received this photo from her friend today. Being a cat lover and knowing that we have a ginger cat like this, she instantly reacted. Our ginger cat was no around and that lead to lots of drama.

“Mom, Taylor sent me a photo of this cat that was dying and I can’t find Lily. I think this is Her!” Kylie was crying and trying to talk.

“Well, are you sure?”

“I think it’s her! What do we do?!”

“I will be home soon.”

Then I started getting a frantic amount of worries calls from her that the cat had died. I knew for myself that the cat was not around at breakfast so it may have been her but I needed to figure out if that indeed was the case. Kylie was hysterical, unsble to think about a plan to find her. I told Kylie to check around the yard and walk down the street to look for her.

Within a few minutes, I am home and sure enough Kylie is in a sobbing fit, paralyzed by her own emotions. Meanwhile, Katelyn is all “it could not be me who let the cat out” but she was on my bed this morning. We start to do a logical search of the cat around the house.

We also had a plumber fixing our toilet while the lost cat drama was going on. The poor guy thought he might have missed the cat but said he didn’t see any pets running by him while he worked. I had my doubts that the cat had disappeared during his visit because they hide when strangers are around.

Sure enough, we could not find her but knowing how she hides, I was not convinced she was gone. While my middle kid went back to playing on her Kindle, my eldest was sobbing about the loss of the cat. We started talking about her microchip and my eldest thought it could be used to track her. When she realized it couldn’t, she started to get more emotional.

We sat there calming down from the realization that Lily may be gone and now able to speak logically about our next step. Then all of a sudden, Lily climbs out of her hiding place and Katelyn yells, “Look! There she is!”

Lesson learned that emotion stops our ability to think rationally about an issue and impairs our ability to develop a well-laid out plan to take the best course of action. That lesson is very pertinent right now with the issue of the protests. So many are stirred up emotionally but when you ask for their plan after the protests, they have no idea or thought about that. They aren’t thinking about the future unfortunately.

When Kylie calmed down, I asked her more about the photo. Turns out, that was taken a mile away from our home and when we looked at the details, it was clearly not our cat. Katelyn chimes in saying, “I didn’t think it was her because of her color and paws were not the same.”

It takes time to walk out of emotion and think. Thinking is way better than acting out. That is what I teach my kids because reacting may cause one to regret their actions. We have a frontal lobe to give us higher level thinking. More people need to use it in this day and age.

Lily is home safe.

School Bus Dangers

There are thousands of children attending public school in Hawaii. At any one point, a child may be riding on a school bus. It is interesting that activists have scared parents into believing that they must fear pesticides but ignore other real safety hazards.

I have not seen a single complaint that the DOE staff has done anything wrong with the use of pesticides. None. Nor are there any reports of staff getting sickened by these products. Despite the evidence, Superintendent Kishimoto sent a memo banning herbicides from being used on campuses as a effort to show her concern.

She has been at the helm of the DOE for several years already. If she truly cared for the keiki, she would’ve required school buses to be equipped with safety belts first day on the job. If any politician walked the talk of caring about our kids, why has nothing changed since the timed I wrote school buses as a kid?

I remember when I was 12, I rode the bus to get to school. One driver decided to cut off the bus causing all the kids in the bus to pitch forward from the sudden stop. Being short and less than 100 lbs, I had no way of bracing my feet to the floor to stop momentum. I lurched forward and hit the seat in front of me splitting my bottom lip with my teeth. I could taste the blood but it wasn’t a big deal back then apparently.

I haven’t rode in a school bus for years but did so today with my 4 year old for a field trip. The bus has not changed for decades in Hawaii. It is ironic that large tour buses are fully equipped with seatbelts and it is the law for all passenger vehicles to have seatbelts worn, yet a very large vehicle carrying so many young children from 2 and up have no safety restraints in place. Tourists are ensured a safer ride than our own school kids.

We put our kids in carseats and booster seats to give them the best protection there is but once we turn kids over to the Hawaii State Department of Education or to the private bus companies, no such concern is given. How many kids ride these buses and pay $300 a year to go to school yet not one wears a seat belt except the driver? Why are our kids not given the same safety equipment? It is a known fact that kids are seriously injured in school bus accidents every year yet there are no safety belts for them in the state of Hawaii.

While legislators and the Superintendent proudly claim to be protecting our kids, the reality is they are not. They banned a potentially effective fireant pesticide that could be needed in the future for invasive ants. That was in the name of protecting the keiki. Now DOE has an unscientific ban on herbicides without considering the needs of the schools or how it is a tool for modern agriculture. “Save the keiki!” so they proclaim.

All we need in one bus accident for these people to say it must be required to have safety belts. Only until a child is hurt will things have to change. The evidence is there to put seatbelts in place with good reason, unlike to poorly sourced pesticide complaints. The talk given is nothing but hot air as the public will start to see.

Do we wait for a bus accident or harm from the knee jerk pesticide ban? Does a child have to get bit by a centipede because the Superintendent had banned “toxic” substances on campus? If science based policy was used in our state, we’d all be much better off. The fear I have is of my child being hurt in a bus accident goes unheard because I am not crying on the media and acting like the angry mob. The seatbelt corporations aren’t backing me to ask for safer buses. It is the current evidence that nags at me to say something.

As a parent, is having your kids riding unrestrained on a bus concerning? If it is, let’s start demanding to the Superintendent and Governor that things change before someone is actually harmed. Malama the keiki!

All the vehicles traveling around us have seatbelts yet kids have none.