A Terrifying World

A Terrifying World

Hawaii, with our population of just over 1.13 million spread across 7 islands, is apparently a great place to divide and conquer.  It doesn’t help that our school systems are struggling to perform up to standards and the university system has its internal battles.  Hawaii is the perfect place to unfold the Pesticides in Paradise aka anti-agriculture campaigns in our communities, since many newcomers have no understanding  of our agricultural systems or roots in plantations.

The state’s motto of perpetuating the land in righteousness doesn’t help when it’s taken literally.  It’s great to love the land and care for it but the methods used must be good too and based in evidence.  There are several non-governmental groups convening here to dictate their policies upon our people to the point of pitting neighbor against neighbor or even family members against each other.

It’s the dividing of communities and the demise of expertise that I find terrifying here.  Someone who has no idea about basic biology seems to be considered a legitimate resource over someone with a doctorate in molecular biology is simply not right.  Hawaii politicians continue to be hoodwinked by these internet educated “experts,” but ignore the expertise of a farmer with an agriculture degree and 40 years of in the field work.  A political science major and paid lobbyist has more clout on policy than those who know the needs of our farmers.  Where did we lose sight of agriculture’s vision?

I’m even more bothered that more outsiders like Zen Honeycutt, a profession paid activist, is attempting to dictate best practices for farmers.  Watch what Moms Across America leader, Zen Honeycutt, has to say about hydrogen.  (She’s also the mom who told others about glyphosate in breastmilk, which was debunked.)

Dr. Joe Schwartz does a great critique of her video.

Rampant nonsense

This woman should be locked away. Probably in an asylum. Spouting such absolute nonsense is a criminal activity. I won’t even comment on her pathetic lack of knowledge of biochemistry or her simplistic view of oxidation. Let’s stick to her recommending molecular hydrogen as an antioxidant. Technically, hydrogen is an antioxidant because it can be oxidized. Never mind whether it can be absorbed from the digestive tract and go on to act intracellurally, there just isn’t any significant amount in this crazy remedy! The solubility of hydrogen in water is 0.00016 grams per 100 mL of water. This is an insignificant amount. 

Even if free radicals were the problem to the extent as she believes, which is not the case, the impact of this trivial amount of hydrogen gas would be insignificant. It is truly galling that someone like this who has absolutely no understanding of chemistry, biochemistry or physiology is out there giving people health advice. A student with grade 10 stoichiometry can calculate that the amount of hydrogen that can be delivered by drinking this “hydrogenated” water is insignificant. Then this twit goes on to say that the water that is formed when hydrogen is oxidized to H2O helps hydrate the body. Right, like taking a drop of water out of the ocean makes the level go down.

Zen was just here in Hawaii on a misinformation tour targeting moms.  It’s clear that she can’t teach others what she doesn’t know.  Someone gave her a nice Hawaiian vacation to do this, just like Jeffrey Smith, Pesticide Action Network, EarthJustice, and so many others coming here but there’s no trace of who is financing this while demanding transparency of others.

Despite not having a medical license of any sort, she will gladly dispense advice to people to cure them of they ailments or get them to believe that there is an issue.  She thinks there’s more than one hydrogen and yet she claims to understand GMOs.  Sure.  

Then there was Dustin Barca pushing the fear mongering yet again.  Today it wasn’t chemtrails, but those GMO heavy chemical experimentation.  It was really netting to protect the crop from invasive birds.

  

Between Zen and Barca, it’s clear that they refuse to learn and love talking about things they clearly don’t understand.  Their expertise is getting others to jump on the wagon with them blindly with no questioning.  The bandwagon doesn’t need more fearing education.

It’s sad that these supposedly are “educated” people leading the cause.  I don’t want Zen or Dustin trying to figure out how to deal with dengue fever or the Zika virus here.  I don’t want them dictating what crop inputs we should use on our farms.  It’s not their domain of expertise. People like them would claim it’s a conspiracy and not provide any real viable option.  

In a world full of information at the tip of your fingers, it’s terrifying to know that bad information is leading the charge. The trend to dismiss real university acquired information is indeed disturbing.  The attempts to equate a certain company to a highly esteemed university like Cornell is a case of the Internet going bad.  We should all be striving to aspire to become well educated in order to help others.  Choosing a way of eating based on the Food Babe and others out to sell you something isn’t really doing your part at saving the world.  

You’ve got to want to learn to understand to call yourself educated.  Go to the educators not Google.  Be genuinely educated and go forth to be a part of the community.  

It’s embracing higher education that will move Hawaii forward and cultivate that spirit of hope in the next generation.  In the spirit of the upcoming lunar new year, look at the festive lion dances and see how great things happen when we work together.  That is Pono.  That is aloha.

Soda Cans and Pesticides

  
This past weekend I took my entire family and a friend and her mom to the Monsanto open house event.  We were treated to a nice non-organic buffet of local style appetizers from maki sushi to tonkatsu.  We also got to learn about the Japanese Cultural Center’s collaboration with Monsanto and the National Park Service in preserving the former Japanese internment camp known as Honouliuli.

My kids had a chance to learn about bugs and a community supported agriculture program called Local Inside.  I was chatting too much with fellow aggies that I missed the tour.  My kids were bummed but the bugs were a fun replacement. 

My friend and her mom came back from the tour along with my husband and baby.  (Yes, we took a baby into the fields of ground zero GMO and made it back alive.  Pretty unbelievable if you believe the Internet.)  We started to talk story about what she learned.

She spoke about how excited she was thinking that she might get to harvest corn today.  Monsanto is very keen about safety so everyone had to wear safety glasses to go out in the fields.  Even my baby got a pair to wear. Well, there was no harvesting but a lot of education about the work that’s done to grow seeds for farms across the world.

At the end of our conversation, she mentioned how the guide spoke about how much pesticide was used in a field.  A water bottle was used to demonstrate the quantity.  She immediately assumed that the small quantity meant that this substance must be exceptionally toxic if only that much was used.

Her statement really struck me.  I never thought that a demonstration of using a soda can over a football field was sending an incomplete message.  Farmers are trying their darnedest to allay fears of pesticides but may not be doing themselves a favor by ending the conversation there.

Watch this video to get a perspective of how farmers are trying to educate others:

I listened to her concerns about pesticides and realized that she needed more explanation about simple chemistry, understanding of toxicity, and specificity of the crop protection product.  I asked her about what she understood about toxicity which she knew nothing about so I proceeded to explain the concept called LD50.  I then made comparisons with salt and glyphosate and explained it out to her while educating her about the need to control weeds.  

Finally, my husband explained to her about the new pesticides that were targeted for the bugs over a quick kill type of mechanism.  Needless to say, she was much less fearful after that discussion.

I realized that many consumers don’t quite understand pesticides either.  Most of us will use Raid and see a bug die shortly after being sprayed.  If you’re like my sister, you’ll douse that roach until you see it die in a pool of pesticide.  That’s what many people may think about crop protection products not realizing the technology behind many of these products.  They assume it’s quick kill and with a small amount, it means highly poisonous to anyone and everything, which is not the case.  

Let’s not forget the economics of the users either.  The frightened homeowner will gladly spray the $8 can of Raid to get a dead bug.  There’s no livelihood dependent upon killing the bugs.  The amount spent to kill a roach, flea, tick, or any isn’t going to affect their bottom line.  For a farmer whose livelihood is dependent on a successful crop, he isn’t going to use up that $1000 crop protection item in one field but if the bugs can destroy it, you can bet he’ll use the least amount as possible to get the effect needed to maximize his profit.  

I realized that developing world farmers simply don’t have the luxury to targeted crop protection products which leads them to multiple sprays during the course of a crop.  When they only have access to quick acting sprays, they have to kill the bugs often or face damaged produce.  While westerners are crying foul about pesticides, the poor people of the world are the ones contending with pesticide exposure and excessive use issues.  

I truly believe that those communicating science and agriculture have to really assess who they are speaking to and promote an atmosphere of learning.  There’s so much focus on having scientists speak up but the battle can only be won through learning.  We aren’t just communicating science, we are promoting learning.  Learning is how science communicators can change this conversation.

I dare those who are anti-GMO to learn the science behind biotechnology and farming.  Watch these videos to grasp some key concepts if you can handle learning.  

The Science We Eat

 Once again, the experiences I’m having here at Cornell just makes me realize how ignorant I am about food and farming.  The more I’m learning about plants and food production, the entire concept of what’s natural and what isn’t really gets blurred more and more.  It’s also kind of bothers me how “informed” consumers really are.

I had the opportunity to take a tour of the Cornell Research Station in Geneva, New York.  It’s a place where all kinds of research is taking place to help study various crops from grapes and berries, renewable biofuels, and a gene and crop bank.  It was also the place where the biotech papaya was saved.

Here is a just a few of the different research and breeding activities happening there.

   
   
In each of the above photos, there is a huge variety grapes, berries, and apples.  The colors, texture, shapes, and tastes are all completely different despite all being of the same fruit variety.  It really makes you realize how we as humans have manipulated everything we eat.

Many of the professors speaking to us are world renown for their knowledge and expertise with breeding these products.  They use a lot of technical know how of applying both conventional breeding techniques with a vast amount of information from gene mapping of these crops to determine the expressions of certain genes.  

It’s not GMO development that they are seeking but using the power of genetics to understand how the breed the best plants that consumers and growers desire.  It doesn’t matter if you’re a conventional farmer or an organic farmer, all want good products from strong, disease and pest resistant plants.  

There is an amazing amount of science that is going into every food that we eat.  Some research focuses on disease and pest resistance.  With those traits bred into a crop, it means stronger plants that need less sprays and hopefully increased yields.  Other research focuses on plant architecture such as decreased thorns to make it easier to harvest.  Flavor and texture factors are also a major consideration with crop breeding and genetics. The varieties are also gene mapped to learn the locations of the traits too.  This is high tech science in things we eat everyday regardless of the way it’s grown.  

The tour I took at Geneva really fascinated me about how much there is to know about the foods we eat.  We are so accustomed to simply driving to the store and selecting out our food.  I wonder how many consumers think about how those varieties got on those produce shelves.

The trend now is to eat natural.  When you look at what really is natural in the wild and what’s in the market, there is a stark difference.  Then if we actually taste what is wild, it’s clear why we don’t eat those products.  

I also start to realize how much science is going into our entire food supply that is unnoticed by consumers.  While there is a seemingly loud contingent of people demanding the right to know about GMO, they don’t even know about the thousands of years of science that even developed our current varieties.  The fact that scientists who understand this technology advancement are being attacked by these activists is even beyond me.

Our American foodie culture loves the latest and greatest heirloom produce or new breed of vegetable but are clueless of the amount of science needed to develop that novel vegetable.  If we want to have unique fresh produce, we need to go back and ask questions about how we even got our food variety.  It’s one thing to demand the right to know but you’ve got to really know to appreciate the amount of science we eat every single day of our lives.

What kind of science did you consume today?

#FoodiesShouldLoveScience

Why Do I Love Science?

Yes, if you follow some of my photos lately, I’m getting pretty plump.  Right smack in the middle down to my butt.  Lots of folks are noticing it and starting to wonder.  “Are you dakine?” is what they’ve been asking me.  Since I can’t hide my weight gain much longer, I’m going to have to confess, that yep, I was dakine. For those who aren’t from Hawaii, dakine is the equivalent of the term “whatchamacallit” and is the pronunciation rhymes with “da pine.” It pretty much covers every single possible word you could fit in there when you just can’t find the right word.  My quick and dirty translation can be found via looking at this photo as to what “dakine” means here.

IMG_1189

Thanks to the science of genetics, I was able to avoid a fairly risky surgical procedure to see if my baby has birth defects.  This is something that was not available several years ago and I would have had to undergone a chorionic villi testing procedure to check for defects.  I no longer had to undergo an invasive procedure and easily have a nice vial of blood that detected my baby’s genetics and amplified it for testing.  No pain either except for a poke in the arm. What’s even more wonderful is that the tests I’ve taken has shown the lowest risk for birth defects in my baby.  Whew, what a relief!  Despite being considered a high risk pregnancy because of my age, I was still found to have no defects based on these test results.  That’s even after walking around the GMO papaya fields and handling these supposedly “toxic” fruits, I’m okay as well as my baby.  (Quite unbelievable to many of the activists who have previous wished that I had birth defects because I support biotechnology.  That’s how lovely the environmental anti-GMO zealots are here in Hawaii with their messages of love towards those who speak out against them.)

So yes, I’ll come clean as to why I am in awe of the science of genetics and why I support it across the board.  It really does make people’s lives better and helps us improve how we live our lives.  I have no fear of this technology because I’ve been witness to what it has done for my dad’s farm and others also.  I have studied it and gone through the myths that so many people just believe to know what is true and what isn’t.

I have a hard time understanding why so many have become so fearful of it.  The evidence is there and I support it. I’ve even had my genetics tested to find out my ancestry and it has opened a whole new world to me.  I did the 23andme.com genetics test and found out that I’m much more of a chop suey mix of ethnicities than I was told.  I even found distant relatives in Brazil that I never knew I had but was able to confirm.  I found my relatives in Hiroshima too via the test.  It was mind boggling to find out all of these links and learn more about my family history.  It’s just amazing information that I can share with my kids about their heritage and our family history that I would have never found out otherwise.

Did I say that I love science? The evidence has also pointed to what’s best practice for raising my kids.  I’ve breastfed my two kids exclusively as directed by the pediatrician.  My oldest was nursed for 27 months and my youngest to 40 months!  Yes, I was that mom who lugged my Medela pump to work religiously to give my kids the best nutrition possible.  I vaccinated my kids to give them the best possible chance at life with nary a second thought.  The evidence points to breastfeeding and vaccinations as being good and I applied it in how I raised my kids. It’s no secret that I appreciate all science and the evidence that it provides us for better living.

I’lll be honest too in that I am not one of those moms who feel the need to feed my kids organic, GMO free food either.  I myself won’t consume organic food for the possibility of contamination and the potential for serious illnesses as a result.  It’s also just too stinking expensive to buy here in Hawaii, where a gallon of milk runs $5.69 and organic milk runs $3 more!  I stick to conventional foods and biotech foods.  A kale, quinoa, broccoli, lentil salad or some other exotic concoction of some thing “healthier” just doesn’t appeal to me.  Organic peanut butter just doesn’t cut it for me and gives me bad indigestion too.  I prefer a nice Teddy’s Bigger burger here and there or some a Blazing Steak’s plate any day over some odd combination of health food.  I even chew on some of my dad’s GMO papaya strips that I make from the excess off grade fruits to help with my indigestion from a baby belly.

I choose to understand the science and facts and use that to guide eating and shopping habits. My support of this science even makes me want to share it with others and hopefully, I will get that chance.  I’ve made a decision to donate my baby’s cord blood to the Hawaii Cord Blood Bank so that others may be able to benefit from something that is normally tossed out.  I believe in the “pay it forward” mantra that if we do that, others will do the same for us someday.  If it can help someone, why not? The same genetics being studied in medicine is also being applied in so many other sectors that most people aren’t aware of at all.

IMG_1198

Biotechnology is a tool that is revolutionizing our lives and so many people are just totally in the dark about it.  Medicine is being changed by the research going on and so is agriculture but instead of embracing it, a segment of our population chooses to be willfully fearful of it.  I know that in my own life, it has changed it for the better.

SHAKA Movement’s Maximal Misinformational Minute and More

Just when you thought that the misinformation campaign couldn’t get any better, it got pretty good again.  Not only have they bombarded the social media to indoctrinate their followers to their mantras but they have got it all compacted in a whole minute!  Just listen here or read it below.

“Aloha, this is Uncle Mac.  My ohana has been farming Maui for over 51 generations and now we have to get with the times.  Dats why we like us da GMOs.  It’s easy.  All you gotta do is get one license from da chemical companies dat rent da seeds cuz you no can own or save em for next year.  Den you sign one contract dat you not going tell no one nuthing.  Den you gotta study technical stuff like coexistence, den you almost ready for plant, but first you got to buy one space man suit to protect yourself cuz you gotta spray the chemical to kill everything and grow the GMO.  Den they have to inspect dat you did em right so you no get in trouble. If dis is da way you farm, den you no like the GMO bill. If you farm old skool like everybody else, den the GMO bill absolutely no problem for you.  It’s dat simple.”

The funniest thing about the whole Shaka Movement is that even some of their followers can’t even quite explain the law that they are proposing itself and don’t even know the content of it.

Not only do these people not like being questioned for their movement, but some will even try to show you a baseball bat for questioning them.

Not only do these people have so much aloha, but they will even beautify public property in the name of being allegedly poisoned.  Forget the fact that they exposed themselves to synthetic chemicals and aerosols and some solvents that are known carcinogens.  They likely did this without a space suit too!

Screenshot 2014-10-08 18.11.47

Oh, yes, and these malama the aina pono preachers (aka “I love the land and do what’s right but don’t quite know right from wrong) has no boundaries when it comes to private property either.  They come with the mentality that what’s yours is mine apparently.

/0/gmovandalism2

gmovandalism

It’s funny that these same folks have all kinds of weird spellings and conspiracy theories about the whole biotech issue and when you point out the obvious, they are the first one to call you ignorant.  Sure, your internet knowledge and Google searches have made you a whole lot smarter than any farmer.  In this aspect, I make like an anti-GMO activist and don’t read the flood of “intelligent and thought provoking” comments.  It gives me inspiration.  NOT.

Screenshot 2014-10-08 19.22.07 Screenshot 2014-10-08 19.22.26 Screenshot 2014-10-08 19.23.22 Screenshot 2014-10-08 19.24.42

Well, I can’t enlighten everyone about the wonders of biotechnology unfortunately.  Especially if people would rather socialize, I mean protest, something they clearly don’t understand but think they do.  So yes, keep sending those comments, and denying the facts and evidence.  Facts and evidence don’t need mantras and emotional terms of people and the aina dying or being killed because it just doesn’t stand beyond a reasonable doubt.

And please, don’t send me any comments about how you’re now going to save the turtles, protest the Mauna Kea telescope, surf by a Superferry, and hijack the North Shore Neighborhood board meeting with an anti-farmer crowd.  I would love to hear how you’re going to participate in a civil discussion about how agriculture will move forward first and foremost sans any mention of Monsanto.

No Evidence or Logic Will Ever Be Considered by Those Who Don’t Value It

believebelieve

It was nice for sometime to have some reprieve when the legislature ended its session a few months ago.  No more bad laws and activists to fight against and some peace and tranquility for at least a little while.  Little did I forget that this year was an election year and of course, a lot of anti-GMO activists have decided to run for office.  The same old statement keep coming out again and again in various Civil Beat articles on the issue, which is not surprising yet again.  My post for today centers around, “What they say, and what the evidence says.” I also challenge folks to question the sources of these claims as I’d love to see where it’s coming from.

“They are spraying schools, homes, and hospitals.”

I know that this is being repeated by the Center for Food Safety on their mailers.  When we look at the evidence, we see a different story here, which actually started in 2008.  Here’s some articles detailing that claim.

Odor that kids sick debated by the Star Advertiser (Note who is mentioned there, Gary Hooser.)

The actual paper can be downloaded here: Final_Report_Kauai_Air__3_15_2013_submitted-2

Results of Air Sampling Study Released from Waimea, Kauai by Hawaii Reporter

If you try to Google “Waimea Canyon Middle School Pesticide Study,” and you take a look at the links, you get an interesting timeline of articles listed that start at 2008 then all of the anti-GMO claims of companies “dousing pesticides” dating from 2013 and 2014.

Notice the dates of the articles posted on the Google search and the true timeline of the incident.

Notice the dates of the articles posted on the Google search and the true timeline of the incident.

Notice how the activists websites that blew up the story in just a 2 year period and attempted to overwhelm the real story behind this issue.  The findings of the study gives the facts and the activists sites change the story as if it had just happened.

 

“There’s cancer clusters in our state because of GMOs!”

This is once again being repeated over and over by the activists again.  Let’s see what the evidence shows us.

The Hawaii Department of Health Cancer Study conducted by the Hawaii Tumor Registry shows that there is no cancer clusters as claimed.  There is actually a decline in the numbers of cancers being found on Kauai and that the incidence is much lower than across the entire state.  There is however a higher incidence of melanomas in the North Shore area of Kauai.  Hmm…  More sun, more fair skinned folks likely means more skin cancer.

“There’s more birth defects here!”

I’ve seen so many claims that autism, polydactly, and gastroschisis are on the rise from living on Kauai near the GMO farms.  It’s pretty interesting because when you ask these folks where their claims come from, you get nothing.  Taking a look further at the data and one will find that in many cases, Hawaii’s incidence is somewhat lower that the national average in several areas.  It’s sad to me that babies are born with birth defects but to blame a single thing for it sounds very suspicious to me, when the research says otherwise.

Screenshot 2014-08-05 21.49.12

There is also the issue of teenage pregnancy across our state and especially in Kauai.  Here’s some data and statistics complied on the state.  Note that the island of Kauai, specifically the town of Waimea, has the highest rates of teen pregnancies in the state.  Approximately 36.8% of high school students reported having sex with some 22% had drank or used drugs before they last had sex.  This can’t be a good combination for the resulting babies as we know these chemicals are also implicated in increased birth defects.  There are also several studies that have been done indicating a higher risk of gastroschisis being higher in babies of teen mothers.

If one tries to Google, “causes of gastroschisis,” this is what your search will come up with.  If you click and read and those links from the CDC to various children’s hospitals, you’ll see that the causes are unknown.

Screenshot 2014-08-11 22.00.32

However, if one wants to confirm their biases and do an alternative search, you’ll see a completely different picture presented.  This is what one will see if they Google, “gastroschisis and pesticides.”  The top site for stating this is the bogus one, Natural News as well as environmental sites also!  Such a different picture presented depending on your searches.

Screenshot 2014-08-11 22.05.42

In summary, to just blame all birth defects on the GMO fields and farms takes a bit of deeper investigation into the claims being circulated.  There are many issues that can contribute to the problem at hand and it’s not simply one of correlation equals causation.  But once again, if this statement is repeated over and over again, how many activists bother to question what’s being told to them?  It’s easier to just recite what’s being said instead of checking their “facts.”  Also remember that if one is not the professional speaking on the issue and it’s coming from solely the internet, you might want to cross check your facts.

As for the claim that polydactly is caused by GMOs, all I can say is that my grandpa was born with it back in 1919 and there weren’t no GMOs back then.  How could that possibly be???  Polydactly is a condition that has affected people for a very long time and to once again try to blame pesticides or GMOs on it is faulty logic in play.

“There’s more asthma because I live by a toxic GMO field that blows dust!”

I’ve heard this repeated over and over again by the activists blaming GMO field dust as their cause of asthma.  What’s interesting to note that that when you look at asthma rates across the nation, yes, it has been rising.  But, hey, not everyone is living right next to GMO fields!  So what’s causing it?  To just say that it’s dust from fields is misleading as fewer and fewer people actually live near farms for that reason.  Of course one could go and read Natural News, Green Med Info, Dr. Oz, and Dr. Mercola and they will tell you by golly, it’s the consumption of GMOs!  Their typical fall back of bumbling on correlation and causation.  I’d have to change it around and say there’s a correlation that more people reading those sites will cause them to have asthma.  It’s ridiculous to make claims like that but these snake oil salespeople love it and know there’s money to be made with some miracle supplement that someone will buy.  Whatever the case, the evidence is still not clear on what’s causing more asthma but scientists, not snake oil salespeople, are working on figuring it out.

“Our water and a’ina are being poisoned!”

This is the one that makes me the most irritated when I see this comment, once again, I shake my head.  Why?  What does the evidence reflect?

Hawaii Department of Health Finds Low Levels of Pesticides–The highest levels were found around urban areas!

Board of Water Supply Water Quality Report

Draft Final 2013-14 State Wide Pesticide Sampling Pilot Project Water Quality Findings 5-21-14 0305

Not breaking news is that Maui water was found to have NO traces of glyphosate in it either.

The evidence just doesn’t reflect their claims that the waters are being poisoned.  If you read it from their sites and sources, then yes, you’ll believe it.  Research it and you’ll see a different story.

The Evidence is There But Why Don’t They Accept or Trust it?

Simply put, this is why…

logicevidence

Having it Too Good Isn’t a Great Thing

happiness

Hurricane Iselle hit the Big Island several days ago and sure enough there was significant damage resulting from it.  Lots of homes and property were damaged and as expected the farmers were hit pretty badly also.  It’s been and extremely tough year for those multi-generation farmers there indeed.  From having to contend with crop destruction and vandalism, to fighting off the anti-GMO law that sought to ban their crops, it has been a trying year indeed.  Just last week it was announced that the activists groups, the Center for Food Safety and Earthjustice (formerly known as the Sierra Club Legal Defense Fund) joined on to sue these same farmers.  Now, with this storm hitting them right at peak season, it can’t get much harder already than it already is.

It’s been trying indeed to be a farmer the past several years and it doesn’t help that not only do they have to deal with weather, bugs, and diseases, they have politicians and activists to add to that list.  It makes me realize that we’ve gone wrong somewhere when people have so much time to attack the very person who works the hardest and tends to get the very least out of the work they do.  These people provide a basic need for our state and yet are seen as not valued by the actions of a loud, ungrateful minority and their politicians.  Do we have it too good that we are blinded and have lost sight of our priorities?

I think we do have it too good.  Life is to easy for many of us because we no longer have to spend hours in fields toiling away growing our meals.  Our hands rarely touches the soil nor do our feet get stuck in the mud or covered in dirt.  Nor do we have to worry about where our next meal will come from.  We simply drive to the store and pick things off shelves and displays and put them in our carts.  We don’t even break a sweat doing or suffer daily aches and pains from working in a field.  We pack everything up and drive it back home and put it away and prep our meals from it.  We don’t even think about the work that was put into getting that lettuce in our salad or the grains that fill our cereal boxes.  We simply eat and enjoy.  It’s just that easy.

I suspect that our lack of awareness of how and where our food came from makes us forget about the work needed in producing food.  We no longer think about it and are so focused on the things in our foods and what it’s going to do to us.  Some spend incessant amounts of time reading and researching on the computer about what we are putting in our bodies.  We are so worried about ourselves and how it is going to affect us in the end.  But really, is there anything that truly warrants us being so focused on ourselves all the time? We just have too much time on our hands if that’s our focus.

With the recent hurricane hitting us, many farmers and ranchers did indeed get affected by the storms. Ulupalakua Ranch and Maui had significant damage as well as other Puna and Keaau papaya farmers.  These kind of events will have a significant impact on our local food supply as well as burden the farmers and ranchers hit by it for some time to come.  Shouldn’t we as Hawaii citizens really look at how we will foster support for these folks rather than constantly listen to activists wanting to attack the work that they do?  The activists are only about taking, almost like these disasters  take and give nothing to our hard working stewards of the lands.  When things are gone do we realize the value of it.  That’s too late.

Sometimes, we might need a bit of hardship in our own lives to realize how nice it is to live in the land of abundance.  Some people can spend hours reading labels about their food and choosing something more expensive in the belief that it’s going to be better for us.  Some are even very worried about the kind of toilet paper they use too!  Most of friends and family didn’t care what kind of toilet paper there was, just the fact that they got their hands on some.  There are a few people who REALLY care about what they put near their butts apparently.

Screenshot 2014-08-11 20.31.49

However, when there is a true emergency or pending hardship, all those thoughts go out the window and we really just grab at what’s available.  No one is focusing on buying only organic and GMO free when there’s a big storm coming or a disaster approaching.  There’s no time for it.  It’s be fed or have nothing.  Are you going to demand that the emergency shelter carry non-GMO food and bleach free toilet paper? What really is our priority here? Survival and comfort or high end goods?  Don’t we want food security more than anything in Hawaii so no one has to be without?

In a time when there is a conflict within agriculture and between farmers, isn’t it time to really stop and look at what we want?  Do we want to spend all this time and energy fighting each other or do we need to prepare for when we may have nothing?  Maybe Hawaii residents really needs to have more hardships fall upon us to make us realize that we’ve got to end the fighting and seek to work together.   Having nothing is what’s going to make us realize how lucky we are to have the farmer and tools right here already.  Who’s ready to move forward towards the real goals or do we prefer to continue to be weathering in storm after storm getting us nowhere fast?  We have a choice now in this election to send a message to the direction we want to move in.

 

 

Who Can You Trust in the GMO Issue?

I have to thank Dr. Kevin Folta for commenting on my blog the other day.  What he said really got me thinking more about the anti-GMO club and why we have such a problem.  It’s not just that they don’t understand the rationale of science and the process, but they also have problems with trust.  Who are you to trust in all of this mass information on the internet?  There’s so much conflicting information all over the place and how are you to navigate through all of this?

I decided to put together a simple guide for how to figure out who is trustworthy and who isn’t.  Read on!

Red Flag Number 1: Celebrity Status

 A huge red flag for me is that if someone is a celebrity and are touting being anti-GMO, I wouldn’t trust them for anything.  For one, most of them have no training or education at all to make the claims they do and tend to jump into these hot topics for attention and fans.  Here’s a great example of celebrities and their anti-GMO activities.

Who can’t forget Roseanne Barr?!  We haven’t heard from her much on the issue since she has refused to pay up her donation to the Babes Against Biotech.

Screen Shot 2014-07-17 at 10.53.26 PM

Bette Midler, a part time Kauai resident who jumped on the anti-GMO bandwagon.

Vani Hari aka “The Food Babe”

Rachel Parent, a then 14 year old activist with the Right to Know Kids

Darryl Hannah with the Babes Against Biotech leader Naomi Carmona at the Mana March.

Screen Shot 2014-07-20 at 8.39.02 PM

Kelly Slater, a professional surfer touts organic food.

What do all of these celebrities have in common?  First of all, none have any higher level education in any kind of science at all.  I highly doubt they know much about DNA let alone farming and what it takes.  Secondly, they all repeat the same Monsanto mantra word for word.  Thirdly, they all use fear in their messaging from you’ll get cancer and autism if you consume GMOs. None are independent thinkers and repeat the same messaging over and over again.  And really, do you trust a surfer to tell you what to eat???

And think about it for a minute.  Would you trust a plumber to build your house?  Would you listen to a teenager for your nutritional advice?  Would you use a electrician to treat your illnesses?  If you answer no to those questions, then why are you using a celebrity for what you eat?  Do they actually have the right education and training to make the claims they do?  Uh, no.  They are there to sell things, act the part, but they aren’t for teaching anyone anything.  TV is a lot of made up stuff so why go to the tube for “good” advice???

In this sense, common sense should rule.  Common sense tells you that these are not the people you should trust for your information on agriculture, nutrition, and last but not least, biotech issues.  It’s just as bad and making stuff up.  That’s exactly what Hollywood and TV are good for though!

Red Flag Number 2: “Scientists” that Have Single Studies

leagueofantis

Meme by Jeff Cotter posted in the Facebook group, Skepic

Hopefully, you got to read the page I published on “The Most Misunderstood Concepts of Science and Thinking by the Anti-GMO Club,” to give you some basic tenets of this process.  Key point is that science is not pick and choose what kind you like.  It’s an evidence based meaning that you continually build data to bolster or reject your claims.  We’ve had the pleasure of meeting quite a few “scientists” here in Hawaii courtesy of the tax exempt Hawaii SEED and other richly funded anti-GMO clubs.

From a post in the GMO Skepti-Forum by Richard Green, this summarizes these “scientists.”

This meme was a means to gather the rogues, now lets take a closer look at this motley crew:

Gilles-Éric Séralini: He is active in research and is the author of the infamous rat study that was retracted and recently republished without critical review. His work is often shown to have poor methodology and analysis.
http://www.forbes.com/sites/jonentine/2014/06/24/profile-of-gilles-eric-seralini-author-of-republished-retracted-gmo-corn-rat-study/

Charles Benbrook: Benbrook is an agricultural economist at Washington State University and science advisor for The Organic Center. He is the author of a widely panned study on pesticide use in GM crops.
http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/collideascape/2012/10/03/when-bad-news-stories-help-bad-science-go-viral/#.U8gxcajSCux

Judy Carman: Another active researcher and the author of a study on pigs which were fed GM corn. The study was found to be lacking in many areas.
http://www.forbes.com/sites/henrymiller/2013/07/17/you-can-put-lipstick-on-a-pig-study-but-it-still-stinks/

Stephanie Seneff and Anthony Samsel: These two are computer specialists that do not conduct research per se, but use algorithms to look for correlations. They typically engage in what I call reverse snake oil. Instead of a magic elixir curing unrelated conditions, they lay the blame for unrelated conditions on a single cause, usually glyphosate. They have the distinction of having a paper being used as a model for detecting a bogus scientific journal.
http://www.sci-phy.com/detecting-bogus-scientific-journals/

Vandana Shiva: Shiva is a philosopher who would like you to believe she is a physicist. A frequent claim is her rallying cry against “terminator genes/seeds”. These seeds are more of an idea than reality, as they never made it out of preliminary development. She is also fond of making outrageous claims with no supporting evidence.
http://www.geneticliteracyproject.org/2014/01/28/who-is-vandana-shiva-and-why-is-she-saying-such-awful-things-about-gmos/

David Suzuki: Suzuki was a zoologist/geneticist and retired in 2001. Now he is an environmentalist who accepts the global consensus on global warming but falls short on accepting the global consensus on GMOs. His vague cautions against unknown risks apply equally to creating new crops from any form of plant breeding. The few times he has been confronted with hard questions have left him flummoxed.
http://fullcomment.nationalpost.com/2014/02/04/rob-breakenridge-we-need-a-better-david-suzuki/

Don Huber: Huber is a retired agricultural researcher from Purdue University who was well respected in his day. These days he claims the existence of mysterious pathogen somehow associated with Roundup that only he can see…
http://www.biofortified.org/2014/01/deconstructing-don-huber-a-tale-of-two-talks/

Thierry Vrain: Vrain was a soil biologist and genetic scientist for the Agriculture department in Canada. As with others in the gallery, he makes poorly sourced claims to elicit fear. Unlike some of the others, he really doesn’t specialize, his is more of an all-purpose type of misinformation.
http://www.comoxvalleyecho.com/real-science-vs-pseudo-science-on-gmo-s-1.971682

Jeffery Smith: Such a gallery would not be complete without Mr. Smith. He has no academic credentials. Not that credentials are needed to understand the science behind GMOs, but Mr. Smith has not made that effort. Like a lot of the rogues, he tours the paid lecture circuit making unfounded claims about the dangers of GMOs. His seminal work is the novel Genetic Roulette, which has been thoroughly debunked.
http://www.biofortified.org/2010/03/academics-reviews-meets-genetic-roulette/

To sum up:
The active scientists in this group all seem to start with the end point they want to reach and then try to manipulate enough variables to achieve their goals. That is the exact opposite of how to conduct a good experiment.
The non-scientists and retired scientists seem to be pushing an ideology instead of examining the current research.

“View anything these folks have to say on agricultural topics with extreme caution.”

 Believing without Questioning=Religious Ideology

If you’re still “believing” in these folks, here’s some additional reading that you might add to see why the your links using them aren’t viewed as evidence.

Press Digs into Anti-GMO Study–Journalists were the first group of people to wonder about Seralini’s lumpy rats when he asked them to sign a non-disclosure agreement with a hefty fine of a million euros if it was violated.

Don Huber and the Mystery Pathogen–Video by Dr. Kevin Folta questioning this mysterious claims of Don Huber.

A Generous Offer Turned to Dr. Huber Turned Down–Dr. Folta offers to study this so called pathogen for Dr. Huber with not a response.

Wealthy Activist Vandana Shiva is a Poor Advocate Poor Advocate for the Poor–Shiva has made her rounds here in Hawaii and is said to make some $40K per lecture as well as asks for $10K for travel expenses.  She also has an organic farm where you pay to work for free!

Study of Organic Crops Finds Very Little–The recent headlines of organic food having more anti-oxidants questions the methodology used and the person quoted in it, Dr. Charles Benbrook, a well known organic proponent.

Suzuki is Clueless–Video documenting Suzuki’s anti-science flip flopping on Sun News.

Genetic Roulette & the GMOs-The League of Nerds–Myles Powers takes down Jeffrey Smith’s beloved anti-GMO movie, Genetic Roulette.  (This video is pretty long as a FYI but a great take down of each of his claims.)

Once More Bad Science in the Service of Anti-GMO Activism–Another take down of Dr. Judy Carman’s bad pig study.

What do the Creationists and Anti-GMO have in Common?–Blog post by Fourat Janabi on why we should keep calm and carry on.

GMO Skepti-Forum Thread on Dr. Thierry Vrain –A compilation of discussions on his claims and sources.

Condemning Monsanto with Bad Science is Dumb–A breakdown as to Seneff and Samsel’s claims and why it doesn’t help their cause.

Tumor Incidence in Normal Sprague Dawley Rats–Scientist have known since 1956 that the rats used by Seralini has a high incidence of tumors.  Is it a surprise that he got such results in his study?

 

 The Index of BAD Links

The cardinal sin that so many anti-GMO believers make is posting the same links as their evidence.  When they post these links, it just shows that these people’s ability to cross check their information is very limited.  The typical links that they post  are Natural News, Institute for Responsible Technology, GMO Education, AltNet, Natural Cures not Medicine, Green Med Info, World Truth, Truth Deniers, GMO Seralini, Nation of Change, Dr. Oz, Dr. Mercola, Collective Evolution, Raw for Beauty, and anything GMO Free. What do all of these links have in common? They all sell fear and use partial bits of information to convey their side of “studies” and health claims. There is never any link to the actual study that they are talking about and it’s hard to figure out the actual source of information, but the antis will still use it as “proof” because they don’t know how to research and vet their information.

Before you get scared of what you’re reading, stop and ask questions first.  “Is that for real or what?”  By simply starting there instead of adding that link to your “GMOs are dangerous” link file, you just might just save yourself lots of anxiety and emotional stress.  If you choose to believe, you just might find yourself in a utterly hysterical state and might leave a nasty message for a state senator.  Save yourself an apology and ASK questions first before you get yourself into a tizzy fit!  It just might save your reputation if you care about it.

Remember, if you read it on the internet and it tells you connect the dots, science isn’t about putting together a dot to dot puzzle.  It doesn’t work like that.

 

 

My Fight For A Better Hawaii

20140625-075851-28731554.jpg

I’m mad. Its a good kind of mad however that made me start writing this blog.

After attending several hours of panel discussions ranging from a variety of topics from bioethics to rising leaders, then followed by a nice stroll through the international exhibition, I’m left amazed. The things being done with biotech is really revolutionary indeed.

Having seen and met with scientists and other experts, I’m filled with so much inspiration and promise of how Hawaii could become a key figure in all of this if we nurture it. It also gives me hope of the unique opportunities that this field may offer my two kids in the future if we make this field a priority here. But is Hawaii’s leadership moving us in the right direction?

Unfortunately, it’s not happening in out state. From the time I say and spoke to those dozen legislators in January, who told me that the farmers need to do more to educate the public, it’s clear that only a few leaders have the backbone to move Hawaii forward by standing up the technology that is revolutionizing agriculture, forestry, environmental issues, medicine, and energy. That minority of leaders who stood there publicly to support the right to farm act had to take the horrid behavior of angry mob mentality, which is truly disheartening to me.

While states like California and countries across the world are booming with opportunity and research, Hawaii’s weak leadership continue to fail us all. From Jessica Wooley, Mike Gabbard, Brian Schatz, Kaniela Ing, Russell Ruderman, Gary Hooser, Tulsi Gabbard, David Ige, and so many others, they use poor leadership to guide Hawaii in fear while the rest of the world is embracing and supporting biotechnology. It’s terrible that leaders like these are fueling serious harm for my kids’ future.

I’d truly love a Hawaii where my kids would have diverse opportunities to be a global contributor. Being that global citizen does not come with raising kids up to attend anti-GMO marches and seed exchanges to “revolutionize” the food system. Nor does it come in the form of beach clean up efforts by groups that claim false information against a technology they know nothing about. I was taught as a kid to always think about how I was going to do something to help others, which is rooted in education and instilling a sense of curiosity about the world.

I want a future Hawaii that values education on a worldwide scale. We are island people but it doesn’t mean we should think of ourselves like that. We can affect our world in so many ways that are unforeseeable if our leaders are willing to guide us in that way.

I’m so grateful for having the opportunity to attend this conference as it has really opened my eyes. I have a greater vision for the future that I want to nurture for my kids, and I hope others start realizing this too. If we don’t move in the right way, we’ve truly shown the world that we do not want to be global citizens, and I refuse to be led down that path by others.

As a mom who can see the potential for a better Hawaii, I will continue to fight for the Hawaii I want for my kids. It’s my duty as a parent first and foremost to them.

20140625-080221-28941961.jpg

There Would Be No Paradise Without Pesticides

Historical Iolani Palace in Honolulu, Hawaii

From the Babes Against Biotech to the new Hawaii Center for Food Safety, these outsiders want Hawaii to be pesticide free.  There is so much fear mongering created by these groups to an uninformed public about the true need for pesticides.  If we let these activists get their way, what would our islands look like without the help of these
“agro-chemical” companies?

Hokulea Would Not be Sailing the World

DOW AGROSCIENCES product, VIKANE, was used to rid our precious Hokulea of the Singapore ant problem. Hokulea was able to set sail on the voyage around the world without spreading an invasive species.  Kamaaina Fumigation donated their work to the Polynesian Voyaging Society…  “It’s always full circle in our culture to give.”

Historical Buildings Would Be Destroyed

Here are a few of the culturally significant sites and invasive species management that use pesticides to help preserve these buildings and natural habitats.

Sentricon

o Iolani Palace
o Queen Emma Summer Palace
o Waikiki Aquarium
o Hilton Hawaiian Village
o Kamehameha School – Oahu

Vikane

o Bishop Museum
o Hokule’a – drywood termites about 8 years ago and the ants currently
o Pearl Harbor historical buildings
o Kawaiaha’o Church, Honolulu
o Waikiki Shell

Vegetation Management (Invasive Species)

o Fireweed on Maui and Big Island
o Albizia – all islands
o Miconia – Maui
o Native grass propagation project with UH for DOT Roadsides

Pesticides are Needed to Preserve Paradise!

Can you imagine our Hawaii without the Iolani Palace or natural habitats overtaken by Miconia? Our native forests would be destroyed if it weren’t for the management of these invasive species and we would have lost the historical buildings to termites a long time ago.  Hawaii needs these pesticides to preserve the things that make our islands unique, despite what the activists keep repeating to people over and over.  If we let these outsiders dictate the rules, start saying good bye to some of our favorite places and monuments and our rain forests.

Fear and public opinion should never dictate what happens in our islands.  Evidence and data must guide us for the future of our islands.  That’s what our leaders need to use also first and foremost in making policy and informing the public.

Preserving the past is a good thing but sometimes we need the help of future innovations to complete that mission.