A Cautionary Saga: Judge Kurren Invalidates the Anti-GMO Ordinance 960

wieldpaddles

It’s breaking news that the Kauai anti-GMO law has been invalidated by Judge Kurren today.  The law is pre-empted by the state law and cannot be enforced at the county level.  Joan Conrow and Richard Ha both did great blogs today on the news.

As I followed some of the news links posted on the various Facebook pages from Hawaii News Now, Civil Beat, KITV4, and KHON2, the commentaries are so disheartening once again.  I don’t consider this ruling a win in any case.  The damage has been done towards Hawaii agriculture, farmers, scientists, and our communities.  Our communities are not healed by this ruling that was started with a huge disinformation campaign by mainland based activists.  We are still divided and people are still not well informed about the issues revolving around agriculture here.

There has been so much fear mongering and misinformation that the public has been made to be so afraid of things they just don’t understand.  Bringing up they issue of biotechnology or even mentioning genetics or basic science turns people off as they have been indoctrinated to the belief that it’s “propaganda.”  How can we move forward when the largest and loudest voices are the least informed and still trying to dictate law? These are the same people who don’t understand how laws are made with to begin with or how the legal system works and now are asking for the judge to be impeached or even harmed?!

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Screenshot from the Babes Against Biotech Facebook page. Note the disturbing commentary below.

These activists aren’t about working together towards a common goal unfortunately.  Just last week at a farmer’s rally on the Big Island, a long time GMO Free activist named Courtney Larson, was arrested and is being charged for disorderly conduct and other various charges.  When farmers are trying to figure out how to move forward after this devastation, and are at their most vulnerable state, the activists show their true colors and it isn’t pretty or full of aloha.  Is that what we need in Hawaii at a time when we have so many other issues to deal with and work through?

The activists politicians are also another group of people who are feeding this unaloha spirit in our islands.  From the likes of Russell Ruderman and his fear mongering GMO articles, to Mike Gabbard sending me links to the debunked Seralini study, to Kaniela Ing and his associations with “home rule” and the SHAKA Movement, to Gary Hooser and his alliances with environmental activists, our leadership is failing us as a state.  I’ve always been taught as a leader to check out your sources and do your research about the issue to base your decisions up and that you must use facts and evidence to move forward, not emotions or trends of the moment.  The leaders’ jobs are to keep the community together and cohesive so that it can operate properly.  When leaders like these choose to side with the loudest of the bunch but refuse to use facts or come to the table to discuss issues, it does no one any favors.  They should also be doing the work of educating others with good information so fear doesn’t dominate the conversations.  It’s pretty clear poor leadership has done a lot of damage in these recent years.

Judge Kurren has made his ruling and that has set the law today.  Do we choose to accept this decision or continue fighting and completely wasting our time and energy on this issue that further divides the communities? Or do we move on and work on the actual problems that we face like our high poverty rate, education, traffic, the increasing elderly population, homelessness, food security, and so on?  I hope that we move forward and actually set out to do something meaningful for the people in our communities and use our resources wisely to make it happen.  That’s my hope and expectation!

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Johnny Gordines: A Farmer Caught in the Crossfire

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When most people think of Hawaii, they have the image of beauty.  Beauty of the mountains, the white sandy beaches and bright blue oceans and also the natural fauna of our islands.   The florals of our islands are truly unique and has become a synonymous with what we think of Hawaii.   We are so lucky to have many small farmers who make up the Hawaii floriculture industry.  Many of them have been at their work for a long time sending that bit of aloha around the world.  One of those farms is run by Johnny and Terry Gordines, who owns Tropical Flowers Express on Kauai.

When the issue of Bill 2491 hit the island of Kauai last year, some farmers, who know the agriculture issues in Hawaii, spoke out.  Johnny was one of them.  Others stood in the background instead of taking the risk of being a target.  Little did he know that he was not dealing with local folks, and was barraged with disrespect and hate for submitting testimony for the bill and for a letter in The Garden Island paper.

Here’s his testimony that he sent it which was publicly filed and viewable to all.

July 26, 2013

 

To Kauai County Council members:

 

It would be wonderful if farmers could stand in their fields, wave their arms and weeds, insects and plant diseases would magically disappear. It is too bad this cannot happen.

 

Instead, to banish pests and disease, farmers rely on sound scientific practices. They use pesticides and seeds resistant to insects and diseases. Their crops thrive and people all over enjoy a bounty of healthful fruits and vegetables and beautiful flowers.

 

Farmers use pesticides with great care and regard for themselves, their families, the people who work in their fields and their neighboring communities. Authorities in the State of Hawai’i and the U.S. government monitor farmers and all of the work that goes into pesticide development and application.

 

With its Bill 2491, the Kaua’i County Council seeks to insert itself into regulating pesticides and GMO crops — the exact same things our state and federal governments are already doing. It would take years and untold millions of dollars for our county to develop the same expertise and professional staffing to do what Hawai’i and the federal government are already doing.

 

The bill will impose many of these costs on the commercial seed growers in Kaua’i. Faced with these new costs, the growers will probably close down their farms, layoff their workers and leave Kaua’i.  It has been stated by Mr. Gary Hooser, the introducer of the Bill 2491, that it will not affect the small farmers here on Kauai.  On the contrary, if the seed companies are forced out of business, the chemical supply companies here on Kauai (Crop Production Services and C.Brewer Chemical Co.) will be forced to go out of business. This scenario will be devastating to the farmers on Kauai. We presently purchase chemicals, soil amendments, irrigation supplies as well as organic materials from them!  This will have a major impact on my business Tropical Flowers Express. Please consider the impact on the Kauai farmers.

 

I do know that, as the former farm manager for the Kauai Ag Research Center operated by the University of Hawai’i, College of Tropical Agriculture, this bill would devastate our work. I have applied restricted use (RUP) and general use pesticides in my work at the University for the past 32 years and have been a certified Category 10 licensed applicator. Our employer has provided physical exams yearly as well as a cholinesterase exam.  Department of Labor & Industries rule (WAC 296-307-148) requires agriculture employers to provide blood testing to workers who handle pesticides that can lower “cholinesterase” in the body. In my 32 years of service for the U.H., neither mine nor any of the employees’ level of pesticide exposure or handling, has ever been at a level that was detrimental to our general health! I am now 63 years old.

 

I am also the president of the Hawaii Tropical Flowers and Foliage Association on Kauai and a Director for Kauai on the Hawaii Floriculture and Nursery Association our statewide umbrella organization. The Floriculture industry is a vanity industry where the newest and unique catches the attention of the market. This means for our industry to remain competitive we need to have new and cutting-edge flowers and foliage in new colors and styles. An important tool for this is to be able to get new varieties, longer lasting varieties, and healthier varieties through the use of science, technology and innovation, such as GMO.

 

We believe it is important to look to the future of our agricultural industry and not handicap ourselves with laws that seek to close the door on technology. It is important that we keep finding solutions to pest and diseases that currently attack our plants and crops. With disease and pest resistant plants, we would be able to use less pesticides, which would lower costs for farmers and have a greater yield of product, allowing our sector in agriculture to improve efficiencies.

 

Please, County Council members, before you vote on this bill consider the damage it can do to agriculture on Kaua’i — the jobs it can destroy and the businesses and communities that will suffer. Please think wisely and vote “No” on Bill 2491.

 

Sincerely,

 

Johnny Gordines

Usually in Hawaii, most people are pretty respectful of differences, however on Kauai, the story is completely different.  What happened on the social media was totally shocking to most levelheaded folks.  The anti-GMO mob decided to attack his business online through his Facebook page and his Yelp page.  Just see what this small farmer and business owner had to contend with, a bunch of bullies right in his backyard.

This is what was being said about his business online in public posts on Facebook after he spoke out.

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One activist even posted this comment on his Facebook business page too.

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They went on Yelp too and disparaged his business.  Some review have been removed but others persist.

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You can read the corresponding reviews below to the above clip since they have since been removed.

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This issue goes well beyond the corporate hate and government distrust that these activists share.  It hurts everyone in the process.  The attacking of small farmers like this, who know the technology and tools available and speak up, ultimately pay the price for doing so.  That is why so many farmers like Johnny Gordines and others look to the leaders, to address this issue first and foremost, with facts and evidence, and not the loudest voices of opinion.

Farmers keep our country country and help the spread the beauty of Hawaii around the world. The support of the legislators is crucial in perpetuating this because you can’t tear apart agriculture, because doing so hurts it as a whole.  We need leaders’ support to keep Johnny at his work to spread that bit of aloha around the world!  Support the Hawaii Right to Farm Bill and stand up for what is right!

Visit Johnny’s work at Kauaiflowers.com and on Facebook at Tropical Flowers Express.

Support the farmers with local voices!

TFE3

Where’s the Giving Spirit of Gary Hooser and Club?

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It’s the holidays and to me that is a time for giving.  It is a time to get together with friends and family, catch up on old times but also a time to give back to others who aren’t as fortunate.  Every single time I go the to market or to the store, I always have some cash handy to let my kids drop into the Salvation Army donation can.  I also make sure that I gave my yearly donation to the Washinton University scholarship fund and to any other new cause that might need some help.  This year I did give a donation to the Golden Rice campaign to help promote efforts to get to the people who need it the most.  There are many people who could use that extra support at this time of year and if I have anything to give, I’ll freely give it if I can afford it.  To me, that’s the right thing to do at this time of year and really, throughout the entire year.

Following what’s going on in the social media, I was surprised to see that the Gary Hooser is once again riling up his anti-GMO club.  Tomorrow, December 15, all of his club members from the Babes Against Biotech to Hawaii SEED and more are going to do yet another march.  All this human energy and resources are going to be used just a few days before the holidays to once again protest and get together.  People are flying in from lots of outer islands to gather in Haleiwa essentially for an anti-GMO party.  Gary Hooser, the head Kauai County Council member riling up these folks even blogged about this march to promote and advertise it to others.  If you read it, he’s perpetuating his myths and conspiracy theories to get people “to rise up against this” and even thinks that people are “more educated” about the issues.  I find it rather sad that Gary feels that during the holidays, he’d rather see people march against something and use all of these resources to do such rather than help others in the communities.

It is really sad that Gary Hooser has really lost sight of what the holidays mean and about teaching others to give.  Consider what he really could have done that would have made someone’s holiday just that much better.  If every person who flew into this march opted not to go and donated that some $200 to a charitable organization, wouldn’t that be such a good thing?  Instead of using Honolulu City and County resources to cover the expenses of the march, these public funds could have been used in a different program to help the homeless or do something for a kupuna through one of the programs offered in the county.  How about using all this human energy to visit lonely people in nursing homes or help organize a holiday food drive?  These same people could have spent the day going into the native forests and cleaning out invasive species too.  Instead of going to the march and potlucking it, go to the IHS in town and feed the hungry that day.  These folks could even bring along their kids also to teach them what the holidays really mean.

Hawaii SEED even got a nice $10K check from Surfer Magazine to continue their misinformation campaign against farmers.  It’s all about how to pit farmers against farmers and not about healing the farming community with Ritte and his group.  I’ve never seen any Hawaii SEED give the needy food drive or help others event.  They obviously have some money but aren’t about to give any of it to people who may benefit from it.  You don’t see Hawaii SEED on the donation list for The Good Neighbor Campaign on the Star Advertiser.  It’s not about sharing with others unfortunately, no matter what time of year it is.

The more you see what these people do, the more you see that it isn’t about giving for them.  It’s all about taking away.  The anti-GMO club even had a float in the Pearl City Parade also where they passed out flyers and GMO free candy.  Instead of self promoting themselves and their issues, why didn’t these folks use that time and energy to actually give something back?  What if they didn’t spend that extra money for GMO free candy and donated that proceeds to the Hawaii Food Bank for someone who really needs nourishment?  They could take their kids with them and a nice sack of food to give to people who need it.  It is so disappointing to see that they continue to promote the fear mongering that make the most vulnerable of people afraid and guilty of what they are eating, while many of them partake in GE foods and admit that it is safe.  

A leader should embody and speak for the values that others should live by so that we can make our society a better place.  We all should be working together to solve the problems of the world, not seeking to continually divide it.  It’s the holidays where we should be working on making life better for others.  The leader should be the example to others to follow by.  Hooser talks about malama the aina and doing what is pono but what about malama the people too?  It is pretty obvious that Gary Hooser is not one of those leaders. 

By the way, if you should decide that you want to give to others at this time of year, here’s some great organizations that I think are worthwhile causes to support.

American Red Cross

The Nature Conservancy of Hawaii

The Aloha United Way

The Institute for Human Services

The Hawaii Food Bank

Remember that this is the spirit of giving and paying it forward.  I did it and I hope you do too!

 

The Real Problem is not the Anti-GMO Club

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As I was talking to my husband tonight about the whole issue with agriculture and the divisiveness going on, he made a statement that really hit me.  I was complaining about how a local farmer, whose crops were getting stolen, did not want to go on television to share his story.  I explained to him that they were shy about it and didn’t want to be out there.  Then my husband said, “Well, then you guys will all lose.”  I wanted to fight back and say something but as I internalized it, he’s right.  “If the silent majority continues to not speak up, then they will ultimately lose and we all will lose.”

No one wants to be at the end of a losing battle but in reality, in some ways he’s right.  The local folks will sit back and complain about what’s going on and then do nothing about it but complain.  Where does that complaining get us?  Does it solve the problem?  No.

Whenever there is a problem, one must realize that by seeing it, we are all a part of the problem.  If we don’t recognize that, the problem can never be addressed.  While many local people are starting to become more vocal about how we are being taken over by these activists, we are not doing our part.  This loud, brazen minority has taken advantage of the culture of Hawaii and used it to their advantage.

Local style ways are pretty simple and learned from the good old plantation days where there were people from all over the world.  Koreans, Chinese, Hawaiians, Portuguese, Filipinos, and Japanese were all joined together to work on the sugar cane and pineapple fields.  There was a unique culture developed through this relationships, much of it a mixture of the cultures.  Even a special language was born through all of this called pidgin that can only be heard by local people.

The local culture was pretty simple and based in respect.  Don’t talk stink about others.  Do your work good.  Respect your kupuna or elders.  Don’t make waves or attract attention to yourself.  No make shame on your family.  Work hard.  It was laid back in its ways really.  No one wants to speak up to get others mad or gain attention to yourself, just be a part of the masses.  No make trouble, just leave it the way it is even if you don’t like it.  Over the years, a huge sense of complacency has been developing as a result.  It’s pretty evident when you see bumper stickers that state, “Ainokea.”  That says it all… I don’t care.

When you look at the low voter turn outs in our state, that just shows how people don’t even bother with the issues nowadays.  The same goes for agricultural issues here in Hawaii.  How many times have you heard a local farmer speaking out for an issue?  There are thousands of farmers here that were born and raised with long time family traditions rooted here.  Where are their voices in the whole issue?  I hardly hear or see of it but I do hear the complaints from others who don’t like what’s happening.  This really sends the message that no one wants to stick their head out about the best direction to take based on their expertise and experience.  The anti-aloha activists and their politicians have seized on this opportunity and are running the show now.  Is that what is best for Hawaii?  These are opportunists supported by ill-informed people supported by lots of outside monies?

So, if you don’t like what is happening to our agricultural industry in Hawaii, you the local born person, go walk in front of the mirror.  Don’t point your finger at the anti-GMO club and blame them.  Point that finger right at yourself and say, “Hey, you!  You are the problem.  Yep, I said it.  It’s you who don’t have the guts take a stand.  Don’t like what’s happening, eh?  Den you bettah speak up do something about it and stop wasting your energy complaining.  You da only one who going fo suffer.”

Wake up local people.  There is a new culture developing in our islands that if you don’t adapt to it, you’ll have to pay the price for your silence.  It’s time for the local folks who don’t say anything to speak up, vote, and say something to help your fellow long time local farmers.  If you don’t, who will?

One way to start is to sign the petition to speak up for farmers!

 

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Mayor Carvalho: Doing What is Right for Kauai

This is a letter by the Cassel Family submitted to the Kauai County Council in support of Mayor Carvalho’s decision on Bill 2491:

We support Mayor Carvalho’s courageous decision on Bill 2491. We commend him for standing up for respect for the law, taking the time to do things right the first time, and making sure everything is legal. We need to work together to change gradually to organic methods and find realistic ways to support agriculture on this island and not destroy it first.

We love seeing the beautiful coffee trees while driving from Eleele to Kalaheo; with the proposed large buffer zones tourists may only see weeds. We really appreciate all the work that G & R, the corn companies, and Kauai Coffee do to keep the westside rural; it’s a blessing.

Real change comes from working together in a spirit of lokahi: unity, harmony, agreement. Out of the currently existing division and hysteria, our incredibly strong mayor can build lokahi and support for traditional Hawaiian values. We have become such a litigious society; even both sides in this issue are sue-happy and want to just settle it in court. We fully support the Mayor’s statement that “It would be my preference to achieve the goal through cooperation and understanding, instead of through adversarial legal action.”

The corn companies are already highly regulated by very diligent Department of Agriculture inspectors. Workers receive extensive pesticide application training, as opposed to homeowners we’ve seen spraying in shorts and t-shirts, totally violating the label law of over-the-counter pesticides. If they didn’t read the label enough to dress properly, can we trust that they read it enough to apply the proper amount? Actually, a lot of this boils down to trust, and after all this public hysteria and attacks, those companies are going to be sure to do everything right according to the label laws.

Another thing to remember is that thanks to Rachel Carson’s book Silent Spring, the pesticides used now-a-days have shorter half-lives and are pretty specific to their target. Before, for instance, to prevent termite damage decades ago, they used to spray so much Chlordane by foundations of plantation houses in Kekaha that you can still smell it in the soil. Despite this, the life expectancy is higher than ever before on Kauai, and the only cancer that is increasing is melanoma on the skin from spending so much time in our glorious sunshine (if one looks carefully at Department of Health statistics.) In other words, it’s something that needs regulated, not something to get hysterical about.

If the people fighting agribusiness want to fight something that is really killing the brain cells of our youth, destroying our families and our lives, raising crime rates, they should go after ice and other drugs.

It would behoove us to build a unified vision for Kauai and our mayor has the character to be a true leader. Stellar leadership involves charting the unknown, much like how the original Polynesian canoe voyagers set out into the unknown, with only their known values the stars to guide them, and found Hawaii.

This uncharted territory to try to re-unite Kauai could involve developing a workforce to prove the feasibility of farming organically on a large scale: pick bugs, pull weeds, mulch with guinea grass, expand the integrated pest management the companies are already doing, etc. Provide a framework for people to put their time where they say their convictions lie. Workdays could be combined with vision brainstorming sessions, with both sides involved. Kauai could become a world class example of “agribusiness meets organic farming and — they won!

A people united can do anything they put their minds to. Mayor Carvalho is truly the subject of the song “You raise me up to walk on stormy seas” that he sang so beautifully at the Mayor’s Prayer Luncheon a couple years back. I’m sorry he’s had to take so much verbal abuse for this, but we need more people to stand up for what is right, and we thank him for his great and shining example.

Aloha,

The Cassels of Waimea Valley
Ruth Cassel, James Jr. and Katie Cassel, and Tom Cassel

The Ad Hominen Attacks of Tokyo Rose

The real Tokyo Rose

There are a certain bunch of anti-GMO club members that have taken to bombarding the social media.  If there is anything with those 3 letters on them, you can bet you’ll find them there.  There was a post yesterday in Pacific Business News having an editorial board meeting about the issues at hand in our state regarding biotechnology.  Of course, when you put a comment after all the anti-GMO activists, you will get these kind of comments.  Note that I simply asked a question in response to the post.

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What I got was not a surprise considering that these activists have taken to bombarding the social media.

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This person has even accused me of antagonizing her too!  I can’t quite figure out how but once again paranoia sets in.

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Another thread starts up too on this same link.

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I do remember how she and yet another so called farmer posted some very “nice” comments on a farm fair picture on another ag FB page.

Here’s the no aloha comments posted by these same people in response to mine.

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Unreal what these people are capable of saying publicly.  Of course I was forwarded this clip too of how I acquired my nickname.

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There is no getting through to these activists.  When they have to start attacking people personally, it really shows that there is nothing in the form of evidence to support their argument.  They can only resort to name calling or accusations of being a shill.  This clearly demonstrates that these people are unreasonable and will only be agreeable to one single demand, their way.  Working with the unreasonable will get you no where.

From the Bad Skeptic link:

“The only thing the crier o’ shill proves is that they don’t give a flying f*@k about having an actual discussion, about hearing any viewpoint but their own, or about any reality outside of the one they’re already convinced exists. Saying, “I’m right, and that’s that! Neener!” is good enough for them.”

That’s fine with me but more reason why we can’t make laws and policy according to these activists demands.