A Passion for Papaya is Not Propaganda

A Passion for Papaya is Not Propaganda

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Dr. Marion Nestle referred to the film Food Evolution as “propaganda” and the other activists like Zen Honeycutt and the Food Babe are jumping onboard.  This implies that the content was misleading, and meant to affect opinions using less-than-honest means. I was really shocked when 45 academic signatories wrote the letter calling the film propaganda from the agrochemical industry.

I’m glad to offer you a taste of that propaganda, or should I say, papaya.

The film’s first part shows a horrible battle that happened here in my home state of Hawaii.  Non-farmers and well-financed mainland activists wanted my family to abandon a technology, the virus-resistant papaya.  The papaya was made resistant by genetic engineering, and it was done by universities and government to help the local papaya farmers. It was not the “agrochemical industry”.

Mainland activists riled up local agitators by carefully crafting a massive fear campaign in our communities and manipulated a vote against the papaya. Claims were made that it was poison, it caused tumors, it was increasing pesticide use and more diseases in the industry.  None of this was true, but in fear of retaliation, the majority of the council voted to ban it anyway.

The Food Evolution film crew was in Hawaii because it was the important national story at the time. They covered the story in great detail and presented it as it unfolded, giving plenty of time to the papaya’s opposition.

It also shows how farmers pushed back, and Margaret Wille and the County Council then grandfathered the papaya in, even though they believed (the propaganda) that it was carcinogenic and harmful.

They were caught in a hypocrisy when one tells the public improved fruits are dangerous but then exempt them with pressure.  This is fact.  This is hardly propaganda. The papaya works, it saved an industry, and is outstanding technology.

So it is very disappointing to me that Nestle, Pollan and 45 others go on record calling this story agrochemical industry propaganda, when it is a far cry from the truth.

It is especially disturbing because many of the people that refer to my family’s livelihood as propaganda are graduate students and professors. It seems like a bad career move to call the chronicling political resistance to successful technology agrochemical industry propaganda.

It is even more troubling that these are students and professors that claim to be in favor of small-holder family farms and sustainability.  The papaya allows my family to sustainably produce a local staple that would be gone if it was not for the technology.

If I was a student or faculty member I would think carefully before signing my name to a movement laden with false claims. It seems like the academic road is very difficult today, and when a search of your name shows you standing up against technology and small family farmers, it seems like a short-sighted career move. Your name on that letter symbolizes the rejection of science and the benefits it can have for small family farms globally, who face climate change and it’s consequences.  Do you really stand against that reality?

If you ever are over in the islands please let me know and I’ll personally introduce you to our “giant agrochemical industry”, which is me, my family and two dedicated farm workers, growing a delicious and valued fruit. The movie Food Evolution told our story, our fight, and our ongoing success very accurately.  I would think very carefully before calling my family’s reality throwaway propaganda.

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Joni Kamiya–The Hawaii Farmer’s Daughter

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The Hawaii Democratic Party Wants Farmers Out of Business

The Hawaii Democratic Party Wants Farmers Out of Business

Either the legislative caucus of the Hawaii Democratic Party doesn’t read bills properly or are missing a few screws. They apparently have made it clear that they want agriculture out of Hawaii.

Read their testimony below:

Thursday, February 5, 2015
Relating to House Bill 1514 Testifying in Support

Aloha, Chair Lee, Vice-Chair Lowen and Members of the House Committee on Energy and Environmental Protection,

The Democratic Party of Hawaii supports HB1514 Relating to Environmental Protection, which requires disclosure relating to outdoor applications of pesticides by certain commercial agricultural entities, especially in areas that impact Hawaii’s Keiki and Kupuna. The establishment of reasonable buffer zones where regulated pesticides are dispersed and the necessary funding for enforcement by relevant State agencies are imperative. The good agricultural practices that are described in this bill should be commonplace for all of Hawaii’s responsible farming community.
As is evidenced by the many resolutions adopted at numerous State Conventions, the Democratic Party of Hawaii has long been dedicated to the promotion and protection of all of Hawaii’s people, food sustainability and our island environment. Therefore, we encourage the committee to vote favorably on this bill.

Mahalo for the opportunity to testify, The Legislation Committee of the Democratic Party of Hawaii

Well, Democrats, apparently you are wanting food sustainability but then want to make it harder for farmers. You want to protect the keiki and kupuna from pesticides but won’t regulate all others who use it including the state and county. You want to protect the environment without pesticides and let invasive species overrun the aina. You also feel it’s okay for farmers to be sued and have to pay for these lawsuits. Wow.

Well, I guess I can add the Democrats to the list of people who want to put farmers out of business. I guess papaya and produce grown in Mexico is better than the locally produced foods. That’s how we will help our food sustainability goals Democrats!

The Anti-GMO Club Needs a Lesson in the Golden Rule

Remember as kids were were taught in school the Golden Rule?  I think that once again we have to go back to small kid time and remember that simple rule that kept the world more peaceful and civil.

The anti-GMO activists might benefit from taking a lesson in walking in another person’s shoes.  Remove those Monsanto goggles for just a few minutes and think on your own two feet.  It might do some good here.

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Imagine being a long time farmer.  We’ll call you Farmer Aloha.  Farmer Aloha’s parents and grandparents did it and now you have taken on the farm.  Your family has a proud heritage of farming and you want to continue it.  Well, one day, some disease crops up in your orchard and little by little it destroys it.  All that work you did to plant it, nurture it, are all gone despite much of an effort to control for this disease.  In a matter of months,  your entire family farm is decimated.  You are  pretty darn sad and depressed.  You don’t make a whole lot of money from farming but this is your life’s passion.

Soon, Farmer Aloha gets word that research is being done to help solve this disease and possibly restore your crops.  It is a glimmer of hope of continuing the family legacy to help bring back your farm.  You go on for years without a farm, taking on a different job, but it is in your blood to farm the soil and land.  You try different crops but the very one you want and love is still out of reach.  All your long time loyal workers and customers are at a loss because your farm is gone.  They know you and your product well and want it back.

Eventually, the research turns out be that hope indeed and within several years, you slowly start up your farm again.  Many years and tons of testing was done to get the fruit ready for market and then there is a press release that is sent out with very little hullabaloo.  No one really pays attention to it at the time.  So many a happy customers are glad to see their beloved fruit again from their favorite Farmer Aloha in the stores.  Your business continues to regrow again bit by bit from the initial losses that you are still recovering from.

All the meanwhile, a bunch of radicals starts to get together and decide that this new fruit of Farmer Aloha’s is the next best thing to protest and target.  These folks start hooking up with each other and start telling each other many a stories about this thing they don’t understand.  It is just too scary to consider that science can change plants.  The anti-Aloha group consists of a fringe scientist, surfers, sociologists, bus drivers, hotel workers, green people, lawyers, etc.  Because there are hundreds of ill informed frightened people around, the masses grow.  Even some of the politicians are fearful of the technology and don’t do their own research on the issue.  These people just believe and refuse to accept the evidence.  Pretty soon thousands are believing that Farmer Aloha’s crops are indeed a threat.  The small minority of other farmers and scientists are amazed at this horrible hate and wrath of misinformation.  If one of them should speak up, they instantly are targeted by the anti-Aloha club.

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Then comes the advent of the internet and the filth spews even more across the world.  More hateful things are being said all over the place and everyone and their grandma is saying the same thing about Farmer Aloha.  The hate is all the same things being said over and over but Farmer Aloha continues to work for your faithful customers and clients.  It gives you pride to be able to continue to feed them.  You hope that this issue will settle down in time.

Farmer Aloha decides to support other farmers too by going to the Farm Fair. You serve up thousands of samples of his delicious sweet fruits.  Lots of people appreciate it and will say so.  The true local people of course come up and pleasantly ask for a sample first and then take one.  Then come the anti-Aloha people who come up very defiantly and lift their noses up and ask, “Are these GMO?”  To which Farmer Aloha states, “Why yes they are.  Please enjoy a sample.”  Some of these anti-Aloha folks tip their noses to the air and stiffly walk away quite snottily or some crouch down to hide this special sweet sample and savor it secretly.  Other fearful anti-Aloha people will come up and say, “You are selling poison!”  That person starts going off in front of others clamoring for samples and eventually gets pushed away.  He never notices the weird looks that others are giving him.

Because of Farmer Aloha’s support of this new technology, the disease pressure is reduced and almost obliterated.  The anti-Aloha people discover that farming is the new thing to do after moving to Hawaii and start their own farms.  With no disease and a lot of people fearing Farmer Aloha’s fruit, they can sell aloha-free fruit to these folks.  These same anti-Aloha folks proudly go about the social media to talk stink about Farmer Aloha and his workers and family.  They even put their faces to their comments too so that you know who they are!  They even posted really mean and nasty comments on a picture of your kid wearing his aloha fruit costume too!  These anti-Aloha people are everywhere on the social media bombarding the whole conversation.  No one is listening to you, Farmer Aloha.  You are not even part of the conversations.  And that is where our stories ends at the moment.

So, lesson from this story is have you ever heard of Farmer Aloha ever saying something derogatory to these anti-Aloha farmers or even posting nasty comments on their farming pages?  Or has Farmer Aloha ever gone on the record to tell these anti-Aloha farmers how to farm and what to grow?  No, never, ever because he’s too busy working on his farm.  Farmer Aloha is all about aloha and education.  The anti-Aloha farmers and their club members are famous for this kind of behavior and tactics.  Easy to find all over the place sadly to state.  We have never seen any Farmer Aloha stooping down to that level.

Simply put, what if people started protesting organic foods?  Then spreading nasty rumors about the dangers of organic foods and scary pictures of what it can do to you?  Then it would make people really scared and irrational about this food that they consider organic.  The organic farmers would be subject to hate and unkind remarks as well as harassment over the social media and at farmer’s markets.  This would go on for years and years with no end in sight because more and more people start to believe these rumors as truths.  And what if that pretty green organic label incited fear in people to cause them to not buy it based on marketing of misinformation?  What if consumers started to demand the right to know how your grow and demand a label if it was fertilized with manure and had the potential for fecal contamination?  Would the organic farmers support it?  Then, would they like it if there was an organized march against them called MAO, March Against Organic?  I doubt it.

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I think that if we have others walk in the shoes of the farmers they are protesting and directing their hate and harassment at, it might just shed a different light on where and what we need to do for agriculture in Hawaii.  How would you like it if your livelihood was being targeted for completely baseless reasons?  You would not like it either!

The golden rule is no longer taught in Hawaii schools but there is something new called the 5 Rs that the anti-Aloha club might want to review in the conversations around agriculture and farming.  This is the direction that Hawaii agriculture has to move towards…  One of respect, responsibility, resourcefulness, relationships, and resiliency.  That is the future!

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