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

The Pay It Forward Shill

The Pay It Forward Shill

  
My time here in Cornell has been somewhat of an emotional roller coaster ride, but not in a bad way.  I came really excited to meet fellow allies who have been affected by the anti-GMO activism across the globe.  As I learned about their stories and experiences in Kenya, Ghana, Bangladesh, Philippines, and Nigeria, I felt very sad.  They had firsthand experiences of knowing farmers’ who have lost their crops and livelihoods to disease and pests.  My dad’s farm also has had the same experiences but thanks to technology, he still can grow his papayas.

My dad worked two jobs for the majority of his life.  He had a full time day job at the BYU-Hawaii physical plant to provider our family with a steady income and health insurance.  After he finished work there, he went to work on the farm.  When the farm failed over the years to disease, his day job was the backup.  My siblings and I also had to take on part time jobs once we were of age to work to support the family.

For farmers in developing countries, farming is the main economic driver for their communities as I’m learning.  Some 80% of the population relies on agriculture for their livelihoods.  If crops fail, it spells utter devastation for many and the consequences go far beyond just the farm.

I’ll readily admit that I was somewhat ignorant to realizing how important agriculture is to the people of Africa.  I was really saddened when I saw this meme of the Hawaii anti-GMO movement on a slide in a Kenyan farmer advocate’s presentation.

  
It included many Hawaii politicians and activists that were behind the furor of the movement back in 2012.  Here were well fed and clothed people using misinformation to demand the labeling of GMO under the disingenuous “Right to Know” campaign.  The Hawaii movement was indeed affecting many countries in Africa the right for farmers to use a technology, all of which are public sector developed, to help grow their crops and sustain their families.  I feel ashamed that we, the people of the Aloha State, were using misinformation to keep farmers from these tools that could offer better ways of farming.

The activists were quick to demand their rights but think nothing about the rights of others to have access basics.  Not only do these people promote a selfish message but they also told people that they’d turned gay or impotent by consuming GM foods! They used the battle cry of home rule but knew explicitly that Hawaii’s wins would dictate the issue in far off countries.  I can now clearly see how we as a state is truly being used as a pawn by radical extremists like Greenpeace and the seemingly legitimate Center for Food Safety.

I felt the bleeding of aloha early on in the social media and can now pinpoint the source of it.  The Greenpeace attitudes of using intimidation, threats, and ecoterrorism have taken root in my home state.  Their manipulative fear campaigns take full advantage of otherwise normal folks and get them to reject the science permeating our lives.  It’s mean to take advantage of peoples’ ignorance and turn them into raging bullies on the Internet.  This is a clear reflection of radical environmentalists dictating policy which is wrong but accepted by the activists who defend bad behavior.

I was truly disappointed when the state attorney general, Doug Chin, signed on to the Vermont labeling case.  Leaders of our state still haven’t figured out the true motives of the manipulation.  We are food secure and can demand all kinds of rights about our foods and use it as a means to scare other countries on why it’s bad.  It sets a bad precedent to the world who truly needs these tools.

My heart breaks knowing that my home state is the center of this global battle that shouldn’t be.  How can we call ourselves the aloha state when we allow ourselves to be manipulated like this? We have no aloha if our actions deny others a better quality of life.  

I want others to have a better quality of life and truly believe in using evidence not emotion to guide our policies.  The Hawaii Crop Improvement Association generously gave me $2000 to help further my knowledge about agriculture globally.  I thank them for investing in me but I realize that I am able bodied and can work to earn income for years to come.  

There are people at home who need help and after much thought, I selected the best use for their generosity.  I decided to donate $1000 each to the Hawaii Food Bank and the Meals on Wheels program.  I get peace knowing that 117 meals can go to seniors through Meals on Wheels and some 250 meals can be given out by the Food Bank.  Why should I deny others food when I have plenty?

So, yes, it is first time I can truly call myself a shill for taking money from the industry.  I’m officially the pay it forward shill. It’s not in my pocket but in the hands of those who need it the most.  Will my home state do the same by setting an example to the world by supporting policies that helped our papaya farmers help global farmers? 

Lead by example and let’s start today by giving to others with evidence based policies.

  
  

 

Why You Gotta Be So Rude?

We all know that song…

As I was watching the hearing for SB793, at segment 29:25 where Senator Josh Green rudely interrupts fellow Senator Suzanne Chun-Oakland’s question to Tom Matsuda of the Department of Agriculture. Shortly after that at segment 32:08, he rudely interrupts Senator Thielen and berates Matsuda for not having all the figures on the pesticides for each of the islands when she tries to determine the true nature of all of the users.

Let’s back up a second here. One of the primary introducers of this piece of legislation was Senator Green. He had to come up with justification for this law in order to draft it. If he did his homework to really identify the problem of pesticides, shouldn’t he already have had some figures already? If not, how in the world did he come up with such a law? Did he pull stuff out of thin air? Interesting that he cut off key questions that would provide more insight and truth about pesticides.

Senator Green’s rudeness really was uncalled for when he should have had his facts in place. Trying to one up the HDOA representative to bolster his image in front of the activists is weak and down right rude. It seems that some legislators have gotten too big in the head to have civility and respect anymore, which is just like the activists that adore them. Even legislators shunning ag workers is a deplorable tactic and so disrespectful as they are to represent the people who voted for them.

Next time a senator tries to get all high and mighty, hum that song, “Why you gotta be so rude?!” In local speak, “Why you gotta be like dat fo?!”

What Will I Tell My Kids?

What Will I Tell My Kids?

Every Sunday, my dad and I get to talk story about what’s going on in the agricultural scene as well as the latest science research that we’ve heard about. We are avid followers of the latest findings and both follow the politics pretty closely. I’ve been having these chats with him for several years now and it’s usually pretty upbeat and positive.

Today’s one was unlike any other talk story time. He’s usually talking about how my brother is learning the ropes of the farm and loves to reminisce about the way he was when joining the farm with my grandfather. He’d say that young farmers come in with lots of bright ideas about how they are going to change this and that because the new way is better, only to realize that some old ways are good because they are tried and true. Today was different as I heard him mention that with all these additional laws being targeted at ag and farmers, he would not be surprised if my brother decides to throw in the towel.

I have to say that I have never even given thought to seeing the end of my dad farming. This is his passion! It was something that never made him rich but it is what he loves to do. He essentially worked two full time jobs for decades to support the family and keep the farm. My brother also realized my dad’s passion and wanted to continue his legacy. If he gives up, there will be no more Kamiya Papaya.

It seems farming was once a noble profession but in this day and age, it is no longer respected apparently. With all of this targeted legislation being proposed by politicians and activists, of whom have never even had decades of farming experience, one gets tired of defending their work and continuing to reiterate the need to incorporate science into it. It’s easier to read stuff off the Internet as truth and then rile up people for the cause than to produce a crop. The farmers or the 1.5% of the population have a hard time getting their message loud enough over the 99%. Who will step in for us?

I’ve got to say that I really felt saddened after hearing my dad say that today. The days where politicians did research into the issues and sometimes did what was right but against popular opinion is over. They have to listen to the loudest of folks first and foremost. Leaders no longer have the integrity to protect the folks who are doing the right thing but have the lesser number. There are some but they are far and few between because of the attacks by activists upon them.

Ten years down the line, I don’t want to have to tell my kids the story about why they can’t go down to papa’s farm. Nor do I want to tell my youngest daughter that there are no more real tractors to play on because the farm is gone. Least of all, I don’t want to have to tell my youngest why we have pictures of a farm and nothing else. I’m hoping that by doing my part, I can stop that from becoming a reality. The farm is my dad’s legacy and our family’s heritage and no one can take that away from us without a fight for truth.

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Tales of a Lazy Anti-GMO Activist: “Science is Propaganda!”

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The latest disturbing trend that I’ve been observing with the activists, whether it be an anti-vaccination or anti-GMO one, is stating that science is propaganda. This clearly tells me that either they don’t understand the scientific process or some of the basics or don’t quite understand what propaganda really is. Honestly, it’s just them being plain old lazy to actually put some brain power to actually think about what’s being said. There, I said the painful truth about it.

Most activists seem to not even understand what propaganda really is. As one can see from the definition, it’s politically motivated. The fact that the activists are attempting to influence laws without evidence to support such regulations creates a slippery slope as to the necessity of the laws to begin with. These folks are very effective and getting others to repeat the mantras of people are being sprayed, kids are being sprayed, birth defects, and the aina is being poisoned. It doesn’t matter if all the multiple tests and studies done show otherwise. It’s a fear based statements that the least informed tends to latch on to easily.

When these emotionally hot statements are repeated over and over, it becomes fact to people, irregardless of what the data points too. Propaganda needs no fact to back up what’s being said and it’s effective when it’s fear based as we have seen. Whether the message is vaccinations will cause autism or GMOs means pesticides, it scares people and puts them on the emotional high horse crusade to protect themselves against this perceived evil.

If one should ask for evidence, it’s against the unspoken code that you do not question or doubt what’s being said. The evidence that is provided only repeats the same statements and few people if any know how to skeptically question the sources and just believe. A crusade against something so bad cannot tolerate dissenters or doubters for that matter. It will utterly destroy the energy and emotion that drives this battle and endangers the stature of leaders who benefit from the numbers of people engaged in their movement.

A perfect example of this is Kauai County Councilmember’s statements on pesticide usage there. He repeated over and over that there was 18 tons being used. As a result, people repeated it but never questioned it. The reality was much different but the repeated statements became truth despite the facts that it was half as much. Facts don’t matter and nor does being honest with their followers also. He could have easily corrected them but refused to do so because he’d likely create doubt in many people’s minds. Kauai County Councilmember, Gary Hooser, created so much fear that his followers turned very ugly on the social media and in the communities. That likely got the level headed voters to put him lowest on the totem polem this past election.

When activists claim that, “There’s propaganda on both side,” they’ve just shown that they aren’t able to critically assess what’s being stated. Instead of researching out the facts and critically vetting sources, it’s way easier to shut down logic and critical thinking all together. Why bother doing the hard work to actually open your mind and learn when it’s easier to dismiss science as propaganda? It’s easiest to live in fear and on emotions than it is to step back and actually think. It’s also more fun to have more people on your side too.

Creating doubt in your followers is dangerous in an ideological movement. Questioning of the information is a threat to its very existence and can topple the leaders that perpetuate it. It simply can’t be tolerated. The next best thing is to now tell followers to just dismiss evidence all as propaganda. Forget intellectual honesty and considering that you just might be wrong about what you thought. Don’t bother doing any real research and use the statement, “Science is propaganda.”

Yeah, you said it and you can continue repeating those same erroneous statements because you’ve acknowledged that you refuse to attempt to think critically or logically about the issue. That is a good reason why those who think like that should not be involved in policy making. No logic and no critical thought invested in the process means harmful unintended consequences that affect everyone. Haven’t we already learned that with all the bad bills passed across our islands?

Shooting Ourselves in the Foot: The Banning of GM Technology and Research in Hawaii

There is a breaking news story that a possible case of Ebola is at a Honolulu hospital tonight.  It’s not confirmed however, but this shows how it is indeed a real problem worldwide should it spread. Hawaii is an international hub that so many people travel through making it a prime location for the spread of contagious illnesses.  Recall other illnesses that have made it to our shores several years back from H1N1, swine flu, and Dengue fever.  Diseases spread and it can be devastating.

According to the CDC website, genetic testing is used to diagnose this deadly disease.  Yes, the science used in genetic engineering is applied in making that diagnosis of the Ebola virus.  (Any protests to GM technology in medicine?)

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It is also interesting to note that several aid workers who had been infected with it in Africa managed to recover from this viral illness possibly due to GMO tobacco plants that produced an experimental drug.  You can read more about this treatment and outcomes here and watch the video below to hear his story.

So while the people of Hawaii are growing concerned about this contagious and very deadly illness, in Maui County, voters are seeking out a ban of GM technology until it is proven safe.  Hawaii has the perfect growing conditions to possibly be a contributor to solving this very deadly issue and yet the public will get to vote to block it from happening.  Our state could be at the forefront of helping to research and grow medications that can alleviate suffering and death but we’d rather use well read Google scholars to dictate laws that prevent us from being global citizens in helping others.  That’s just sad.

We are fearing a technology that can save lives but prefer to listen to lawyers from Earthjustice, the Center for Food Safety, and politicians like Gary Hooser, Tim Bynum, Elle Cochran, and activists like Nomi Carmona and Walter Ritte to dictate laws.  I can’t help but wonder if political science PhD. Ashley Lukens of the Center for Food Safety is rethinking her stance on blocking this technology when faced with Ebola.  Where’s Vandana Shiva and her life saving offer to the people suffering from this deadly disease?  Where’s the organic activists like Zen Honeycutt of Moms Across America and her claims that organic cures autism helping to alleviate the suffering of others?  Where’s Hawaii SEED and their donations to solve this problem? What’s the SHAKA Movement doing to revamp their ordinance should this disease and others spread across the world?  Will we leave ourselves handicapped to do anything to address this problem because we choose the “naturalistic” lifestyle and live in harmony with nature? Ebola is indeed natural and definitely something none of us want.

This is a real issue that we need to address and if we don’t, we won’t be ready for it should it escalate further and we’ve shot ourselves in the foot.  Think its not real? Think this is fear mongering? Listen to Dr. Kent Brantly, one of the survivors of the virus, tell his story of what is happening in West Africa.

I know some people are reading Natural News and alternative health sites that are telling you that Ebola is a made up illness and such.  Please have some skepticism and get off of those sites as they are making you look foolish for not even questioning it.  Questioning genetics and the science behind it only to call it propaganda isn’t considered skepticism.  That’s called being scientifically illiterate and not something you should be professing in the social media.  Those conspiracy theories aren’t helping your intelligence and critical thinking or logic either.  You can post them on the social media and believe them, but quite a few people know you’ve been made the fool but are too nice to not say it.

To pass bad laws like the Maui Moratorium one is irresponsible at best because the touters of it have no idea of the unintended consequences of such an action.  Do we want to block our options for very viable solutions because of what someone read on the internet and believes with no facts behind it?  I say no and you should too!

 

 

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

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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!