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

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?

Why State Legislators Shouldn’t be Proud of Home Rule

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I’ve noticed that several legislators have been celebrating the “home rule” issue when the Right the Farm act was being discussed.  Home rule essentially means that counties can enact whatever laws that they feel necessary at their level.  Many emails, tweets, and Facebook posts were posted by these leaders who decided to release their rightful reign on this issues to rogue counties like the Big Island and Kauai.

I’m not sure why these legislators are so proud of letting counties have more power in dictating farm laws when the reality is, the state has the necessary resources to enforce and enact such laws.  As I see it, these lawmakers have decided to not beef up their resources in their bills to address such issues, and failed to take care of the perceived problem, if any.

The message I get from this kind of celebration is, “I have clearly failed my constituents to take care of their concerns at my level, so I will burden the counties with such issues.”  The people asking for county laws claim that they have been failed by the state so that is why they are seeking county rule.  Why are state legislators celebrating their supposed miserable failure to take care of this issue?  If these people feel there was real harm done by the negligence of the state, why didn’t they take the state to court and sue them?

While these lawmakers keep pushing the home rule issue, they are also talking on the other side of coin about food sustainability for Hawaii and keeping the country country.  A certain handful of lawmakers have grandiose ideas of everyone in Hawaii having their own sustainable gardens to feed themselves.  Of course, these will only feed themselves and not others.  Certain lawmakers side with the keep the country country folks but don’t even take the time to hear the farmers out.

The reality is that this kind of idea is shortsighted and poorly thought out.  This will lead to many unintended consequences.  With counties having to create their own regulating bodies to enforced these rogue laws, the money has to come from their residents.  Residents will have to pay for all of this with increased taxes and fees.  With the high cost of living already an issue, who has the time and money to start up their own gardens to feed just themselves?  Financially, working a 9-5 job allows one to afford much more food than tending to a garden and more reliable for our food supply.  How are the other residents like the seniors and disabled going to bear the burden of higher costs of living?  Is this really the right way to do things for everyone?

I guess in Hawaii, we celebrate our failure to constituents by letting others make bad laws that ultimately costs everyone along the line.  It’s easy to talk about what is pono but apparently no one has really figured out how to walk the talk.

There Is Real Harm in Misinformation

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It is good that there is an effort to teach people how to grow food in their own gardens and possibly start up their own farms.  What is quite disturbing to me to hear that the Hawaii Organic Farming Association in alignment with Representative Jessica Wooley are touting that only organic is the way to go to doing this.  There is a major problem with this and papayas.

As much as people would like to think that there is no papaya ringspot virus around and that organic methods will prevent this, they are far from the truth.  No amount of dirt that Senator Russell Rudeman proposed as  a solution to this problem is going to solve it.  Nor is Jeffrey Smith coming up with any solutions either to deal with this.

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It’s even sadder when a senator continues to perpetuate myths that harm his very own constituents on his own island.  He doesn’t even support his own papaya farmers in Puna!

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What he fails to realize is that every single thing we eat is a result of some form of modification.  We humans have been tampering with nature since the beginning of civilization.  Genetic modification is just another form of plant breeding.  So technically, yes, Senator Ruderman, we are all eating a form of genetically modified food for thousands of years, regardless of how it was grown.

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While Ruderman and Wooley, both of whom are not farmers, keeping harping their organic wheels of misinformation, there are those who believe this campaign.  Those are the people who have the learn things the hard way.  You can ask any long time farmer, not yardener, if one can grown GMO free papayas here on Oahu.  Most will tell you that it is hard because the virus is still around.  Piling soil on the roots isn’t going to prevent the papaya from getting a disease spread by aphids.  Learning the hard way doesn’t hurt the yardeners much but it could do harm to those investing in growing the fruit for an income.

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Example of a non-GMO papaya tree infected by the virus next to a transgenic variety that remains unaffected. Trees were grown on the Windward side of Oahu.

Why would you knowingly grow a crop that is known to be at high risk for disease?  No farmer would ever risk their livelihoods for that, which is why they are fortunate to have the choice to grow such crops, and provide fruits to their customers year after year.  Misinformation against this choice hurts every farmer and every farmer to be.  Of course, it isn’t Jessica Wooley’s or Russell Ruderman’s investments that are being harmed, so they really don’t care and it’s glaringly obvious.

1000 Good Reasons to Label GMO Food: A Guide for Politicians

You really should be contacting your legislator now to demand that GMO foods be labeled!  Listed are some reasons that you can include in your letter to prove your points also.  Feel free to use it.

1) Monsanto owns everything and anything, including the sky.  You’ve heard it from your aunty and your uncle and your brother’s friend’s sister that Monsanto owns the whole world. Yes, the seed companies don’t even make the top 25 biotech companies in the world but you still believe everything that is told to you.  And because of it, you think they control everything including the weather with their purchase of the Climate Corporation. When one person tells you that the skies are filled with chemtrails, you trust them and believe them. That also explains why there is always rain predicted on your anti-GMO marches.
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2) Natural News told you that you will get cancer from it.  Natural News also suggested that you to rub urushiol oil as the ultimate sunscreen to protect yourself from skin cancer.

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3) The last issue of the Hawaiian Electric Company’s Green Hawaii Magazine stated that you must cook chemical free.  GMOs all have chemicals in it.  You don’t quite know which ones and don’t even realize that you yourself are made up of chemicals either.

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4) WALTER RITTE TYPES ALL IN CAPS AND IT MUST MEAN THAT WHAT HE SAYS IS TRUE.  YOU CAN ALWAYS TRUST SOMEONE WHO TYPES LIKE THIS.  HE FINDS HIS EXPERTISE IN SURFERS FOR HIS FOOD KNOWLEDGE AND EDUCATION.

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5) The Babes Against Biotech show folks that less clothes means more expertise in what is natural food.  That includes silicone and some botox tucked in the right places.  When they tell you to demand a label, you can trust a woman in a bikini.

6) You can trust a bus driver grandma who is a self professed expert on GMOs that you need that label.  When someone reads the latest things off of the internet, you can bet that it is true without a doubt.

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7) GMO Free Kauai has a very long and thorough list of scientists to prove that GMOs are dangerous.  That list includes world renown scientists like Dr. Dennis Poopy, Organic Eater, Dr. Ye Hua with 20K piece of art in China.

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8) When a holier than thou art food store tells you to demand a label, you should.  Forget the fact that the more they advertise their GMO free foods they profit nicely also.  Fuel the fear and you will get more people to buy into your scheme and demand that label!

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9) Hawaii wants papayas from Mexico, Thailand, and Brazil instead of local.  Keep demanding that label so Hawaiian papayas are shunned by customers.  That’s the goal of Hawaii SEED is to kill off just a few more farmers.

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10) Roseanne Barr told you that GMO are bad and that Hawaiians support crop destruction.

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11) A wealthy bunch of transplant lawyers from Earthjustice told you to speak up but don’t be rude when you make demands.  They can easily afford organic food for their families but you’ll have to wait until you get that label to make it affordable.  They have to keep getting in environmental lawsuits against the state so that they can collect on their court costs to keep them buying organic.  And these same lawyers quickly turn around and eat GMO food with anti-GMO county council members too right after telling others that it is dangerous.

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12) You can become allergic to any and every antibiotic there is on earth from eating GMO food.  If this man says its true, then by golly goodness it sure is!  Forget the fact that we’ve been modifying genetics in food for thousands of years, DNA has antibiotics and chemicals that will trigger immunosuppression in your shikimate pathway and cause symbiotic endotropy escalation.  Yes, it is that bad.

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13) There is thalidomide in transgenic papayas and you must demand a label for it because Terez Amato says so.

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14) GMO Free Mom also knows that transgenic papayas need labels because it contains Bt in it.  

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15) Sol Kahn believes that if people disagree with him at the farmers’ markets then he has a right to that label as well as a right to say bad things about him on the social media.

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16) Jessica Mitchell of the Babes Against Biotech believes that her organized thinking and expertise in chemicals and plants support her claim to a label.

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17) Twitter user CILoveU can’t believe that the sun can alter DNA and as a result of watching “Seeds of Death,” she has a right to know what she thinks she knows.

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18)  Apa Romano knows that there is an alteration in one’s body fauna when she consumes GMO and needs a label to know it.  Now what is body fauna?

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19) If Tulsi Gabbard associates with the Babes Against Biotech then you know that she is getting expert advice.  She can even tell what groups are shills and will tell her constituents also.  She’s also part conspiracy theorist too and believe in the Monsanto Protection Act.

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20) Consumers need a label because it is all about transparency and obeying the law and doing what is right.  These leader stands up for what is pono, including death threats to the mayor.

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21) Jessica Mitchell doesn’t need a science class to know anything which is why she demands a label of her food.  She might not be able to know what all the ingredients are but she has to have that label!  Please don’t tell her that organic foods do indeed use pesticides!

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22) Sol Kahn has been telling many residents that if you live by a seed farm, you’re living by poison.  Home values are going down and he can’t figure out his relationship to why it’s happening.  Label it, disclose it, whatever.

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23) Celeste Harvel demands that GE food be labeled and she wants farmer’s crops to be chopped down too.  She also nicely articulates her point of what’s wrong with it and shows her expertise in her comments.

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24) Lori Wilson Patch believes that this issue should be one where we must sit down and pray for people because her religion has told her so.  You can be sure that god is asking her to pray for this evil called GMO.

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25) Carolyn Fay Spector thinks that she needs to put a wanted poster for Dr. Brewbaker since he donated a million dollars to help CTAHR.  You can bet she will be front and center asking for a label.

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26) Merci Ritte doesn’t realize that we are made up of chemicals but believes that there are indeed chemicals being grown.  She has a right to know these chemicals!

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27) Sherrie Moore demands a right to know and will openly boycott local farmers who speak out for biotech.  She deserves to to have her food labeled but truly wants her food GMO free.

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28) Karen Chun knows that GMO papayas didn’t save the industry because she doesn’t grow it or even own a farm.  She has no clue that her talking bad about papayas is the real reason why people don’t accept biotech food.  She right there front and center demanding her right to know what she’s eating!

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29) Dustin Barca feels that anyone who speaks against Ohana O Kauai must be committing a crime against humanity.  That’s why he has to have his food labeled.

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30) Nomi Carmona of the Babes Against Biotech can’t imagine that anyone would speak up against activists and will encourage others to block such attempts.  You can be sure that she’ll be visiting legislators and demand that she needs her food labeled.

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32) Sky Wittenbach does know his genetics and how to sort fantasy from fiction.  When he talks, you should listen to his expertise.

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31 and beyond) Some of the best reasons to create a law to label GE foods is because these constituents that are asking you for it REALLY LOVE THEIR FARMERS.  Just read below for what they have told farmers…

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So politicians of Hawaii, are you going to listen to these people demanding a label and more regulations on farmers?  Your loud constituents are really helping all farmers and doing our islands a huge favor.  Thank you for listening to them and not listening to the farmers.  

Rep. Jessica Wooley stated that she would like GE food labeled and would support an education campaign.  How do you plan on educating these folks Rep. Wooley, when you yourself make up stuff by stating there is no regulations around it and bungle up the GMO is the same as pesticide issue? 

We appreciate all the support we get from the leaders of our islands as we work on our farms.  The future generations are very secure in knowing that you’re supporting them.  Or are they really?

***All comments listed have been publicly posted on the social media.  You said it and you should be held accountable for what you say.***

Hawaii SEED Wants to Destroy Papaya Farmers

The Hawaii SEED version of Greenpeace photo shot.

Walter Ritte and his Hawaii SEED group are definitely helping farmers deal with issues, especially with papayas.  They are spending lots of money to test for GMO “contamination” so they claim but what have they done to solve the real problem that was happening?  *Crickets*

They did nothing.  That’s right, literally nothing. When farmers were getting hit in the 1990’s by the ringspot virus, they were no where to be found.  Nada, not around nothing.  Here’s what Hawaii SEED has to say about themselves: 

Hawai`i SEED incorporated as a non profit 501(c)(3) in September of 2005.

The corporation is organized for charitable, educational and scientific purposes to educate the public, government and business community about locally-based agricultural systems that create real food security for Hawai‘i and about the risk posed by certain agricultural and food systems while protecting human health and the environment.

Activities of Hawai‘i SEED include bolstering the community of sustainable farms and farmers throughout the state of Hawai‘i. By providing workshops to farmers, we hope to deemonstrate alternatives to genetic engineering. Hawai“i SEED facilitated the public testing of papayas for citizens throughout the state to determine if their fruit is contaminated with genetically engineered organisms.

Hawai‘i SEED also conducts general outreach to raise awareness about genetic engineering and alternatives to genetic engineering at public speaking events, and media outreach. We also give presentations to agricultural and other community groups about GMOs and their alternatives.

Note that they are not about research and contributing to agriculture but more about blocking what has been done with papayas.  What is even more disturbing is this statement:

While the GMO Papaya is resistant to papaya ringspot virus, it brought many more problems than it solved. The GMO Papaya has closed lucrative export and organic markets and always has a low price point. This technology has come with too many strings attached and Hawaii has lost almost half of its papaya farmers.

This group constantly touts anti-GMO wording like contamination and so on to disparage papaya farmers and wonders why papayas don’t sell well.  They proudly proclaim how they help test for GMO papayas but what good is that?  Why not spend that money creating your non-GMO virus resistant papaya if you really want to have sustainable agriculture?  

Then Hawaii SEED has to go on complaining how Hawaiian papaya is not being accepted in the worldwide market.  Um, if you’d stop spreading untruths about it, maybe more consumers would not be so afraid of our Hawaiian fruit.  Support all papaya farmers and maybe you can sell it better to help all farmers.  Hawaii SEED is not about doing farmers good, they are about taking things away like all activists.  They contribute nothing to Hawaii agriculture.  That’s the bottom line with these folks because it is all about taking and not giving.  

This group is a far cry from local folks too as we know it is being funded by outside contributors big time.  The truth is that Mr. Ritte enjoys his papayas and doesn’t care if it is GMO or not because he knows that it is fine.  Remember the March ag day Mr. Ritte?

A Farmer’s Say Doesn’t Matter in Hawaii

It is so easy to sit back on a computer and have your opinion about how you  want your food grown.  You have a comfy chair to sit on, a nice computer with a quick internet connection, a fan to keep you cool, and a well stocked refrigerator to sustain you as you comment away on the social media.  That is how you are going to change the world to get farmers to grow food your way.  No. Never.

It is so easy for Jessica Wooley, Russell Ruderman, Mike Gabbard, Tulsi Gabbard, Gary Hooser, Billy Kenoi, and Brian Schatz to dictate the policies that they want done for agriculture because they have nice cushy offices and are guaranteed a paycheck, courtesy of the taxpayers.  They would rather stay in those positions then be on a farm any day.  Why do you think they are in office to begin with?  Farming is just too laborious and risky, while political office is a clean, stable position for life.

As much as these politicians are the listening to the public’s opinions, they have no qualms in ignoring the farmers, ranchers, and scientists testimonies on the future of agriculture.  We’ve seen that what is found on the internet and repeated as truths is much more valuable then the experiences of people who tend and till the land.  They have no say in the issue and are at the mercy of an uninformed public fear mongered beyond belief.  That is the direction that Hawaii is heading when we only consider public opinions for laws.

Our leaders talk about how they want to grow our ag industry in Hawaii but their actions speak otherwise.  Laws upon laws have become huge burdens on our farmers.  From business regulations, taxes, federal food safety laws, labor laws, county laws, and state laws all weigh upon these farmers who are growing food and cultivating the land.  We also can’t forget the outside factors that affect farmers too including energy costs, shipping costs, and being at the mercy of the weather.  These regulations may seem helpful on the outside but make the business and practice of farming less and less attractive.  With all the anti-technology laws being placed upon them also by Kauai and Hawaii county, how much more can these farmers take when potential tools are being kept from them?  What can our farmers do when their hands become tied by the wishes of ignorant politicians and an ignorant public?

As we see more and more farms closing down because of the regulations that our leaders have placed upon them, we get to thank each politician for being responsible for the demise of these farms.  The younger generations do not want to continue family farms because it just is too burdensome.  Would you take a job where your income isn’t guaranteed and bad weather can wipe out your entire crop?  What if the bugs eat up all of your crops and you can’t even use a tool that could help it because some politician said that you can’t?  Imagine having a job where you have to know everything about the tax, labor, and food safety laws to a tee to stay in business.  Not only do you have to manage those issues but you also have to physically work hard to get your product out to your consumers also.  Lastly, you are subject to criticism, thievery and even threats of crop destruction as part of your job description.  That sure doesn’t sound like a very attractive job to me at all. Our politicians have decided that this is the route they want to take with agriculture with their recent actions.  That’s the Hawaii that our leaders apparently want for our future of farming in our islands.