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.

How to Make Use of 4000 Anti-GMO Marchers

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Characters of the anti-GMO club of Kauai.

As I have followed so many commenters from the anti-GMO club there is definitely a pattern.  One one end you have the very vile, nasty, ones that have been fear mongered beyond recognition of a rational being.  On the other end you have those that believe that consuming organic food is much more holier than thou art and wanting a label.  Somewhere in between you have those that are anti-corporation, conspiracy theorists, and just plain old science deniers and earth saver greenie folks.  Also in the mix you’ll find the ban it all group, who really have no clue the extent of this technology.  It’s no wonder there are social workers, bus drivers, grandmas, pseudoscientists, criminals, entertainers, models, nurses, chemical sprayed doctors, religious preachers, radio hosts, MMA fighters, and surfers all in this mix.  Approximately 4000 of these folks supposedly marched on Kauai a few months ago to speak for the people.

You know, if 4000 really were a true number of people joining in, can you imagine the manpower you have there in one area?  They all marched along Rice Street for some distance that means the majority are all able bodied and has the potential to do something good with their energy.  That energy and planning should be put to good use to put their money where their mouth is.  I have a few suggestions for these marchers as far as how they could really strengthen their cause.

Help Kauai County Go Pesticide Free

We all know that they want less pesticide use by the seed corn farms that use 13% of the county’s total.  Who is using the most pesticides then?  It’s the county themselves!

Maybe on the next march, they can coordinate with the Kauai County to do a highway weed pulling patrol.  Spread out 4000 people along the highway to pull at least 50 to 100 yards of weed each and wow, imagine how much less spraying will be done and less contamination too?  You could do this every month and cut back or completely be pesticide free!

Another way that these marchers could help reduce pesticide use is to take advantage of the natural instincts of our little chihuahua terrier mixes that are so popular now.  If may be 20 marchers brought out their little dogs to the power plants or kept them tied to the power poles a few days a week, we could cut down the need for using rat poison since these little dogs are bred to kill rats.  Chemical free, all natural pest control at best which is what the anti-GMO club is demanding.

Start up the Save True Kauai Farms

It is pretty well known that Bette Midler is an anti-GMO activist also and she has lots of land on Kauai.  She has 1400 acres of it too!  We’d better alert Jessica Wooley because she doesn’t want to farm it for food but possibly grow hardwood trees on it.  Wouldn’t it be great if she donated a nice piece of her land to start up a Save True Kauai Farm there?  Or maybe a GMO/Pesticide Free farm there?  You could get that guy who couldn’t lease land from the seed companies and maybe 100 of the marchers to even work on that farm.  They appear to have lots of time since they were able to camp out at many of the hearings and stay really late there too.  The anti-GMO club can have their dream turned in to reality where they can feed the people their way.

Many people there also hate the dust from tractors plowing the lands.  If you take about 50 to 100 marchers and handed them a shovel and pick axe, you could plow a one acre field in no time with little to no dust cloud either.  Then instead of using heavy equipment to plant the seeds, each of these folks can hand plant it all.  Every few weeks they could come in again and do weed patrol too so that they don’t have to spray the dreaded weedkillers.  You can also bring in more marchers to do bug patrol too and pick off bugs from the plants to keep less pesticides off of it.  What a great way to teach the keiki to how to grow your own food and keep the dust and pesticides away!

Open an Ohana O Kauai Feed the Hungry Shelter

There are a lot of needy people across our islands and Kauai has its share.  The anti-GMO club staunchly believe that the seed companies are not feeding the world in any way or form.  With several thousands to volunteer and donate time, money, and energy, they could start showing the world their plan to feed the hungry because it is obviously more superior than what the other companies are doing.  This would truly be a great and innovating cause to show how much they malama the people and the land.

Then End of the Poisoning of Paradise

The potential conversion of marchers and people rising up to support this way of agriculture is truly amazing because it can be put to good use.  No one would have time to be sending death threats to the mayor, writing comments all over the social media, be exposed to less scary images on their Facebook feeds, accusing seed farm workers of killing babies and committing crimes against humanity, and will be able to live the natural healthy life that they all preach about.  Human energy can be converted to good when you put your money where your mouth is.  Volunteers anyone?

Last but not least…

Let’s do some math here…  4000 x $1.50 is $6000.  If all the marchers paid a mere $1.50, their bill would be covered.  Enough to pay the county back for their march and restore the county’s funds.  If some of the attendees could afford plane tickets, I’m pretty sure they could afford that pocket change to participate.  So has the Kauai County received some money to cover it yet???

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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Jessica Wooley Wants to Redefine Agriculture Rather Sink Farmers

I realized last year, with the brouhaha of the failed labeling law, that we do not have enough local voices in politics. I decided to start participating in the neighborhood board meetings. I have been attending these meetings monthly since June this year.

At this last meeting something very peculiar happened. Jill Tokuda and Ikaika Anderson’s representative attended as usual and are very regular in their participation to notify the community of what’s going on and what they are working on. The others like Clayton Hee, Cynthia Thielen, and Ken Ito, are non-existent. Jessica Wooley will send a representative twice but never attended it herself since June. At this past month’s meeting, no one on the board recognized her, and as a result, and mistook her for another presenter.

She did a quick report on what she plans to do as the agriculture chair. Basically she wants to redefine what agriculture means in Hawaii, referring to calling it the growing of food. I asked her what she will be doing to help farmers. She also talked about attempting to get that label on biotech derived foods and stated, “there is no regulation” on it. Of course she continued stating that consumers should be able to know and that papaya farmers are already doing it for export and it won’t shouldn’t affect them by doing it here. She did also state that, “I would not ban GMOs.”

As I listened to her answers and statements, I started to think more about what she was saying. Okay so you feel that there is no regulation, which is completely false, and that a label is going to suddenly create this sense if transparency that her “constituents” want. Something doesn’t make any sense here.

Why is a label suddenly going to solve the transparency and so called “right to know issue” after you just stated that there is no regulation? If you are so concerned about no regulation, then why don’t you work at the federal level to start these regulations that you claim there is none? Doesn’t that make more sense? If you were to travel to somewhere else, as a consumer, you won’t be able to get your right to know since there is nothing across the board by state. A consumer could unwittingly eat GMOs at a restaurant and that would be such a travesty too because that is not labeled!  Even the locally produced foods like papaya seed salad dressings to some locally made taro chips would all need a label too so that these folks’ right to know are fulfilled and that they are suddenly enlightened by this label!  Poor Hawaii constituents would not have their rights respected Ms. Wooley if they were to go to a Las Vegas Trader Joes! You’re not protecting peoples’ rights! What a non-tragedy!

Of course Ms. Wooley doesn’t show her transparency when it comes down to who’s feeding her this information. She is well connected to anti-GMO groups like Center for Food Safety attorney, Andrew Kimbrell, and is married to David Henken of Earthjustice. Take a look at what these people say about why they want this label from the Genetic Literacy Project.

genetic literacy

Knowing all of this, I asked her if she was aware of what is happening to many small farmers in the community. I shared with her, as well as all the board members present, about how some farmers reported being asked if their bananas and produce were organic.  When it was told to the person that it wasn’t, the questioner tossed it aside very rudely and marched away in disgust.  Jessica raised her eyebrows stating that she was not aware of this and it should have turned into a police report of some kind.  I told her that these farmers are afraid to speak up against this and become targets.  Local people don’t speak up against these activists for that very reason.  I’m not sure which planet she lives on but these anti-GMO activists have been doing this for some time already and there was a public incident with this already that made the news.

We all know that there is a lot of hope in the anti-GMO movement that somehow this is going to make people eat healthier.  Do you actually think that a little sticker on a package is going to help that?  When those fat free labels appeared on food stuff did it make people eat better?  Uh, no.  Shame on her for thinking that this really is going to make a difference all to earn more money from consumers marketed with fear.  That’s where shortsighted thinking in politicians get us no where.  A label isn’t going to change people’s weights! Education about healthy eating is!

If Jessica Wooley is really wanting the focus of agriculture to be on food and growing it, I suggest she rethink her strategy.  Making more laws against farmers isn’t going to make more people want to get into farming.  It already is a difficult business to stay afloat given the high costs of land, labor, and supplies.  It doesn’t help that weather, disease, and other uncontrollable variables can devastate your whole year’s worth of work either.  If you make laws to limit the tools and research in agriculture, that itself will make it even less viable as a profession.  Does that mean your out to kill farming that isn’t organic because it sure appears that way?

I was sent some commentary about the petition that was posted to help open up a forum for others to speak up for our farmers.  This has created a small storm of controversy in the GMO Free Groups of course and someone sent this comment to me.

selma

I find it amazing that her GMO Free followers actually get it but they just don’t connect the dots about what they say.  Yes, farmers are poor and why are you making it harder for them to do their job Ms. Wooley and GMO Free groups?  Wouldn’t it be better to ask them, “How can we make your job easier so you can do what you need?”  That would be a much better option then outright stating that you need to label your produce because your right to fair treatment is outweighed by the needs of activists.  That’s a pure kick in the face to our farmers.

If Wooley is about fulfilling her role as someone who wants to make Hawaii better as a transplanted local, she needs to take off the anti-GMO hood and stop wasting our taxpayer dollars on that little label of hers.  If she really wants to help people live better, have more farmers, and grow more food, she needs to get off her “right to know” “label it” podium and reinvest those monies and resources back to the farmers and towards educating the public about healthy eating if her motives were right.  But we all know the truth about her agenda here which is plain to see where she wants to take small papaya farmers…  Into extinction.

Hooser’s Regime has a Semantics Problem

Hooser’s Regime has a Semantics Problem

I’ve been called a shill already by politicians like Mike Gabbard and Russell Ruderman.  Mike Gabbard is the state senator who sent me his proof of GMO dangers with the debunked Seralini link and Russell Ruderman is another state senator who owns 4 natural food stores and proudly boasts that the led the charge to ban fracking in Hawaii.  Yes, we have some stellar folks in office here.  Today, officially, I’ve been called a shill by none other than Gary Hooser for speaking out about biotech and farmers.  The shill gambit is just another ad hominen attack at the person when you don’t have facts or evidence to support your claim. Here’s his quote on his blog and guest column on the Star Advertiser:

They hired prominent community leaders, conducted unethical “push polls”, and employ an army of industry bloggers and social media experts that attack the credibility and integrity of their opponents at every step.

Gary Hooser is so dumbfounded and blinded by his broken record statements that he can’t fathom that anyone would speak out for farmers could actually do it for free! Yes, Mr. Hooser and your fellow anti-GMO followers, I have not received a cent let alone any kind of payment to write this blog let alone pay for its existence.  None.  What is true is that I’m sick and tired of you and your activists doing nasty stuff towards anyone who speaks up for agriculture in Hawaii and acting as if you speak for the local people.  No, you are just taking advantage of local people not speaking up, plain and simple.  I find it pretty amazing that your title for today’s blog mentions bullying because you seem to have chosen the wrong word.

Let’s see what the definition of what a bullying actually is:

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Who decided to enact this kind of legislation in the first place Mr. Hooser? Let’s meet the folks that have asked for this kind of laws to be made.  Note some key terms in the definition of bullying: intimidation, harassment, threat, imbalance, coercion, repeated acts, mobbing, targets.  **Note parental discretion due to threats of harm and foul language or gestures.**

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barca email jessicam tokyo rose SJ agroterrorism bretbad Cdcropburn

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If you read these kinds of comments, would you actually feel safe trying to testify for your cause? Common sense tells you no way.  Does it look like a mob targeting people? Are there forms of intimidation in the comments? Do you actually think that real homeless people would stay there and risk their own safety against people who say and think stuff like this?  I’d have to say I don’t think so.  Real people know the truth of what happened and why.

He himself doesn’t like to see the disrespect, rather any criticism, on his own page also but it must be fine for his mob to do it towards others.

hooser leader

Hooser’s statement shows the total denial that he’s in and says a lot about the blind eye about what his mob does:

Residents supporting the Bill slept overnight on the hard and wet cement in front of the County building in order to garner a coveted seat inside the Council chambers, while the chemical companies hired the homeless and down-and-out to hold seats for their executives.

Then there is that supposedly “clueless” guy Tyler who claims to no nothing of the issue wearing a Hui O Kauai hat and taking $100 right on camera.  The anti-GMO mob taped the whole thing themselves.  Then there is the admission by Mr. Hooser himself that Tyler is his son’s friend.  Who’s telling the truth?

The biggest discrepancy in his latest blog is this statement:

Bill 2491 does not ban pesticides nor does it ban GMO’s, it simply requires disclosure.

If that really is the case, then why are you a part of this:

GMOfreehooser

Then there is yet another claim in his blog too about the meeting that the County Council was to vote on the bill.  Had they outright voted on the bill as intended with the 6 members, according to the Sunshine Law, the meeting would have ended.  The had polled for the vote and discovered that there would not be a quorum that set off the motion to get that 7th person in to reach quorum to finally pass the law.

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And Mr. Hooser, as well as Mr. Atchitoff, if you are so determined to be aligned with these GMO Free groups, why were you eating it products that your mob members love to hate at a restaurant that isn’t GMO Free?! Did you thank a GMO farmer that day?

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Of course people are going to say that Mr. Hooser was being spied upon at his dinner but the plain truth is he walked in after this person was having dinner that night. Get your facts straight.  Never mind, there are no straight facts with followers of his regime.

And one last thing Gary and mob members…  Are you trying to bully me for my petition to speak up for the farmers that you have disparaged and been disrespectful too?  You may have the numbers but that doesn’t equal up to the hard work and knowledge that any farmer has any day.  I’m standing with the farmers!

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**Note if you’re an anti-GMO activist trying to post on here, I’m tired of your threats and vile comments.  You can send them and I’ll repost it as a new blog.  All posts found were publicly available on the social media also that were sent in by someone or captured in public forums.  All comments are my own and do not reflect anyone else’s.**

Where’s your Integrity & Leadership Hooser, Bynum, Yukimura, & Furfaro?

As I followed the last hearing Thursday for the Kauai County Council to decide on whether to override the veto of the controversial Bill 2491, it was no surprise that the events leading up to it would be chaotic.  When you see the kind of commentary that the anti-GMO club has spewed out all over the social media and beyond, their behavior of the day is of no surprise.

Grown adults being rude to others and making accusations and threats against their perceived foe.  Essentially this made them bullies all in the name of misinformation and ideology about biotechnology.  The most disturbing part of the whole event was that it was clear that none of the leaders who supported this bill ever acknowledged the threats and violence made to seed workers, scientists, and the mayor.  It was completely ignored as if it was what they wanted to happen.  They did have to state to news outlets that those folks were not representative of the anti-GMO movement.  Sure.

What was supposed to happen on Thursday was a vote to put an end to the issue for once and all.  That did not happen when it was recognized that they did not have the vote to push this override through.  It was then decided that there would be a deferral and then a vote after the 7th council member was appointed even though they decided on an earlier meeting to vote with 6 members.  That maneuvering would give them enough votes for the override.  Note that they had early agreed to no defer it any longer but suddenly backpedaled on it.

That backpedalling is a classic example of the lack of leadership and integrity of those serving in public office.  They took an oath to uphold the laws and serve impartially to the best of their duties.  Are they really doing that in this case?  These four people promised the public, not just the anti-GMO activists, to uphold those duties to do what is in the best interest of the community.  Obviously, they have no integrity by what we’ve seen by their actions.  That is really a sad, sad day for Hawaii.

We teach our kids to be honest and true to our word.  We value conducting ourselves in an ethical manner in all of our actions.  We value honestly and integrity in our children.  Those lesson in turn help to develop a conscience in them so that they know right from wrong.  We, the adults show them this and are the example to folks.  However, in the case of the county council, those basic rules and values are forsaken and what we see upon us is the mess they’ve created.  These lost leaders have thrown the whole community into a divided one by choosing to ignore the evidence and prefer to align with activists with an obvious agenda.  They have also taken advantage of local style of not speaking up and listening to the loudest of the bunch.

The short term consequence might mean that this kind of bill gets passed but the long term issues will be much more costly for all.  These leaders have lost sight of where the evidence leads us and how we’re going to get there.  The leadership needs to guide us based on what the evidence shows, not what a bikini clad activist or a mixed martial arts fighter demand.  These activists are only about taking and not about providing options and solutions to the most valuable folks in our society today, and that is the farmers and scientists.

As much as they may have tons of testimony and hours of videos of testimonies asking for such a law, don’t forget to consider how that meal you just had got to your table.  That testimony didn’t get it there, it was a farmer and that’s the one you should be listening to.  Our leaders owe it to our farmers to stand their ground an listen to the right people to make he best decision for all.

A Sad Day for Science and Agriculture In Hawaii

Although the anti-GMO factions may be celebrating today, those who are versed in the sciences and technology know that it is a very disappointing day.  Through sneaky maneuvering and dirty politics, the ignorant lawmakers strong armed their way to pass a bill doomed to fail.  The only way that they could get it to pass was to break their word to vote with the 6 members and fill it with the 7th one.  Call it what you want, but it just shows the lack of integrity by Hooser, Bynum, Yukimura, Furfaro, and the latest add, Chock.

The writing is on the wall when many of these leaders are associated with the GMO Free groups and anti-ag groups like Earthjustice and Center for Food Safety.  If these leaders are so honestly wanting for the public to be safe, why not do this kind of legislation across the board instead of pinpointing at a single industry?  If the pesticide issue is truly a real issue that you are worried about, why not cover the disclosure across the board to protect everyone?  Why isn’t the county going to be a part of this disclosure since they use the most to begin with?  Why aren’t all pesticide users from homeowners to pest control companies to hotels and golf courses not covered but such a law if the county is out to protect people?  This law reeks of corruption and underhanded motives operating that is the very thing that these activist complain about yet openly show it front and center.

What makes this day very sad is that we have these so called community leaders, who have been oblivious or just choose to ignore the kind of environment that the agricultural industry is enduring here.  These leaders “listen to the people” and ignore the evidence.  Evidence and data mean nothing here in our state and hearsay and anecdotes rule.  That is really a blow to the scientific method and evidence base that has been built for over 2 decades.

While there are MMA fighters, bikini clad art majors, bus drivers, social science PhD candidates, and other followers cheering today, the people who studied crop sciences, plant pathology, cell molecular biology, agronomists, plant breeders, and others with the right background to make the statements about the issue have been completely ignored today.  The researchers and other scientists who are a looking at ways to solve the world’s problems and their work has been silenced by an overwhelming majority of naysayers, who have no clue about the direction of this evolving technology.  Today was a win for ignorance and it isn’t going to move Hawaii anywhere other than to keep people in the dark.  Apparently, that is what the politicians like Hooser, Bynum, Yukimura, Furfaro, and Chock prefer our future to be like.   That is just plain old irresponsible and they don’t even know it.

True Leadership and Its Legacy for the Future

A leader is one who knows the way, goes the way, and shows the way.

—John Maxwell

The world is rapidly changing around us.  While many dislike the changes, many really are for the better.  Those same folks that are fighting the changes are the ones who tend to have the least experience or education in the issue also.  The unfortunate thing is that some of these people, who long for the old days and fight changes, are ones holding offices in our government.  These people who have very little knowledge on the technological changes are the ones who are also influencing policy and that is the bad thing.

While the Kauai and Hawaii County Councils are wrangling around in the biotechnology issues, just take a close look at the background of these politicians attempting to influence the laws here.  None of them have any science degree or even touched a genetics class and yet these same folks feel that it is in their capacity make laws in these areas.  There’s something very wrong there because they are just as ignorant as their followers in their quest to kill this technology that has been around for years and accepted as safe by multiple scientific groups.

If we were to jump 20 years into the future, would these same politicians be thinking the same way as they do now?  Or would we see them as obstructionists and just maladaptive to the technology?  Were their decisions on this bill warranted or made out of a marketing scheme that ignored the current evidence base available?  Are they doing something that will ultimately hinder the possibilities for viable agriculture and cause a greater harm when there are no tools available?  Is this the legacy that leaders like Gary Hooser, Tim Bynum, Joanne Yukimura, and Jay Furfaro want to leave the future with?  By ignoring the technology and the evidence base to support it, yes, this is the Kauai that they want for the future.

There is no doubt that the climate is changing for the scientific evidence leads us to it.  These same politicians accept that same evidence which is why there is an effort to go “green.”  That’s good policy making when evidence is used as a guide.  Then why are those same politicians suddenly ignoring the evidence for biotechnology?  The evidence clearly supports its safety and so does the scientific consensus of many world scientists, yet our leaders want to leave us in a legacy of rejection of a very viable tool for the future.  Is that the right thing to do in this case?  Apparently personal ambitions and public pressure cloud what is the right thing to do.

It is no doubt that these leaders came into office to make things better for people. However, they sometimes need to look at the people who are demanding these policies first and foremost and revisit that oath of office they took to uphold the existing laws of our land.  Gary Hooser, Tim Bynum, Jay Furfaro, and Joanne Yukimura, you all stood there and promised this to the people of Kauai, Hawaii and the US to uphold this responsibility to each and every person.  You are not just accountable to the anti-GMO crowd but to all people.  Are you really fulfilling that oath by taking this kind of stance?  Do you want to be left with the legacy of being ignorant obstructionists of a technology that could be a way to get that greener and more sustainable world?  Apparently after today’s events, that seems to be the case.  These pseudo-leaders appear to support this but ultimately thwart this by rejecting this very viable tool that could create that world they envision.  By not even recognizing the way the world is going, they can never show or guide Hawaii in the way we should be headed.

It takes people with more forethought and a more systematic thought process to see through this whole issue to move forward with policy.  A true leader sees and knows this well and have the courage to make those tough decisions and be subject to the criticisms of their constituency that are not the experts or know the evidence base.  Those leaders were shown clearly as Mel Rapozo and Ross Kagawa.  Their legacy will be the ones that will help us adapt to this technology and move us forward in the future.  Those are the people we need in Hawaii as our leaders.

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