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.