A Journey Out of the Fear Mongering Jungle for a Politician

Just this past Sunday, Amy Harmon, a Pulitzer prize winning NYT writer, did a great story about a Hawaii County Councilman’s journey through what I call the fear mongering jungle here in our state.  It is something that many of our politicians should read about to get through the fact vs. the fiction around the issue.  It is a long read but covers through many of the statements that one has heard in testimonies from the anti-GMO activists.  It also points out to the resources that debunk many of those same claims.

It is of no surprise that the anti-GMO activists have jumped on this story.  Their retorts on this is far from facts but once again at personal attacks.  Just take a look at what Food Democracy Now posted about it on their Facebook page.

This kind of tactic only proves more and more that there is no facts or evidence in the so called GMO debates.  It’s based on conspiracy theories, propaganda, and fear mongering when they have to come down to this level.

A Day on Papa’s Farm

DSC_1292

From the time my siblings and I could follow directions, we were working on the farm.  Our Saturdays were spent on the farm working.  We did get to play here and there while waiting for the harvested fruit to come in from the fields.  Those were some fun and great memories.  The memory that sticks in my head is

My mom reminded me that at 3 years old, my youngest sister was already stickering the papayas.  As an 8 year old, I was one of the washers who cleaned the fruit before packing.  From there I moved on to grading the fruit to some packing.  It was hard work!

I want my kids to experience that too so we headed down to the farm today.  I already warned them that we were going down there to work and not just play.  My older daughter agreed to it since she found out that she could collect recyclables and make some money afterwards.

Today started out with my younger one, KK in awe of all the tractors everywhere on the farm.  She saw some at the sales lot a few days ago and kept telling my dad that she wants to ride one.  Just look at her face and see the thrill of just sitting on one.

DSC_1336

KK getting to hang out on one of papa’s tractors. She’s my dirty little farm girl kid.

While the fruit was being picked in the fields by my dad’s hard working staff, we were preparing for the packing and processing.  Harvesting is done by a forklift as the trees do get pretty tall and this is a much more efficient way to get the work done.

Processing the fruit takes a lot of prep work.  That included taping up boxes to pack in, setting up the bins and wash tub to clean the fruit in and setting up the sorting area as well as the final storage area after it was packed up.  Our farm complies with all of the food safety certifications and follows the rules very closely with washing the fruit properly as well as handling it as approved.  We are food safety certified with a perfect passing score according to my brother, Mike.

DSC_1295

The hard working staff processing the fruit by grading it, washing it, and sorting it.

After it is prepared, the fruit is then packed up according to size which takes some skill as to packing them properly.

DSC_1323

Finally after being packed, these fruits are stickered and palleted.

DSC_1305

KK and Ky hard at work putting those exclusive Kamiya Papaya stickers on the fruits.

Tomorrow it will be ready to go out to the stores, restaurants, small markets, and hotels to be sold or served up to their customers.  Many of whom come clamoring for it every week for years!

DSC_1247

My Adventures with the Anti-GMO Club

I remember back last year when the hot topic issue was the labeling of GMOs in the legislature.  I really didn’t care too much about it until I got meme after meme about the dangers of GMOs from a Facebook friend of mine.  I thought, wow, this must be bigger than I expected.

Having worked on the research myself, I knew the safety and testing and had no qualms about it.  I even ate the transgenic stuff myself and the PRSV infected papaya as green papaya salad with no problem.  DNA was nothing I considered terrifying because I knew what is was and what it does.  So when I heard that papayas were now being touted and “poison” and “dangerous,” I thought I’d better learn about this issue more.

One of my first searches on the internet about these so called claims of dangers was on the claims of these movies being watched.  The searches come up chock full of Natural News, Collective Evolution, Green Med Info, Institute for Responsible Technology and so on.  After sorting through all of that stuff, I found this blog talking about the anti-GMO movement.  The more I learned about the issues from Bt genetic engineering, organic farming, and regulation, the more I realized that the information was so easily distorted by the social media.

Ready to start speaking up in the forums, one of the first places I started was with Civil Beat.  Little did I know that it was a haven for anti-GMO commenters.  It was amazing the sheer numbers of commenters I found on there every single article on GMOs.  Everyone was fixated on this evil called Monsanto, corporations, and poisons.  The more these repetitive comments repeated itself over and over, I started to realize how these folks just read things right off of a Google search and never even bothered to check the source.  It becomes really evident when the majority of the commenters use the same phrases over and over.

As I read the stuff from Natural News and so on I realized how easily someone with very little scientific knowledge could be beleaguered by the information presented.  I thought if I didn’t get some science background, it would be so easily believe the fearful and terrifying things being posted on these sites over and over again.  I’m too much of a skeptic to believe it and searched and read more about the so called claims and sure enough, debunked by noted scientists with ease.

Then of course, the big gem of the anti-GMO movement came the Seralini rat study.  The media was a ruckus over their final proof of the dangers.  Instead of reading the news interpretations of the study, I went straight to the study itself.  I also did searches on it by putting in “debunk Seralini study.”  And I found out a totally different side all together.  One of the first outlets to debunk his study was the media itself.  Shortly after I stumbled upon a wonderfully insightful site called Biofortified.  It had great articles by highly educated scientists and scholars.  I found it way more trustworthy than any of the other sites popping up.

After doing a lot of research and comparing articles across the internet, I’ve come to realize that the regular folks would not be able to understand half of the stuff being presented.  The Latins recognized this behavior eons ago when they coined the phrase, “Damnant quod non intelligunt.” They condemn what they do not know.  The scare mongering is so great on the anti-GMO side that it can really make you start to believe it.  Just like the phenomena when you leave a movie theater after watching a horror flick, you get a little spooked out for sometime.  Emotions are powerful strategies that work.

Screen shot 2013-09-21 at 10.22.38 PM

The only thing with the anti-GMO messages is that if you’re on FB or Twitter a lot, you get bombarded with hundreds of images every single day from multiple sites that it becomes all you can see.  It is almost like a brain poison that these marketers know how to prey upon.  Then when you walk into the grocery store and see that clean, neat little label that proudly states, “GMO-Free,” you feel relieved.  Some things marked GMO-Free are indeed that to begin with like coconut milk and almond milk.  There’s no such thing as GM coconuts or almonds!  It’s a scam to me and I despise the fact that it makes people feel bad about their food for no reason.  And especially here in Hawaii where food is even more expensive, making the people most prone to this kind of messages only takes advantage of their lack of knowledge.

The more I talk to people who repeat the myths, the more I’m able to see where their hang ups are about this “new science.”  It really isn’t new, it is just more precise and better controlled despite the anti-GMO club claim.  We have to do more on our part to educate people about this issue.  We don’t eat like we did 100 years ago and why would we want to go back to those ways.  Research, education and scientific evidence moves us forward.  That’s the direction our society should be moving towards a better future.