Listen to the Farmers Representative Wooley

A few weeks ago at the Kaneohe Neighborhood Board meeting, I had the chance to talk in person to Representative Wooley.  She mentioned that we can contact her as to what laws she’d like us to consider for the upcoming session.  I decided to take her up on it and sent her this email tonight.  If you’d like to share a word or two with her you can contact her at repwooley@gmail.com or repwooley@capitol.hawaii.gov

Aloha Rep. Wooley,

I spoke with you the other night at the Kaneohe Neighborhood Board meeting and would like to take you up on the offer as far as what kind of legislation I’d like to see regarding agriculture in Hawaii.
As a daughter of a long time farmer and farming family for nearly 4 decades, I really think that as a leader, Hawaii needs to consider the bigger picture.  Your statement to me that we need to change the meaning of agriculture is very disturbing because for Hawaii. It is not only food that needs to be grown here.  We have many other thriving industries here from seeds to nursery plants and other non-food crops that would not fall under your umbrella definition.  If we want to grow more food, just going after the seed industry isn’t going to solve the problem.  As a leader, I would hope that you could see that.  That is a very linear way of looking at the problem which ultimately never solves anything.
If the goal is to grow more food in Hawaii, we have to look at all the issues that affect why we aren’t more self sufficient.  Look at the whole system to address the best way to reach the intended goal.  When you look at those issues like energy costs, labor, supplies, land issues, and the other factors, you can have a better view of a more holistic plan of solving this issue.  The problem has to be solved systemically.  Your simple solution of changing the meaning of agriculture to growing of food and asking for label for biotech food does nothing to make food more likely to be grown in Hawaii. It places a line between farmers and that is not what is needed.  As a leader for the agriculture committee, how can you best serve the farmers, not just a certain faction of them but all farmers?
Does siding with one kind of farmer do anyone any favors?  No, it doesn’t.  You as a leader need to band together all farmers to solve these problems.  That is the responsible thing to do.  Where does the research and evidence lead to?  That should be your guide through all of this.
I must also note that your broad statement that there is no regulation about GMOs is patently false.  If that were the case, why is it taking such a long time to get through the process to be approved?  I’d really appreciate it if you’d be more honest when talking about the issues.  You know darn well that there is many tests that have to be presented before anything is approved by the FDA, EPA, and USDA.  You may not be happy with the process, but don’t state outright lies about the issue.
I’m counting on you, as well as many the younger generation of farmers, who are hesitant on whether or not to continue family farms in this current environment.  They need to know if you are really going to be a proponent of agriculture and education and plan to secure the future of ag technologies in Hawaii since you stated that there will be an education campaign.  It may not make you popular to your activists but do the responsible thing for the real people who work and support agriculture in Hawaii.

The Real Problem is not the Anti-GMO Club

pointingfinger

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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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.

GMOs Banned in Hawaii!

November 2020

Ban-GMO

Hawaii has succeeded in becoming the first state of the nation to completely ban all GMOs .  It comes after a long battle between politicians and their activists and big ag in the state that started back in 2013 with two key bills being passed by county council members.  The early roots of the GMO ban started when a moratorium was passed against any research of the taro or kalo.  Subsequent efforts were started in thanks to Jessica Wooley and her Bill 174 to label GMOs which eventually failed to pass.  However, thanks to the efforts of Gary Hooser and Tim Bynum with Bill 2491 and Margaret Wille and Brenda Ford with Bill 113, subsequent laws continued to follow to suit to limit and eventually restrict biotechnology across of our islands.  Tulsi and Mike Gabbard also were successful at the detrimental labeling of GMOs too which helped to lead to more consumer fear and misinformation, despite their promises to the farmers for an educational campaign to support it which never failed to materialize.

Meanwhile, during all of this furor of anti-GMO sentiment, our sustainable agriculture industry has been suffering many set backs over the years leading up to the eventual ban.  Many local industries have been hit very hard by the lack of tools and technology left for them to remain at the helms of their farms. In a recent survey, the number of farmers had dwindled down to less than .5% of the population and shows no stopping the declining numbers.  As a result of these kinds of restrictive laws placed on farmers, imported food has risen to 98% which was an unintended consequence of these laws due to the black marketing campaign of the organic industry and public pressure on politicians.

Below is a summary of what has happened over the years to certain ag industries in the Islands:

Kona Coffee

The Kona coffee industry has suffered tremendous losses since the initial introduction of the coffee borer beetle (CBB).  It was hopeful that the spraying of Beauvaria Bassiana would control for this beetle.  It worked to minimize the millions of dollars worth of damage being done but it was found that the CBB has developed a resistance to the B. bassiana within a 5 year period that was discovered by a farmer after finding more and more of his crops destroyed.  The industry has also been hit by the spread of coffee rust around the islands due to the recent increases in hotter weather and drier conditions leading to more plant stress on the coffee trees.  The entire coffee industry is at 20% of what it used to be and is mostly being sold as high end niche market products due to the rising costs of production.

Honey

Unbeknownst to the the local beekeepers on the Big Island, the spraying of B. bassiana had a devastating effect on their bee population.  Recognized by the Xerces Society as being highly toxic to bees, the overspray of this organically approved pesticide had residues that affected local bees.  The honey production dropped significantly as the lack of biotech research was banned and the already threatened bee population declined even further with the varroa mite and then increased pesticide use.  Honey is no longer being produced on the Big Island as a result of the demise of the bees.

Papayas

The papaya industry has been completely obliterated by the passage of Bill 113 and the successful lobbying of Tulsi Gabbard’s labeling law passed at the federal level.  Just as Japan was starting the importation of Hawaiian papayas and farmers increased production, the misinformation being spread by the labels caused a tremendous drop in domestic sales across the country.  The demand for the fruit dropped to a mere 10% and took a tremendous dive.  The lack of education as promised by our Congresswoman failed the industry and Hawaii no longer exports papayas as a result of her labeling effort.  Mexico has now become the dominant leader in papaya exports to Hawaii and the mainland US which has had several problems with salmonella contamination and multiple recalls and illnesses.

Pineapples

The pineapple industry has also taken a huge hit in production due to the banning of biotechnology as an imported pest from Mexico caused huge crop destruction across the islands.  With limited ability to use modern pesticides and biotech advances, the entire Hawaiian pineapple is just one a faint memory of our rich agricultural heritage in the islands.  The only fresh pineapples are currently being imported from South America as the state is no longer able to produce these cost effectively.

Kalo

The kalo has also become extinct in our islands also.  With the recent introductions of new pests from imported produce from China and Mexico, as well as the recent prolonged dry spells.  The taro has suffered multiple set backs despite the efforts of the farmers to mitigate the stresses of disease and pests.  The moratorium on the research of taro and resistance to revisit the bill was not removed in time to save the taro from its fate.  The Hawaiian staple of poi is no longer available as a result of the lack of tools and acceptance of biotech to help combat the demise.  Currently, taro is being imported from China and being researched on how to create a similar substance to that of poi.

Cattle 

The once growing demand for locally raised beef was undermined by the efforts of the multiple anti-GMO bills passed in the islands.  Ranchers who’s livelihoods were continuously attacked for their use of GM feed have found that they no longer are able to continue their profession, as the the cost of ranching severely impacted their ability to remain financially viable.  Local milk production has also ceased operations also and all milk is imported into the state due to the high operating costs resulting for the GMO bills.

Other impacts and unintended consequences of the GMO ban:

After initially opening up the UH Cancer Research Center, the ban on GMO inadvertently blocked all research on the latest cancer treatments that were GMO derived.  Scientists and researchers’ works were completely halted as the ban covered all of organisms being used in the state.  Just as they were on the verge of finding a treatment for breast cancer focusing on genetic modification, the attorney general concluded that such research was considered illegal under the law.

The cost of food production rose 30% following the ban due to increased enforcement and regulation on the determination of genetically modified food. GMO food stuffs had strict requirements and testing was enacted as a result.  Testing of the quantities of modified foods were the major reason behind the rise in food costs.  In addition to Hawaii already paying higher food costs, the costs are approximately 40% greater than costs on the mainland.  Poverty rates in our islands has increased from 17.4% in 2013 to nearly 25 to 30% due to the high costs of living factored in.

With the lack of big ag on former cane and pineapple lands, the sustainable organic ag industry supported by small organic farmers has taken a great toll on the capability of the state to manage the current infrastructures.  Land leases to these small farmers have had to rise to help cover the costs of maintaining ditches and water tunnels used for the ag areas.  Pest management has also become a problem due to the fragmented systems utilized by these small farm plots.  Farmers have also had decreased sales as the rising production costs cannot keep up with consumers ability to afford locally grown products.  The infrastructures presently in place have significantly deteriorated as a result of the system change resulting from anti-big ag bills being passed.

The loss of big ag has also affected a key educational system for the native people in our state.  With the lack of reliable tenants on the large stretches of property owned by Bishop Estate, Kamehameha Schools has had to decrease the amount of student aid being provided to existing students and discontinue educational programs being supported by those leases.  Bishop Estate has had major losses of revenue on evictions of these small farms that could not pay market prices for ag property.  They have also suffered losses for covering the maintenance of the existing infrastructures in place that small farmers are not able to bear the burden of.  Many Hawaiians are now on waiting lists to get access to the programs that they were once eligible for.

The recent closures of the seed companies on Kauai has had an especially devastating effect on the island.  Unemployment has resulted in drug use, property crime, and other crimes have tripled as the companies have transferred operations to foreign countries due to intense regulation.  Small organic farmers have tried to use the former seed lands and due to the lack of financial backing have not been able to keep up with rising lease payments to cover infrastructure maintenance.  Due to the inconsistent practices of small farmers and a lack of integrated pest management, yields on these farms have been very poor leading to smaller production.  Inconsistent soil management practices have also led to severe run off problems from the fragmented farming systems created.  Pesticides residues of organically sprayed chemicals have also been found in schools and hospitals at significantly higher levels due to the lack of regulation on these farms.  New reports of skin, asthma, and allergic reactions have been increasing as newer studies are finally testing these pesticides against humans.

With the loss of agricultural lands, the barren farms have been a developers dream come true as more homes and infrastructure plans are in the works.  Due to the isolation of Lanai and potential for power generation, a nuclear power plant is likely going to be built there to power the entire island chains affordably.  The increase of homes in Kauai has also led to the building of the next biggest freeway system in Hawaii, H4.  The Big Island has also had a huge growth in housing and larger freeway systems are in the plans to be developed.  There has been a boom in the construction industry here with the lack of agriculture.

One of the biggest and most detrimental effects of the ban of GMOs is the huge brain drain occurring in our islands.  As the biotechnology sector grows in both the agricultural and medical sectors, the outlook for students pursuing  these careers were bright prior to the ban.  The occupational diversity of our state was glowing prior to the politicians’ decisions to ban this growing sector.  Currently, the major industry in the islands remain in the tourism sector primarily and the lack of more skilled opportunities have led to yet another brain drain effect.

The constant sense of threats and disrespect up until the enacted ban on farmers have cause many farmers to cease participation in farmer’s markets.  Many live in fear that they choices that that they have used to farm has put them up as targets by the activists that were first seeking a label then a ban.  Many have decided prior to the labeling that the farming business is no longer worth it anymore with the added stressors of the activists.  The farmer’s markets have dwindled as the local food supply is dropped dramatically as a result of protesters and activists bullying tactics to farm according to their demands.

So although at the time these regulations seemed like “common sense,” the unintended consequences of this strategy has left many current leaders and a growing number of local people asking themselves, “Where did we go wrong?”  What was supposed to be the “right” thing at the time, has not created the vision that it was intended to do.  It was to create an affordable and sustainable food supply for our state according to what the organic industry was touting as the right way to proceed.  How do we get off the wrong path and get back on track and how do we reverse the permanent damage done?

If our ag industry continues to be badgered and splintered the way it currently is heading, this unfortunately will be the likely consequences of our present actions.  Hawaii can avoid this predicament that is highly likely given the nature of the situation now.  Leaders have to think prospectively and consider the evidence presented to make responsible laws, not ones based on “common sense” and public opinion.  If you don’t want to face the scenario presented, then we must change our path now before it is too late.

Popular Opinion and Politicians

Excerpts from the US History site:

Over 127,000 United States citizens were imprisoned during World War II. Their crime? Being of Japanese ancestry.

Despite the lack of any concrete evidence, Japanese Americans were suspected of remaining loyal to their ancestral land. ANTI-JAPANESE PARANOIA increased because of a large Japanese presence on the West Coast. In the event of a Japanese invasion of the American mainland, Japanese Americans were feared as a security risk.

Succumbing to bad advice and popular opinion, President Roosevelt signed an executive order in February 1942 ordering the RELOCATION of all Americans of Japanese ancestry to CONCENTRATION CAMPS in the interior of the United States.

Evacuation orders were posted in JAPANESE-AMERICAN communities giving instructions on how to comply with the executive order. Many families sold their homes, their stores, and most of their assets. They could not be certain their homes and livelihoods would still be there upon their return. Because of the mad rush to sell, properties and inventories were often sold at a fraction of their true value.

When the order was repealed, many found they could not return to their hometowns. Hostility against Japanese Americans remained high across the West Coast into the postwar years as many villages displayed signs demanding that the evacuees never return. As a result, the interns scattered across the country.

Note some key terms in what happened to the Japanese Americans in this excerpt that a politician succumbed to popular opinion and bad advice when enacting this order.  It was based on no evidence and paranoia against a made up perception of an enemy.  This so called enemy created hostility against it that continued for years and resulted in discrimination and prejudice for years after that.

As I read this, I’ve come to realize that there are many parallels here to what is happening in Hawaii with Bills 113 on the Big Island and Bill 2491 on Kauai, as well as last year’s labeling bill.  The same events are happening here in our islands.  There is no evidence to base these laws on and a whole lot of paranoia being spread by the organic industry’s tactics to misinform the public.  All kinds of propaganda is being spread against this perceived evil technology that is based in fear but no evidence.

Then we have irresponsible politicians like Gary Hooser, Tim Bynum, Brenda Ford, and Margaret Wille, seeking the bad advice from propaganda spreaders like Jeffery Smith, Andrew Kimbrell, Ronnie Cummins, Vandana Shiva, and Bill Freese.  These people are not scientists nor have any background to make the claims that they do but are believed by these politicians and their activists.

Despite the fact that this perceived evil could provide that environmentally friendly, sustainable world that they want, it will never be able to be accepted into mainstream until many years down in to the future, when the propaganda dies down and we no other options left.  The scientific evidence tells us that this technology is safe yet it is rejected by the popular opinion that has been bombarded in fear and misinformation and nothing else.  (Our ancient societies recognized this phenomenon well and coined the phrase, “They condemn what they do not understand.”)

The Japanese people suffered years of discrimination and prejudice because of what was the popular opinion at the time.  They carried on and despite the hardships, eventually became powerful figures in the communities.  The biggest example of this persevering spirit is Dan Inouye.  In agriculture, it is the papaya that is the shining example of this technology.  The corn, soy, and other plants are still facing this discrimination but is still toiling on and producing our food and textiles.  They are being continually touted as evil but have become necessary tools for the farmers that produce the things we need.  The farmers who use these tools have become the perceived enemy of the moment which they should not be.  I say respect their wishes to use this technology and the research and science that supports it.

The word pono is always mentioned in these divisive conversations.  Do what is right!  What is right here to begin with?  The pono thing is to use the evidence built over the years and base decisions on that, not on the popular opinion of the moment.  Our politicians are succumbing to bad advice and the bandwagon of the moment protests of ignorance.  Do we want to repeat the same mistakes in history by outrightly rejecting this tool that so many have minuscule understanding about?  Where is the science and technology leading us to?  The future is in genetics and genetic engineering but so few here have no clue about it.  That does not mean that we automatically disqualify it out of their ignorance.

If only politicians could instantly get a research and science degree and then take a look into a crystal ball of the future.  It would change their shortsighted thinking in an instant to know the possibilities.  Right now, these popular politicians are blinded with Monsanto glasses like their ignorant followers too.  That is not what we need in Hawaii.  Slamming the door on technology does not do any of us favors to address our future needs of sustainability.

Do the right thing for once Gary Hooser, Tim Bynum, Brenda Ford, Margaret Wille, Tulsi Gabbard, Mike Gabbard, Jessica Wooley, and Russell Ruderman. When it comes down to setting the standards to make those laws, use the evidence presented.  That is your responsibility to the people and farmers and ranchers of Hawaii…  Laws should not be based on popular opinion and bad advice of your loudest activist.

Tulsi Gabbard does not Care about All Farmers

As a voting constituent, I feel that I have a right to voice my opinion to my Congressional Representative, Tulsi Gabbard.  I have noticed how she’s been posting lots of things with the Babes Against Biotech pages from months ago.  (She apparently drinks from the same punchbowl as the anti-GMO mob all do when she starts using the terms Monsanto Protection Act.)

BAB Gabbard link Gabbard and babs

Honestly, I was shocked to see that this representative was okay with being associated with activists that endorse crop destruction.

babs crop destruction

So, I decided to no longer be quiet about this at all because I have seen and felt so much hate and ugliness being directed towards farmers here locally.  That is not okay with me at all.  How can such a representative of the “people” avoid all the evidence presented?  Is it ignorance like what the anti-GMO mob clings on to or what is it?  I decided to give her the benefit of the doubt and simply voice my opinion of the issue to her.

Screen shot 2013-10-02 at 9.33.55 PM

This is the response I got back from her:

Screen shot 2013-10-02 at 9.38.21 PMOkay, so she visited one farm and went to this anti-GMO event:

antievent

So I pressed her a little more:

Screen shot 2013-10-02 at 9.42.44 PM

Others jumped into the thread too with these comments:

Screen shot 2013-10-02 at 9.45.21 PM

Her team’s response to me was that I should contact her about visiting the papaya farm.  Which I immediately did that day.

Screen shot 2013-10-02 at 9.44.59 PM

Well, that was several months ago and our farm has yet to hear a peep from our representative regarding this issue.  That tells us farming families a lot about who she’s listening to and it’s not us.

I went back to her page to attempt to post something and lo and behold, I discovered this!

Screen shot 2013-10-01 at 11.10.53 PM

When you get this kind of post that only allows you to “share,” you know you’ve been banned.  We know who she’s really looking out for now.  It’s her Babes Against Biotech anti-GMO mob and not certain farmers in our islands.  Ignorance not only runs in the general public but also in our own congressional representative.

So Team Tulsi and Tulsi Gabbard, if you should find my page, I am all about getting educated.  Please take the time to learn about biotechnology through some simple videos like this one.  The world needs more research and science, not the perpetuation of ignorance and fear that you support with your stance.