Sunday, July 28, 2013
NOW YOU SEE IT, NOW YOU STILL SEE IT: There's an "Island Voices" commentary in today's Star-Advertiser (don't bother- it's paywalled) by Big Island GMO papaya grower Ken Kamiya headlined "GMO Ban would cripple Hawai`i farming."
His case would seem to be Roseann-Barr-related, basing his commentary on the proposition that her testimony on their GMO-related Bill 79 (which exempts papayas) speaks for the whole anti-GMO movement.
He spends half the article talking about her but he does of course make the familiar claim that GMO papayas "saved the papaya industry" after the "ring spot virus" nearly wiped out papayas in the 90's, a familiar refrain that is presumed to be factual by most.
But riddle us this. If the only way to save the papaya from the dreaded bug was to use genetic modification, where exactly did the "organic" and non-GMO papayas you see on the produce shelves come from? Did they somehow "un-GMO" them? Because presumably if the GMO papayas prevented the regular papayas from being wiped out by the ring spot virus there shouldn't be any organic papayas left.
Well the answer is obviously that it didn't wipe out the rest of the papayas, which were saved by either natural section or traditional breeding techniques.
For thousands of years, as Darwin's "Theory of Natural Selection explains," organisms survived blights or epidemics because the ones that survived had some kind of natural immunity to the bug. When they bred, the result was a species that was no longer threatened because all members had natural immunity.
The fittest survived. And therefore, so did the species.
This was sped up over the past few centuries by humans cross-breeding domesticated species where the resistant plants were bred together. But basically it was the same process as nature had used.
And that's where the organic papayas and non-GMO papayas came from- they either naturally survived the "ring spot plague" or, more likely in modern times, people bred the ones which were not killed off by the virus- the ones with natural immunity.
Were there no "industry" to demanded a salable product for harvest year after year after year, within a few years the "survival of the fittest" would have naturally occurred and we would now, 15 years later, have only non-GMO papayas being grown... the need for any GMO papaya having disappeared.
We don't expect this argument to change Mr Kamiya's mind. As Kenny Loggins and Michael McDonald wrote: "what a fool believes he sees no wise man has the power to reason away."
But a miracle is just the science we don't understand yet. Understand?
Wednesday, July 24, 2013
A SMELL BY ANY OTHER NAME WOULD STINK TO HIGH HEAVEN: Talk about your love-hate affair. Tourism, the numero uno cash cow in Hawai`i and Kaua`i, gets the love but it's also the industry we all love to hate. That's evidenced by our preoccupation with "diversifying"- maybe even finding something to supplant it- that has gone on ever since King Sugar, having slipped to #2, finally went belly up.
But now, in a "the kind is dead; long live the king" twist worthy of a Shakespearean tragedy, the current #2 has been slowly poisoning King Tourism and everyone seems to know it but the King and the minions of the King's biggest rival: the innocuous sounding "seed corn industry."
"Aw shucks folks- we're just farmers," the rival says. And who could be against agricultural diversification?
Well, just maybe the peasants, who are finally figuring out that they're getting poisoned too because the strategy to take over the throne is to simply poison the town's well.
The townsfolk have discovered that the kindly corn-farmers like Pioneer are actually part and parcel of legacy chemical companies like Dow and BASF.
They've started to notice how uncle, who works for these companies, is coughing up pieces of lung and they've seen those nightly helicopter-generated, bubble-gum-smelling showers that have turned out to actually be highly toxic pesticides with an illegal bubble-gum masking agent.
Now, despite millions spent by chemical giants like Monsanto to spread disinformation using fact-masking-agents so we won't smell the lies, 64 people have, shockingly enough, filed suit against Pioneer.
Not only that but the townspeople of Kaua`i have introduced a bill (#2491) before the county council and will be descending on the second largest auditorium on the island (the KCC Performing Arts Center) for a public hearing on July 31 (at 1:30 p.m.) just to obtain the right to know just what the heck kind of poisons they're spraying on us.
So how did we get here- where it's up to Kaua`i to protect itself from outsiders coming in and spraying toxic chemicals and refusing to say exactly what they are spraying?
The fact is that the feds and the state, bought and paid for by the chemical giants, have failed to protect the people. That's practically irrefutable making the politicians' cries of "regulation is the realm of the feds and the state" sound like the complete lunatic fantasy that it is.
One courageous Kaua`i County Councilmember, Gary Hooser, first spent a year or so trying to get information from the "biotech" industry- all to no avail- then introduced the bill to force kindly Farmer "Pioneer" Brown and his brother Syngenta Jones to tell us what kind of "restricted use" and "experimental" pesticides are being atomized and nebulized, often in the middle of residential neighborhoods.
The bill would create 500 foot buffer zones especially around schools- because the use of these poisons is banned by law from anywhere it's likely to be in contact with children- and other places where people generally congregate as well as institute a temporary moratorium on the propagation of all new outdoor experimental genetically modified organisms (GMOs) and the associated experimental restricted-use pesticides until an environmental impact statement is completed.
But you'd think that the bill, focused on disclosure, was somehow a death knell for the "seed farmers" to hear what they are telling their employees, in a disinformation campaign that would make the NSA blush.
And speaking of politicians, believe it or not, despite the overwhelming outcry from parents, teachers, and just about everyone who doesn't depend on the biotech industry for their daily contaminated bread, there is doubt as to whether the bill will pass.
So far Hooser has only one declared ally- Councilmember Tim Bynum who co-introduced the bill- and one opponent, a long-time member-in-good-standing of what's know locally as the GOBAGs (good old boys and girls) Club, Ross Kagawa.
The rest are waiting to see which way the toxic wind is blowing and whether the biotexters smelly breeze is stronger than the oratorical winds of practically the entire electorate.
And why might that be?
While the money from the biotech industry dribbles pretty regularly into many of their campaign coffers the main players here are those who control those visitor industry bucks. And thus far people in the Kaua`i and Hawai`i visitors' industry are tightly balanced on the fence putting passage of the bill seriously in question, coming up on that public hearing.
The tenuousness of passage has of late become glaringly obvious to many vote-counting, long-time government observers. As local news-blogger, journalist and pundit Joan Conrow wrote recently
I'm hearing Councilman Gary Hooser currently does not have the votes to pass Bill 2491, the ordinance that deals with restricted pesticide use disclosure, buffer zones and an EIS for the GMO crops. Only Councilman Bynum is solidly on board. So no doubt the rhetoric will ramp up as both sides seek to convince the other five.
Well she isn't the only one. As if it weren’t obvious from watching the first meeting- where the bill unanimously passed the first of two required "readings" (as bills usually do no matter what the final vote turns out to be)- the word around town is that the third and fourth votes may well come down to the leanings of Council Chair Jay Furfaro whose life-long career in the visitor industry makes his nod dependent on how people like Sue Kanoho, head of the Kaua`i Visitors' Bureau (KVB), sees it.
And she ain't sayin' nuttin'.
The remaining three- JoAnn Yukimura, Nadine Nakamura and Mel Rapozo are eyeballing the 2014 election where the first two will no doubt be vying for council chair when Furfaro retires (as he has announced he will do) with Rapozo ogling the mayor's seat. They need, if not an endorsement from Furfaro, at least his good will.
Well that all got us to thinking- always a dangerous proposition.
The bio-tech industry has been calling everyone on the island this week as part of their mis-disinformation campaign, conducting "push polls," setting up secret, supporters-only, town hall meetings and taking fast talking no-means-yes-and-yes-means-no "surveys"
The rest of the time they spend threatening their workers with losing their jobs if forced to answer the question "what in the the heck are you spraying anyway."
They even have their own social media campaign- where asking the wrong question will quickly lose you your posting privileges- telling us how some of them are ready to drink a teaspoon of glycophosate- the active chemical in the household herbicide "Round-up" which will probably not kill you the same way prolonged daily exposure will.
It kind of reminds you of one of those NY City advertising campaigns where the guy says "if you ain't satisfied, I'll eat a bug."
They don't say how diluted that teaspoon of poison might be (we've got dollars for donuts it isn't undiluted, full strength) nor do they offer to drink any of the really toxic "restricted" pesticides they are spraying 80% of the time according to the attorneys who are suing Pioneer at the behest of those 64 members of the Waimea community where Pioneer's local headquarters is located.
Those attorneys have obtained information that many- including Hooser who unsuccessfully tried to use his elected position to pry it loose- have failed to get, by using "discovery" in federal court where depositions are being conducted as we write.
The video of their July presentation at Waimea Canyon School- where some of those restricted-use pesticides that are illegal to use around children were discovered- is a real eye-opener even for those of us who thought we knew how dangerous the situation is.
It's apparent we need help. So it's heartening to many that recently an article in the Huffington Post by Marin County environmental writer Maggie Sergio went viral across the mainland after she heard about the bill and visited Kaua`i to find out more. Another piece by local PhD candidate in politics and economics in food and agriculture Andrea Brower has been gaining publication in journals across the island and country.
So we though that what what's sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander and what we need is a good advertising campaign to reach the tourists that are flocking to Kaua`i with the truth about what those red dust clouds that they drive though on the west side contain.
We wrote up our idea for such an "ad." And since our graphics skills are non-existent we posted a solicitation on the GMO Free-Kauai Facebook page looking for someone with artistic skills who might be able to work with the idea.
We described out concept this way:
It would say "Planning a trip to Kaua`i?" across the top of two frames, the first frame with a person in a bathing suit with the words "Don't Forget your Bathing Suit" across the bottom and the second frame with someone in a Haz-Mat suit saying "Or your Haz-Mat Suit." The second one also has a sign in the background behind the person in the Haz-Mat suit saying something like "Experimental GMO Pesticide Fields; Breath at your own Risk"... you get the idea.
And, bless their hearts two graphic artists took the concept and created "posters" that have been approaching the almighty "viral" status in the last day or so.
First artist Dom Acain took the ball and ran with it coming up with this:
Then artist Rob Cruz took the concept even further in trying to assure tourists understand what you need to pack for a trip to "paradise":
Feel free to share them on social media or email them to your mainland friends... as a matter of fact, "collect-'em-all." Or do your own... the more the merrier.
Although many among the local "leadership" of the anti-GMO movement on Kaua`i have been reluctant to move off their kid-glove treatment of the visitor industry in the past, it seems they too are beginning to see that we need the KVB and corporate tourism honchos as allies in the efforts to pass bill 2491.
We've tried honey but all the bees died anyway. So they might just need a tart little nudge to get them moving in the right direction.
It isn't as if those who work in tourism aren't behind the bill en masse. Union support has been strong and indeed many if not most of those fathers and mothers who testified at the introduction of the bill- and who will be showing up on the 31st- work in a visitor-industry related job.
That's why many people are up in arms at reports in social media that the "Hawai`i Crop Improvement Association" and other industry groups are pouring buckets of cash into those various disinformation and dirty tricks telephone campaigns on Kaua`i as almost anyone living on Kaua`i with a land line can attest.
It important to understand that unless the tourism industry puts pressure on the council- which will take pressure from tourists themselves- the bill could could be in big trouble.
It stands to reason that people are not going to vacation in a place where they will be driving through toxic clouds of dust and where it rains restricted experimental pesticides.
And they are bound to find out sooner or later. Even if it weren't just the right thing to do, informing visitors of the dangers while the bill is on the table is simply good customer research, showing everyone what is bound to happen when tourists do find out.
Imagine how they will react if they find out about the situation along with the information that we defeated a bill to protect them.
There are some who are naive and fail to grasp what we're up against. Many have never experienced a Kaua`i-style movement. They think that they can control activism when the fact is that on Kaua`i the successful campaigns are not "run" but accomplished through a "do your own thing," leaderless effort, built on the natural outrage... as the Superferry battle can attested to.
KVB is not going to support the bill unless they themselves feel the pressure. They are corporate people whose instinct is to support other corporate people. We're working against that instinct and the only thing that will reverse that attitude is cash- the cold hard cash that they will be losing if occupancy drops when people learn the truth about the so-called"seed industry."
The most important thing any of us can do at this point is to get the word out to the mainland that we are ground-zero for outdoor testing of horrific experiments that are sickening our children and threatening the health of those who visit our fair island.
True leadership knows when to lead and more importantly when to get the heck out of the way and let the people do their thing. Leadership is not what the infamous leader in the French Revolution had in mind when he said "you must tell me which way my people have gone so I can go lead them."
What's your thing? Don't wait for permission- just grab a peaceful pitchfork, go out and do it. Every bit helps.
For more information on a variety of GMO-Free matters, check out thee Stop Poisoning Paradise's web site at http://www.stoppoisoningparadise.org/