Friday, March 29, 2013


A QUICKIE: Reports on the so-called "Monsanto Protection Act" (a supposedly "secret" rider to the recently congress-passed Ag Appropriations Bill which continues a suspension of judicial review of use of new GMO products while an a EIS is prepared and will expire in 6 months) continue with CNN reporting that actually Senator John Tester (D-Montana), a former organic farmer, spoke against the rider before the full senate before passage of the bill.

However, he says, he was told by Democratic leadership that the rider could not be taken out at that point although the reason- other than that they had to go on vacation- remains unclear. It is alleged that Senate Ag Committee Chair Barbara Mikulski slipped the rider into the bill unbeknownst to other senators but this seems to put at least the "unbeknownst" part to rest.

Meanwhile this is Tulsi Gabbard's press release on the subject in response to widespread accusations that she was in some way responsible for or involved with the passage of the rider (She did vote for the whole bill). You can judge her straightforwardness and "transparency."

Rep. Tulsi Gabbard Statement on Section 735 of Continuing Appropriations Bill
Mar 28, 2013
Press Release

Washington, DC – Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard (HI-02) today released the following statement on section 735 of the Consolidated and Further Continuing Appropriations Act. Section 735 requires the Secretary of Agriculture to issue a temporary permit allowing the cultivation of certain genetically engineered (GE) plants. This authority expires on September 30, 2013.

"As an advocate for transparency in our legislative process, and a proponent of labeling food containing GE products, I am disappointed that a special-interest GE protection provision was inserted by the Senate during consideration of this must-pass funding bill.

"The bill was designed to provide funding for the Department of Defense, as well as address domestic priorities like public safety, rural development, education, and food programs. I voted for this bill to protect our economy from another manufactured crisis, to prevent a Federal government shutdown this week, and to help ease the pain of across-the-board budget cuts.

"People deserve to know if their food is safe to eat, if they contain GE products, and the effect of GE crops on the environment. Consumers have the right to truthful, transparent information about their food.

"In Congress, I will continue to support efforts to strengthen consumer and environmental protections from GE crops, ensure adequate cultivation safeguards, and require labeling of GE foods. Labeling GE food products is essential in order for consumers to make informed and educated choices."

Monday, March 25, 2013


NOW PLAYING IN A CESSPOOL NEAR YOU: Whether it's Syngenta's disinformation campaign about Atrazine, new information about cancer and pesticides, the so-called Monsanto Protection Act recently passed by congress or the state Department of Agriculture’s admission at last week's Kaua`i County Council meeting that they failed to perform a study- one we paid $50,000 for- of the apparent pesticide poisoning of Waimea Elementary School students four years ago and instead accepted the seed-corn industry's claim that it was simply something called "stink-weed" that sent the kids to the hospital, something really, well, stinks about the biotech industry... especially on Kaua`i.

But you ain't seen nothing yet- just wait until this Wednesday's council meeting when James Pacopac, lobbyist for the county and Syngenta, brings his dog and pony show to town.

According to the agenda for this week's council meeting

Council Chair Furfaro (is) requesting the presence of Mr. Scott Matsuura, and Mr. James Pacopac, JS Hawai`i Consultants, LLC, to provide the Council with an update on the 2013 Legislative Session to include, but not be limited to, the status of the Kaua'i County, Kaua'i County Council, and Hawai`i State Association of Counties (HSAC) Legislative Packages for 2013.

A recent post by journalist/blogger Ian Lind titled Profiling members of the Honolulu Planning Commission reveals that Pacopac is not only a member of that august body- along with various and sundry developers, bankers and other lobbyists- but:

Pacopac... is a partner with Scott Matsuura in the lobbying firm of SPJ Consulting LLC.

Pacopac was lobbyist for the Honolulu Board of Water Supply until March 2012. He currently is a registered lobbyist for the County of Kauai, the Kauai Island Utility Cooperative, and Syngenta Crop Protection of GMO fame.

Matsuura and Pacopac have been paid $60,000 for 4 or 5 months worth of work to represent the County of Kauai at the legislature but don't seem to have done much of any lobbying, especially and specifically when it comes to bills that pit the county against the seed-corn industry such as bill SB727 and SB 590. Those bills would take away the county's power to protect the health and safety of its citizens including those who claim they are being poisoned by pesticides used by Syngenta and the rest of the seed-corn industry on the island's westside.

Anyone concerned about whether the county is getting their money's worth or is in fact being scammed by SPJ Consulting's dynamic duo might want to show up Wednesday when, if the agenda is correct, the item will be the first one that will be taken up after a short list of perfunctory items.

And speaking of dog and pony shows, one of the more insanely laughable tag teams will be bringing their anachronistic reefer madness routine back for another commanded-by-no-one appearance.

According to the agenda:

Councilmember (Mel) Rapozo has request(ed) agenda time for a briefing from Keith Kamita, Deputy Director, State of Hawai`i, Department of Public Safety, on the Bills that are currently before the State Legislature relating to the legalization of marijuana.

Folks may remember Kamita as the diabolical yet comical official who thinks the marijuana scourge must be stopped at all cost lest civilization as we know it cease to exist. In lock and goose step with Lieutenant Rapozo, Kamita continues his lost cause to kill one bill that would switch the medical marijuana program from DPW control to that of the Department of Health and of course opposes another to decriminalize small amount of the evil weed.

So prepare some testimony, get some popcorn and join in the fun at the Historic County Building in Lihu`e (Wednesday March 27 at 8:30 a.m.). Or if you really can't make it, catch it live on-line

Just imagine- people complain there's nothing to do on Kaua`i but the county brings the circus to town every week. Lions and tigers and bears... oh my, indeed.

Thursday, March 21, 2013


Check out H. Doug Matsuoka's Youtube video entitled: REP TOKIOKAʻS ATTEMPT TO BLOCK GMO LABELING BILL FAILS! If there was ever any doubt about which side he is on- and to what lengths he will go to serve his biotech corporate masters- this is the smoking gun.

In it Rep Jimmy Tokioka tried to convince the rest of the committee the bill had been deferred earlier in the day (which would have killed the bill) while actually (as the video shows) the committee had been recessed due to lack of quorum. He essentially continues with his "that's my story and I'm sticking to it" attempt to block the GMO labeling bill- the one that was eventually passed by the full house- from a committee vote.

What a weasel.
(Mahalo to Joe Calhoun for the tip on the video)

Wednesday, March 13, 2013


DISCORPORATION: Those worried about the loss of local control and perspective with the purchase of the local Kaua`i newspaper by Canadian newspaper mogul David Black may not be worrying big enough.

Because worse then the imposition of "foreign" control may be the encumbrance of corporate control if an editorial in today's Black-owned Honolulu Star-Advertiser is any indication.

It would be one thing if the pay-walled piece were just something concocted by the S-A editorial board. But it actuality fairly reeks of the bio-tech industry's disinformation campaign directed at members of the Hawai`i state senate in order to squelch a bill (HB174 HD2) that was passed earlier by the house calling for the labeling of GMO (genetically modified organisms) produce "imported" into the islands.

Having failed at finding any real facts to discourage even a committee hearing, the industry continues to cling to half-truths and fear-mongering based on the misinformation that there's some federal law or regulation that would somehow make labeling laws at the state level illegal- a proposition that the 19 other states which are currently considering labeling laws have rejected.

They editorial says:

The push for better disclosure about food products containing a genetically modified organism has grown more heated and energetic this year, with the introduction of state legislation to require labeling stating that the product contains GMOs. Unfortunately, the state lacks the power of the federal government to address the problem, so legislation now moving through the state Senate is unlikely to succeed.

But our state attorney general's opinion notwithstanding- apparently he got the memo sent by Monsanto's corporate lawyers and based his opinion on that- the fact is that there is no federal law or regulation that prohibits states or even smaller jurisdictions from passing laws calling for the labeling of GMO products.

Even during the nearly $50 million advertising campaign by the bio-tech industry that defeated a labeling ballot initiative in California last November, no one was seriously debating the legality of such a measure based on preemption via federal law.

Ask yourself if you would pay $50 million to stop a law that would be illegal in the first place. The chemical giants may be crooked but they ain't crazy.

The article is actually chock-a-block with the usual industry misinformation as summed up in the disproven claim that "the agricultural industry often touts the significant increase in crop yields, and in a world plagued by hunger, that is a trait not to be lightly dismissed."

As if.

Of course the fact is that there is no evidence- other than industry claims based on cherry-picked anecdotal "evidence"- that there are higher yields with GMO crops. And if cost is a factor- especially including environmental damage- studies have generally shown that the yield-per-dollar is less.

But of course that hasn't stopped the bio-tech industry from using their high-priced megaphone to continue to make claims based on flimsy, bought-and-paid-for often concocted research "verifying" their claims- throwing money and corporate influence around so as to make sure that any research to the contrary either never gets completed or is discredited by industry hacks... many of whom have moved through the revolving door into government oversight positions such as the January 2010 appointment of former Monsanto VP Michael Taylor to the created-just-for-him position of FDA Deputy Commissioner for Foods.

But back to the claim in the editorial that somehow such a law "would run afoul of the U.S. Constitution" because "(f)ederal laws on food labeling would pre-empt those issued by Hawaii or any other state, under the supremacy clause."

That might be true except for the fact that there is no such law or FDA regulation. And one reason is that last year the US ended any possibility of continued controversy when it signed on to the Codex Alimentarius in a treaty with the European Union that essentially forbids the US from passing a regulation or law banning the type of labeling used throughout Europe

But that is typical of the bio-tech industry. Their M.O. has always been to take a 20-year-old hypothesis and then claim it as a fact... even decades after it's been disproven.

One of our favorites is that no one has shown any harm from eating GMOs... so far. That could be because the industry has successfully blocked almost all study in the US and when one does go forward it is usually a scientifically flawed analysis designed to ignore any possible detrimental effects- or it's a short term study of what would be a long term effect.

Nowhere has that kind of "are you gonna believe me or your lyin' eyes" PR been more hilariously promulgated than in the claim upon which the bio-tech grain industry has hung its hat- and grown into the giant conglomerate we see today.

No, we're not talking about the absurd claim that, because they have slightly changed the DNA of something like corn or soybeans or sorghum they now "own" that form of life- even when their altered pollen has "drifted" onto a neighboring farmer's crop causing that farmer to pay them to use their own seeds every year. Chemical giant Monsanto has built their business model on that questionable proposition.

No it's not even fact that they added a gene in order to spray the crap out of the corn with their herbicide "Roundup" and then made the counter-intuitive claim that because they added this "bt" gene they would somehow be spraying less herbicide.

No, it is the fact that now, 20 years later, the corn and other grains have formed a "resistance" to Roundup- much as happens with the overuse of antibiotics- forcing farmers to spray more and more each year to achieve the same effect. In some cases it has stopped working altogether no matter how much they spray.

So guess what? They have finally given up on "bt" corn. Instead they have "invented" a new type of GMO corn with a new gene that allows the increased use of a "new" herbicide- one containing "2,4,D," the active ingredient in the infamously toxic Viet Nam era defoliant "Agent Orange."

And yet they still go around claiming they've been successful in spraying less Roundup as if it were 1993 instead of 2013. Technically, if they stop using Roundup entirely, they're right- they are using less... as in zero.

Seems like no matter what the actual facts are, Monsanto- and Sygenta and Pioneer-DuPont and all the rest of the big chemical companies masquerading as agricultural enterprises- continue to use decades old suppositions that have been repeated enough times to make them appear to be true.

Everything old is new again- especially if we allow it to be.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013


ALL WET: It seemed like it was just going to be another nice, quiet little Kaua`i protest- a hundred or so of the same folks who always "show up" once again demonstrating against the westside "Biotech," or Genetically Modified Organism (GMO) corn-seed companies.

No one expected the 2000 people that reportedly marched in the rain this time, most of them young mothers and fathers with kids in tow- the same ones who usually have other things to do with their Saturdays but this time turned out because they're fed up with the lack of response to their worries about the air and waters contamination the industry is foisting on them as well as the lack of response from legislative and administrative authorities.

The question is whether there will be any political repercussion on the heels of this unheard of turnout. And if the outrage in the same social media that enabled the turnout is any indication the 2014 election could one incumbents will actually have to participate in.

It seems as though Kaua`i State Senator Ron Kouchi and Representative Jimmy Tokioka thought they could do what they always do- thumb-nose their constituents and instead bow down to- or bend over for- their corporate masters.

And why not- they, along with Representative Derek Kawakami, have run all but unopposed since their appointments to office with no one willing to take on Tokioka or Kawakami and just token opposition to Kouchi by a perennial Republican candidate last election.

It turns out that when the marchers asked "where's Jimmy," and "where's Ron" the answer would have been predictable if it wasn't so over the top.

The fact is that while anti-GMO demonstrators were sloshing through the rain ostensibly to get their attention, Tokioka and Kouchi were in Los Angeles where they had organized a $500 a plate fundraiser at the fancy-schmancy Coco Laurent restaurant.

It was as if it were all planned to be as offensive as possible to voters. But it turns out they weren't done by any means.

The last anti-GMO bill alive at the legislature is one that calls for labeling only imported mainland fruits and vegetables, of which it turns out there are few if any of in the stores.

How convenient. No broad-based labeling bill that would have forced all GM products to be labeled as such... not even any bills to deal with the horrific health issues that have spurred lawsuits to stop the massive use of herbicides and pesticides- which are necessitated by the GM seed-corn- that has been poisoning west-siders, according to the suit.

So back with all those $500 checks securely in their pockets, Tokioka and Kouchi- this time joined by another Kaua`i Representative, Derek Kawakami- released a position paper in response to the "stacks" of emails they've been receiving on the subject.

And in one of the most weaselly tone-deaf statements imaginable their solution (scroll to the bottom) is to let the stores do it- voluntarily.

Tokioka, apparently speaking for himself, Kouchi and Kawakami writes that he actually supported the imported produce-labeling bill. But now that they have seemingly consulted with their overlords in LA they have a new "solution."

To address this issue, one possible solution that Senator Kouchi, Representative Kawakami and I have been working on would be for individual stores/chains to adopt or implement programs of their own modeled after a program currently in place at Whole Foods Market (WFM).

What WFM has done is they offer separate sections for non-GMO products. These products as well as the shelves they occupy are clearly labeled "GMO-FREE". The products have also been certified as "GMO-FREE" by the Non GMO Project. The Non GMO Project is a non-profit organization that is independent from WFM whose sole function is to verify that non-GMO products are in fact non-GMO.

What I like about the WFM model is that there is little to no Governmental involvement. Senator Kouchi, Representative Kawakami and I have met with many of the grocery stores, including Times/Big Save, Foodland and Safeway to name a few, to encourage them to follow the WFM model. Thus far the dialogue has been productive and their responses have been positive.

Of course this is something that, if they wanted to, stores could do right now. And we all know how voluntary compliance usually works- not at all. And of course it still doesn't identify products containing GMOs, it simply allows non-GMO products to say so- something they also can do right now.

But the main point is that it appears that the Three Corporate Amigos have, after consultation, adopted the official Monsanto spin. They have also now done everything they can to offend their constituents who are finally asking the perennial question "how stupid do you think we are?".

There has never been much danger in underestimating the amount of attention paid by Kaua`i voters to the shenanigans of their legislators. But this time Monsanto's three shills apparently didn't contend with a new generation of Kaua`i young people who are fed up and willing to demand the right to simply to go about their lives and come home to a place with atrazine-free drinking water and where the winds don't blow Roundup and Agent Orange into their windows and children's classrooms.

Friday, March 8, 2013


TOUGH SELL: A couple is trying out a new restaurant.

"The food here is terrible" she says. "Yeah," he says, "and such small portions."

That really old joke seems to sum up the tourism industry's schizophrenic and tone-deaf response to the continuing string of drowning deaths on Kaua`i- now up to nine this year alone- as summed up in today's "let's do more of the same" solution detailed detailed in today's local newspaper by Dr. Monty Downs, emergency room physician and President of the Kaua`i Lifeguard Association.

Dr. Downs has been tireless in his decades-long quest to stop ocean deaths; no one has done more to get the message out that the ocean can be a dangerous place. The problem is that the message is being delivered by those who have a basic conflict-of-interest in wanting to make sure the Disneyland image of Kaua`i as a "safe paradise" remains first and foremost in their advertising.

That assures that any message designed to warn people of the dangers the ocean presents is presented in as innocuous a way possible... a way that assures full airplanes and hotel rooms and does little or nothing to alert tourists to the fact that they can easily die when they go in the water- or ever get too close when waves are breaking on land.

And so unfortunately, rather than rethink the content of the message Dr. Downs has seemingly been sipping on the Kaua`i Visitors Bureau (KVB) Kool Aid and has agreed that the solution is to continue to keep serving the bad food and just increase the portion sizes.

He starts by asking the right questions, saying:

With our heartrending start to 2013, this is a question that I am frequently asked. The visitor industry is all about attracting and welcoming people to visit our legendary destination.

Does it do a good enough job of keeping our invited guests safe while they’re here?

Does it inform them of risks they take when they visit our beaches here?

But the answer he gives is not the same one we hear in the market, on the street and in social media: it's time to change the "don't scare the tourists away" message rather than double down on more of the same.

Cajoling visitors has not worked- it's time to get their attention and then scare the crap out of them.

The bulk of the article goes on to lists all the tourism-related businesses and all they are doing to make sure that the "oh yeah and by the way- please be careful in the ocean" message is sent in way that goes in one ear and out the other.

It ends by saying:

These are examples of what the visitor industry is doing. Can the industry do more? The answer is yes. But having answered this question with a yes, I (as a hospital employee and therefore a beneficiary of our visitors) immediately have to ask the question: Can I do more? Can KLA do more?

The answer again is yes....

We are doing a lot, we really are. We have to try and believe in ourselves even in our difficult, tragic — and for me, humiliating — times. Yes, we can do more. As they say in sports training: It isn’t always how hard you work, it’s how smart you work. KLA will try and help us all figure out how to do both.

The problem is that rather than looking at this like the public heath issue that it is we give lip service to the public heath aspect and then treat it like a question of marketing, turning it into a KVB-style advertising "blitz" using the same smiley-face content, whether that's been effective or not.

We don't need a new way to deliver the current message, we need to actually change the message and scare the b'jeezus out of people whose lack of respect and indeed lack of fear of the ocean is what leads to their deaths. Yet it seems that everyone is afraid to take on the industry's apparent attitude that it doesn't matter if tourists die in the ocean as long as it doesn't create bad publicity.

The message we're getting is "we're doing all we can and we're going to do more to make sure we send a non-threatening, non-scarey message."

Somewhere there's a disconnect here because wherever we go all we hear is people saying that the tourism industry is responsible and needs to change the content of their warnings, not just put up more and bigger TV screens at the airport baggage claim showing beautiful ocean scenes and a whispered voice-over saying "please try to be careful."

The old "if in doubt, don’t go out" adage is obviously not working. Is it to the point where we need ads with pictures of the bloated corpses of drowning victims with something like "The ocean is a killer- this could be you" written across them?

Is it possible to go too far in the other direction? Probably. But the answer to sending out an ineffective message is not to simply make sure that message is repeated more often in more places.

Saturday, March 2, 2013


HARSH RESULTS: So are all you cannabis users- whether medical or recreational- thrilled at the news that an industrial hemp research pilot program (HB154 HD2) has passed the Hawai`i state house and is headed to the senate?

If so, you probably don't know Jack- or Jane as the case may be- about what makes your reefer "da kine" as opposed to that cough-producing ditch-weed your parents and grandparents gave up on 50 years ago.

The myth is that they grew up and simply stopped "experimenting" with pot. But the reality is that they got tired of coughing their heads off and at best, after six joints, maybe experiencing a slightly altered consciousness and at worst winding up with a splitting headache.

That's before the "experts"- many of them continuing their then-outdoor experimentation right here on Kaua`i (as well as on Maui and Hawai`i Island)- started pulling out the male plants leaving only the sticky, gooey, seedless females and began to breed out the fiber and breed in the ever-increasing levels of THC... until it took only a puff or two to attain real results, whether medicinal or otherwise.

The fact is that, as with all organisms that breed with each other, eventually there's only going to be room for one "kine."

Once the pollen from that state-grown "hemp" starts wafting across the street and sprinkling it's fiber-producing fairy-dust all over your little victory garden it will spell the end of that sweet, special breed of cannabis that you've come to know, love and, in many cases, depend on for your continued health.

As plants are wont to do, the male flowers that cannabis users shun will be busy doing their "birds and the bees" thing willy-nilley and will not only be fertilizing your beautiful sensimillia causing it to "go to seed," but the seeds it creates will be the progenitor of that useless stuff that used to grow down by the railroad tracks.

If you're celebrating the state's interest in planting hemp on all the old cane lands, you are also celebrating the end of efforts to decriminalize home-grown marijuana- not because a bill to do that wouldn't pass the legislature but because it'll permanently turn your back-yard stash of resiny bud into a pile of industrial textiles.

The moral? Be careful what you wish for until you've figured out exactly what it is you you want. It's rope vs. dope out there and only one will survive.