Categories Archives: Agriculture

Biotech & Departments of Agriculture closed-door meeting

From GMO Free Hawai’i Island:

It recently came to our attention that NASDA, the National Association of State Departments of Agriculture, is having a closed door meeting in Kona next week, and they will be discussing the setting of the agenda for agriculture throughout all the states for the next five years. And what is most troubling besides the meeting’s secrecy and use of public agencies, is that the speakers and agenda items mostly concern the interests of the biotech industry.

Speakers include:

  • Marjory Bronster – the lawyer who is suing three counties in Hawai’i on behalf of the biotech industry for passing laws regulating GE agriculture
  • Dennis Gonsalves – the creator of the GMO papaya, and the chair of the whole national association
  • our own Hawai’i Department of Agriculture chair Scott Enright

One can speculate what the reason is for having this meeting in private on Hawai’i Island; most of the chemical companies have their experimental GE field trials and grow outs on the other islands, so perhaps it will be easier to paint a rosier picture of “the success of GMO farming in Hawai’i,” and use this as a model to follow through the rest of the country without the distraction of having to contend with communities most affected by these toxic farming practices. With agenda items such as “Preventing Flawed Food Safety Research From Becoming Scientific Dogma”, and the chosen speakers, it seems pretty clear that the ongoing exposure of the promotion of junk science conducted by the biotech industry, and studies showing the ill effects of these technologies on animals for example are increasing the need on the part of the biotech industry to control the messaging in order to save their business model from the public finding out about the actual science that shows harm.

GMO Free Hawai’i Island is considering holding a protest on the highway in front of resort; email them at gmofreehawaiiisland@gmail.com if you would be able to attend on Sunday, September 13th at the Sheraton Kona Resort.

You can read the official press release, or see the agenda.

Pesticides in paradise: how do we fight back?

The problem of pesticides

The islands of Hawai’i, especially Kauai, are frequently described as “ground zero” for GMOs. As an unwilling host to parasitic chemical agriculture, the land is bombarded with pesticides and chemicals at concentrations unseen in most other places; the test and seed crops grown by agribusiness can be dosed at much higher levels than crops meant to be eaten. The effects on the aina and its people are predictable: sterilization of the soil, massive pollution of the waters, and widespread negative impacts on human health. Though much of this harm is inherent to agriculture, even organic agriculture, the severity is drastically worse in these modern operations.

Indirect action

Legal response

Residents on Kauai, Maui, and the Big Island responded by passing laws reducing the harm the chemical companies are allowed to inflict on us, but this has two big drawbacks:

  1. It operates from a framework of limiting, but still permitting, the companies to poison and destroy life, rather than establishing a normative expectation of healthy landbases and sustainable operations, with all actions evaluated against that.
  2. It doesn’t proactively address the constitutional structure in place in the US, deliberately set up to facilitate corporate extraction of resources. Under the hierarchy of preemption, local municipalities are explicitly denied the power to enforce protections stricter than those allowed by the state and federal governments. Unsurprisingly, agribusiness immediately used the court system to strike down most of the restrictions fought for and won by the people.

Symbolic response

Photo: Pasha Yushin | OrganicHawaii.org

Photo: Pasha Yushin | OrganicHawaii.org

The response by the people in early August was the “Aloha Aina Unity March” through the streets of Honolulu to protest the diverse manifestations of civilization in the islands, including pesticides, the TMT construction project, lack of home rule, and militarization. Though it roused an impressive turnout of 10,000, this sort of symbolic protest is unlikely to be effective without organization into a credible threat to those in power. Simply asking them nicely to do the right thing won’t get us anywhere.

Direct confrontation

CELDF

A more strategic approach via the legal system is offered by the Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund (CELDF). They help localities draft bills declaring and enforcing the rights of communities and of nature against corporations. Their tactics expect and leverage legal challenges to the passage of such bills, using any pushback to highlight the undemocratic nature of our system, galvanizing and radicalizing further opposition. A CELDF representative visited multiple islands in 2013, presenting their strategy and offering assistance if a group on the ground wanted to put forward a bill or initiative. That remains as a promising possibility if anyone wants to organize towards it.

Deep Green Resistance

transmission-sabotage
Another approach is that advocated by Deep Green Resistance: trace all these problems back to the root problem of civilization, especially industrial civilization. While strengthening local communities and rebuilding sustainable practices, work to end the ability of the rich to steal from the poor, and of the powerful to destroy the planet.

Given the small number of people willing to question civilization, let alone confront it, and given the desperately short timeline we face before the planet is pushed to irreversible and catastrophic collapse of its life support systems, DGR believes it necessary for some people to carry out direct attacks on critical infrastructure. By disrupting the underpinnings of systems of control, including communications, energy transportation, and electrical distribution, hypothetical underground groups would directly erode the power of those working against life, and make them more likely to concede to demands by the more “reasonable” of us in aboveground groups.

It’s uncomfortable, and even scary to contemplate life without the conveniences of civilization to which we’ve grown accustomed, but we should keep in mind:

  • These conveniences come with costs usually unseen until we actively investigate: exploitation and murder of life here and abroad, human and non-human, in the present and in generations to come. Nothing civilization can give us is worth the death of the planet.
  • Hawaiians lived good lives here for centuries before European contact. Depending on what you most value ― family, intimate connection to community & aina, a clean environment, and meaningful work; or short-lived labor-saving devices, fleeting visits to places far and wide, and flashy gadgets ― one could argue Hawaiians lived much better lives than we do now.

Resources

For more on the issues in Hawai’i around industrial agriculture, chemical company influence, and GMOs, see:

For more on potential big-picture solutions, see:

Get involved:

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  • Fill out our Volunteer for DGR form or our Join DGR form.
  • If you have questions specific to DGR Hawai’i, email hawaii@deepgreenresistance.org

Kauai’s ongoing battle against pesticide companies

Deep Green Resistance advocates a return to land-based food systems rather than the fossil-fueled and toxic war against nature that characterizes industrial agriculture. Many homesteaders and organic farmers have proven we don’t need to douse our environment in pesticides, herbicides, and chemical fertilizers; nor deploy genetically modified organisms to force monocrops onto the aina. This biotic cleansing of the earth to steal all its production must stop.

In some good news, residents of Waimea, Kauai have won a multi-year struggle to get justice for DuPont Pioneer poisoning them with pesticide laden dust. A Honolulu jury decided that the corporation must recompense the residents for property damage caused by its reckless behavior. Unfortunately, the health and environmental harms caused by the pesticides were not redressed.

Although this is a victory, it’s just a start. Kauai and most of the other Hawaiian islands are under assault by the agrichemical complex. Read more about this decision and the other threats to the aina and its people at Pulling Back The Curtain: Jury verdict unanimous, DuPont Pioneer guilty of harming Waimea Kauai residents.

Petition to Switzerland to stop Syngenta’s poisoning of Kaua’i

After Kaua’i residents passed an ordinance last November to provide limited protection from pesticide spraying, agrochemical companies including Syngenta sued to shut down even minimal steps towards the health of residents, including children and the hospitalized. The Hawai’i Alliance for Progressive Action (HAPA) traveled to attend Syngenta’s annual shareholders meeting and request that the company apply to Hawai’i the same pesticide restrictions in place in Syngenta’s host country of Switzerland.

In Switzerland, the Kauaʻi delegation [also] met with local and national Swiss lawmakers resulting in the Social Democratic Party, the largest political party in Basel, issuing a Statement of Support, asking Syngenta to “honor the democratic process and protect the people of Kauaʻi.” These meetings also resulted in several articles in Swiss Newspapers, television news and Swiss Public Radio covering Syngenta’s activities in Hawaiʻi and the Kauaʻi residents’ concerns.

HAPA is pushing for 10,000 signatures on a support petition by this Thursday, when allies in Switzerland will present it to Guy Morin, President of the Government of Basel, Switzerland and to executives of Syngenta at a public meeting. Please sign and share widely!

Petition to Switzerland to stop Syngenta’s poisoning of Kaua’i

Background information: Kauai delegation delivers strong message to Syngenta, Swiss lawmakers

Investigative journalist on Hawai’i’s GMO war

Jon Rappoport, a free-lance investigative journalist, has written numerous posts recently about GMOs, labeling vs banning, and the recent passing and subsequent overturning of laws in Hawai’i to ban GMOs and their attendant poisons. He provides some good insights into the corruption in the political and judicial systems, and even with big NGOs supposedly looking out for the health of humans and our landbases. The main angle he’s missing is CELDF style laws, which not only block unwanted industry or pollution from a locale, but explicitly state that the local protections supersede the rights of corporations or the State or Federal laws written by those corporate interests.

You can see all of Rappoport’s posts on GMOs or read some specific posts:

Review of Open Sesame: The Story of Seeds

Norris Thomlinson of Deep Green Resistance Hawai’i wrote a review recently of the documentary Open Sesame: The Story of Seeds. He analyzes it from a liberal vs radical perspective, ultimately coming away disappointed that the film didn’t offer anything more than a typical liberal approach to systemic problems of power.

The film shows beautiful time lapse sequences of seeds sprouting and shooting into new life. Even rarer, it shows people feeling very emotional about seeds, displaying extra-human connections we normally only see with domesticated pets, and hinting at the human responsibility of respectful relationship with all beings described by so many indigenous people. The movie highlights great projects from seed schools and the Seed Broadcast truck educating people on why and how to save seed, to William Woys Weaver and others within Seed Savers Exchange doing the on-the-ground work of saving varieties from extinction, to Hudson Valley Seed Library trying to create a viable business as a local organic seed company.

[…]

The Deep Green Resistance Youtube Channel has an excellent comparison of Liberal vs Radical ways of analyzing and addressing problems. In short, liberalism focuses on individual mindsets and changing individual attitudes, and thus prioritizes education for achieving social change. Radicalism recognizes that some classes wield more power than others and directly benefit from the oppressions and problems of civilization. Radicalism holds these are not “mistakes” out of which people can be educated; we need to confront and dismantle systems of power, and redistribute that power. Both approaches are necessary: we need to stop the ability of the powerful to destroy the planet, and simultaneously to repair and rebuild local systems. But as a radical environmentalist, I found the exclusively liberal focus of Open Sesame disappointing. There’s nothing inherently wrong with its take on seed sovereignty; the film is good for what it is; and I’m in no way criticizing the interviewees doing such great and important work around seed saving and education. But there are already so many liberal analyses and proposed solutions in the environmental realm that this film’s treatment doesn’t really add anything new to the discussion.

Read the entire review of Open Sesame at the Deep Green Resistance News Service.

Seven GMO Events in May

This announcement was put together by Occupy Hilo and distributed by GMO Free Hawai’i Island:

There are seven GMO‬ related events happening on ‪Hawaii Island‬ in the next two weeks. Please mark your calendars for the following:

MON 5/19 Hawaii Seed and the Mom Hui presents

as part of the Raise Awareness Inspire Change Speaker Series: Dr. Tyrone Hayes – Silencing the Independent Scientist

Where: UH Hilo campus, Science and Technology Building, room 108

When: Monday evening, May 19th, 6-8pm

A free and open to the public presentation by UC Berkeley Professor Tyrone Hayes, about his findings from 15 years of research on the herbicide Atrazine and his struggle with the Syngenta corporation, the maker of Atrazine.

TUES 5/20 Kona Island Naturals

6-8 pm ~Dr. Tyrone Hayes, UC Berkeley Professor/research on pesticide Atrazine and struggle with Syngenta Chemical Corp.

TUES 5/20

Agriculture Advisory Commission 10:00 am Puna Conference Room. Agenda items include a discussion of GMO legislation

THURS 5/22

9:00 am to 4:30 pm UH Hilo room UCB100

UH Soil health and composting symposium. The College of Agriculture, Forestry and Natural Resource Management (CAFNRM) at the University of Hawai`i at Hilo and the County of Hawai`i will host a free, public forum entitled “Building Momentum Toward a Resilient and Sustainable Local Farming Culture.” Dr. Hector Valenzuela of the UH Manoa College of Tropical Agriculture and Human Resources (CTAHR) and Dr. Norman Arancon of CAFNRM will be the lead presenters with discussion facilitation by Interim CAFNRM Dean Bruce Mathews and County Councilwoman Margaret Wille, Chair of the County Council’s Committee on Agriculture, Water, Energy, Sustainability. Morning presentations and panel discussions will focus on eco-friendly agro-ecological models, integrated crop-livestock systems and feed options, improving soil health, and increasing economical options for high quality compost. The afternoon sessions will include a discussion of little red fire ant control strategies and facilitated breakout sessions, followed panel discussions on how to move forward on the key areas of interest.

SAT 5/24

1:00 ‪March Against Monsanto‬ March/Sign Waving against Monsanto in Kona. Queen K toward Mormon Temple

SAT 5/24

6:30-8:30 pm UH Hilo STB108 Dr. Lorin Pang of Maui, informs us about the health effects and other issues around genetic engineering and genetically engineered food and farming. His focus will also be on pesticides, and how pesticides affect the human body at the cellular level, and the unintended consequences of mixing different pesticides together. When mixed, as is done more often than not in the farm fields, they combine to create brand new untested chemicals that wreak havoc on the human body’s ability defend from the toxins.

THURS 5/29

4:30pm GMO ISSUES: Pro and Con Panel Discussion by Four Experts, STB108, UH Hilo Campus. Free presentation sponsored by AAUW and UHH Women’s Center.

Pro presenters:

Richard Ha, Hamakua Springs Country Farms/ Hawaii Board Agriculture

Dr. Russel Nagata, County Administrator, UH Manoa, College Tropical Agriculture Human Resources

Con presenters

Councilwoman Margaret Wille, Chair County Agriculture/ Sustainability Committee

Dr. Hector Valenzuela, UH Manoa Professor, College of Tropical Agriculture

Community members who have questions or concerns about this topic are encouraged to attend. There will be an opportunity to have questions answered.

Hilo & Kona: Dr. Tyrone Hayes – Silencing the Independent Scientist

Hawaii Seed and the Mom Hui presents, as part of the Raise Awareness Inspire Change Speaker Series:

Dr. Tyrone Hayes – Silencing the Independent Scientist


Where: Hilo, UH Hilo campus, Science and Technology Building, room 108

When: Monday evening, May 19th, 6-8pm


Where: Kona, Island Naturals upstairs meeting room

When: Tuesday evening, May 20th, 6-8pm


A free and open to the public presentation by UC Berkeley Professor Tyrone Hayes, about his findings from 15 years of research on the herbicide Atrazine and his struggle with the Syngenta corporation, the maker of Atrazine. His story of scientific and political corruption was featured recently in the New Yorker magazine.

At 6-6:30 pm will be light refreshments and a chance to meet the speaker. A question and answer period will follow the presentation. Paul Towers from Pesticide Action Network will be speaking as well, presenting an overview of pesticide use nationally as well as internationally and the significant role Hawaii plays as ground zero for open-air pesticide experimentation.

It was Dr. Hayes who discovered that the herbicide atrazine, the most widely used herbicide in America, was a disruptor of the endocrine system emasculating male frogs and transforming them into fully functioning reproductive females. Highly published in peer-review journals since the 1990s, Dr. Hayes is an advocate for the critical review and regulation of pesticides and chemicals that cause adverse health effects in our communities.

Right now the County of Kauai is embroiled in a lawsuit over regulating and enforcing articles in the pesticide bill that was recently passed. This bill called for the creation of buffer zones around schools, hospitals, etc, and the public right to know pesticide use in agriculture. This is a critical issue for us all to understand. The links between human health, environmental health, children’s ability to learn, and the future of healthy thriving communities depends on informed community understanding.

Mahalo!

From the team at GMO Free Hawaii Island gmofreehawiiisland@gmail.com

Please feel free to share and send this out widely – thank you!