GMO crops are worse than sugarcane

SUBHEAD: We are an isolated, compliant population far from everywhere else with plenty of sun and water. What a perfect petridish.

By Juan Wilson on 24 July 2013 for island Breath -

Image above: The last sugarcane harvest in 2009 at Gay & Robinson's mill in Kaumakani. From (

Sugarcane plantations were a disaster for Hawaii. They displaced the Hawaiian lifestyle by privitizing the water and land. They polluted the water and stripped the topsoil for money.

The plantations started here on Kauai in 1839 in Koloa. The local missionaries saw the extensive irrigation systems of Hawaiians in the Koloa Field System that utilized the Waikomo Stream with great efficiency to grow taro, feed fish ponds and even grow some sugar.

The industrialization of sugar plantations began by getting all the water necessary for large scale operation for the Koloa Sugar Mill. The monoculture sugarcane plantation also required tremendous amounts of cheap manual labor, as early on the work was not mechanized.

The only way to keep such workers was to make them essentially peons - that is a member of a servile feudal class bound to the land and subject to the will of its owner. 
This was not attractive to the Hawaiians who could live a better life with less strife - at least until their water and land was confiscated and disease reduced their population. In the  meantime it was necessary for the plantations to import labor from China, Japan, and the Philippines.

Over the decades the imported labor intermingled and married into the remaining Hawaiians. Many of the "Hawaiians" today are the descendants of these unions.  Some of what is seen today as Hawaiian tradition results from the unique culture of these descendants and their lives on plantations.

In the mid 1980s sugar was being replaced by high-fructose-corn-syrup (HFCS) in carbonated soda and was becoming a replacement for sugar as a flavor enhancer in all kinds of food. It was simply cheaper to produce and more addictive; like methamphetamines replacing cocaine. Profits swelled with American waistlines.
But even after the era of suagarcane dominance passed in the 1980's, even as the company town monopolies faded, the sugar mills struggled on burning their crops and stripping the soil.

By then there were fewer laborers and they weren't company peons... but debt serfs - with mortgages, car payments, credit card interest and utility bills. Unless they were educated or got a county job, they had to keep their work at the mill as much as the peons before them.

GMO HFCS to the rescue!
After the turn of the millennium there was only one operational sugarmill on Kauai, Kamuakani run by Olokele Sugar on Gay & Robinson's old plantation.  G & R knew the jig was up and struggled to find a way to carry on - maybe they could convert the mill into a power station and burn sugarcane to make electricity? Well, that didn't happen.

What saved some of the few jobs left in the industry was the GMO cornseed industry... ironically the source of almost all HFCS.

Only a handfull of jobs for local people are left compared with the numbers in the past needed for sugarcane work. The GMO companies say that number is about 600 people. How many of those are managers and technicians imported from the mainland is not shared. However, those jobs held by local people are obviously supremely important. But what is the cost to Kauai?

GMO Failing to handle pests
The GMO seed companies are doing open field experimental tests through the application of cocktails of restricted use pesticides (RUPs) on genetically mutated plants. This is worse for the people of Kauai than sugarcane operations.Why?

The GMO seed industry is finding that a simple Round-Up Ready BT corn plant no longer can handle the variety of insects and weeds (like root beetles and pigweed) that have become resistant to the GMO pesticides.

The answer by these chemical companies, posing as seed companies, is to escalate the use of pesticides. Now Dow and Monsanto are asking USDA to approve its new “2,4-D resistant” corn and soy seed. That's one of the chemicals made famous by Agent Orange, the defoliant that damaged so many Vietnamese and US soldiers in the 1960's.

If approved where will 2,4-D be applied in open field tests - on Kauai.

Unless you have been asleep since 2007, you know that RUPs have been found in the Kauai westside school playgrounds and backyards of the very people working in the GMO fields. This is one reason why GMO crops are worse than sugarcane. It's one thing to put up with the smoke and dust for sugarcane harvest - it's another watch a child sicken in reaction to constant pesticide applications.

Looking forward to GMO Free Kauai
GMOs won't save the world or save us. They will only save the chemical companies that sell the poison. Kauai should be looking for a way out of the GMO business.

We should find work for hundreds of local people employed by DOW, DuPont, Syngenta, BASF, Monsanto, etc. There is plenty that is needed to do here to feed ourselves. Many of these people know how to grow food, hunt and fish better than anybody else.

The failure of GMO crops to save the world and the toxic environment they are developed in is coming into national media attention. As it does it will do direct and lasting damage to our tourist industry. There are already signs. 
  • Tourists see that their rental car is passing acres of GMO corn in front of the Kukui Grove Mall.
  • They may know that there are DuPont-Pioneer corn experiments in several fields just out of sight of the Kauai Coffee tourist visitor's center.
  • They may become aware that their turtle snorkel adventure is happening in a bay with the run-off of the DOW AgroScience GMO efforts.
  • They may find out their campsite at Poli Hale State Park is downwind from the overnight spraying by Syngenta of experimental pesticides on adjacent land.
Would you want to drive by, visit, swim and sleep with your famity next to such activities?

Just remember that the tourism/hospitality industry has six times as many workers as all the agriculture, forestry and fishing jobs on Kauai. Until there is a replacement, tourism is the Big kahuna of Kauai's economy.

Lastly, DOW, DuPont, Syngenta, BASF, and Monsanto are all mammoth multinational chemical companies that have a history of creating munitions, weaponry, poison gas and pesticides. These corporations care nothing about Kauai other than it is a convenient place to experiment with poisons.

We are an isolated, compliant population far from everywhere else with plenty of sun and water. What a perfect petridish for experiments with pesticides on humans.


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