GMO companies play the government

SUBHEAD: Pesticide-GMO corps are using government stooges to kick decisions upstairs, where they're safe.

By Juan Wilson on 15 October 2013 for Island Breath -

Image above: Poster from Blake Drolen of GMOFree Kauai.

Kauai County Council continuation hearing on Bill 2491 to regulate Kauai pesticide and GMO experiments.
Tuesday, October 15th, 2013 beginning at 9:00am until late.


Anti GMO Ralley at Old Kauai Building
Tuesday, October 15th, 2013 beginning at 6:00pm (let's celebrate or mourn together)

Historic Kauai County Building
4396 Rice Street, Lihue, Kauai  

There will be two live video streams of hearing today.

If either stream goes down for any reason, switch to the other stream.

1. Unofficial Stream
2. Official Stream

It is pretty obvious that the strategy of the Big Chemical Companies (Monsanto, Dow, DuPont, BASF, Syngenta, Bayer) it to rely on state and local governments to protect them from the public they are harming.

One aspect of this is to argue that a rinky-dink operation like our county government does not have the experience, expertise, or authority to regulate their corporate behavior. They further argue that any proposed county legislation to disclose and regulate open field genetic and pesticide experimentation should be deferred and be the responsibility of the state and federal government.

The corporations say this because it is because  they trust the federal and state legislators to already be bought and paid for. Who else can they trust? Well they are working hard now at the county level to assure their protection too.

Monsanto and the gang have been nimble (and rich) enough to have stymied efforts on labeling and patent chellenges to date.

Fortunately, here on Kauai and on the Big Island they have been forced to play catch-up. This has been due to public revulsion of their activities and a few brave local legislators whose proposals are coming to a head right now.

On Kauai the tendrils of the GMO interests seem to have swayed Councilwoman Nadine Nakamura into their camp. After the vote today she is off to become kauai Mayor Bernard Carvalho's managing director (A $100K plus job). The Mayor has advocated a Council deferral on Bill 2491 until the State of Hawaii gets its act together.

Obviously, we don't know the fate  Bill 2491 on Kauai or  Bill 113 on Hawaii that are scheduled to be voted on today and tomorrow.

Ms. Nakamura's ethics will be in question if she backs the deferral today. 

I think one thing is assured. The technology of corporate GMO mono-crop industrial agriculture is failing. It is failing in so many ways that a detailed description is not possible to describe in this article. Google it!  Here some aspects for the American GMO industry that are failing:
  • Soil Fertility - need for massive petrochemical based fertilizer replacement.
  • Microorganism Loss - die-off of micro-organisms in soil due to pesticide and chemical applications.
  • Soil Run-off - Exensive Dead Zones from nitrogen and chemical poisoning of Gulf of Mexico.
  • Pest Resistance - Pigweed and Rootworm immunity to "Round-Up" and "Bt" are ruining GMO production.
  • Peak Oil cost and availability will make agriculture dependent on petrochemicals (fertilziers, pesticides, pharmaceuticals, farm-equipment/distribution fuel cost) uneconomical. 
  • Widespread and varied illness caused by glyphosate is intrinsic to GMO food products.
  • Replacement of high-fructose-corn-syrup for sugar has greatly increased obesity, diabetes and other health risks.|
  • Aversion to GMO products is growing and will result in labeling that will reduce consumption.
  • Viability of global corporate domination of consumer economy is threatened by ongoing climate change and ecosystem collapse.
The obvious alternatives to these problems, to the degree that they can implemented at this time, is local organic production of food and environmental protection.

Pass Bill 2491 on Kauai and Bill 113 on the Big Island. They are a good starting point to push back the corporate death machine.

Mayor calls for 2491 delay

By Chris DeAngelo on 9 Octover 2013 in the Garden Island -


Mayor Bernard Carvalho Jr. and his administration recommended Tuesday that the Kauai County Council consider another deferral of Bill 2491.

“There’s more work to be done,” Carvalho said. “I truly believe we have an opportunity here to talk this thing through.”

As Council Chair Jay Furfaro predicted, the council did not come to a final vote on an amended version of the bill related to pesticides and genetically modified organisms on the island.

Instead, council members listened to additional public testimony and a lengthy presentation from Carvalho and his administrative team about their concerns and the bill’s operational impacts.

With a previous commitment to go into executive session at 2 p.m., Furfaro recessed the matter around 1 p.m.

The full council is scheduled to resume its discussion and possibly vote on 2491 Tuesday.

Since council members Gary Hooser and Tim Bynum introduced the controversial bill in June, proponents have adopted the color red — opponents, the color blue.

As he has for all events related to the bill, Carvalho arrived in council chambers dressed in purple, Kauai’s official color and what some have pointed out would be the result of both sides uniting and collaborating.

The mayor said public participation over the last few months has been amazing, and that he is interested in bringing all parties together to find the best solution for the people of Kauai and Niihau.

On Monday, Carvalho traveled to Honolulu for a discussion with Russell Kokubun, chair of the Hawaii Department of Agriculture, and members of Gov. Neil Abercrombie’s staff.

“I feel very confident I have the full commitment of working together to come to a document, or an understanding, of what everybody’s role is and how this whole issue can move forward,” he said. “Again, in the best interest of all.”

If passed in its current form, the bill would require Kauai’s largest agricultural companies — DuPont Pioneer, Syngenta, Dow AgroSciences, BASF and Kauai Coffee — to disclose the presence and use of genetically modified crops and pesticides. It would also establish buffer zones around schools, hospitals, homes and other areas, and require the county to conduct a study on the health and environmental impacts of the industry.

Provisions deleted from the bill last month include those that would have prohibited open-air testing of experimental pesticides and genetically modified organisms, established a permitting process and placed a temporary moratorium on the expansion of GMO fields.

County Managing Director Gary Heu said that while he respects it is the council’s responsibility to draft and move forward legislation, it is the administration’s responsibility to weigh in on certain issues.

“I would ask that you please not misinterpret anything we say today as being obstructionist in nature,” he said. “We want to work with this body, and others, to find a meaningful and appropriate way to address the issues.”

Heu said the council’s short timetable for implementing the ordinance is “unrealistic,” and that enforcing the bill’s provisions, with limited county resources, would be “challenging at best.”

Currently, there is nothing in the bill to prevent frivolous complaints related to pesticide violations, according to Heu.

“We would anticipate that we would be fielding numerous complaints, and possibly some complaints that may not deserve our serious attention,” he said.

In order to enforce Bill 2491, the administration estimated that it would need to hire at least one specialist, administrative personnel and a hearings officer. Other costs may include training for staff and investigative tools, such as GPS equipment and soil sample testing.

The total estimated cost is $1.48 million, including $125,000 made available by Dec. 1, according to Heu.

Heu said the county is dealing with a “highly technical subject matter with many layers of regulation already in place.” The administration recommended that the council not rush passage of the bill, but consider another deferral — this time of about two months.

Hooser said he disagreed with the administration that the bill would be complicated to enforce.

“I guess what frustrates me is I don’t see the need for big science when all we’re talking about is clarifying the buffer zones,” he said. “And we’re only talking about five companies that need to have enforcement.”

Bynum said the administration’s presentation represented a “worse case scenario,” and agreed enforcement would not be difficult since the companies are already keeping their own detailed pesticide records.

“(The companies) would actually have to falsify their records and commit fraud to create a situation where they violate this law,” he said. “They would have to doctor their own records.”

Although he was not inclined to at first, Councilman Mel Rapozo said he believed Carvalho and his team brought forward a viable solution Tuesday, and that he would consider supporting a deferral.

“I’m just trying to find what’s the best solution,” he said.

One thing that seemed to be missing from the mayor’s recommendation, according to Hooser, was a sense of urgency. He questioned whether the mayor has visited with doctors on the Westside who are concerned about high rates of birth defects.

“This is urgent,” Hooser said. “We don’t have 18 months or two years to wait for, maybe or maybe not, for the Legislature to do something. We don’t even know what they’re spraying.”

If the council votes “yes,” Hooser said the community would have disclosure in a month.

Carvalho agreed the situation is urgent, but said he wants to make sure that strong relationships are built with the state.

“I’m hoping we can get to that point with a deferral,” he said. “You’re talking to me as mayor? I need to know. I need to understand. We need to make the decision together.”

If the council does pass the bill, the administration suggested that it include specific guidelines for making complaints, penalties for frivolous complaints and a realistic time frame for implementation.

Bynum said there is no reason not to move forward with disclosure and buffer zones, and that he is frustrated it took introducing the bill to get people’s attention.

In closing, Bynum asked Carvalho if he would agree that 2491 has positive aspects, and if things that needed to happen are finally happening.

“There are positive things, and there are not so positive things,” Carvalho said.

State asked to weigh in on GMO

By Tom Callis on 15 October 2013 for Hawaii Tribune Herald -

A Big Island lawmaker has raised questions regarding Hawaii County’s ability to regulate genetically altered crops.

On Thursday, state Sen. Malama Solomon sent Hawaii Attorney General David Louie an email asking for an opinion on the issue.

Solomon, D-North Hawaii, said she chose to raise the question after hearing concerns from the Hamakua Farm Bureau about a proposed ban on most crops with modified genes that’s now before the Hawaii County Council.

“When you deal with GMOs (genetically modified organisms), you are dealing with interstate commerce laws, which is why the USDA (U.S. Department of Agriculture) usually takes on those issues,” she said.

But the response was less than definitive, Solomon said, adding she doesn’t plan to push the issue any further.

“I’ve withdrawn my letter,” she said after speaking with Louie on Monday. “They said they really can’t give a response because it’s unclear.”

Anne Lopez, spokeswoman for the Attorney General’s Office, said she couldn’t speak to the conversation directly but confirmed the issue is not something the office plans to weigh in on.

“We have not analyzed it to come up with a legal opinion,” she said.

Perhaps reassuring to GMO opponents, Lopez said the proposed ban, if adopted, is not something the state plans to challenge.

“We have no current plans to do that,” she said. “We know that’s a really big issue.”

In 2008, the county adopted a ban on GMO coffee and taro that has not been legally challenged.

Lincoln Ashida, county corporation counsel, said he had asked the office to weigh in on the subject a few months ago but was told it would not be providing an opinion.

“They said basically that they respectfully deny our request for opinion,” he said.

Ashida said that was an unusual response, adding an opinion could give the county more clarity on the issue.

“This is something we really need to know if there are any pre-emption issues,” he said.

“We don’t want to pass something that is going to be challenged later.”

But Ashida said he has not found any reason that the county can’t legally adopt or enforce the proposed ban.

“At present we’re unable to find any legal impediments such as state pre-emption, especially in light of the fact the attorney general has refused to weigh in,” he said.

The lack of a challenge to the GMO taro and coffee ban also proves reassuring, Ashida said.

Solomon said she is a supporter of biotechnology and questions the reasoning for restricting their use on the island.

She said she supports the idea of forming a task force to study the issue, including proposals for labeling of GMO products.

Solomon is also one of several Big Isle lawmakers to have received donations from the major biotech companies.

Those donations to her from Syngenta, Monsanto and Dow Agro Sciences have total $3,250 over the last two years.

Asked if the contributions impact her position on the issue, Solomon said, “No, I don’t think it does.

“All one has to do is talk to farmers that have really farmed.”

“Because you get more productivity and you get less exposure to pesticides,” she argued.

GMO opponents have questioned the use of genes that allow some crops to essentially create their own pesticides. They also argue that herbicide-resistant crops lead to more chemicals being sprayed.

The council’s bill will be discussed at 4 p.m. today at the West Hawaii Civic Center.

The bill would create a GMO registry and ban any open-air use of transgenic crops with exemptions for papaya and other modified crops already grown on the isle.

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