Kamehameha Schools & Monsanto

SUBHEAD: A dialog with Kamehameha Schools over Monsanto land lease for field testing GMO experiments with pesticides.

By Shannon Rudolph on 18 December 2013 in Island Breath  -

Image above: Ariel photo og hundreds of acres Monsanto GMO fields on Kamehameha land in Haleiwa, Ohau. From Shannon Rudolph.

Below is a letter from Mr. Hannahs, the Director of Strategic Integration for the Land Assets Division of Kamehameha Schools with detailing why KS should renew its lease with Monsanto's more than 1000 acre lease on Oahu with Kamehameha Schools to be used for testing of experimental GMOs with restricted use pesticides.

Please take a moment to drop a short email or call Mr. Neil J. Hannahs. Ask that he not renew this lease with Monsanto on that Kamehameha Schools property. Contact Mr. Hannahs at nehannah@ksbe.edu or call (808) 523-6241.

RE: Land Leases at KS Part I
December 16th 2013

Dear Mr. Bueller:

Mahalo for your recent email expressing concern about an agricultural lessee operating on Kamehameha Schools (KS) Land.

PART I Monsanto’s Relationship with KS
Monsanto operates on KS land under a cultivation agreement initially issued to another company. These types of land use contracts are vital assets to our tenants, as well as their banks and investors. Therefore, they typically include the right for the agribusiness to sell their interest and assign our contract to the buyer.

That is precisely what our original tenant did in this case and how Monsanto came to be on our property. Fact is, so long as they comply with zoning restrictions and lease terms, Monsanto could buy a KS lease for another property tomorrow and unless the contract said otherwise, we cannot withhold our consent to the assignment. It is not a privilege reserved just for companies like Monsanto, the same would hold true if the buyer were a family-owned organic farm.

Monsanto is one of thirteen agricultural tenants operating on KS land at Kawailoa Plantation. The company farms 400 (3.6%) of Kawailoa’s 11,000 arable acres. Monsanto grows seed corn which is one of the few crops that can be cultivated on the land they use because of the low quality of the water that comes from Lake Wilson to irrigate these fields. It may be of interest that we have been advocating for years for the State to upgrade Lake Wilson water treatment facilities to enable this vital source of irrigation water to be used to cultivate a wider array of food crops. We have also made significant investment of our own in water systems that allow us to wean many fields from the Lake Wilson resource.

PART II Addresses Pesticide use and Safety
Pesticide Use
Like most farms (whether owned by large corporations or small families), Monsanto uses chemical herbicides and pesticides to manage threats and boost productivity. Several federal, state and county governmental agencies publish a multitude of regulations and certification standards to control use and minimize harmful chemical impacts. Our land use agreements require compliance with such regulations.

In addition, Monsanto operates under a soil conservation plan approved by a government agency. We conduct regular property inspections and are not aware of any violations being issued to Monsanto. If you have any evidence of a specific rule infractions resulting from Monsanto’s operation on our Kawailoa land, we urge you to submit that information directly to the appropriate regulatory body with a copy to us so that the matter can be properly investigated.

The Safety of Food Derived from Genetic Modification (GM)

Obtaining objective, qualified and undisputed opinions on the safety of genetically modified crops is challenging. We have reviewed many titles authored by both advocates and detractors. Both sides make compelling arguments and many share our belief in the need for rational dialogue that sorts fact from fiction. One source of expertise that one would think to be objective is the United Nations World Health Organization (WHO.) A bulletin entitled “20 Questions on Genetically Modified (GM) Foods,” includes the following statement on the safety of GM foods:

“Different GM organisms include different genes inserted in different ways. This means that individual GM foods and their safety should be assessed on a case-by-case basis and that it is not possible to make general statements on the safety of all GM foods.

GM foods currently available on the international market have passed risk assessments and are not likely to present risks for human health. In addition, no effects on human health have been shown as a result of the consumption of such foods by the general population in the countries where they have been approved.”

But WHO balances this declaration with strong encouragement that more can and should be done to monitor risks and prevent unintended consequences. The bulletin recognizes the need to:

• Facilitate the establishment of sound safety and risk assessment frameworks for food derived from modern biotechnology;

• Increase focus on nutritional assessments on new foods derived from modern biotechnology;

• Involve consumers and other interested parties in communication efforts; and

• Implement more holistic assessment looking into health benefit, nutrition, safety, development and socio-economical issues, etc.

PART III - Eviction of Monsanto
Eviction of Monsanto
Some in our community require no further evidence, having already concluded that genetically modified food is unhealthy for consumption and is cultivated in a manner that puts life, land and water at risk. These are sobering concerns, to be sure. Yet, there are also many who disagree and the competing interests and perspectives are waging a pitched battle over public policy.

Until this debate is resolved and new laws or regulations are adopted, there is insufficient cause under current policy to warrant unilateral termination on our part of an agricultural lessee that is otherwise in good standing.

And even if we did, it is highly likely that the judicial system will protect the lessee’s contractual rights. Therefore, without a lease default, we believe it is prudent to align with public policy and abide by the terms of our contracts.

KS’ Commitment to Sustainable Agriculture

However, the story does not end there. The cultivation of seed corn for export is a very small part of our overall KS agricultural leasing program and is not a land use slated for planned growth or expansion. Kamehameha’s 2009 Strategic Agricultural Plan (SAP) is a stake in the ground that represents our commitment to revitalizing agriculture in Hawai‘i over the next 25 years. It was written to catalyze our transition from passive land management of industrial agricultural plantations growing export crops to active agricultural engagement and investment to create a sustainable food system.

The SAP seeks to achieve this goal by implementing strategies that increase production of local produce and meat. It also supports agricultural education, restoration of traditional agrarian systems and investment in infrastructure.

Guided by this plan, Kamehameha Schools today:
• Manages some 800 agreements in agriculture – more than any other private landowner in Hawaii;
• Has invested $22 million in agricultural infrastructure to support farming on KS lands;
• Actively manages more than 100,000 acres in farms, pastures and forestry statewide;
• Has developed collaborative relationships with KS farmers and the larger agricultural industry; and

• Is in discussions with MA’O Farms, Leeward Community College, UH-West Oahu and UH-Mānoa College of Tropical Agriculture to determine how KS lands can support new curriculum and degree programs that will promote more holistic and sustainable approaches to farming in Hawai’i, as well as incubator farms for emergent agribusinesses that need to prove themselves and acquire more on-the-ground experience. 
In closing, we are proud of our progress, yet we acknowledge that there is much more to do. Reinventing Hawaii’s agriculture industry takes patience, perseverance and cooperation. We are committed to working with community groups, farmers, business leaders and government to realize the vision we share with so many others of restoring our ʻāina’s ability to feed and nourish us…now and for generations to come. 
I hope this helps to shed light on our efforts to migrate to a new era of agriculture in Hawai’i. Please do not hesitate to call me at (808) 523-6241 or email me at nehannah@ksbe.edu if you would like to discuss these issues further.

Malama pono,
Neil J. Hannahs
Director - Strategic Integration
Land Assets Division
Kamehameha Schools

Below is my email to Mr. Hannahs, Director - Strategic Integration Land Assets Division of Kamehameha Schools regarding Monsanto's more than 1000 acre lease on Oahu with Kamehameha Schools. That lease is up for renewal in 2014. You may help to have this lease contract terminated by you participating in this conversation.

Image above: Kamehameha Schools land used by Monsanto for GMO experiments next to Haleiwa Elementary School on Oahu, Hawaii. From (http://hawaiigmojustice.org/ownership/haleiwa/#).

Here is my email to Mr. Hannas:

Aloha Mr. Hannahs,

I read your letter to Mr. Bueller and had a question... you said -

"there is insufficient cause under current policy to warrant unilateral termination on our part of an agricultural lessee that is otherwise in good standing. And even if we did, it is highly likely that the judicial system will protect the lessee’s contractual rights. Therefore, without a lease default, we believe it is prudent to align with public policy and abide by the terms of our contracts"

If the Monsanto lease is up in 2014, why would there be a problem terminating the lease if the contract is expired?

It's important to rule for the precautionary principle in the care of this exceptional farmland.

I ask that you please watch this short video from Molokai & Kauai - it's very important that you do (see below).

What I expect the Earthjustice attorneys to find, when they go to court for the 150 Kaua'i families, in a few short months, is that:

There is an extremely excessive amount of a multiple pesticides used in the production of GMO fields.

These pesticides are poisoning the land.

This land is 'in trust'. Meaning it is supposed to be cared for responsibly.

These pesticides are running off into the streams, aquafirs, and into the ocean.

On Kauai, GMO neighbors are sick, 10x normal newborn heart defect, intestines outside the body of infants, miscarriages, stillborns, and other serious health problems. The same thing is happening on Molokai and several other places around the world. Why do you thing Biotech companies are getting kicked out of other countries? They are poisoning the land and the people.

I'm sorry, but you are just plain wrong, Mr. Hannahs.

Shannon Rudolph - Kona

Video above: The Hemo Wai Brothers present 'Aina Warriors' on the impact of Monsanto on Molokai. From (http://youtu.be/O0X76KVQRgs).


1 comment :

Anonymous said...

If you research the issue further, you'll find out that Monsanto is the one with the option in the lease. That option was a part of the original lease which they got when they bought it. There's too much misinformation on this issue or people just don't get it.

So calls to have Kamehameha Schools "not renew the lease" are not productive. It's not their option. Unless you're talking about 2024, which I'm sure they'd be willing to do since seed corn production doesn't align with their strategic agriculture plan. Which they've said. But people don't listen.

The best course of action is to pursue legislation and policy changes. Not focus on one parcel where any action would hurt the owner and end up helping the leasee (Monsanto).

Post a Comment