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From Marti:

News coverage of the court hearing on the University’s plans for Mauna Kea characterized our opposition to the plan as anti-development.  It said:

“(opponents) want to block new development on the mountain by stopping approval of the management plan.”

As one of our kupuna pointed out, actually the motivation is all the University’s part.  She said

“advocates for more telescopes on the summit want the UH CMP rushed to completion in order to move forward with several new development plans.”

While it is true that as long as there is no plan there is no TMT, that is not the desired outcome for the plan.  We’re not trying to block the plan to stop TMT.

What we do want is the opportunity to have a real plan–one that arises out of a transparent process and allows communities to articulate a public vision for the future of these extremely important public trust lands. That is what a public planning process is supposed to do. The point is that we have been denied the kind of critical, public and open discussion that would lead to such a plan. In its place, we are being told to shut up and accept a plan that was written by the university and driven by its interest in telescope development and telescope dollars.

We have long said that we want a fair opportunity to talk through and determine together how astronomy and cultural practice and natural conservation coexist–in what form, by what rules, and with what limits–on the summit. This is not an unreasonable ask. The University is wasting precious public education dollars on motion after motion in this case, because they are unwilling to compromise in any way on their development plans. For the University, this case is all about TMT. For advocates of the mountain, this case is not about TMT at all. It is about our standing, and the right of the people of Hawai’i to determine the future of a unique, irreplaceable summit that is part of Hawai’i’s public trust.

Click here to read the article from the Hawaii Tribune Herald.

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Hawaii Island’s Mayor Harry Kim recently vetoed (aka-squashed) the Big Island ban on GMO-taro & coffee— after the bill democratically passed through three county council hearings with overwhelming public support.

Urge the County Councilmembers to once-again stand with the people, override the Mayor’s veto!!
Click and send your letter to the Council!

Letters of support are due by Monday, Nov. 10th.

The Star-Bulletin’s report on why Mayor Kim vetoed, with commentary from KAHEA community-coordinator and pa’i’ai lover, Bryna:

Kim vetoes ban on gene-modified taro, coffee
By Rod Thompson
Oct 31, 2008

HILO » Big Island Mayor Harry Kim vetoed a bill yesterday that would make it a criminal violation punishable by a $1,000 fine to research or grow genetically engineered coffee or taro on the Big Island.

The bill was passed 9-0 by the Hawaii County Council on Oct. 8, meaning there are more than enough votes to override the veto.

Kim cited two general concerns: that police cannot enforce such a law and that the world needs research on genetically modified crops to ensure food supplies.

“How would the Police Department make a determination on which taro or coffee has been genetically engineered?” Chief Lawrence Mahuna wrote to Kim. The department has no equipment or personnel who know how to test for genetically modified organisms, and no money to upgrade its capabilities, Mahuna said.

Hmmm. If the police can’t detect the presence of GMOs, how will local people & pollinators be able to prevent spreading GMOs? Or unknowingly consuming them?

Maybe the feds should require that all GMOs must also be engineered to glow in the dark. Biotech can do it with jellyfish genes. Not sure what the longterm effect on the rest of the natural world would be though. Then again, at least those GMOs could be traced.

Kim added, “There is global demand for new, improved, safe and dependable plant genetics, and Hawaii is a special place for research because of its location and its year-round growing environment.”

Where is there a global demand for GMOs? I have never heard of rallies of people begging for GMOs, or consumer inititatives to support GMOs. Weird. I’ve only heard of international biotech corporations demanding laws to allow them to operate experiments & business without public informed consent. In fact, I dont think most americans even know what GMOs are, or that they are eating GMOs without labels or fair choice.

Over a thousand people wrote in support of this bill– to protect their local coffee and taro. How important are our local needs & demands to the Mayor?

There are many successful & emerging programs to develop sustainable farming practices and natural varieties of traditional plants to encourage drought resistancy, etc. Here’s a great example. No need for GMOs to feed the planet.

Council Chairman Pete Hoffmann scoffed at both statements.

In the case of a violation, scientists would report anyone undertaking forbidden research, and police would act on that information, Hoffmann said.

Regarding research on other crops, the bill does not impose a ban on them, and there is no intention of widening the ban to include other crops, he said.

Such a widespread ban has been the fear of opponents of the bill. On Oct. 8 the Hawaii Island Chamber of Commerce testified, “This bill is just the beginning of an anti-science agenda.”

Hoffmann called such fears “a bunch of nonsense.”

Indeed. It makes me sad when they say we hate science, cause really we don’t. I love science, especially agronomy & botany. Taro growers practice science for a living. We’re not stupid.

Its kind of like saying that spraying chemicals is science, so if you don’t want to inhale pesticides then you must be anti-science, and you must be against progress too!

Hoffman is looking into calling a special meeting of the Council to override the veto, since he anticipates public testimony would last all day, he said. Previous testimony was overwhelmingly in favor of the bill, he said.

Kim repeated a call for more public education about genetic modification, including the strict state and federal regulations it must meet.

Ok. Right, kinda. Education -around TRUTH- starts with labelling, consumer choice and political transparency. Those “strict” regulations were designed and put in place by the biotech industry itself with the purpose of reducing restrictions on their risky business. The biotech industry now corruptly influences the federal FDA & EPA. For example, they are allowing a 1500% increase (!) in approved levels of glyphosphate chemical herbicide applications, all for the recently developed RoundUp Ready GMO-sugar beets. That is not strict, that is simply special interest political favors.

Mayor Kim should know better. We’re still cleaning up heptachlor from the pineapple days… lets be careful about what these biotech chemical corporations may forget to tell us about exactly what they are doing to our ‘aina.. and our economy.

The only truly strict laws to protect food safety are those that regulate Organic certification. And no, GMOs do not qualify for Organic certification.

Representatives of the Biotechnology Regulatory Service of the U.S. Department of Agriculture and from the state Department of Agriculture have offered to discuss these matters with the Council, Kim said.

Will these powerful biotech-backed agencies be appearing at a public hearing? If what they have to discuss wasn’t or couldn’t be explained at the past 3 public hearings, then what are they up to?

Its not over yet, YOU can help! Please send the county council a letter of support for the GMO-ban today- its quick & easy! Take a minute to demonstrate your support for protecting Hawaii’s local agriculture, people, and culture from genetic modification.

Letters of support are due by Monday, Nov. 10th.

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….for an inspiring legacy of good food & pono politics!

It’s Time!
Love local Hawaiian food and agriculture? Here’s your opportunity to voice your support for a historic, groundbreaking new law that would ban GMO (genetically modified) Taro and Coffee on Hawai’i Island!

Click and send testimony of support, no matter where you live!

MUST Submit Testimony by TUESDAY October 7th

This Oct. 8th will be the final Hawai’i County Council vote on Bill 361
If you are on the Big Island, please attend this crucial hearing!
Public hearing in HILO- Ben Franklin Building, 2nd Floor. County Council Office
Day-long hearing begins 10:30AM

So Much Support So Far!
– Introduced by Council Member Angel Pilago, Bill 361 would ban the growing of genetically modified Taro and Coffee on the Big Island.
– This bill has received overwhelming public and political support, and has already successfully passed through two Council votes to make it to this FINAL VOTE.
– If the bill passes this last vote it will go on for final approval by Mayor Harry Kim of Hawaii County.

At this critical moment this effort needs massive support more than ever- the local farmers and consumers need help standing up against the strong-arming by huge multinational corporations.

Art kindly donated by Solomon Enos, Hawaiian Artist/Farmer. You can support Native Art at www.HawaiianArtPlaza.com

Kalo and Kona Coffee are perfect as they are!
If allowed, GMO taro could threaten taro’s important status as the world’s only hypoallergenic carbohydrate source! Taro farming in Hawaii is an unique local tradition. There are now innovative and successful agricultural efforts underway to improve the local taro industry and perpetuate valuable Hawaiian taro varieties.

Long-term studies have shown that the best way to comprehensively protect taro from disease blights is to grow many different varieties, improve soil quality and provide adequate water. There is no need or demand for GMO interference and industry control of local taro farming.

Genetic modification of this indigenous plant is also extremely disrespectful to the sacred genealogy of taro to Hawaiians, who view taro as an ancestral family member, Haloa.

If allowed, GMO coffee would erode the demand, drop prices, and destroy the local economy for pure Kona coffee. It would also make organic coffee growing virtually impossible.

Lessons learned: The local papaya industry was economically devastated by the introduction of GMO-papaya. Rejection of Hawaiian grown GMO-papaya by Japan dropped the value of the local papaya industry by over 50%. Sadly, about 40% of papaya farmers were forced out of business. Meanwhile, the value of the organic and conventional (non-GMO) papaya industry has increased.

What is a GMO?
GMOs (Genetically Modified Organisms) are plant mutants created by inserting genes from one species into another unrelated species, using virus and bacteria to transfer the genes. For example, forcing wheat genes into taro, or bacteria genes into corn. These man-made organisms can be patented and owned. Organic food growers have rejected GMO, and GMO food cannot be certified organic. This experimental technique is crude and imprecise, unsafe, unnatural and rejected by the governments of most nations and the majority of the world’s population.

More about the GMO problems, read the Bill 361, and click-and-send testimony.

While multi-national corporations seeking GMO patents and profits have deep pockets and resources, local communities depend on committed citizens to defend our rights to a clean environment and safe food.  It is the dedication of those who care deeply about the future of food, culture and agriculture in Hawaii that makes the difference!

Let us learn from the economic and environmental destruction already caused by the GMO industry in the Philippines, Mexico, India, South America and farming communities all across America! Let’s make sure it doesn’t happen in Hawaii! We can and must show that Hawaii Island wants sustainable, pono, non-GMO agricultural job opportunities and will stand-up to protect our local agricultural economy and environment!

We Know Better, So Let’s Tell ‘Em!
Bill 361 is a very important step to maintaining local control over our island food resources, consumer safety, environmental protections and economic opportunity. We have a real chance to create meaningful reform, to protect taro, and our heritage coffee for all future generations that are to come. Pests and disease in agriculture can be solved by ecological and sustainable means; we need to move in that direction.  It is time for everyone to speak for community food self-reliance, and GMO coffee and taro does not move us in that direction.  We need the Council to send a strong and unanimous message on this bill to the Mayor: Hawai’i Island wants protection and preservation for our unique heritage crops, that sustain our life, our families, and our communities.

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