October 18, 2013

Reform Actions in Hawaii, and the Need for Abolition

Filed under: Corporatism, Food and Farms, Law, Reformism Can't Work — Tags: — Russ @ 3:04 am


Hawaii has become a kind of ground zero for biotech research. Combining excellent physical climate with benign US status, the place is perfect for the GMO cartel to grow three plantings a year of corn and other crops, and blast them year-round with every imaginable type of herbicide.
This hasn’t been so hot for local farmers, residents, and towns, who are constantly subjected to the poison drift from these industrial plantations. In spite of state law, the corporations have refused to undertake even the most modest reviews or precautions – planting windbreaks and such – to prevent homes, schools, and hospitals from being chronically flooded by the equivalent of low-level poison gas attacks.
After many years of fruitless negotiations and empty promises from the companies, the people of Kauai finally organized to force a legislative solution. Today, after years of fighting, they’ve achieved a partial victory. The Kauai Council passed a watered-down version of a bill which imposes some restrictions on the poisoners.
Although politicians took out the strongest provisions of the citizen-driven bill, which would have forbidden the planting of GM crops (and therefore stripped the plantations of most of their rationale), the enacted version requires the poisoners to provide a list of what they’re spraying and a schedule, and also to establish buffer zones between the sites of spraying and facilities including schools, hospitals, old age facilities, and others.
So as a legal measure it falls well short of any kind of ban, or anything likely to seriously hinder the poisoners. Instead it’s within the bounds of better transparency and better procedures, the kinds of things likely to be nitpicked to death, assuming they’re ever enacted and enforced in the first place. In this way, it’s part of the same body of politics and policy as GMO labeling.
We’re likely to see a similar process with a proposed bill on the big island of Hawaii. Conceived and promoted by outraged farmers in response to documentation of the wholesale contamination of all papaya seeds by the cultivation and testing of GM papaya (much of it done by the University of Hawaii), this bill would ban the open-air cultivation of any new GM crops, though it grandfathers in the existing papaya system.
The problem with all this is that: 1. Any real teeth in such bills are likely to be pulled before they’re ever passed. 2. Once passed they’re likely to languish in a no-man’s-land of indifferent enforcement. 3. They’ll be legally challenged by the cartel and its front groups under various bizarre legal doctrines. But the record is that the cartel will find a more friendly environment in the courts than amid citizen-driven democracy. 4. The most likely legal route will be a combination of arguing pre-emptive federal government jurisdiction in the courts, along with pre-emptive policy being undertaken by the federal government. The goal will be to kill the reformist democratic movement with legalistic quashing and political co-optation.
This political likelihood is part of the reason why we who want to take back our food, and put an end to the poisoning of our food, water, air, soil, and bodies, must view all such reform attempts primarily as organizing vectors, rather than ends in themselves. Laws like these, or even the best labeling policies, are not panaceas, can never be sufficient, and must never be seen as the end goal. The only sufficient end goal, and therefore the necessary one, is total abolition of GMOs. What’s most important right now, even as we participate in and fight for the reform goals, is that we form grassroots abolitionist organizations which will spread this idea and be vigilant in overseeing enforcement of reforms and against any kind of pseudo-reformist co-optation, for example any advocacy of central government policy which would pre-empt state and local policy. It’s politically impossible to co-exist with GMOs. They must be totally abolished.
These political reasons are in addition to the fact, demonstrated by the Hawaiian papaya example, as well as examples like Mexican maizeCanadian canola, US alfalfa, and non-commercialized Roundup Ready wheat, that any GMO cultivation at all guarantees GM contamination of non-GM and organic crops, wild relatives, and the general environment. This physical fact proves that co-existence with GMOs is impossible, that they can only be abolished completely. 



  1. Russ, apologies for the off topic question, but wanted to get your input. My knowledgeable partner/cousin/farmer told me over a whiskey last night that his sources tell him that the GMO issue is already beyond control…. that Pandora’s Box has been opened…. that it (contamination) cannot be undone. Not that we shouldn’t continue to fight for real food, but that our solutions will only be providing temporary relief. Does this theory jive with your understanding of the diagnosis? Looking to play devil’s advocate in the most optimistic of ways…. And wonderful string of recent posts. Your tireless efforts are spreading powerful energies. Cutting through language manipulation (by the PTB) is a special skill.

    Sidebar issue two is that we are experiencing our first run in with the Govt. goons coming around trying to toss figurative hand grenades on our local online farmer’s market. The system cogs don’t even have any idea who they are “representing”. They just want to layer our harmless market with totally unnecessary red tape, taxes, and hurdles. I guess our local exchange of vegetables, responsibly raised meats, and chemical-free household products for a handful of dollars are cutting into someone’s profits. The story is still evolving but the good news is that a couple of system cogs were given a nice dose of “have you no shame” from some old-school growers in town and these are the folks we must bear witness to.

    Comment by Pete — October 18, 2013 @ 7:09 pm

    • Pete, thanks for your praise of the posts. I’ll keep plugging away and, hopefully, getting better at this.

      Nobody knows the full magnitude of the contamination or how indelible it already is. The basic principle is that if the pollution helps a plant adapt, it’s likely to persist in the environment, while if it’s detrimental it’s likely to die out, with a range of more “neutral” contamination in between.

      Since it’s likely that little of the pollution will be beneficial (except where a weed becomes herbicide tolerant or a bug Bt-tolerant in habitats where herbicides/BT are major factors), on the whole contaminated plants are likely to be less adaptive. Ecosystems are very good at cleansing themselves of contaminants.

      But there’s no doubt that the longer this goes on, and the more pervasive contamination becomes, the sooner we’ll reach the point where significant contamination really is indelible, and the ecosystem permanently changed by the contamination. This is the most pressing ecological reason why we must abolish GMOs with all possible speed. It’s a race.

      Sorry to hear about your run-in with the system. Let us know more if you like.

      Comment by Russ — October 19, 2013 @ 6:48 am

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