To be clear this is even worse than I originally thought.
Instead of a meeting of national leaders in Hawaii that promotes at the minimum balance and perhaps in our dreams even forward thinking – we get same-ole, same-ole. We get a rerun of decades of industrial agriculture that a majority don’t want, don’t trust and won’t eat.
The National Association of State Departments of Agriculture (NASDA) Annual Meeting that started this past Sunday, September 13 and runs through Wednesday the 16 in Kailua-Kona, Hawaii – is even worse than I originally thought. The meeting is hosted by NASDA President and Hawaii Chairman of Agriculture Scott Enright. Mr. Enright runs the Department of Agriculture for the State of Hawaii.
As mentioned in an earlier blog, a featured speaker at the meeting is Margery Bronster whose law firm is suing Kauai County, Hawaii County and Maui County opposing their right to protect the health and environment of their citizens through the regulation of industrial agriculture. I thought this invitation faux pas was bad enough but it gets worse.
To have Ms Bronster speak without inviting a contrary opinion is offensive both to the elected County officials who worked and voted on these issues, but more importantly to the citizens who supported those votes. On Maui over 50% of the voters supported County regulation and their voices and perspective deserves also to be represented.
But to add even further to the bad judgment, a close look at the entire meeting agenda shows an overwhelming majority of the invited speakers are without question staunch and aggressive advocates of the industrial agrochemical model of our agricultural future.
Clearly the State is not listening to the people, nor to the marketplace.
Though organic food production is the fastest growing segment of agriculture in the nation, only one speaker out of 14 will speak to this topic while a Dow Chemical lobbyist will speak, a former Syngenta lobbyist will also present remarks, and of course Ms Bronster who represents the industry in court against three Hawaii Counties will also be featured. In addition, various other individuals who have official positions opposing GMO labeling and who downplay the health and environmental impacts of pesticide usage also have been given platforms in which to promote their agenda and their world view.
It is not just disgruntled environmentalists and residents worried about their health and the health of our natural environment but it is also the global marketplace that is screaming for attention and being ignored by our State.
Yet the government of the State of Hawaii give these voices no attention at all, or at best a few scraps now and then to quiet the rabble.
“Major packaged-food companies lost $4 billion in market share alone last year, as shoppers swerved to fresh and organic alternatives.” Fortune May 2015
Where is the balance? Where is the respect for views and opinions and science that support a more sustainable approach to agriculture? Where is the perspective that says local governance at the County level is a valuable participant in the decision making process? Where is the common sense business approach that says Hawaii should go after niche organic markets?
Industrial food is bad for our health, bad for the environment and increasingly is proving bad for business.
Our State government at many levels, both State agencies and in the legislature, have shown that they are more or less tone deaf when it comes to the concerns being expressed by a significant number of Hawaii residents and by the marketplace.
Clearly, it well past time for them to wake up, to listen and to respond accordingly.
FYI: Tuesday September 15th schedule of NASDA speakers in the morning include:
Breakfast sponsored by Dow AgroSciences with remarks by Megan Provost, State Government Affairs (lobbyist)
James Gorny, Ph.D., Vice President, Food Safety & Technology, Produce Marketing Association (?)
Ryan Yates, Director, Congressional Relations, American Farm Bureau Federation (lobbyist)
Margery Bronster, Founding Partner, Bronster Fujichaku & Robbins Attorneys at Law (representing the agrochemical cartels in court against Maui, Kauai and Hawaii County)
Ron Williams, Government relations: Now at Coca-Cola, Previously with Syngenta (lobbyist)