The Hawaii Chapter of the Sierra Club said today it has launched a campaign to repeal a law passed by lawmakers last year which it maintains creates a semi-autonomous agency which is exempt from oversight by state and county governments.
The environmental organization wants lawmakers to repeal Act 55, which created the Public Lands Development Corporation (PLDC).
The PLDC was created in 2011 to develop public lands to generate additional revenue for the state.
However, Sierra Club and others have expressed concern about the law’s no-bid contract provisions and what they maintain is the law’s slant toward developing public resources instead of conservation.
“The Sierra Club and its members have gone to great lengths to work with the PLDC, including proposing ways to reasonably improve the draft administrative rules,” said Robert D. Harris, Sierra Club Hawaii chapter director. “These suggestions have largely been ignored. With the PLDC’s recent efforts to exclude the public from commenting and the adoption of a toothless strategic plan, it appears our only alternative is to push for a repeal of the PLDC.”
The Sierra Club and several partner organization have created a website, grandtheftaina.com, that lists general election candidates and their positions on repealing the PLDC. Continue reading
Japanese call it kaki, Koreans call it kam, Chinese call it hong chee; we call it persimmon. ‘Tis the season for this bright orange, delectable fruit of fall.
Most persimmons in the supermarket come from California, but right now and in the next few weeks, you’ll find some varieties that are grown on Maui. These persimmons come from Hashimoto Farm in Kula, where several hundred trees are spread out over five acres at an elevation of 3,300 feet. According to fourth-generation farmer Clark Hashimoto, some of the trees are 80 to 90 years old, planted by his great-grandfather.
At the Made in Hawaii booth at Kapiolani Community College’s Saturday Farmers Market, you’ll find the maru variety, a special one that is firm and sweet with a yellow-green skin instead of bright orange. When this fruit is picked, it is placed over dry ice for 24 hours to remove the astringency. This curing ensures a crunchy, sweet fruit.
Bright orange fuyu persimmons will soon be harvested and it will be a bountiful one, according to Hashimoto. Expect to see them at Foodland stores as well as the farmers market.
Hashimoto also grows the hachiya variety, the soft persimmon with the elongated shape that must be eaten fully ripe to avoid mouth-puckering astringency. But this variety is available only directly from the farm, along with dried persimmons and other persimmon products. For information, visit hashimotopersimmons.com. Continue reading
AN international team of researchers has developed the first horse vaccine for the deadly Hendra virus, using the ovary cells of a Chinese hamster.
Being launched on Thursday in Brisbane, the vaccine’s arrival follows years of testing and means the cycle of transmission between horses and humans will be broken.
Seven people have contracted Hendra and four have died from the virus that has killed 81 horses, including nine this year. There is no known cure for Hendra, which was first identified in the Brisbane suburb of Hendra in 1994.
While flying foxes transmit the virus through bodily fluids, humans have only ever contracted the virus from horses.
A specialist in veterinary pathology at the CSIRO’s Australian Animal Health Laboratory in Geelong, Deborah Middleton, said that, by stopping the virus in horses, science had effectively stopped it making the leap to humans.
”This is significant, as to get a vaccine to market for people would have taken another 10 or 20 years because of all the guidelines and ethical approval needed,” she said.
Work on developing a vaccine didn’t start until 2005, as scientists first had to understand the virus’ structure, parts and how it generated an immune response from the animals it infected.
That research led scientists to focus on the many proteins found on the outside of the virus that act as an alert for the immune system. One protein in particular caught their attention – the G-protein.
”We realised it was protection against the G-protein that was really critical in clearing the virus from the system,” Dr Middleton said.
This protein is the active ingredient in the vaccine. Once injected, animals generate antibodies to the G-protein and can eliminate infection much faster when it happens.
”It gives the animal a head start,” Dr Middleton said. ”If you have an animal vaccinated with the G-protein, its immune system is tricked into thinking it has seen the virus before, so it already has antibodies and it can react quickly.”
The G-protein can be man-made in commercial quantities, intriguingly using a cell line derived from the ovary cells of a Chinese hamster.
”It’s amazing, really,” Dr Middleton said. ”This cell line has been going for about 60 years.”
The cells keep regenerating and the gene for the Hendra G-protein is put into the cell’s DNA. It then produces Hendra G-protein, which is harvested.
The Australian Veterinary Association has recommended all horses be vaccinated, with a national vaccination register to be established. The vaccine, a course of two injections, does not cause any side effects.
The multi-disciplinary team of up to 60 researchers included virologists, molecular biologists, pathologists and protein chemists. Scientists came from the CSIRO, the Henry M. Jackson Foundation for the Advancement of Military Medicine and the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences in the US and commercial partner Pfizer.
Deadly human link ends with horse vaccine for Hendra virus
Climate change could lead to bananas becoming a critical food source for millions of people, a new report says.
Researchers from the CGIAR agricultural partnership say the fruit might replace potatoes in some developing countries.
Cassava and the little known cowpea plant could play increasingly important roles in agriculture as temperatures rise.
People will have to adapt to new and varied menus as traditional crops struggle say the authors.
Continue reading the main story
Responding to a request from the United Nations’ committee on world food security, a group of experts in the field looked at the projected effects of climate change on 22 of the world’s most important agricultural commodities.
They predict that the world’s three biggest crops in terms of calories provided – maize, rice and wheat – will decrease in many developing countries.
They suggest that the potato, which grows best in cooler climates, could also suffer as temperatures increase and weather becomes more volatile.
The authors argue that these changes “could provide an opening for cultivating certain varieties of bananas” at higher altitudes, even in those places that currently grow potatoes. Continue reading
The Department of Land and Natural Resources should have conducted environmental reviews before issuing aquarium fish collecting permits, environmental groups and several Hawaii residents say in a lawsuit filed Wednesday in Oahu’s 1st Circuit Court.
Earthjustice, the Conservation Council for Hawaii, the Humane Society of the United States and the Center for Biological Diversity joined with Maui resident Rene Umberger, Milolii residents Kaimi Kaupiko and Willie Kaupiko, and West Hawaii resident and business owner Mike Nakachi to file the complaint. The complaint seeks a declaratory judgment ordering the state to perform reviews under the Hawaii Environmental Policy Act. The plaintiffs say the act applies to the permits because they regulate an activity that happens within state waters.
“DLNR has never examined under HEPA the impacts of issuing permits allowing fish and invertebrate collection for the aquarium trade on the scale that has been occurring, yet in its 1998 State of the Reefs Report, the agency admitted that, ‘studies to characterize the effects of removal of reef fish on the coral reef ecosystem are necessary if this activity is to continue,’” the complaint said.
Umberger said the best possible outcome for the lawsuit, which she said should not result in lengthy court proceedings, is an order for the department to undertake the review. Continue reading
Kona is coffee. So it’s only appropriate there’s a 10-day festival full to the rim with more than 40 events celebrating the famous bean.
The 42nd annual Kona Coffee Cultural Festival begins Nov. 2 and runs through Nov. 11, with the theme, “Kona Coffee — 100 percent gourmet.”
“Kona’s world-famous coffee is smooth and, quite frankly, the best-tasting coffee I know of,” said Mel Morimoto, the festival’s new president and a third-generation Kona resident who lives on the coffee farm his parents sowed 57 years ago. “Each bean is hand-picked, taking only the ripe cherries, leaving others to ripen. This takes patience and lots of love. You can certainly taste it in each cup of Kona coffee.”
Appointed in March, Morimoto said it’s a privilege to take over as festival president, especially following the steadfast leadership of Norman Sakata, one of the longest-serving, most dedicated festival volunteers. Sakata’s presidency lasted 19 years, but he’s volunteered for nearly 40 years. He remains the chairman of the board and is the official spokesman for the festival, sharing his invaluable knowledge.
Morimoto has been involved in the festival since 1999, when he acted as liaison between the festival and the Kona Coffee Living History Farm. Over the years, he was elected to the board of directors and served as the first vice president, and organized the Aloha Makahiki Concert and the parade. Continue reading
Stowaway snake found under plane seat
Mexican serpent is named Furtivo after being found by Glasgow airport staff under seats of flight from Cancún
The Guardian, Friday 26 October 2012 14.49 EDT
Furtivo, the Mexican snake found on a plane at Glasgow airport
Furtivo, the Mexican snake found on a plane at Glasgow airport. Photograph: Scottish SPCA/PA
Scottish airport staff got a surprise when they stumbled on a Mexican serpent stowaway under a seat.
The Scottish Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals says quick-thinking workers at Glasgow airport remained “remarkably calm” when they discovered the 18-inch (45-centimetre) snake on Tuesday under seats in the passenger cabin of a flight from Cancún.
The society says the young snake was taken to its Glasgow animal centre, and named Furtivo, Spanish for “sneak”.
Furtivo, a member of the Dryadophis family of snakes, is apparently not venomous but “feisty”.
The snake may have sneaked on to the plane before takeoff, or hitched a ride in a passenger’s hand luggage.
The society says Furtivo will remain in its care until an expert home can be found.
WAILUKU – A golfer who says he was attacked by a large bird at the Waiehu Municipal Golf Course is suing Maui County, alleging the county was negligent in failing to remove the animal from the course.
According to the lawsuit filed Tuesday in 2nd Circuit Court, Wailuku resident Ray Sakamura was attacked after teeing off on the second hole Jan. 26. He suffered substantial bodily injury, including a compression fracture of his L-4 vertebrae, the lawsuit says.
The animal that attacked him is described in the suit as a “large bird that had taken up residence” at the course pond.
In a claim Sakamura filed against the county in March, he said he was golfing with five other men when a duck or goose “charged me and bit my pant leg.” He said he tried to back away and fell onto his back and side as the animal continued to attack, biting his hand hard enough to cause bleeding. He said he pulled the bird off and went to his cart to get a Band-Aid. Sakamura’s claim also says he suffered an L-4 compression fracture in his back from the attack.
Instead of removing the bird, the lawsuit alleges that the county “allowed the bird to reside on the property after it had attacked other golfers.”
The county also didn’t warn people using the golf course that there were animals on the course, the lawsuit said.
“Specifically, they failed to warn the general public of the presence of birds residing on the course, Continue reading
Monsanto Fund Donates $20,000 for Molokai Watershed Protection
Monsanto Molokai News Release
The Monsanto Fund awarded a $20,000 grant to The Nature Conservancy (TNC) of Hawaii for watershed protection at Kamakou Preserve on Molokai. Since 2006, the Monsanto Fund has contributed a total of $130,000 to TNC’s protection and restoration efforts of critical watershed and fragile ecosystems on Molokai.
Located high in the mountains of East Molokai, the 2,774-acre Kamakou Preserve is a rainforest like no other on the planet. This magnificent natural treasure not only shelters hundreds of native plants and animals, but also serves as an important source of water for the island and its people.
TNC’s work at Kamakou Preserve, in collaboration with the public and private landowners of the East Molokai Watershed Partnership, is focused on invasive animal and weed control.
“Molokai’s forested watersheds today are under constant assault from established and new invasive species,” said Ed Misaki, TNC’s Molokai Program Director. “Feral ungulates (hoofed animals) like wild pigs, goats and deer are steadily eroding fragile topsoil. Once this soil disturbance occurs, invasive plants that did not evolve here, like blackberry and strawberry guava, steadily displace our native forests and watersheds. Once lost, they may be impossible to fully restore at any price.” Continue reading
Council members approved several amendments to a bill that would allow agricultural tourism on ag land, including one that would prohibit such tourist activities in Waipio Valley.
“The negative impacts of allowing large-scale tourism — the detriment is huge and sets up conflict,” Waipio taro farmer Jim Kane said. “We’re just setting ourselves up for a dangerous situation.”
Taro farmers took those concerns to Council Chairman Dominic Yagong, who introduced the amendment exempting areas of the island which can only be accessed with four-wheel-drive vehicles.
That includes Waipio.
South Kona Councilwoman Brenda Ford introduced the bulk of the amendments to Bill 266, which has generated significant testimony at several recent council meetings.
Her requests that the Planning Department give plan approval and perform a site visit before a farmer, for example, can begin offering ag tourism activities, passed. Her attempts to limit the size of the building in which ag products can be sold, to set a minimum amount of sales that must come from selling ag products, not value-added ones and to limit the number of visitors to no more than 80 per day failed.
Kohala Councilman Pete Hoffmann spoke out against several of the amendments, including the one limiting visitors to 80 per day, although he said he also didn’t necessarily support allowing 30,000 visitors annually, Continue reading