SEATTLE — A Washington state ballot measure requiring mandatory labeling of genetically engineered foods has been rejected.
The campaign over Initiative 522 has been one of the costliest initiative fights in state history, drawing millions of dollars from out of state. The measure was failing 46 percent to 54 percent after more ballots were counted Wednesday evening, with the “yes” side trailing by almost 100,000 votes.
“We’re delighted with the vote tonight,” said Dana Bieber, a spokeswoman for the No on 522 campaign. Voters “gave a clear message. The more they looked at the initiative the less they liked it.”
PIERRE, S.D. — A record-breaking storm that dumped 4 feet of snow in parts of western South Dakota left ranchers dealing with heavy losses, in some cases perhaps up to half their herds, as they assess how many of their cattle died during the unseasonably early blizzard.
Meanwhile, utility companies were working to restore power to tens of thousands of people still without electricity Monday after the weekend storm that was part of a powerful weather system that also buried parts of Wyoming and Colorado with snow and produced destructive tornadoes in Nebraska and Iowa. At least four deaths were attributed to the weather, including a South Dakota man who collapsed while cleaning snow off his roof.
Gary Cammack, who ranches on the prairie near Union Center about 40 miles northeast of the Black Hills, said he lost about 70 cows and some calves, about 15 percent of his herd. A calf would normally sell for $1,000, while a mature cow would bring $1,500 or more, he said.
“It’s bad. It’s really bad. I’m the eternal optimist and this is really bad,” Cammack said. “The livestock loss is just catastrophic. … It’s pretty unbelievable.” Continue reading ‘Ranchers counting cattle deaths, thousands without power after early snow buries western SD’
At the Oskie Rice Arena, the Friday night lights hung in the damp, mid-December Hawaiian air. Beaming through Maui’s notorious red clay dust, the lights served as a backdrop to one of the Upcountry’s biggest annual events. On the metal bleachers, families were bundled against their idea of the cold: a winter chill that sank just below 60 degrees. There were coats, blankets and hoodie strings pulled tight. There was Portuguese soup and Puerto Rican stew at the family-run concession stands, where the handwritten menus were scrawled in thick felt marker, crossed through as the “onolicious” fried ice cream or pork with tofu and macaroni ran out.
All around us, children treated the bleachers as a jungle gym, climbing and dangling and hopping from bench to bench. On the highest bleacher, a girl with sun-streaked hair and sun-kissed skin popped up at my feet like a mischievous gopher. Startling me, she shrieked, giggled and monkeyed away. On the grass, behind the arena’s wire-and-post fence, a little boy in a tan cowboy hat paced in black cowboy boots with tiny silver spurs.
The rodeo was about to begin.
When most mainlanders picture Maui, they see surfers sliding down mammoth waves, bays crowded with sailboats and waterfalls alongside the ragged, verdant Hana Highway. But the Upcountry, which sweeps across the island’s interior and climbs the volcanic foothills of Haleakala, is another Hawaii. Instead of beaches, surf shacks and shaved ice stands, the region has chilled air; sprawling, multigenerational cattle ranches; and a paniolo — Hawaiian cowboy — tradition that precedes its mainland American counterpart by half a century.
“They were running horses up here,” a trail guide would later tell me, “when they were still settling the Midwest.” Continue reading ‘In Maui’s Upcountry, Where the Paniolo Roam’
Authorities were investigating a new suspected case of crop contamination on Thursday – the second in the Pacific north-west in five months – after samples of hay tested positive for genetically modified traits.
The investigation was ordered after a farmer in Washington state reported that his alfalfa shipments had been rejected for export after testing positive for genetic modification. Results were expected as early as Friday.
If confirmed, it would be the second known case of GM contamination in a major American crop since May, when university scientists confirmed the presence of a banned GM wheat growing in a farmer’s field in Oregon.
The suspected outbreak comes in the run-up to a ballot measure in Washington state that would require mandatory labelling of all GM foods.
Alfalfa is America’s fourth largest crop, behind corn, wheat and soybeans, and the main feedstock for the dairy industry. A confirmed case of contamination could hurt the organic dairy industry, which is now worth $26bn a year, forcing farmers to find new sources of GM-free feed. It could also hurt a growing export industry. Alfalfa is increasingly sold for export but buyers, such as Japan, do not want GM products.
Campaigners said the suspected case of contamination provided further evidence of the difficulties of containing GM crops.
“It’s telling that these things keep happening repeatedly,” said George Kimbrell, senior attorney at the Center for Food and Safety in Portland, Oregon. “It’s a systemic problem. We have a failed regulatory system for these crops.” Continue reading ‘Washington state alfalfa crop may be contaminated with genetic modification’
September 12, 2013
Power Brokers takes a turn over the waters of the Pacific to Hawai’i, whose indigenous population shares a common history with Native Americans and Alaskan Natives on the mainland. In 1893, the sovereign kingdom of Hawai’i was overthrown, with the country seeing an eventual annexation by the United States five years later. Since statehood in 1959, there has been a growing movement of recognizing the importance of Hawaiian language, culture and sovereign recognition. This includes war crime complaints filed within the International Criminal Court and the UN Human Rights Council.
Because of the growing interest in Hawaiian sovereignty, it is important to recognize the members of the Hawai’i State Legislature who are open about their indigenous identity. Many of these indigenous legislators have been in office for several terms and hold majority leadership positions. Continue reading ‘Power Brokers VI: Crossing the Pacific into Hawai’i’
Thousands on Kauai marched the streets to show their support of the “Right to Know” Bill, a bill that would require agricultural companies working with genetically modified organisms (GMOs) to disclose the chemicals they’re using and take extra steps to keep the chemicals contained.
It’s a volatile debate. One side is arguing business and development, the other side health and safety.
The bill is going to its second hearing Monday in front of the county’s Economic Development and Agricultural committee, where changes could be made before a final city council vote on the measure.
Roads were shut down as nearly 2,000 people marched in the streets from Vidinha Stadium to the Historic County Building, the place where the Right To Know Bill will go before a committee hearing Monday morning.
“We’re united. This is exactly what they didn’t want to happen,” a community activist at the Mana March said.
They rallied to send this message to the agricultural corporations that are reportedly testing new pesticides and GMO technologies on Kauai agricultural land.
“If you like poison, poison your own place. If you like experiment, experiment on your own family,” activists said.
Many said they have had enough and are concerned about the health effects the chemicals are having on their families, and the environmental impacts that the pesticides may have for generations to come. Continue reading ‘Thousands rally against GMO practices on Kauai’
It’s known as the premier epicurean destination event in the Pacific, an annual festival co-founded by Chefs Roy Yamaguchi and Alan Wong.
The Hawaii Food and Wine Festival started with an event on Maui last weekend and has been going on all week long, with wine tastings, cooking demos, and field trips.
They’re some of the biggest names in food world.
19 celebrity chefs from Hawaii, the mainland, and around the globe are here in Hawaii to create gastronomic delights showcasing local ingredients.
“Lobsters from the Big Island, tomatoes from here, all my herbs are from the island,” Chef Chris Cosentino Said.
“The true essence of what we do is to cook with what we have, and that’s what cooking is about,” says Chef Mark “Gooch” Noguchi.
“Mr. Kenney cooked this amazing sandwich with nori and poi. It was just amazing, and tasted like a desert and savory, just delicious,” attendee Sherrie Straus Fogel said.
At $200 a ticket, folks could eat to their hearts content, sampling not only food but also wine. Continue reading ‘Hawaii Food & Wine Festival’
Much attention has been turned in recent months to the fact that the agro-chemical/GMO industry — corporate giants Dow, Pioneer DuPont, Syngenta, Monsanto, BASF — have been using Hawaii since the 1990s as one of their main testing grounds for experiments engineering new pesticide-crop combos. On the “Garden Island” of Kauai, the industry controls over 15,000 acres of prime agricultural land, which they drench with over 17 tons of restricted-use pesticides each year, and likely at least five times that amount in non-restricted pesticides that may be equally as harmful (such as glyphosate).
Because genetically engineered seeds are most typically designed to be used in conjunction with specific pesticides, the development of new GE crops (or at least the types the industry is choosing to develop) requires repeated applications of these chemicals and their mixing into new toxic cocktails with unknown consequences. From a lawsuit, we know that Pioneer DuPont alone has used 90 pesticide formulations with 63 active ingredients in the past 6 years. They apply these pesticides around 250 (sometimes 300) days each year, with 10-16 applications per day on average. The amount of pesticides used on the island by these operations makes the corn fields in Kansas look organic.
Pesticides are sprayed next to schools, hospitals, neighborhoods and major waterways, with zero buffer zone and zero public knowledge of what is being sprayed and when it will happen. Preliminary evidence suggests that living in the shadow of these companies may be causing alarming rates of rare birth defects and cancers. Continue reading ‘From the Experimental GMO Fields of Kauai to the TPP’
The nonprofit Hawaii Agriculture Research Center in Kunia on Oahu plans to build a 500-kilowatt solar photovoltaic facility on two acres of land owned by the center and Pioneer Hi-Bred International Inc., according to a City and County of Honolulu Planning Commission public hearing notice.
Solar Hub Utilities LLC and the Hawaii Agriculture Research Center are named as the applicants.
In June 2012, SPI Solar said it acquired the rights from Solar Hub Utilities to co-develop and build almost 70 solar energy facilities in Hawaii.
The facilities, which will be no more than 500 kilowatts each, are located on Oahu, Maui and the Kona side of the Big Island, and are mostly ground-based with some rooftop and shade structures, SPI Solar previously said.
The solar facilities are expected to feed energy into the power grids operated by Hawaiian Electric Co., Maui Electric Co. and Hawaii Electric Light Co. through the utilities’ feed-in tariff programs.
Hawaii regulators are re-examining the FIT program, which is designed to encourage the addition of more renewable energy projects in the state.
The hearing on the project is scheduled for Sept. 18 at 1:30 p.m. at the Mission Memorial Building located at 550 S. King St. in Honolulu.
HILO >> Hawaii County lawmakers are considering a bill that would make it easier for small farmers to give tours to visitors, usually for a fee, and to sell related agricultural and nonagricultural products at a gift shop. Large agricultural operations already can do this.
The legislation, which the council is scheduled to hear Thursday, proposes separating agricultural activities into “major” and “minor” operations, West Hawaii Today reported.
Minor operations would be required to limit annual visitors to 5,000, with a maximum 100 visitors per week. Major operations would be allowed up to 30,000 visitors per year.
The Hawaii Agritourism Association and other supporters say the bill will help small farmers survive the vagaries of the economy and weather by providing a reliable supplemental income source.
Opponents worry the measure will distract farmers from their primary occupation of food production, while increasing the value of agricultural land and property taxes.
Freshman Puna Councilman Zendo Kern proposed the bill. He’s been trying to draft a measure balancing the needs of small farmers and would-be “agritourism” businesses with rural neighbors who worry about impacts like increased traffic and noise.
Major agritourism operations still would need to get their plans approved, while minor ones would not. Both types would be required to turn over financial records upon the request of the planning department to verify compliance.
North Kona Councilwoman Karen Eoff hopes the bill can be delayed a little longer to ensure it’s the best it can be before moving it on to its final hearing later this month.
Flowers conjure a variety of emotional and sensory responses as well as memories. Loving sentiments are often attached to roses. Violets are sometimes associated with youthful sweetness and a bouquet of daisies brings cheer into any room. Gladiolas often appear in funeral arrangements and the scent of lavender might stir memories of fields of flowers on a hot summer day. A sunflower’s appearance literally fills the space with sunlight.
Though the sunflower, Helianthus annus, has been widely cultivated to produce flowers with different colors, shapes and sizes, the basic structure of the inflorescence continues to be reminiscent of the sun.
Most varieties maintain an attraction to sunlight with heliotropic buds that move to follow the sun and mature flowers that face the rising sun in the east. The botanical name Helianthus is derived from the Greek words helios for sun and anthos for flower.
Sunflowers are members of the largest family of flowering plants, the Asteraceae family. Like most family members, sunflowers have composite heads consisting of hundreds of tiny flowers clustered in the center of rays of petals that can vary in size and color depending on the cultivar. The flowers on edible varieties produce delicious seeds when pollinated. Many ornamental cultivars have been bred for their long-lasting beauty as cut flowers.
The original sunflower was an oilseed plant native to temperate North America. It was transported to Europe in the 16th century and nearly 100 cultivars, including many ornamental varieties, have since been developed.
Several edible varieties are recommended for West Hawaii gardens. The most popular, and the largest, is the Russian mammoth. Russian breeding in the 1800s produced this giant with bright gold petals and heads that reach 10 to 12 inches across on 8- to 10-foot stalks. The flowers that make up the head result in gray and white seeds.
The edible snack seed hybrid is somewhat smaller, reaching about 6 feet. This variety produces deep golden petals and heads that produce plump seed kernels. Continue reading ‘Sunflowers offer cheerful blooms and tasty seeds, too’
GRANTS PASS, Ore. » Oregon farmers are moving ahead with plans to start planting their next crop as questions remain about the source of a patch of genetically modified wheat found in a farmer’s field there last spring that threatened trade between the Pacific Northwest and other countries.
Speculation about the origin of the unapproved wheat discovered in northeastern Oregon ranges from saboteurs to a passing flock of geese. The U.S Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service said Friday their investigation is ongoing.
Grass Valley wheat farmer Darren Padget says they may never know for sure, but he and other farmers are going ahead with plans to start planting winter wheat in mid-September.
“It’s one of those things where you just scratch your head,” the Oregon Wheat Commission member said as he loaded another truck with seed wheat to haul to a supplier for the local farmers’ co-op. “Everybody’s talking about seeding. We had rains through here the other day that will make seeding conditions good.”
Blake Rowe, the commission’s CEO, said although Asian buyers stopped placing orders for a couple of months, the overall economic impact has been minimal, and markets are back to normal.
Japan, South Korea and Taiwan all resumed placing orders for Northwest wheat after tests failed to turn up any that was genetically modified.
The Japanese government tested 1.2 million metric tons of U.S. wheat for GMO material without finding any, according to the trade group U.S. Wheat Associates.
“The customers came back before the harvest was really finished,” Rowe said from his Portland office. “It didn’t really interfere too much with the movement of wheat.”
If there is any more genetically modified wheat growing, farmers won’t know until spring.
Fields that grow wheat this winter will be sprayed with herbicides after harvest in the spring, so they can lie fallow for a year. Any wheat growing after it has been sprayed is likely to have been genetically modified to survive herbicides, which makes it easier to grow.
That’s how the rogue strain was discovered. Continue reading ‘Source of GMO wheat in Oregon remains mystery – Hawaii News – Honolulu Star-Advertiser’
Trimble (NASDAQ: TRMB) introduced today the TMX-2050™ display, a next generation display built on the popular Android™ operating system, which offers an intuitive interface that enables farmers to easily implement precision agriculture solutions as their business grows. Its flexible software platform improves the ability for a customer to seamlessly add applications to their operations while the modular architecture allows for future expandability. The TMX-2050 display is an addition to Trimble’s existing line of guidance displays, which include the EZ-Guide® 250 lightbar guidance system, CFX-750™ display, and FmX® integrated display. Supporting more than 2,000 different vehicle models, Trimble’s wide variety of displays allow farmers to choose the solution that is right for their operations ranging from basic guidance to advanced precision farming applications. Continue reading ‘Trimble Introduces Next Generation Agriculture Display’
This online version corrects that Bill 2491 would not stop the commercial production of GMO crops, but rather place a temporary moratorium on the experimental use and commercial production of GMOs until the county has completed an environmental impact statement.
LIHUE — The Kauai County Council unanimously voted to move forward a bill that would allow the county to govern the use of pesticides and genetically modified organisms on the island.
During his closing remarks, Councilman Tim Bynum, who co-introduced Bill 2491 along with Councilman Gary Hooser, described the issue as “serious.”
“We’re talking about people’s lives, people’s livelihoods,” he said. “There are very sincere and passionate people on both sides.”
At 9:30 p.m. Wednesday — after roughly six hours of testimony from dozens of local residents and biotech company employees — the council approved the bill on first reading, sending it to a public hearing July 31.
A location for the hearing is not confirmed. Council Chair Jay Furfaro said he would be looking for a place able to accommodate a larger crowd. About 1,000 attended Wednesday’s meeting but only roughly 100 at a time were allowed in the council chambers.
During his eight years as a state senator (2002-2010), Hooser said he worked on many different and important issues.
“I think at the end of the day this will be the most important one that I’ve worked on, and maybe will work on,” he said. “It has tangible impacts to people’s lives and to our environment.”
The bill calls for Kauai’s largest agricultural corporations — namely DuPont Pioneer, Syngenta, DOW AgroSciences, BASF and Kauai Coffee — to disclose the use of pesticides and the presence of GMO crops. It would also establish pesticide-free buffer zones around public areas and waterways, ban open-air testing of experimental crops and place a temporary moratorium on the commercial production of GMOs, until the county can conduct an environmental impact statement on the industry’s effects on Kauai.
Hooser believes the issue will never be resolved by the state Legislature, which is why he has chosen to fight it at the county level. Continue reading ‘GMO bill clears first reading’
The court unanimously rejected farmer Vernon Hugh Bowman’s argument that he was not violating Monsanto’s patent because the company’s pesticide-resistent “Roundup Ready” soybeans replicate themselves. Justice Elena Kagan said there is no such “seeds-are-special” exception to the law.
“We think that blame-the-bean defense tough to credit,” Kagan wrote. “Bowman was not a passive observer of his soybeans’ multiplication; or put another way, the seeds he purchased (miraculous though they might be in other respects) did not spontaneously create eight successive soybean crops.”
She added: “Bowman devised and executed a novel way to harvest crops from Roundup Ready seeds without paying the usual premium.”
While the case was about soybeans, the broader issue of patent protection is important to makers of vaccines, software and other products. Corporations were worried about what might happen if the decision had gone the other way.
But, as the justices had indicated at oral arguments in the case, they believed Bowman’s practices threaten the incentive for invention that is at the heart of patent law.
If someone could copy Monsanto’s product, “a patent would plummet in value after the first sale of the first item containing the invention,” Kagan wrote. “And that would result in less incentive for innovation than Congress wanted.”
Kaua‘i seed farmers want to set the record straight about how they farm. In today’s edition of The Garden Island, they rolled out a new ad campaign breaking common myths about their farming practices and the seed industry. The ad says they want to in inform, educate and maintain a dialogue with friends and neighbors on Kaua‘i.
One of the myths addressed is the claim that seed farmers are experimenting with chemicals. Kaua‘i seed farmers say they “DO NOT develop or test chemicals. Our job is to improve crops for farmers around the world through plant breeding and growing seed.
We check our fields daily to determine if there are pests. Only if the number of pests would likely hurt the yield and quality of seed, and if there are no other appropriate control options, do we use a pesticide. We only use federally and state approved pesticide on specific crops, and we only use them when necessary and in amounts specified by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to control weeds, insects and diseases.”
(Click the image below for full size) Continue reading ‘Kauai Seed Farmers Bust Myths’