Global Advocates from India to Africa Pledge Solidarity with Hawai‘i as the Pesticides/GMO "Ground Zero" of the World

Regional leaders of the international movement from around the world and Hawai‘i met in Honolulu share experiences in the battle against corporate land grabs, and strategies for winning protections for farm workers, communities, and local democracies.

The representatives were farmers, scientists and organizers from around the world, from as far as the India Pesticide Action Network to as close as the National Family Farm Coalition of the United States.

Their statement is one of solidarity with those struggling for public health protections and access for local food production in Hawai‘i . . . READ MORE . . . 



HAPA Launches "Kuleana Academy" Leadership Development Program for Hawai‘i.

HAPA launches Kūleana Academy leadership and candidate training program, in partnership with other leading progressive Hawai‘i organizations. The five-month Kūleana Academy is designed to educate and train emerging leaders who have a desire to serve in public office. The program will give the participants a well-rounded introduction to the critical issues in Hawai‘i, leadership skills training and base knowledge of the ins-and-outs of campaigning.  All travel and participation costs are covered. 

Kūleana Academy Alliance Education Partners that presently include:  Community Alliance on Prisons,  Hawaiʻi Americans For Democratic Action, Hawaiʻi Appleseed, Hawai‘i Center for Food Safety, Hawaiʻi Peopleʻs Fund, Hawaiʻi SEED,  Hawaiʻi's Thousand Friends, KAHEA, Life of the Land, Maui Tomorrow, and UNITE HERE! Local 5.




TPP battle comes to Hawai`i: What history will be made?

The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) is a massive international treaty being negotiated in secret by twelve Pacific Rim countries, side-by-side with 500 corporate advisors.  After five years, the trade ministers and corporate advisors are aiming to wrap-up the deal on Maui at the end of July. 

The TPP has been described as a “corporate power grab", "a Trojan horse in the global race to the bottom,” “an agreement for the 1%,” a “backdoor” for laws that can’t pass democratically, and a “Christmas wish list for corporations.”




Kaua`i Residents Attend Syngenta Shareholders Meeting in Basel, Switzerland

Kaua`i Residents Attend Syngenta Shareholders Meeting in Basel, Switzerland and Petition for “the same respect and protections that are afforded to the residents of Switzerland”

A group of Kauaʻi residents gained access yesterday in Basel, Switzerland to the annual shareholders meeting of Syngenta, a Swiss producer of pesticides and genetically-engineered seeds that is conducting pesticide-intensive research operations on Kaua‘i.

During his speech at the meeting, HAPA President and Kauaʻi County Council Member Gary Hooser presented a petition signed by over 7,500 Hawaiʻi residents and their supporters asking Syngenta to:



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H.A.P.A. Supports Kaua`i Delegation to Switzerland, Home of Pesticide Giant Syngenta

The Hawaiʻi Alliance for Progressive Action (HAPA) is supporting a delegation of Kauaʻi residents to travel to Basel, Switzerland at the invitation of Swiss non-profit “MultiWatch.” The Kauaʻi delegation has been invited to speak to a European alliance of environmental organizations, trade unions and political parties tracking the activities and impacts of Swiss transnational corporations around the world. Switzerland is the home of Syngenta, one of five multinational chemical corporations conducting research operations on the Hawaiian islands.

The delegation includes County Council Member and HAPA Board President Gary Hooser, HAPA Board Member and Hawaiian cultural educator Mālia Kahaleʻinia Chun, and environmental scientist and co-director of Ohana O Kauaʻi Fern Rosenstiel.

READ MORE . . . 

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H.A.P.A. Supports Mauna a Wākea Protectors Through "Community Based Resource Stewardship" Campaign

By Walter Ritte, Jr., Chair of H.A.P.A.'s Community Based Resource Stewardship Committee

As Chair of H.A.P.A.'s Community Based Resource Stewardship (CBRS) Committee, I am proud to say that H.A.P.A. has stepped up to support the grassroots activists who are protecting Mauna a Wākea from being desecrated for construction of the Thirty Meter Telescope.

H.A.P.A.'s CBRS Committee works with our partner organizations to support actions such as the protection of Maunakea, Pohakuloa and Makua Valleys, leadership capacity building at Waimanalo, as well as Aha Moku organizing, fishpond restoration and Kalo planting.

READ MORE . . . 



HAPA's First Anniversary: Looking Back on a Year of Activism & Launching "Annual Giving" Campaign

Message from Gary Hooser, President of HAPA's Board of Directors:

This month represents H.A.P.A.'s 1-year anniversary!  It’s hard to believe that a whole year has gone by since we filed our non-profit incorporation papers last year, but then I look back on all that H.A.P.A. has accomplished in that time, including:

READ MORE . . . 



H.A.P.A. Welcomes Two New Board Members from Hawaiʻi Island!

H.A.P.A. is thrilled to welcome two board members to represent Hawaiʻi Island: Leslie Malulani Shizue Miki from Hilo and Kekaulike Prosper Tomich from Kona.

Leslie Malulani Shizue Miki is the owner of Abundant Life Natural Foods in Hilo. She was born and raised on Oʻahu, but has lived on Hawaiʻi Island for the last 30 years. Malu is a passionate advocate for healthy agriculture and protecting our natural environment.

Kekaulike Prosper Tomich is from the ahupuaʻa of Kaupulehu, Kona, Hawaiʻi. He is a 2012 graduate of UH Hilo with a B.A. in Geography. Kekaulike works in his home ahupuaʻa at the Kaupulehu Dryforest Preserve. He also helps on the family homestead Kukuiohiwai. Kekaulike is a member of the Kaupulehu Marine Life Advisory Committee which is dedicated to conserving the near shore resources of Kaupulehu. Ina malama ka honua malama ka honua ia oe. (If one cares for the earth the earth will care for you)

H.A.P.A. now has Board Members from every County in Hawaiʻi, and we look forward to growing our island chapters!

H.A.P.A.'s mission is to catalyze community empowerment and systemic change towards valuing ʻaina (environment) and people ahead of corporate profit.

The focus of HAPA's work over the next one to three years is on the following campaigns:

*Healthy Agriculture and Clean Food

*Community Based Resource Stewardship

*Economic Justice

*Reclaiming Democracy

Learn more about H.A.P.A.'s diverse Board Members, our current campaigns, and sign up for Action Alerts!



H.A.P.A.'s New Strategic Plan: What we do to catalyze change in Hawaiʻi

On March 14 & 15, 2015, Board Members from almost every Hawaiian island (Kauaʻi, Maui, Oʻahu, Molokaʻi, and Hawaiʻi islands) journeyed to Honolulu for HAPA's Strategic Planning Retreat.

We delved into important questions like "What is (or can be) HAPA's unique contribution to the progressive movement in Hawaiʻi?"

After two days of hard work, debate, and word-smithing, HAPA is excited to introduce our new Strategic Plan:

READ MORE . . . 



Smokescreens of Division: Myths Perpetuated by the Chemical Industry to Confuse the Pesticide Buffer Zones Issue (Part One)

State House Bill (HB1514) and its companion in the state Senate (SB793) would: 1) create pesticide buffer zones around schools and other high-risk areas and 2) require notice and disclosure by the largest users of "restricted use" pesticides.  The testimony submitted on each Bill has been overwhemingly in favor:

  • Out of 200+ testimonies on HB1514 at the first Committee hearing, only 11 were opposed.

  • At the Senate Committee hearing on the companion bill SB973, only 22 testifiers out of the 404 pages of written testimony opposed the bill.

Not surprisingly, those opposed included the large agrochemical research operations on the islands (Dow, Syngenta, BASF, DuPont Pioneer), their trade groups, such as the Hawaii Crop Improvment Association (HCIA), and other organizations they dominate such as the Farm Bureau and the Chamber of Commerce.

One (sort of) surprising opponent of the bills was the State Dept. of Agriculture chair, Scott Enright -- surprising given his boss, Governor Ige, supports buffer zones.

In the opposition testimony, a few familiar themes emerged . . . 

READ MORE . . . 



Continuing Legacy of Corporate Control of Land is Common Interest of Hawaiians, Environmentalists, Labor and Public Health Activists

Last week, long-time activist and HAPA Board Member Walter Ritte, Jr published an OpEd piece in the Honolulu Star Advertiser that explores the legacy of corporate control in Hawaiʻi and how that legacy continues to block access to land, sovereignty and food security. With several bills being heard at the State Capitol this week that would require more public lands be made available for local food production (including SB593 and SB510) Uncle Walterʻs words bear reprinting:

READ MORE . . . 



Who ARE they listening to?: The House Ag Committee and HB849 (Hawaiʻi Monsanto Protection Act)

Last week, the House Ag Committee heard testimony on House Bill (HB) 849, which would amend Hawaiʻi state law to "ensure that counties cannot enact laws, ordinances, or resolutions to limit the rights of farmers and ranchers to engage in agricultural practices."

Introduced by Rep. Clift Tsuji ("Biotech Legislator of 2010") and others, HB849 is seen by many as an attempt at resurrecting the "Hawaiʻi Monsanto Protection Act", another pre-emption attempt which was introduced and defeated early in the 2014 legislative session.

In reviewing the written testimony submitted for the Feb 5th hearing, there were 188 testimonies opposing HB849 and only 11 in support. More than 17 to 1 opposing pre-emption. So how is it that the Ag Committee voted the way they did, going against the vast majority of public opinion expressed in the testimony and passing the Bill unamended?




SB593: A Bill to Make More Lands Available for Local Food Production

This Monday (Feb. 2, 2015) there is an important hearing on Senate Bill 593 (SB593). The purpose of SB593 is to make more public lands available for local food production. The bill would require the state Agribusiness Development Corporation (ADC), a "public corporation" within the Dept. of Agriculture which manages over 20,000 acres of State/Crown lands, to place at least 50% of their lands into sustainable agriculture and local food production. Much of that is now being leased to chemical+GMO seed companies, and only a tiny fraction of these public lands are used for local food.

Introduced by state Senators Ruderman, Espero, Gabbard, Green, Riviere, and Thielen, SB593 would:

  • make the ADC's primary mission “increasing agriculture and local food production”,

  • establish a sustainable agriculture and local food production plan, and

  • lease 50% of its land to operations that support increasing agriculture and local food production.

More background on the ADC and the possible effects of this Bill:

1) The Agribusiness Development Corporation (ADC) was supposedly created to help “transition Hawaii’s agriculture industry . . . to one composed of a diversity of different crops.” (ADC website). Yet, while ADC controls over 20,000 acres of agricultural public lands, less than 5% of ADC lands are used for local food production.

2) Hawai‘i urgently needs to become more self-sufficient and “food secure.” According to the Hawai‘i Department of Business, Economic Development & Tourism’s (DBEDT) “Increased Food Security and Food Self-Sufficiency Strategy":

About 85-90% of Hawaii’s food is imported which makes it particularly vulnerable to natural disasters and global events that might disrupt shipping and the food supply.

3) Local farmers and ranchers state "the lack of long term affordable leases on good agricultural lands" as the most important roadblock to expanding local food production.

4) Almost all of the ADC's 20,000+ acres have been leased to non-food producing corporations for very long terms at very low rates.

5) Requiring the ADC to develop and implement a plan to lease a minimum of 50% of the tillable public lands they manage within the next 10 years for sustainable agriculture and local food production seems a reasonable approach to utilizing existing public lands to achieve our State’s goal of increased food sustainability.

6) SB593 would also benefit Hawai‘i economically, creating thousands of jobs and infusing the economy with millions of dollars. According to the Hawai‘i DBEDT’s “Increased Food Security and Food Self-Sufficiency Strategy":

The economic impact of food import replacement is significant. Replacing just 10% of the food we currently import would amount to approximately $313 million. Assuming a 30% farm share, $94 million would be realized at the farm-gate which would generate an economy-wide impact of an additional $188 million in sales, $47 million in earnings, $6 million in state tax revenues, and more than 2,300 jobs.

7) The public lands the ADC is managing are held in trust and are supposed to be used for the public good. Sustainable agricultural practices (as opposed to pesticide-intensive industrial practices) are important to restore and preserve the land for future generations.

You can submit testimony on SB593 at the Capitol webpage. It takes only 30 seconds to create an account; then you can track bills, sign up for hearing notices, and submit testimony and greatly impact the future of the land you love.



Climate Change and the Industrial Food System in Hawaiʻi

According to this New York Times article published yesterday,

"Last year was the hottest in earth’s recorded history [along with 2010 and 2005], underscoring scientific warnings about the risks of runaway emissions and undermining claims by climate-change contrarians that global warming had somehow stopped."

This news is deeply connected with the battle in Hawaiʻi against chemical industry research operations which occupy massive areas of land, and the industrial food system they perpetuate and protect.

In their editorial published in the Honolulu Star-Advertiser in July 2014, Simon Russell, Vice President and Legislative Chair of Hawaiʻi Farmers Union United, and Gary Hooser, President of H.A.P.A., address the overlap between climate change, agroecology, and the bold community action needed to face these challenges:

In Hawaiʻi, the debate over the safety of GMO products often centers around eating the food or being exposed to chemicals used in its production.

Both are important, even urgent, concerns. But there is another that may be just as urgent: the impact of industrial food systems on climate change.

Most experts agree that warning bells should sound when atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2) levels reach 350 parts per million (ppm). But according to National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, CO2 levels last year exceeded 400 ppm and are rising. Climate change is real and its impacts are far-reaching, especially for island communities such as ours.

The global food system is responsible for about half of greenhouse gases (GHG), according to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization.

Worldwide food production is generally put into two categories:

» The "industrial food complex," characterized by large-scale commodity crops (corn, soy, wheat, canola, sugar beet), concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs) fed by those commodity crops, and the processed food industry which uses these two sources for raw materials.

» The "traditional food web," small-to-medium family farms, which do not grow commodity crops for industrial food. This includes pasture-fed animal operations, sustainable fish harvesting and organic farms.

According to the International Assessment of Agricultural Knowledge, Science and Technology for Development's (IAASTD) Global Report — a joint program of the World Bank, World Health Organization and United Nations — traditional food produces 70 percent of what the world's human population eats but taxes resources only 30 percent. Conversely, industrial food provides 30 percent of the world's food and uses 70 percent of resources. This means industrial food is putting 5.4 times the GHG into the atmosphere for every calorie of food it produces compared to traditional food.

In the U.S., over 75 percent of food on chain grocery store shelves is from industrial food. The impacts on our planet:

» Industrial agriculture uses 26 times as much fossil fuel today to produce one calorie of food as it did in 1940.

» It takes 10 calories of fossil fuel to produce one calorie of CAFO meat.

» CAFOs create effluent lagoons the size of lakes that emit enormous amounts of methane. Methane is 21 times more potent of a GHG than CO2.

» Synthetic nitrogen fertilizers used in industrial farming off-gas nitrous oxide, which is 310 times stronger than CO2 as a GHG.

» As oceans become more acidic from GHG retention, a life-sustaining planet needs to rely increasingly on soil to function as its "kidneys," sequestering carbon out of the atmosphere. Industrial food, with its heavy reliance on herbicides, changes the microbial balance of soil, and mono-cropping doesn't allow soil to replenish.

How do we slow down this runaway train?

The first step is to restrict and regulate the actions of large corporations through the political process. Industrial food consists of the world's largest companies driven to further their profit agenda through international trade agreements such as the Trans-Pacific Partnership while externalizing their costs onto the communities in which they operate.

The industrial food complex claims the mantra of "feeding the world." But according to the IAASTD, the traditional food web feeds the 2 billion people at the bottom of the economic ladder almost exclusively with no help from industrial food.

Bottom line: We need to counteract the misinformation put out by the multinational corporations, weed out the politicians working for industrial food, and elect leaders who will implement the more resource-conscious policies of traditional food systems.

Experts estimate it will take 50 years to restore natural soil content to pre-industrial farming levels, thus reducing GHG emissions by 23-30 percent.

It will take bold community action to start this reversal and reinvigorate inspired political leadership. We are hopeful. We believe Hawaiʻi has already begun to turn the tide in that direction. And, like many people across these islands, we believe that if any community is up for this challenge, it is ours.

If you would like to be part of finding the solutions, join H.A.P.A. today!



Harvesting Lightning: How the GMO/Chemical Industry Backlash Feeds the Movement in Hawaiʻi

by Elif C. Beall, H.A.P.A. Acting Executive Director

The only thing that will open the seed cone of a Sequoia tree is the heat of fire. So the Sequoia grows taller than any other tree in the forest in order to attract lightning and start a fire. The heat opens their seed cones, and the fire clears the earth for seed germination. Mature trees can withstand the lightening strike and the heat of the fire. Some Sequoias are known to be the oldest living things on earth (over 2,500 years old).

Many people in Hawaiʻi feel that rising activism across the Hawaiʻi islands has attracted some lightening of its own -- the opposition of billion dollar multi-national chemical companies that use Hawai‘i as “ground zero” for the research and experimentation of pesticides and the seeds that are genetically modified to withstand greater amounts of those pesticides.

In response to laws being passed in 3 of Hawaiʻi's 4 counties which regulate pesticide use and/or genetically engineered crops, these international corporations and their allies: 1) spent record-breaking amounts of money to influence Hawai'i's elections, 2) tried to pass the "Hawaiʻi Monsanto Protection Act" in the 2014 state legislative session which would prevent local regulations like those passed in Kaua'i, Maui, and Hawai'i counties; and 3) have sued local governments across the state to block those laws.

However, with each wave of industry tactics, the movement in Hawaiʻi to protect the public health and safety from known (and unknown dangers) of agrochemical research has only grown stronger and broader. Like the giant Sequoia trees, the lightening directed at activists and the growing movement has lit fires that are freeing open seeds and preparing the soil. A few examples:

  • When Monsanto, Dow and industry interests spent unprecedented $Millions to defeat the Maui ballot GMO Moratorium, citizen activists rose up to cause the "Maui miracle" and show that grass roots efforts can win over big spending by $$Billion corporate interests.

  • When industry allies tried to pass the "Hawaiʻi Monsanto Protection Act" in 2014 which would have overturned the hard-won regulations in Kaua'i and Hawai'i counties, a new wave of engagement in the state legislative process was born, with many people from neighbor islands submitting testimony on state-level Bills for the first time, and large crowds filling senate hearing rooms with only a day's notice.

  • Elected officials that championed these issues, such as Elle Cochran on Maui, Margaret Willie on Hawaiʻi Island, and Gary Hooser on Kauaʻi, all drew heavy fire from well-funded opponents -- but all three were re-elected, and inspired a whole movement of young, first-time candidates willing to take on entrenched incumbents.

Of course, it hasn’t all been “wins” and “victories”. Some would say that "it's hard not to be discouraged" when magistrate courts invalidate laws that thousands of people marched in support of, laws that residents slept outside county buildings so they could testify in support of -- laws that thousands of residents (including doctors, nurses, teachers, concerned parents, and labor leaders) supported. Some say it's hopeless when grassroots efforts must face the massive resources and political influence of billion dollar corporations.

Yet, we know different. The victories of grassroots democracy in Maui, Kauaʻi and Hawaiʻi counties have shown us that passion and a deep desire to protect what we love can be more powerful than corporate dollars.

We know that with every lightning bolt and every fire the industry can throw at us, the seeds of awareness and community empowerment are being released, spreading and taking root. And we will continue to grow tall and strong.

Please join us and many other community groups gathering at the State Capitol on Opening Day of the Legislature, Wednesday, January 21st at 11:30am. Join H.A.P.A. in spreading the seeds of change.



Panel to "study" pesticides and GMOs on Kaua'i

Kaua‘i Mayor and the state Dept. of Agriculture have hired a consultant to form a panel to review literature on GMO's and Pesticides. And other islands should take note, as this may be held out as an example around the state.

H.A.P.A. is cautiously optimistic about this “study group” being initiated on Kaua'i. It is very important to recognize, however, that what is being funded and pursued by the Kaua‘i Mayor’s Office and State Department of Agriculture is NOT the full EPHIS (Environmental and Public Health Impact Study) as it was mandated by Ordinance 960 / Bill 2491.

The mandated EPHIS included a two-part process of first convening a Joint Fact Finding Group (JFFG) to determine the scope and design of the EPHIS, which would be the second-phase (including an independent consultant group conducting original research of the Kaua‘i situation). In contrast, what has been funded in the $100,000 “study group” is only similar to the first part of this process, with the possibility of suggestions for future study. No original research will be conducted in this first phase. It will focus on reviewing already existing literature and data (much of which is already constantly being reviewed by citizens and scientists concerned with the situation). Ideally this 1-year study group will lead to the second-phase—the actual EPHIS—but there is no legal mandate, no funding allocated, no voiced commitment from the Mayor or Department of Agriculture, and no direction if consensus about what should be studied is not reached by the group.

While HAPA fully supports further study, this should NOT delay regulatory action to protect people and environment from heavy pesticide use by the chemical companies. There is a robust scientific literature on the dangers of the pesticides being used in very large amounts on Kaua‘i and other islands, and greater protections are common-sense. In environmental justice issues around the United States, “further study” is often used as an excuse to delay action. While we absolutely need local studies, including epidemiological analysis, we should pursue this information while also insuring protections from what we know are harmful chemicals being sprayed next to our homes, school and waterways.

Further, good scientific study will require more complete data about what is being sprayed, when and where. The chemical companies have been unwilling to provide full pesticide disclosure, and the monthly voluntary summaries in the Good Neighbor Program are insufficient for conducting a meaningful health and environmental impact study.

In the spirit of both cooperation and kūleana, we hope that the community, the State, and the County will use this opportunity to begin to honestly evaluate the types of study and regulatory protections that have been woefully lacking (including enforcement of existing laws). This is no reason to delay increased protections, which the scientific literature on pesticides already tells us we need. We hope to see meaningful regulatory steps taken by the State in the coming legislative session.

A few quick summary points on the Study Group project: (Click here for the full project description.)

  • There will be a "Joint Fact Finding Group" managed by Peter Adler (Project Director), that will include at least nine people "from Kaua‘i who have knowledge of Kaua‘i and good backgrounds in: agriculture, environmental health, epidemiology, toxicology, biostatistics, medicine, or land-based practices such as farming, fishing, hunting, or gathering."

  • Peter Adler will pick the members of this group "with the advice of three advisers who themselves will not be members of the JFF group. The three selection advisers are Dr. Helen Cox, Chancellor, Kaua‘i Community College; Dr. Mehana D. B. Blaich-Vaughn, Assistant Professor, University of Hawaii at Mānoa, Department of Natural Resources & Environmental Management, College of Tropical Agriculture & Human Resources; and Diane Zachary, President and CEO, Kaua`i Planning & Action Alliance."

The public can nominate people to be considered for the JFF, and can also submit references to studies and data for the JFF to consider.