Letters for Saturday, August 16, 2008

• Biotech crop discussion

• God bless Hawai‘i

• Humans, a seal’s best friend

• Approach merits attention


Biotech crop discussion

I am writing on behalf of the Hawai‘i Crop Improvement Association, to contribute to the ongoing discussion of biotech crops. I sincerely appreciate the balanced approach of The Garden Island to report on the many challenging issues associated with agricultural industry on Kaua‘i.

HCIA is made up of companies that develop and produce agricultural seed, which is now our state’s largest crop. Every year since commercial biotech crops were first planted in 1996, farmers around the world have planted more of them than the year before. Global acreage of biotech crops grew another 12 percent last year, to over 280 million acres in 23 countries, producing a crop worth approximately $6.9 billion. In fact, biotechnology has proven to be the most quickly adopted crop technology in recent history. Why? Because farmers know that biotech crops perform well in the field and in the marketplace, so they are choosing to plant more of them every season.

HCIA members are businesses that must respond to the needs of their customers. Farmers tell them what they need and our members go to work to find a way to provide it. From research and development, to cultivation to distribution, HCIA members provide intensive support to farmers in all aspects of their operations. Plant breeding in Hawai‘i is helping farmers feed people all over the world. Some critics, usually folks who do not actually farm, have romantic notions about old ways of doing things. They think farmers should only plant seed they produce themselves. But that’s like telling modern accountants and engineers they should forsake their computers for pencils and slide rules, unless they can write their own software.

Modern farmers know better. They understand that only by taking advantage of ongoing crop improvements can they remain competitive, that benefits such as higher yields, increased resistance to pests and disease, and greater nutrition translate into successful farming. Scientific and technological progress is frightening to some people. But human needs demand that we move ahead, carefully and prudently. The people closest to the issue, the farmers, are not afraid. They are using new technologies to feed the world.

Alicia Maluafiti, executive director, Hawaii Crop Improvements Association

Ewa Beach, O‘ahu


God bless Hawai‘i

As our state marks 49 years as the 50th state of these United States, though we have encountered many setbacks and even more challenges, I am extremely proud to live in Hawai‘i and am so thankful for every single person who lives in these islands. I do not believe that we need to walk in fear or bitterness toward one another. I do not believe that Hawai‘i has lost its aloha spirit, and though there are many things to be frustrated about, I do not believe that we should ever give up on our neighbors, our friends, our family and our faith. Never say that aloha is dead, not now or ever. Hawai‘i is the greatest state in the Union to live in because of the aloha of you and me, the people. As President Ronald Reagan said, “Freedom and the dignity of the individual have been more available and assured here than in any other place on Earth. The price for freedom at times has been high, but we have never been unwilling to pay the price.” We are blessed with many compassionate heroes whose names often go unsung, people like the lei maker Martha at Honolulu Airport who is a miracle worker who prays for hearts to be touched by her flowers, or people like Grassroot Institute’s Jamie Story, who reaches out to the community with hope and a sincere smile that disarms hearts and inspires confidence. My friends, that’s aloha, and that’s Hawai‘i, it’s who we are. Love never fails. God bless you, Hawai‘i, and let freedom reign.

Daniel P. de Gracia II

Waipahu, O‘ahu


Humans, a seal’s best friend

Thankfully, we are no longer inclined to hunt seals. As a result, monk seals are happy to share the beaches with us. We humans are also delighted to share the beaches with these amazing creatures. The wild populations of monk seals on Kaua‘i and other peopled islands are now flourishing. What a happy, symbiotic relationship between man and seal.

The only potential problems are A) aggressive, unleashed dogs who might be a nuisance to the seals and B) aggressive, unleashed regulators who rope off the whole beach (20 feet is more than adequate space for a seal).

Unfortunately, the monk seal populations in the uninhabited Northwest Islands are still declining.

What is going on? Put on your thinking cap. Monk seals flourish where there are people. They die out where there are no people. Apparently, monk seals on un-peopled islands are dying from old fishing nets and sharks. Where there are people around, fishing nets are cleaned up and sharks are kept under control.

Some environmentalists have a plan to save the monk seals. They are currently pushing for wildlife preserves on the main islands where we remove all the people (except them, of course). I am not kidding. They really think this way.

Preserving wildlife is a noble cause. Unfortunately, most active environmentalists are so hostile to humans that they will push policies that hurt wildlife as well, as long as they can be assured that it will hurt people.

Mark Beeksma

Koloa


Approach merits attention

Is this what we have been waiting for? Might this be a plausible approach to address the substance abuse problem rampant in our society? I am referring to the elements of the program currently in use at the Kauai County Correctional Center which encourages change (“Kaua‘i Community Correctional Center encourages change,” B1, Aug. 15).

Shouldn’t this program be made available throughout the island? Shouldn’t funding be provided to properly train and compensate those directly working with the clientele who needs to find his/her way out of the clutches of addiction?

If this is a workable and doable way of achieving positive and effective results, this may be the paradigm shift needed in addressing this societal crisis. I strongly believe that this approach merits our attention and support.

Jose Bulatao Jr.

Kekaha

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