Letters for Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Kauai seed growers key to worldSTEM is our futureOur business could die with Bill 2491Share your voice at Wednesday meeting

Kauai seed growers key to world

I am an employee of a commercial seed grower and proud to be part of the Kauai farming community. Many people might not realize the critical role our island plays in global food production. It’s critical because the world’s population continues to rise and will reach eight billion by 2030. That means a lot of mouths to feed!

With abundant sunshine and ample rain, Kauai is an ideal location for seed companies to grow new, more productive crop varieties. Thanks to our work on Kauai seed farms, farmers around the world can grow crops with greater resistance to disease, insects and drought and less reliance on pesticides.

I am excited about how Kauai is contributing significantly to solving the challenge of growing enough food to meet world demands.

Unfortunately, that contribution could end soon. Kauai County Council Bill 2491 is threatening Kauai agriculture. If passed, this county ordinance would severely restrict the ability of seed farms to operate here. In fact, the ordinance might force these agricultural companies to leave Kauai altogether.

I ask you to stand with me in support of Kauai agriculture. Ask your County Council members to vote against Bill 2491.

Clyson Naka’ahiki

Kekaha

STEM is our future

I am opposed to Bill 2491 for several reasons.

Our economy needs the skilled labor science jobs that biotech farming allows. We teach our kids that the future of the workforce is in STEM or science, technology, engineering, and math.

Indeed, within the agriculture industry on Kauai there are jobs for students who excel in these academic fields. I would know, I studied science at UH Hilo, and was blessed by the opportunity to live, work, and raise my family on Kauai’s Westside.

As an employee of one of the companies that this bill targets, I am proud to be involved in biotech agriculture. I come from a farming family and know that farmers are inherently the best stewards of the land, taking care of it, keeping it healthy for generations to come.

Biotechnology allows farmers to use less herbicide and pesticides, produce more from the same amount of land, and therefore spare the destruction of native habitats such as rainforests. I truly believe that the government regulations and enforcement that are currently in place — Hawaii Department of Agriculture and the U.S. Department of Agriculture, and the Food and Drug Administration — are sufficiently stringent.

My greatest testimony to the safety of my industry is the simple fact that while working as a field supervisor, I carried and delivered two beautiful and healthy children. I routinely went to the fields during both my pregnancies and certainly would not have done so if I had any concern about safety and enforcement of the rules.

Heather Kilar

Waimea

Our business could die with Bill 2491

My business depends on the seed farms on Kauai. I’m worried that my business could be at risk because of County Council Bill 2491.

This ordinance would unfairly and unnecessarily place tight restrictions on Kauai farms that grow commercial seed. In my experience, seed farms have been good neighbors and stewards of our island environment. By placing new restrictions on the way they farm, Kauai could end up losing these companies and the jobs they provide.

Our island has a long agricultural heritage. Kalo, sugar, pineapple, coffee and corn production have supported generations of Kauai families. Today, seed farms provide jobs for 600 local people.

Add to that the jobs at businesses like mine that supply fertilizer, equipment and other materials to the seed production industry. One seed company recently spent $50 million on an expansion project, employing local contractors and construction workers.

If Bill 2491 passes, there is a good chance that commercial seed farms will leave Kauai and take their jobs elsewhere.

Without their business, my business could disappear, too.

The potential loss goes beyond jobs. Seed company employees are our  “no” on Bill 2491.

Wally Johnson

Kekaha

Share your voice at Wednesday meeting

I am writing in support of Bill 2491. Much is misunderstood regarding this bill. It is simply asking for information about what the seed companies are using as pesticides and how much they are spraying.  

This is a reasonable request given that Kauai is a  fragile ecosystem which has already sustained more than its fair share of pollution. We need to know the impact the presence of GMO crops has upon our land and ourselves.

The GMO companies are threatening loss of jobs if this bill is passed. This is not true. If Kauai did not have the GMO seed companies polluting the land we could plant that land with sustainable crops such as hemp and/or bamboo (and other crops as well). There will always be farming jobs available on this island.

The GMO companies also say that what they are growing could feed us in an emergency, but it is my understanding that much of the corn being grown is not food quality.

There is a tremendous amount of research showing the harmful effects of GMO farming and the consumption of GMO food. Most countries in Europe have banned GMO crops. India has banned them. Japan is refusing to purchase Hawaii’s  GMO produce.

Do your own research about the various dangers of GMO crops and the food it produces.

We have the right to know what is happening on our island.

I look froward to the meeting Wednesday at the Kauai Vets Center and I urge our council to pass 2491.

Wendy Beckett

Kapaa

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