"No GMO" Rally on O'ahu's North Shore
(See my short video on the No GMO Rally.)
Popular support is gaining in Hawai'i against genetically modified and genetically engineered foods as shown by a spirited protest held on O'ahu's North Shore.
Hundreds of people, perhaps over a thousand, showed up to voice their views in this historic part of the island. They marched in protest against Monsanto and other companies performing research and cultivation of such crops in the islands.
Marchers shouted "No more GMO" and "Monsanto must go!" as they passed through main street Hale'iwa before amassing at a nearby beach park. All age groups were represented in the demonstration, including their pets.
Waking Up The People
"I love it, waking up the people," said Pono Kealoha, who calls himself a kanaka maoli (a Hawaiian) insurgent.
"We're letting the people know corporations don't have their best interests in mind," Kealoha explained. With video camera in hand, his intention was clear: "I document, I video, I spread the alternate truth."
Walter Ritte, originally from Molokai, also was on hand. "It's pretty simple," Ritte said. "We all grew up as farmers and fishermen. Hawaii's new farmers are chemical companies."
Ritte agreed that GMO-related work does employ much of the population of that small island. However, such companies use farming methods that local farmers have not seen before. And the locals depend on a healthy land and ocean for their sustenance.
"We want them to leave. They are killing our land and killing our ocean," Ritte said.
Are GMO Products Dangerous?
Ritte criticized the plowing, leaving land bare and the wind gusts carrying particles. He was extremely concerned about soil run-off entering the ocean and permanently damaging reefs around the islands.
Emiri Hirayama, a college student, said, "If we keep eating GMO, it will not only affect us but our grandkids because of what we ate."
Because this subject is controversial and complex, Monsanto Hawai'i's full response to my questions has been published. This is from Alan Takemoto, community affairs manager:
Monsanto has been recognized here in Hawai'i and elsewhere for our high standards of quality, robust safety programs and strong commitment to environmental stewardship. We’re dedicated to improving modern agriculture through advanced technologies, and committed to offering the best products that farmers depend on to increase their production and yields. Our goal is to utilize cutting edge research to help find solutions to some of the planet’s most pressing problems, such as global food security.
Biotech foods are the most well studied and highly regulated food crops in the world. Its safety has been affirmed by extensive testing and scientific studies, and the public has consumed billions of servings of biotech foods for more than 17 years without a single documented case of anyone becoming ill because of the technology. We could not ask for a more stellar safety record.
Many scientific, medical and health organizations have concluded that biotech crops are just as safe as foods produced by other methods. Humanitarian organizations have also expressed their support for biotech crops’ potential to help address some of our planet’s most pressing problems, including malnutrition and hunger. These organizations include the U.S. Food & Drug Administration, U.S. National Academy of Sciences, American Medical Association, World Health Organization and the Vatican, among others. Some 25 Nobel Prize recipients and more than 3,400 prominent scientists have expressed their support for plant biotechnology.
Biotech crops have resulted in real benefits for farmers and consumers. Studies from the National Academy of Sciences and the University of California, Berkeley, have concluded that U.S. farmers growing biotech crops are realizing substantial economic and environmental benefits, and that the economic gain from genetically modified crops is being shared by consumers, farmers and seed manufacturers without anyone gaining the lion’s share.
Studies have also shown that genetically modified crops have reduced pesticide spraying, decreased risk of crop loss, decreased greenhouse gas emissions, and enabled farmers to reduce their pesticide footprint. According to a 2012 report from PG Economics, biotech crops have helped reduce the release of greenhouse gas emissions from agricultural practices. In 2010, that reduction was equivalent to removing 8.6 million cars from the road for one year.
It’s unfortunate that the public discussion about genetically modified foods includes many misleading and factually incorrect statements. We realize the topic is complex, and that people have questions. We are committed to transparency and are happy to have an open, respectful dialogue with anyone genuinely interesting in learning more about who we are and what we do.
(Video of the No GMO Rally)