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Hawaii has long had an unfortunate tendency to attract the most extreme Mainland activists, who seem to view our islands as some kind of “testing ground” for their own agenda. We’ve seen it time and again, and now Hawaii’s farmers are bearing the burden of ill-informed hysteria. The surging anti-GMO sentiment in our islands, driven by hardcore political element that deals in hyperbole and anger, has begun to have a dangerous impact on Hawaii’s agriculture industry–even the smaller and local farmers. So harmful has the campaign been, that one woman, Joni Kamiya Rose, has started a petition to the Governor and Legislature, asking that they demonstrate their support for the state’s agriculture industry and not allow their policies to be dictated by the activists seeking to have modern farming techniques banned by the Counties and/or State. The petition begins:

The agriculture community is under attack across our island and state.  Many small farmers at farmers market have reported that their produce has been thrown aside if it was not grown the way the customer wanted it to be.  Fields of papayas have been vandalized across the state over the last several years by the thousands.  Business pages of farmers have been threatened with boycott or disparaged publicly by activists.  Some farmers have been accused of poisoning the land and contamination and so on in an attempt to invalidate their work.  The scientists and other ag advocates, who have supported the farmers have been accused of lying and even threatened with death.  The evidence of all of this is summarized in this story of the The Legend of the A’ole GMO. Is this kind of aloha we want to have in our state towards our farmers and others who support it?

The agriculture industry relies on big and small ag.  Agriculture is a diverse industry here beyond just food. The attempts by many leaders to destroy the larger farms ultimately harms the most vulnerable ones that rely on these larger entities.  We cannot allow the heart of our agricultural communities of small farmers to be subject to this.  Their work is so vital for our islands and food sustainability and a hit at them only unravels the very fabric of our islands that was started because of large agricultural industries like pineapple and sugar cane.

Counties are listening to the most ill informed people to base these laws upon and the farmers are being attacked by these activists. These activists have come worldwide due to the overwhelming efforts of a well funded industry to appear as if they are speaking for the local farmers and people.  They do not represent each and every small farmer affected by this.  If we as a state are to grow our ag industries, we need the support of our leaders to attain this or our farmers will have no incentive to continue the tireless work they do.

Grassroot Institute continues to support business–including small farms and local agriculture–in our Islands. We’ve stood against the Jones Act and the toll it takes on both local businesses and consumers. And we’ve opposed the continual raft of tax increases and regulations that discourage enterprise and perpetuate our economic woes. A strong agriculture industry is important to the economic growth of our state, and we urge you to read the petition at change.org and consider signing on yourself.