Guest blog by Courtney Bruch, an Earth activist, GMO Free Maui coordinator and Babes Against Biotech Interisland Advisor. Crossposted from Greenpeace India
Being touched by the true Spirit of Aloha is a lifelong blessing. Hawaii is renowned worldwide as one of the top vacation destinations for many reasons. Each of the six most inhabited islands of this archipelago are equally unique in magnificence, with dramatic landscapes including lush, green mountains, sparkling streams, enchanted waterfalls, white sand beaches, majestic rainbows, an abundance of tropical flowers and mouthwatering fruits.
Despite the allure, Hawaii is a stolen, occupied Nation, overthrown in 1893. These islands are used as a tactical base for the U.S. military, employed as a testing ground for warfare maneuvers, currently including depleted uranium and Agent Orange in the 1960’s.
While masked as a paradisiacal ‘wonderland’ to seven million annual visitors, many wealthy executives flock here for imitation, water diverted landscape activities including golfing and resort living. There’s an underlying disease. Unfortunately this is no whale tale and the malignancy is breaching. Transnational Chemical/Ag corporations are a massive threat to Hawaii’s fragile eco-system and everyday existence for tourists and residents alike.
The original missionary families who transformed paradise into chemical, plantation, mono-crop agricultural money machines, are still pulling the puppet strings today. Pineapple, once a primary mono-crop, has mostly phased out. The Alexander and Baldwin corporation, with their subsidiary, HC&S (Hawaii Cane and Sugar), own 35,000 acres on Maui. It is the only Hawaiian island still in commercial sugar cane production. They burn thousands of acres of bio-mass nine months of the year, while utilizing archaic harvesting practices despite decades of public dispute. Shockingly, Hawaii’ holds the second highest childhood asthma rate in the nation!
Unfortunately, the corporate militaristic legacy has spawned. Hawaii’s optimal year-round growing seasons attract multiple chemical corporations including Monsanto, Dow, Syngenta and Pioneer, growing approximately 40,000 acres of open air, experimental genetically modified (GM) crops. GM seed corn is Hawaii’s largest “agricultural” export! Considering the long history of chemical warfare testing, it’s not surprising Monsanto would choose the Hawaiian islands as their world headquarters for seed experimentation. Hawaii non-profit, Babes Against Biotech (BAB), audited the standing house, senate, governor and notoriously GMO lackey Honolulu City Council campaign funds in August 2012 and found over $391,000 from the top half dozen GMO chemical companies and biotech lobbyists.
Monsanto impersonates itself as a financial beneficiary to schools, environmental organizations, hospices, etc despite their long and obvious lineage of poisoning communities world wide. Pioneer ‘gift’s’ $25 saving accounts to elementary school children whilst Families on the “Garden Isle” of Kauai are suing the Dupont-owned Pioneer seed company for failure to investigate the danger posed by open air testing of genetically modified crops. Alarmingly many residents in the Waimea community, surrounded by multiple biotech companies are suffering from cancerous conditions.
Monsanto is the tiny island of Molokai’s largest employer creating divisiveness amongst families and subjecting neighborhoods to toxic red storms due to negligent farming practices. Mercy Ritte clearly describes this scenario in the recently produced video Molokai MOM – Standing Up to GMO.
Fortunately the tides are turning! Tourists and residents alike are growing more aware that these beloved islands are being exploited and poisoned while inhabitants serve as guinea pigs to open air genetic experimental research. A massive grass roots groundswell is multiplying daily with Earth warriors from all walks of life joining forces to ‘protect what we love’.
United, the islands are organized to expose as well as eradicate the criminal chemical corporate assault against LIFE by Monsanto, and it’s like. An ‘Aloha ‘Aina Army’ is flourishing, including scores of activists and groups: Moloka’i Mom on a Mission, Babes Against Bio-tech, Hawaii GMO Justice Coalition, Hawaii Seed, Save Hawaii From Monsanto, Label It Hawaii, Seeds of Truth. GMO Free organizations like GMO Free Maui are on every island. Ocean Defender~Hawaii, pro-surfer Dustin Barca, Hawaiian Activist Walter Ritte, and world renowned slack key musician, Makana Cameron are also playing a crucial role in spreading awareness.
Social media is playing a huge role in organizing Calls to Action for GMO labeling hearings, and in influencing elections. Utilizing the power of social media, corrupt, ignorant, paid off legislators are being exposed in their attempts to force feed bills that are completely undemocratic and corporately dominated.
Last January, Hawaii Seed organized the ‘Vandana Shiva – Raise Awareness; Inspire Change’ tour. Dr. Shiva’s visit was purposefully scheduled for the opening day of the 2013 Hawaii State Legislature located at the Honolulu capital building. The ‘Heleku march’ and ‘We The People Rally’ in unity with Vandana’s debut speech opening day January 16th, served as a beacon of hope for food sovereignty in Hawaii. Dr. Shiva’s presence was warmly welcomed by thousands attending her lectures with the theme ‘Seed Freedom is Food Freedom’. “Dr. Shiva is coming to Hawai’i because our islands are currently the world’s most significant center of biotechnology seed experiments,” says Jeri Di Pietro, president of Hawai’i SEED and one of the tour’s organizers. “A significant portion of our state’s agricultural lands are currently used by seed companies to produce an inedible product that is shipped off island, rather than contributing to a local farming economy.”
Many marches and demonstrations protesting Monsanto have taken place, especially within the last two years. Last March, Kaua’i’s pro-surfer Dustin Barca collaborated with Hawaii GMO Justice Coalition and many activists to organize five island marches held every Saturday throughout the month. Over 7,000 people attended these marches! In January 2012, Occupy Wallstreet Maui activists held a week long demonstration in front of Monsanto headquarters raising awareness and inspiring action worldwide. The movement is alive while Hawaii prepares for the International March Against Monsanto called for May 25th 2103.
United we are transforming Bitter Seeds. We are sowing our gardens with seeds of sovereignty and self sufficiency. Monsanto’s invasive presence provides an extraordinary opportunity for planetary protectors to reclaim self-empowerment and create the world we wish to see. A world of thriving, natural bio-diversity, peace, joy, balance and celebration.
We must Save Hawaii and the World from Monsanto together!