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Big Island Farmers File Federal Complaint About GMO Bill

We’re Standing United with Agriculture to Protect the Future of Farming in Hawaii

Papaya Trees Destroyed by Machete in Puna

Papaya Trees Destroyed by Machete in Puna

“Our organization is participating in this lawsuit because we have cause and want to stand with farmers, ranchers and growers when unfair and unnecessary laws and regulations threaten our livelihood.

“Bill 113 will make it illegal to grow some genetically modified (GM) plants, including valuable food and feed crops and flowers. By prohibiting the use of these crops that have been deemed by the government and scientific experts to be perfectly safe, Bill 113 is a direct assault on our ‘right to farm’ and essentially criminalizes those who rely on the tools of modern biotechnology to foster productivity.”

“United we stand, divided we fall”

Background:

Signed into law on December 5, 2013, Hawaii County enacted Bill 113, which imposes a county-wide ban on the development, propagation, cultivation, and open-air testing of most genetically engineered (GE) crops.

Plaintiffs represent a broad cross-section of Hawaii Island farmers and related businesses that rely on GE crops, including disease-resistant papaya, as well as technology companies that develop, test, and commercialize valuable, new GE agricultural products.

Farmers and Agriculture Associations are standing United; participating in this suit, which seeks to invalidate and enjoin the County of Hawaii from enforcing County Ordinance 13-121 (“Bill 113”).  The suit alleges that the bill:

  • is preempted under federal law
  • is preempted under state law
  • violates the Interstate Commerce Clause of the U.S. Constitution
  • presents a regulatory taking in violation of the HI Constitution

Plaintiffs include:

  • Hawaii Floriculture and Nursery Association
  • Hawaii Papaya Industry Association
  • Big Island Banana Growers Association
  • Hawaii Cattlemen’s Council
  • Biotechnology Industry Organization
  • Pacific Floral Exchange
  • Richard Ha
  • Jason Moniz
  • Gordon Inouye
  • Eric Tanouye

Key Points:

  • Bill 113 cripples farmers’ current and future ability to farm GE crops, imposes extreme burdens on local agriculture and violates Federal and Hawaii law.
  • Despite the central role of GE crops in modern commercial agriculture and their long history of safe use in Hawaii and around the world, Bill 113 imposes a near-blanket ban on new cultivation, propagation, development, and open-air testing of such crops in the County.

Bill 113 is backed by no findings or evidence that GE crops are in any way harmful, or in any way endanger the local environment.

Using the “precautionary principle,” Bill 113 is in direct conflict with determinations made by expert federal agencies, and seeks to outlaw agricultural activities that the federal government has specifically authorized following thorough scientific reviews.

  • Farming GE crops has also long been a generally accepted agricultural practice locally and GE crops have been vitally important to the County of Hawaii.

In the 1990s, Hawaii’s papaya industry was devastated by the ringspot virus. The development of a GE variety of papaya that is resistant to the virus is widely credited with saving the industry.

The resulting Rainbow GE variety of papaya now accounts for approximately 85 percent of papaya grown in the County and is widely sold throughout the United States and in other nations.

County farmers support federally-approved testing to develop new disease-resistant papaya and banana plants and floral varieties that resist harmful insect pests and bacteria.

  • GE crops not only help farmers, but contribute to food security for the island. By banning any use of new GE crops, Hawaii consumers can expect increases in food costs, business costs, and pesticide use.
  • If farmers in Hawaii are unable to farm efficiently and productively, more costly foods will need to be imported.
  • The State of Hawaii has deemed the promotion of “diversified agriculture” a vital public interest. This principle is enshrined in the Constitution of Hawaii, which expressly directs the State – not the counties – to conserve and protect agricultural and farming resources.

COEXISTENCE:

Individual farmers routinely incorporate multiple production practices within a single operation.  Coexistence is not about health or safety; it is about finding ways to improve working relationships when different production systems are used in close proximity.

SAFETY:

Every GE crop on the market today was thoroughly evaluated by government scientific experts, often at as many as three different federal regulatory agencies, through a complex multiyear scientific review process.

Not only have GE crops been deemed safe by expert federal agencies, but multiple other governmental and non-governmental agencies have reached the same conclusions, including the U.S. National Academy of Sciences, the World Health Organization, the American Medical Association, the European Commission, and the British Medical Association.

More than 600 peer-reviewed scientific reports document the safety of GE foods.

GENERA a project by BIOFORTIFIDE to create a searchable database to more than 2000 studies on biotechnology in Food and agriculture.

TRANSPARENCY:

We understand people have questions about how their food is grown. We need to have the discussion before we prematurely make laws that cripple the Future of Farmers and unfairly target growers using technology. While industry will stand with growers and challenge unfair and unlawful ordinances like Bill 113, we urge people to visit the GMO Answers website (http://gmoanswers.com) to get more information about the products of biotechnology.

The Rainbow Papaya that saved Hawaii’s papaya industry was genetically engineered to resist the ringspot virus. See how it was done by viewing this video on gmoanswers.com.

Hawaii Lawmakers Visit Puna Geothermal Venture

This weekend a group of lawmakers have been touring the Big Island and this afternoon they came out to Puna on the East Side of the Big Island to visit the Puna Geothermal plant known as Puna Geothermal Venture.

The entrance to the facility

They arrived in several car loads shortly after 4:00.

The legislators arrive

I’m not sure exactly how the group came together other then the fact that they were coming to the Big Island to see sustainable projects and Richard Ha seemed to be coordinating a lot of the efforts.

Richard Ha talks to Senator Donovan Dela Cruz

The lawmakers started the day with a tour of Mauna Kea and by the end of the afternoon it looked like many of them were pretty tired as the presentation on PGV began.

Inside the control room

We watched a 12 minute video on how geothermal energy was produced followed by a slide show presentation on some of the facts about the plant itself.

Plant Manager Michael Kaleikini fielded questions about PGV to the lawmakers

Ormat Technologies, Inc.  a world leader in geothermal development, acquired Puna Geothermal Venture in June 2004 and launched a $32 million upgrade to existing technologies.  Improvements were made in noise reduction and 100 percent of its excess fluids are injected back to the earth’s interior without exposure to the open air.”

Not sure what these are... but they looked cool

…The seven senators and two representatives on Saturday will visit Mauna Kea, Kamuela Vacuum Cooling Plant, Puna Geothermal Venture’s power plant in Pohoiki and Hilo small businesses.

Then on Sunday, they’ll see Green Point Nursery, Pacific Basin Agricultural Research Center, Hu Honua bioenergy power plant and Hamakua Springs Farms… Washington Examiner

The lawmakers were running short on time so we didn’t get to tour the entire facility and I only took a few pictures of the facility.

More interesting stuff

They really didn’t want folks taking pictures of the plant and I may have to take a few of these down in the next few days if Ormat throws a hissy fit.

Anyone know what Halon 1301 is?

I’m glad the lawmakers had a chance to come over here.  I will say that it sounds like Senator Malama Solomon is not real happy with the place and you will be hearing more from her on this soon enough… but so be it.

Richard Ha and Senator Malama Solomon share a moment

I was glad to see our own State Senator Faye Hanohano there as she literally lives within a few miles from the place and really seemed to have a grasp on a lot of things that were being said.

Kaleikini and Senator Hanohano talk about geothermal

Click here for more information on Puna Geothermal Venture.

For further reading, see Richards post “About Geothermal Operations & Safety Concerns”

“There have been questions about general safety issues regarding geothermal. I asked Mike Kaleikini, Puna Geothermal Venture’s (PGV) Operations Manager, what safety requirements exist that PGV must comply with…. ” Ha continues on his site Ha! Ha! Ha!

Richard Ha on the Buy Out of Hawaiian Electric Industries, Inc.

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u8coPAaM_8w]

Part II:

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FNsMAXSwPb8]

Part III:

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qjMSzd287ms]

Part IV:

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KsxB5CRHsLw]

Friday, January 7th in a face to face interview with Eco Effect TV, Richard Ha confirmed that Roald Marth, Ted Peck, himself and several others are raising upwards of $2.5billion for an eco-friendly buyout of Hawaiian Electric Industries, Inc. (HEI).

Richard sat down with Charlene Brown, producer of Eco Effect TV in Hawaii, to discuss how the new electric entity would create “A Sustainable Hawaii Now.” Richard is the new Chairman of Kū’oko’a Inc., Richard said that if the community got together and buys the old utility company electric rates would drop by 25 to 30 percent right away.

Kūʻokoʻa, according the company’s website is the Hawaiian word for independence, liberty, or freedom. Richard is committed rid the State of foreign oil – and oil period. Hawaii imports 90% of its energy from as far away as Vietnam (22%), Saudi Arabia (18%), Indonesia (10%), Brunel (8%), Thailand (7%), Libya (7%), China (4%) Oman (4%), Russia 4%) Alaska (3%) and others.

Hawaiian Electric Company declined to participate in the panel discuss and provided no response to the news of a friendly buyout, or any offer on the table. Sources say the forced buyout would be as a result of failed initiatives to get Hawaii Electric to cut fossil fuel energy supply and develop more clean energy sources already available on the Hawaiian shores.

Geothermal energy is abundantly available in Hawaii but is untapped on most of the islands. The Big Island gets a significant percentage of clean energy from geothermal, but development has been stagnant for much of the past decade.

Currently, Hawaii pays $8.5billion per year to import crude oil. Transportation accounts for 62% and electricity accounts for 33%. Richard and the gang plans to take over Hawaii Electric Industry and keep that extra $8.5 billion at home, putting money back into the pockets of farmers and locals. Ha runs a 600 acre farm on the Big Island. Hamakua Springs already has plans to go off grid with geothermal energy supplied onsite the farms.
The Hawaiian Islands are warmed from live volcanic activity below the surface, creating quite a bit of steam that can be immediately converted to electricity – no coal, no oil. Richard says after buying out Hawaii Electric he will begin weaning Hawaii of milking the oil barrel in about two years.

Video produced by www.freedomriding.com

Aina Koa Pono Awarded Sustainable Biofuels Contract from Hawaiian Electric Co. and HECO’s Response

Media Release:

‘Āina Koa Pono announced today that it has been selected as the recipient of a sustainable biofuels contract from Hawaiian Electric Company. This partnership will be essential in helping Hawaii reach its clean energy goal of meeting 70 percent of its electricity and ground transportation needs from clean, renewable energy sources by 2030. ‘Āina Koa Pono – which means “for the good of the land” in Hawaiian – unveiled plans to establish a 13,000 acre Energy Farm in the Ka‘ū District of Hawai‘i Island on farm land that has been fallow for 14 years. By early 2013 the Ka‘ū Energy Farm will produce biofuels that will contribute to help increase energy independence, stabilize energy prices, help revitalize a fading agriculture industry and generate hundreds of much-needed jobs for the Ka‘ū community, which was hit hard by the economic recession.

‘Āina Koa Pono is a Hawai’i-based company co-founded by local business developers Dr. Melvin H. Chiogioji and Kenton Eldridge. The company is dedicated to the development and implementation of renewable energy solutions using innovative and proven technologies. ‘Āina Koa Pono estimates it will create a minimum of 300 construction jobs over the first two years and ultimately more than 100 permanent operation and farming jobs.

“The time has come to take a bold step toward establishing a self-sustaining energy future for our state and we are excited and honored to be selected by Hawaiian Electric Company to produce biofuels for Hawai‘i,” said Dr. Melvin H. Chiogioji. “This partnership is critical in helping Hawai‘i reduce its reliance on imported fossil fuels and expand our state’s green energy initiative.”

“We are very pleased to award this first contract as a result of our request for proposals for locally grown and processed biofuels to be used in our power plants on Hawaii Island, Oahu and in Maui County,” said Hawaiian Electric Executive Vice President Robbie Alm. “We look forward to a long and productive partnership.”

‘Āina Koa Pono will invest approximately $320 million in the Ka‘ū Energy Farm, to cover the costs of building a cutting-edge processing facility as well as planting and harvesting bio-feedstocks including sweet sorghum and eucalyptus. The Ka‘ū Energy Farm will be located on private land under long-term lease agreements with the Olson Trust and the Mallick family.

The Ka‘ū Energy Farm bio-processing plant will use the latest biomass conversion technology to transform plant matter – including unwanted invasive plant species – into usable energy products including biofuel, electricity and gasoline. ‘Āina Koa Pono is designing the plant to produce 16 million gallons of renewable biofuel. Construction of the Ka‘ū Energy Farm is scheduled to begin in the first quarter 2012, initial fuel delivery will take place by mid-2013 and the processing facility will be up to full commercial operation by the third quarter 2013.

Another goal for the Ka‘ū Energy Farm is to integrate land use for fuel and food agriculture to enhance – not harm – Hawaii’s environment. ‘Āina Koa Pono will support existing and new local food-related operations including cattle ranchers, coffee producers, macadamia nut farmers and tropical fruit producers by providing a market for and processing non-food by-products such as green waste into usable liquid fuels. In addition, ‘Āina Koa Pono will cycle bio-feedstock crops in a traditional manner to optimize land use and restore soils.

‘Āina Koa Pono’s core team is comprised of several companies experienced in designing and construction power and processing facilities including Mele Associates, Inc., Eichleay Engineers of California, Inc., Tek Gar and Bionics Fuel Technologies AG.

For more information about ‘Āina Koa Pono, visit www.ainakoapono.com.

About ‘Āina Koa Pono

‘Āina Koa Pono is a Hawai‘i-based company working to develop and implement new energy solutions to reduce the state’s reliance on fossil fuels. ‘Āina Koa Pono means “for the good of the land” in Hawaiian, the company specializes in design and construction of integrated processing facilities which will work with local businesses to produce bio-feedstocks to create energy products such as biofuel, electricity and gasoline. The ‘Āina Koa Pono team consists of several companies committed to the creation of clean, renewable energy in Hawaii, including Mele Associates, Inc., Eichleay Engineers of California, Inc., Tek Gar and Bionics Fuel Technologies AG.

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HOPujrf4Eys]

Hawaiian Electric’s Response:

Today, Hawaiian Electric Industries, Inc. (HEI) (NYSE: HE) issued the following statement in response to media inquiries regarding the potential interest of a private investor:

As a publicly traded company, we have a fiduciary obligation to our shareholders, customers and community to consider any valid proposal to purchase our company. If we receive a formal proposal, we will evaluate it, but we have nothing to date. We were contacted by Mr. Marth for the first time last night by email, but have had no discussions. As a matter of policy, HEI will not comment further on the existence or consideration of an offer in the event we receive one.

Tomorrow: Community Sign Waving Event in Support of Thirty Meter Telescope

Media Release

tmt

WHAT: Community Sign Waving Event in Support of
Thirty Meter Telescope

WHEN: Friday, June 12, 4 pm – 6 pm

WHERE: Fronting the King Kamehameha Statue at Hilo Bayfront

The community is invited to come and rally support for the Thirty Meter
Telescope this Friday as the proposed $1.2 billion Thirty Meter Telescope Project prepares to present its Draft Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) to the island wide audience next week.

Community supporters will have TMT Yes! buttons, signs and t-shirts on hand for sign waving supporters.

We are encouraging our Big Island ohana to come out and support this
once-in-a-generation opportunity to show that our island is united in its support of the Thirty Meter Telescope. Bring the entire family.

Richard Ha’s Hamakua Springs Farm is supplying the first 150 supporters with a clamshell of grape tomatoes.

For further information contact Laura Aquino at Current Events (808)
326-7820.

Free Tomatoes and Sign Wave for the CMP this Monday

tomatoes

…Richard Ha is encouraging others – including you – to meet them (the State Land Board) by the Kamehameha Statue at the Hilo Bayfront between 4 and 6 p.m. on Monday, April 6th. He’s even providing a pint of his Hamakua Springs grape tomatoes to each of the first 150 people who arrive (limit one per family)….

More Here

Take Care of Mauna Kea Folks! Land Board Meeting Coming Up

Richard Ha brings attention to the Comprehensive Management Plan once again and reminds folks that the Land Board Meeting will be held on April 7th, 8th and 9th at the Hilo Hawaiian Hotel.

For some very disturbing pictures of what is happening up there, I urge you to check out Ha! Ha! Ha! for his blog today on some of the desecration that is happening up there and some reasons to attend this meeting.

Spray-painted graffiti at adze quarry

Spray-painted graffiti at adze quarry

Richard Ha Goes National… And a Few Rebroadcasts From the Past

Big Island farmer Richard Ha, of Hamakua Farms, is going to be on the season opener for PBS’s national show  “Gourmet’s Diary of a Foodie” which will be aired Saturday, February 7th, at noon on PBS Hawaii.

Leslie Wilcox reminds us that tonight, Richard will be on a re-broadcast of Hawaii’s Long Story Short w/ Leslie Wilcox tonight at 11:00 pm as well as on Sunday, February 8th at 4:00 pm on PBS Hawaii.

…Richard Ha isn’t your average farmer. He’s been called a visionary farmer. An innovative small business owner, Ha offers his employees profit sharing, has found a way to generate electricity on his property outside of Hilo, initiated an adopt-a-class program at Keaukaha Elementary School, advocates native Hawaiian practices of ahupua‘a and writes a blog on his website

For more on Gourmet’s Diary of a Foodie, click here.

You may have seen this commercial on TV before:

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j_tngClYO4s&hl=en&fs=1]