A Good Day for Agriculture in Hawaii

All in one day, there was a trifecta of good news for agriculture in Hawaii. Let’s hope there is more to come. Farming on Kauai will not require an environmental assessment or impact statement. Despite the efforts of those wanting to keep agriculture in the Victorian era, Judge Randal Valenciano didn’t buy the argument that production […]

Update on Why Pesticides

In the last post I showed several examples of why pesticides are used in Hawaii’s agriculture. At our nursery (in Kula, Maui) we just found another good example – the Croton caterpillar (Achaea janata)  which is was eating its way through the mango blossoms, and just about everything else in its path, including Ohia, Maile […]

The Greatest Risk of Pesticides in Hawaii is Not to Use Them

The 2017 session of the Hawaii state legislature saw at least 17 bills introduced that deal with pesticide regulation, with many going far beyond what is federally mandated by the EPA. A majority of the proposed legislation claims that these restrictive measures are necessary because of perceived harm to the public or the environment, though […]

Podcast with Michael Specter on rewriting the code of life

“How can you not be excited about the possibility of getting rid of the worst scourges of humanity?” In a  remarkable podcast on National Public Radio, Michael Specter is interviewed about his recent article in the New Yorker, Rewriting the Code of Life.  His discussion of the gene editing tool CRISPR and gene drives is […]

Mayor scolded for suggesting citizens educate themselves before making important decisions

Maui County Mayor Alan Arakawa recently addressed the ruling by the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals that invalidated the GMO-moratorium that was passed by a slim margin of county voters in November of 2014. He questioned whether the SHAKA group that authored the initiative received competent legal advice, given the fairly obvious and numerous […]

Fear based restrictions on agriculture dismissed by US District Appeals Court

The anti-GMO and pesticide measures that emerged over the past two years in Kauai, Maui and Hawaii counties are now a perfect zero for six in federal courts. Who said you couldn’t find a good bagel in Hawaii? In agreement with earlier US District Court rulings, the Appeals Court found that modern plant varieties and […]

The Future of Agriculture from The Economist

The British agronomist Jethro Tull invented the seed drill, the horse drawn hoe, and an improved plow. These are now recognized as major technological improvements that helped modernize agriculture in the 18th century, though it took over a century for fierce early resistance to fade away. Some 300 years on from his contributions, agriculture has continued […]

The Baloney Detection Kit

Carl Sagan was a pioneering astronomer at Cornell University and a uniquely talented science communicator, probably best known for the original Cosmos television series which he co-wrote and first presented in 1980. He was also a wonderful writer who shared with readers the joys of discovering and understanding how the world and universe around us […]

Sense about Chemicals

The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals will hold hearings next week in Honolulu on three cases related to attempts by Kauai, Maui and Hawaii counties to further regulate or ban farming with genetically engineered crops. The ordinance from Kauai and the initiative from Maui were as much about the fear of pesticides as they […]

The Natural Pesticides in Plants

Being immobile and mostly lacking in physical armor to ward off threats, plants – including our food crops – have evolved some serious chemical warfare to fight back against all manner of hungry microbes, insects and animals. Over their 500 million year evolution, plants have accumulated an impressive array of natural pesticides which share similar […]

Potential for GE Mosquitoes to Help Preserve Hawaii’s Native Birds

The potential for genetically engineered mosquitoes to help control diseases has highlighted efforts targeted at Dengue fever and the Zika virus, transmitted to humans. This new report discusses the potential for controlling avian malaria transmitted to Hawaii’s native birds to help prevent their extinction. The application of modern genetic techniques should definitely be examined for […]

Natural GMOs here, there and everywhere

Besides our DNA being the result of billions of years of modification of our ancestral lineage, we also have ‘foreign’ DNA that came from insertion through horizontal gene transfer (HGT).  And so do a lot of other animals and creatures. A couple of years ago, the finding that a quarter of the cow genome came […]

Facts about Pesticides on Kauai – Good and Boring

The joint fact finding group looking for evidence of harmful effects from pesticides used by large farms on Kauai gave a presentation in Lihue on Monday evening, which drew a sparse-to-moderate attendance and was a very mild affair. Perhaps this was because the facts had already been published in their draft report, and the finding […]

Four Billion Years of Genetically Modified Organisms

 “There is grandeur in this view of life, with its several powers, having been originally breathed into a few forms or into one; and that whilst this planet has gone cycling on according to the fixed law of gravity, from so simple a beginning endless forms most beautiful and most wonderful have been, and are […]

Why Do Farmers Use Genetically Modified Crops?

From reading popular media, you could quickly come to the conclusion that the main supporters of genetically modified (GM) crops are the seed companies and most scientists. Shouldn’t we ask farmers who actually grow the crops why they use them? For most of us, our closest farm experience is the grocery store. However, there are […]