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News, updates, finds, and stories from staff and community members at KAHEA.

News, updates, finds, stories, and tidbits from staff and community members at KAHEA. Got something to share? Email us at: kahea-alliance@hawaii.rr.com.

6,000 & growing...

from Marti:

6,000 people testify in support of GMO-free taro
The morning began with a procession of Kanaka carrying taro plants and chanting Oli in honor of Haloanakalaukapalili accompanied by a 1 1/2 foot tall stack of testimony from people all across Hawaii in support of protecting taro from genetic modification and patenting. This is the testimony of 6,000 farmers, scientists, keiki, kupuna, Hawaiians, Haoles, poi-lovers, poi-makers…. And the list continues to grow – testimony is still being emailed to the Committee, people are still signing up to speak. And the hearing will likely continue through the evening …

Here is a letter that was published today in the Honolulu Advertiser (one of the few so far):

GENETIC MODIFICATION

CHANGING KALO ERODES HAWAIIANS’ LIFELINE
My mother used to serenade me with songs about exotic places. Travelogues of oceans, forests and island sweethearts. This is how she passed on knowledge. Songs reflecting simpler times and storytellers of the past. Our people were more disconnected than ever. Being Hawaiian was not popular. So to sing her aloha was her moment of self determination.

Her spiritual integrity impressed upon me indigenous ways of knowing. “Leave that popolo berry! It wants to grow there.”

If someone was to have told her she could no longer share limu among her classmates without a permit she would have sighed, “That’s why we going die out.” But she would respectfully accept it. She felt people saw her particular relationship with the ‘aina as peculiar.

Replanting kalo is the living lifeline that holds the stories of our past. Changing the genetic makeup of kalo will erode that lifeline.

Hawaiians are now re-establishing their priorities in maoli culture. A moratorium on varieties of maoli kalo and introduced kalo as specified in SB 958 is needed for more reasons than just keeping steroid-like pumped up food off our tables.

It’s needed so we can pass on to our keiki more than just “stones.” We can pass on the story of Haloa.

-Meala Bishop
Waiahole kalo farmer, Kane’ohe

To submit testimony on the protection of taro, click here.


what needs to be changed

The KAHEA office has been abuzz all weekend–the fax machine on overdrive–as staff and volunteers plowed through the task of organizing and compiling thousands of letters of testimony in support of a 10-year moratorium on genetic modification of kalo (taro).

Mahalo to everyone who has lent their voice in support of Hawai`i’s traditional farmers! As Bryna likes to point out: “Without the right to protect our traditional food resources what will remain of our culture or our rights?”

From Bryna:

The shared kuleana to save kalo and traditional farming is not only historical or cultural–it is a political imperative for Hawaii’s survival on this rapidly changing planet.

Thousands of letters of personal testimony, expert opinions and petitions for protection speak to the importance of pure kalo and traditional farming techniques for Hawaii. This is a truly pono moment in the history of humanity- thousands and thousands of people of all backgrounds are joining together to protect a plant species from irreversible genetic modification- and honoring an ancient ancestor and endangered Hawaiian lifestyle.

kalo-loi_ka-leo.jpg

The message from the people is simple and clear: Haloa is family, Kalo is life, being in the Lo`i is living! It is not appropriate, necessary nor acceptable to engineer kalo into a genetically modified organism. The observation of the kalo farmers is profound: the kalo plant is not what needs to be changed.

Ka Leo Covers Support for GMO Kalo Moratorium

Posted by kahea at Mar 17, 2008 04:38 PM |

kalo-plant_ka-leo.jpg

From today’s Ka Leo:

“We would like a total ban, but that’s not being responsible. This is a cooling off period,” said Jerry Konanui, a Native Hawaiian kalo farmer whose family has grown the plant in the Puna district of Hawai‘i for the past eight generations.

“The message from the people is simple: Hāloa is family, kalo is life, being in the lo‘i is living,” said Bryna Storch of KAHEA, a Hawaiian cultural and environmental advocacy group that organized the testimonies in support of the measure. “It is not appropriate, necessary nor acceptable to engineer kalo into a genetically modified organism.”

Genetic engineering, the process of inserting genes from one species into another resulting in the creation of GMOs, has been conducted in Hawai‘i for over a decade. Statistically, over 2,000 field tests of genetically engineered crops have been coordinated in the islands thus far, making Hawai‘i the most genetically tested agricultural region in the world, according to Earthjustice, an environmental advocacy group.

See the full article.


Contemplating the Future of Hawaii Agriculture

Posted by kahea at Mar 11, 2008 10:45 PM |

At staff meeting yesterday, we threw out this idea:  How amazing would it be if “grown in Hawaii” was known world-wide to mean “organic and GMO free”?

As the most remote archipelago in the world–we are at the crossroads of the future of agriculture. We can either choose to become a haven for pure, high-quality, high-value organic and GMO-free food, or an isolated testing ground for corporate biotech to try out their genetically modified pharmaceutical and mcfood crops. What’s it going to be?

To remain silent on this issue, is the same thing as choosing. Unless we raise our hand to say “NO”, the future for Hawaii IS unrestricted, unmitigated, unlimited biotech. From last year’s Star Bulletin:

Pineapple will give way to biotech seed crops in Kunia as Monsanto Co. expands its acreage in the state by purchasing lands once tended by Del Monte Fresh Produce Hawaii.

Monsanto has entered an agreement to acquire 2,300 acres of agriculture-zoned land from the James Campbell Co.

See full article at:  http://starbulletin.com/2007/04/05/news/story02.html


Spreading the Word

Posted by kahea at Mar 10, 2008 11:34 PM |

Video posted by ViralKauai already has over 800 views by our count. You can support SB958–Learn more and hear the call to action. Send in your testimony, attend the hearing. Spread the word.

“If we get a hearing, then all of you need to come back again to that building. It’s not a one-shot deal. We need to come back again to that building when they vote in the committee!”

WEDNESDAY MARCH 19th, 8:30 am, till about 12:30
(Last committee hearing for this bill, House Agricultural Committee.)

Learn more and submit testimony at: www.kahea.org/gmo


Kalo Farmers' Call to Action - Hearing for SB958

From our friends at Na Kahu O Haloa:Malama Ohana - NO GMO KALO by Solomon Enos

Aloha to all who love Taro and honor Haloa! He keiki aloha na mea kanu. Beloved children are the plants.

Mahalo to everyone who has come out to support Hawai‘i’s traditional farmers! Your strong support & efforts scored a Hearing for SB958 – 10 Year Moratorium on Genetically Modified & Patented Taro! Mahalo piha!

WEDNESDAY MARCH 19th, 8:30 am, till about 12:30
This is the last committee hearing for this bill, House Agricultural Committee. (If it passes unamended it will then go to the House floor for the 3rd reading.)

Come support kalo at this historic event, your presence is Haloa’s blessing! Please spread the word! That day is also Hawaiian Caucus Day at the Capitol, hosted by Rep. Mele Carroll, from 10am-4pm- featuring a variety of cultural activities, speakers and performances.*

In the meantime we all have the hard work of convincing the politicians to PASS the bill without inappropriate changes. Hawai‘i’s farmers, our unique ecosystem… and Haloa need your help to make this happen. So, please take a few moments to:

SEND YOUR LETTER OF TESTIMONY! write now!
Let there be no doubt that Hawaii wants to protect kalo from genetic modification! We have gotten lots of statements of support from taro farmers throughout the islands, but the decision-makers need to hear from all of us. Don’t be shy, every letter is important!

*TESTIMONY LETTERS NEEDED BY Thursday, MARCH 13th!*

Four Easy Ways to Submit Testimony:

(1) email it to: *NaKahuOHaloa@gmail.com** And if can, use your *letterhead* and attach it to the email as a PDF or doc.

A “two-fer”: When emailing your letter, you can also send it as a letter to the editor, by copying these emails into the “CC” address line when you send us your letter:
letters@honoluluadvertiser.com
letters@starbulletin.com

(2) visit www.KAHEA.org/gmo to submit testimony via our virtual testimony table.

(3) mail your testimony to KAHEA (Attn: Kalo) at
P.O. Box 270112
Honolulu, Hawaii 96827

(4) Fax it to: 1-888-528-6288 (yes, thats 888 not 808 – it’s toll free!!)

Organic taro lo’i on Oahu… hanahauoli!

VOLUNTEERS
We need volunteers of all ages during these days leading up to the hearing! There are many ways to help Haloa. Formal volunteer internships may be available too! Please contact us if interested! NaKahuOHaloa@gmail.com.

CRUCIAL CALLS TO ELECTED OFFICIALS
Polite persistent phone calls are CRUCIAL to get support of politicians! Please call/fax/email the House Agricultural Committee and ask for support of SB958- a 10 Year Moratorium on Genetic Modification of all varieties of Taro.
Attached is a print out of Ag Committee phone numbers & talking points to pass out to everyone you know. Calls can be repeated everyday, polite persistence pays!

EDUCATIONAL MATERIALS & SPEAKERS
We have a wide variety of educational materials, including films, available to any who are interested. Expert speakers will also volunteer to visit your group to discuss this issue. Contact NaKahuOHaloa@gmail.com.

We hope these resources may be of help to you. Let us know how else we can help you and your community to speak up for Haloa!

planting and empowering

Posted by kahea at Mar 07, 2008 07:30 AM |

From Bryna + Marti:

At the start of the 2008 legislative session, more than 500 people joined Na Kahu o Haloa and Hawai’i's traditional farmers at a three-day camp across from the State Capitol, on the grounds of ‘Iolani Palace. There they gathered to learn and educate others about taro, the traditional food and ancestor of the Hawaiian people–HALOA the KALO–and call for an end to genetic modification and patenting of this Hawaiian resource. (*note: for non-speakers, taro is the english word for kalo.)

ka-lahui.jpg

This year, traditional farmers from all over the islands are calling upon the Hawaii state government to enact a law that would place a 10-year moratorium on the genetic modification and patenting of kalo (taro).

Genetically modified kalo can cross-pollinate with native kalo varieties and the unknown longterm and potentially dangerous effects to the species, our environment and our local agriculture business can be irreversibly permanent. There is no complete research to understand what long term threats to human health may come from eating genetically modified kalo. Genetic modification is an imprecise and short-sighted attempt at a solution to stresses that Hawaiian kalo agriculture faces when clean abundant water is no longer made available to farms. Hawaiians have been successfully breeding and farming many varieties of kalo for thousands of years- time & experience have proven that species diversity & access to clean water is what is needed for a sustainable agriculture industry that can feed our islands.

Genetically modifying and patenting kalo is also culturally inappropriate because kalo is both a fundamental and sacred food source to Hawaiians, who understand that their shared ancestry began with Haloa the Kalo. Haloa the Kalo was the first kalo plant born from the ancient gods and became food for his younger brother, Haloa the Human- child of the same gods and the first human ancestor of Hawaiians. Haloa the Human was given the kuleana (responsibility) to take care of his older brother, Haloa the Kalo, who would in turn provide food for all humans. It must be understood: Kalo is not only a staple food source for people in Hawai’i, Kalo is also a member of our family, Kalo is our Kupuna!

clift.jpg

Since those amazing three-days in January, I have had the privilege to work with amazing farmers and community members from all around the islands. I have collected and read hundreds of letters of testimony in support of protecting kalo (taro) in Hawaii. Each time I read the words being offered, I have to take a moment for appreciate their makana for Haloa. It has been so heartwarming to see so many coming forward with such labors of pure love.

keiki-kalo-testimony-crop.jpg

Despite heavy pressure from the USA, Genetically Modified food is widely rejected in Japan & Europe. Many areas have made GMOs illegal, as they have come to understand the environmental & economic threats that GMOs pose to traditional foods & agricultural sustainability, as well as human health. Hawai’i can be a world leader–embracing appropriate agricultural research & pono policy that sustains healthy islands, culture, as well as productive participation in the international agricultural community.

(Photo Credits: Photo 1 – Trevor Atkins, Photo 2 – Trevor Atkins, Photo 3 – drawing by Mackenzie (2nd grade)).


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