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Moloka'i The Friendly Isle

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Unread 07-17-2014, 04:45 PM   #1
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Default GMOs vs. Livelihoods

Molokai Has the Most to Lose, but Least to Say in GMO Debate

Please read.

The people of Molokai are the highest percentage of Native Hawaiian and mixed Hawaiian population in the state.

They have the highest unemployment rate in the state.

Countless times, primary employers, for various reasons, close up shop and displace dozens of workers (usually over 100, which is huge considering their population of 8000.) Del Monte, Libby McNeill, Sheraton Hotels, Pau Hana Inn, Jefts Farms, Molokai Ranch, all closed and put many out of work.

Yet, despite all this, many Molokai people figure how to survive. They go back to classes at UH/Maui CC and get degrees which open doors, even on Molokai (most job vacancies there are college degree needed). Many commute to Maui by ferry and work at the hotels in Lahaina, leaving at 5 in the morning and coming home at 7 at night. Many have taken SBA classes to learn about opening small cottage businesses and carve out a living and provide a small service to their communities. And only a small handful stay on 100 percent government assistance because they cannot seem to find work.

My friends have to close one of their three businesses end of next month. They gave it their best shot to provide a really unique and convenient service (a Costco-style general store) just wouldn't hold up without posting huge losses and they sadly have to shut down. Their other two businesses, Molokai's only pharmacy and an ice cream shop, will remain open and employ many who can then support families.

Also, Molokai folks are resilient. They harvest the ocean and land in the same way their predecessors did many years ago--the equipment has been modernized and make it much easier, but the conservation practices and stewardship of what they have hasn't changed-- and they make the best they can with what little they have.

But another flashpoint is upon them. When I lived on Molokai those employers were known as Hawaiian Research, and Mycogen. They employ a lot of folks, being that much of what they need is field labor and maintenance, which many from the pineapple industry learned and developed work ethic, and now many of their children continue the practice, just different employer.

BUT we're now talking about a problem that is a worldwide concern; the use of genetically modified organisms and their "spillover" effect on the environment and ecology of Molokai. Many of the fields used by Monsanto and Dow Agriscience are using and deploying GMOs not far from the homestead lots that families grow food or raise livestock on...GMOs have become a world wide problem that is being addressed right now.

But, as the article reads, the business models of both companies have leaned heavily on GMO research and development using Molokai as it's petri dish. To ban GMOs would most likely mean that the companies would do just as GuocoLeisure (the folks who own Molokai Ranch) did; shutter everything and leave it fallow...and lay everyone off. If they can't have it their way, no one can.

We shall see. I sometimes wish I could go back and do something to help a few families help others. My cousin has a business there that is currently running very "low impact" (compared to how he had it set 10-15 years ago). It's a specialty business that has been very good to him. I wonder if he'd think about cranking it up again...but he also needs to eat and not put himself into a financial hole either. Hmm.

How do you feel about GMO research being done on our rural areas. Honolulu and Leeward people are getting more blind to this as the whole Leeward area is being transformed from agriculture to development of residences and cities...No more sugar cane or pineapple, now it's all subdivisions and shopping malls.

God bless Molokai.
"Sometimes the questions are complicated and the answers are simple."; Dr. Seuss
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