'It's a rebellion of sorts'
Organic corn 'outbreak' reported
by Rachel Gehrlein - THE GARDEN ISLAND
In an attempt to make a statement about genetically modified corn on Kaua'i, a loose conglomeration of community members has started to distribute organic corn seeds and corn seedlings island-wide.
According to Lauren Shaw-Meek, a manager at Vim & Vigor in Lihu'e, the idea of the organic corn "outbreak" is to bring attention to what the group sees as the perils of GMO corn. By poking fun at the possibility of an organic corn "outbreak" the message is a little lighter and may reach a wider audience.
"It's a rebellion of sorts," Shaw-Meek said.
The idea that the organic corn can cross-pollinate with GMO corn puts those at risk who do not want to eat the GMO corn, Shaw-Meek added.
"The GMO companies do open-air testing with pesticides and herbicides," Westside resident Diana LaBedz said. "The ground becomes sterile, destroying the land for future generations."
LaBedz, a member of the Kaua'i chapter of the Surfrider Foundation, said she is participating in the corn outbreak to help educate people on what is going on around the world on the GMO front.
"World citizens have lost the right to know if corn bought to feed families has been chemically modified (contains the pesticide in the corn)," LaBedz said in a e-mail. "There is a concern that our corn will be contaminated by the GMO crops that pepper Kaua'i island, next to schools, rivers and in our neighborhoods. Kaua'i's citizens reject the philosophy that we must poison our environment and use the radical genetic engineering of plants and animals to produce enough food for everyone."
Because of this belief, organic seeds, plants and even organic popcorn have been given out around .
During 's movie night at Small Town Coffee in Kapa'a, organic popcorn was handed out to moviegoers. The Storybook Theatre in Hanapepe plans to distribute the organic popcorn during their family movie night .
Free organic corn seeds were given out at the Lotus Root in Kapa'a, Farsyde Tattoo in Hanapepe, Koloa Natural Foods, Papaya's in Kapa'a and Vim & Vigor in Lihu'e.
Shaw-Meek said the free organic corn seeds "went like hotcakes" at Vim & Vigor.
"They went over amazingly well," Shaw-Meek said. "I'm not surprised the seeds flew out of here because people are excited about the planting season."
According to LaBedz, most locations are already "sold out" of seeds.
"We have more seeds, we just need to distribute them," she said.
Agreeing that the group is within its rights to express its message, one research scientist would like to work with them. According to Sarah Styan, a research scientist with Pioneer Seeds and president of the Hawai'i Crop Improvement Association, farmers around the world are demanding biotec agriculture.
"The whole basis of our business is selling seeds of genetic purity and maintaining the genetic integrity of agriculture," Styan said. "And just like any business, we are getting product out as fast as possible."
Styan added that all types of agriculture, including organic, biotec and conventional, are needed to maintain sustainability.
"We need everybody working together," Styan said. "If we work together, we can make agriculture stronger and improve sustainability."
LaBedz said Kaua'i can't be sustainable with GMO crops.
"If you can't protect your air, water and land we can't be sustainable," LaBedz said. "What they (GMO companies) are doing is permanent. We can't roll back and undo it."
• Rachel Gehrlein, staff writer, can be reached at 245-3681 (ext. 225) or firstname.lastname@example.org.