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Fast Eddie's Last Stand
  • July 18, 2013 : 23:07
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“That farm” is the Kunia research farm, which sits just opposite the volcanic mountain range from the North Shore, halfway up a small, shack-lined road. It is unassuming from the outside. A man wearing a Jurassic Park-looking uniform lets me in through the gate, and I am introduced to two scientist-farmers who take me on a tour of the property. The farm is virtually all corn and soybean, and as we drive for hours they point out the sustainability of the operation: the terraces, the drip irrigation. They show me an area that has been donated to small-scale local farmers who grow produce there, some of it organic, to sell at farmers’ markets. It’s not a nightmare factory out of The X Files. It is the picture of American ingenuity, but American ingenuity is not the Hawaiian dream.

When I raise the protesters’ concerns about cross-pollination destroying native species, Monsanto representatives point out that corn doesn’t cross-pollinate with anything on the islands and has no relatives here, so there’s no danger. Even if cross­pollination isn’t a worry, pesticide runoff still plagues Hawaii. Oahu has its pineapple and sugarcane ghosts. Researchers from Stanford, the University of California and the University of Hawaii have reported on pesticides in the groundwater and fragile reefs damaged by pesticide runoff after decades of largely unregulated rule by big agricultural interests on the island.

But that’s not Monsanto’s past here in Hawaii, and the company claims to be dedicated to custodianship of the land. The company tells me it pulls up and recycles truckloads of plastic from old pineapple fields. But in many Hawaiian eyes—in Rothman’s eyes—there is no difference between the past and the present, which directly affects Hawaiian protesters’ feelings regarding science. Hawaiians were told in the past that the pesticides used on pineapples were good and that DDT spraying to control mosquitoes was good. They, even more than the mainland America population, are loath to believe the science is sound. Critics such as Michael Hansen, senior staff scientist for Consumer Reports, help feed the perception that GMOs are poison. He says, “We now have allergy problems from genetic modification, or adverse effects on bone marrow, liver, kidney and reproductive systems. There have been animal studies, but they need to be followed up on. There is just no control.”

GMO proponents scoff at the lack of scientific rigor on the other side. After I leave the farm I speak with Alison Van Eenennaam, a specialist in animal genomics and biotechnology in the Department of Animal Science at the University of California, Davis. She says, “As a scientist, I don’t just get to have a bad feeling about something. There have been 15 years of research, more than 400 scientific studies, and we’ve eaten more than 3 trillion meals. The jury is absolutely in. The overwhelming bulk of the data says there is nothing biologically different in genetically modified food. We eat it. We digest it. It breaks down. It turns into us. In fact, it is a criminal injustice for us not to feed the world with these products, especially in countries where people are dying of starvation instead of obesity. It is morally bankrupt.”

But if there’s anything Rothman doesn’t lack, it is moral outrage. He’s outraged at a company that has essentially patented nature for profit. He’s outraged at technology that has given rise to Roundup­resistant weeds that have forced farmers across the country to revert to using more toxic chemicals to protect their crops. Rothman’s distrust is a portion of America’s writ large. For a citizen, the first step toward truth often begins with “just getting to have a bad feeling about something.” And Rothman’s bad feeling is about yet another threat to his vision of the Hawaiian dream. It is about defending his version of the pastel-postcard Miltonian paradise. Oahu is still an island in the middle of the ocean. It still has coconut-scented winds and waves so big and ideal that none have ever been found bigger or better. And he wants to keep it pure. And this dream, even if never true, dies hard.

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read more: News, politics, business, issue july 2013

11 comments

  • Right Foot Forward
    Right Foot Forward
    And if you had any doubt, here's the court record for Fast Eddie's offsider, Kala Alexander ...5PC90-0-000002 STATE OF HAWAII V KALA JOHN ALEXANDER /Robbery 2/ Jail /$2000 bond5PC93-0-000020 STATE OF HAWAII V KALA JOHN ALEXANDER /Assault 2nd 3rd/ Extortion 1st, 2nd & 3rd/ Jail /$4500 restitution5CC93-0-000346 LINDA DEROHAN ET AL V REBECCA WILLIAMS ET AL [ET AL means 'amongst others'] Looks like an Estate/Inheritance issue [He's non-criminal here]5CC93-0-000346 LINDA DEROHAN ET AL V REBECCA WILLIAMS ET AL /Same5DA96-0-000072 KALA JOHN ALEXANDER VS NICOLE CARTER /Temp restraining order [Don't know what's happening here. Has he been ***** whipped?]5DA96-0-000090 OWEN CARTER VS KALA JOHN ALEXANDER /Temp restraining order5FC98-0-000212 STATE OF HAWAII V KALA ALEXANDER /Family abuse /Arraignment/ Contempt /$1250 bond5FC92-0-000096 STATE OF HAWAII V KALA ALEXANDER /Family abuse / Jail5FC99-0-000078 STATE OF HAWAII V KALA ALEXANDER /Criminal contempt /Bail summons5DA00-1-000082 NICOLE ALEXANDER V KALA ALEXANDER /Petition for temp restraining order5DA00-1-000106 NICOLE ALEXANDER V KALA JOHN ALEXANDER /As above (?) maybe to remove it1FC00-1-002883 STATE OF HAWAII V KALA JOHN ALEXANDER /Harrassment /Protection order/ About $3000 bail1FC01-1-001112 STATE OF HAWAII V KALA ALEXANDER /Harrassment /Protection order5FC01-1-000063 STATE OF HAWAII V KALA ALEXANDER /Abuse family /Protection order5PC01-1-000202 STATE OF HAWAII V KALA J. ALEXANDER /Terror threat /Harrassment /Jail5PC01-1-000205 STATE OF HAWAII V KALA ALEXANDER /Terror threat 2nd /Harrassment /$975 fine5PCCO-1-000206 STATE OF HAWAII V KALA ALEXANDER /Terror threat /Harrassment /Jail /$975 fine5PC01-1-000207 STATE OF HAWAII V KALA ALEXANDER /Criminal property damage1FC01-1-003009 STATE OF HAWAII V KALA ALEXANDER /Family abuse /$5000 bail1FC01-1-003010 STATE OF HAWAII V KALA ALEXANDER /Family abuse1FC02-1-001005 STATE OF HAWAII V KALA ALEXANDER /Family abuse1FC02-1-001426 STATE OF HAWAII V KALA ALEXANDER /Family abuse1RC03-1-001490 STERMAN REALTY ET AL VS KALA ALEXANDER /Summary possession Tenant damages5DV03-1-000145 NICOLE ALEXANDER V KALA ALEXANDER /Divorce, child support etc. [At least theres a happy ending]
  • hectorthecorrector
    hectorthecorrector
    monsanto is terrible and should be erradicatedbut what about quiksilver, billabong, hurley, volcomthey aren't doing any favors either
  • fred
    fred
    You have got to be kidding. quiksilver, billabong, hurley, volcom are paying the bills for Mr Edward Rothman's family and Kala Alexander.
  • aina
    aina
    Great story. If Fast Eddie can turn around then so can the rest of the world.
  • Right Foot Forward
    Right Foot Forward
    Wow, some irony here. Hats off to the author for the faux-dramatic intro cunningly crafted to publicise his upcoming book. Presumably he got paid for the privilege too.But what of the article? Anyone who's followed the court records in Hawaii will be well familiar with the allegations and convictions linking Mr Rothman and his 'Wolfpak' to drug running on the islands. They've controlled the trade for decades -- a cancer that has emaciated the proud Hawaiian islands. Speak to any local about the drug scourge and the impact Fast Eddie has had on it. Goes all the way back to the 80s.Example: http://www.wabaseball.com.au/w...So a guy who's been embedded in the drug trade for decades rallying against the impact of Monsanto's poison on the islands? Ah, the irony is as bitter as the dab of high-grade coke on the tip of a dealer's tongue. Turns out there's a bigger dealer ripping at the fabric of "your" town now Fast Ed.I'm not saying this isn't a massive issue. To the contrary -- and congrats on Playboy for airing it. And the historical context was fantastic. But Eddie Rothman as the poster boy for this camnpaign??? C'mon guys, cheap angle. And it really discredits the great work that people on the islands are doing with this campaign to make a convicted drug dealer and standover man the face of this fight.[... Awesome axe-weilding image notwithstanding. Wowers, what photo editor could resist that metaphor?]
  • Darren McKinney
    Darren McKinney
    The “bad feeling” that foul-mouthed Hawaiian thug Eddie Rothman gets about Monsanto’s state-of-the-art bio-science facilities near his home seems as thoughtful and well-founded as the bad feeling that backward Muslim radicals get about little girls going to school [“Fast Eddie’s Last Stand,” July-August]. The only difference is that the barbarians who throw acid in the faces of schoolgirls in Pakistan are inspired by insecure and increasingly irrelevant imams, whereas the Hawaiian Luddites who use the f-word in every sentence are being manipulated by well-financed personal injury lawyers and the organic food industry in advance of lawsuits now being prepared. After all, there’s no better place than paradise when it comes to cultivating crops of ignorant and impressionable jurors ripe for future harvest.
  • noshoreperson
    noshoreperson
    So stupid celebrating violence. What a stupid embarrassing article. Fast Eddie is an old thug.
  • Cindy Trautmeyer
    Cindy Trautmeyer
    The more the GMO corporations suppress the consumer demanded labeling, the more irrational the people will get. They refuse to educate the public about the benefits of GMO technology and base their marketing purely on lobbying politicians. That is more than short sighted as labeling will come sooner or later. But the later it comes, the more resentment will have built up and biotech will be put to history. No, consumers don't read studies but react with fear to the unknown. And there's a wide open playing field for scaremongers and rumors. Once promising biotech is being sacrificed on the altar of corporatism. Sponsored scientists are being pitted against political activists. Lobbied politicians deal with confused voters and refuse to regulate. Academic freedom is being lost at the increasingly GMO sponsored universities and the legal staff at our governmental institutions are exchanging jobs with GMO lawyers. All that doesn't make GMO gourmet food, but causes gag reflexes.
  • FastViber
    FastViber
    F it then. Le the Hawaiian Nation adopt gambling and of course legalize marijuana. Sad to see the islands go down like this. There truly is and seems to be the end of paradise. BVB - The Last of the Golden Generation. Amen.
  • tequilaman
    tequilaman
    Please elaborate on your pointing out that Quicksilver et all, arent doing any favors either......
  • Anonymous
    Anonymous
    I think the author needs to read the Plant Patent Act of 1930. We've been patenting seed since long before there were GMOs.
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