Tuesday, July 28, 2015

U. of HI Faculty Distances itself from Monsanto...Wham BAM!

UHM faculty condemn academic freedom violations

The university's College of Tropical Agriculture and Human Resources has restricted and violated one of it's own professor's academic freedom, and a group of his professional colleagues are speaking out against his mistreatment. Sixty faculty members at the University of Hawaii at Manoa have signed a letter sent to Manoa Chancellor
Robert Bley-Vroman, the vice-chancellor for academic affairs, and Maria Gallo, Dean of the university’s College of Tropical Agriculture and Human Resources (CTAHR) asking that the university acknowledge the restrictions and violations of academic freedom imposed on CTAHR Professor Hector Valenzuela.

For years now, the college has been accepting money from agrochemical companies such as Monsanto while simultaneously advocating for a style of agriculture that is dependent on the products created by these companies, namely Genetically Modified Organisms that can withstand the use of the companies’ lucrative pesticides. Dr. Valenzuela’s field of expertise involves discovering ways in which crops can thrive in our climate without the use of the GMO-pesticide model of agriculture. The 20+ year CTAHR veteran spent six years in the early ‘90s developing the first long-term organic farming research project in Hawaii and the Pacific region. But around 1998, when Monsanto money began entering the equation, his research plot was shut down by the college. Over the next 15 years, Valenzuela tolerated what he calls a climate of “bigotry, retaliation and hostility” in retaliation for his failure to tow the dominant CTAHR line (documented in Paul Koberstein’s article “The Silencing of Hector Valenzuela,” published here). The university denies his accusations.

...2) “The role of CTAHR as a land-grant institution is to assist all members and sectors of Hawai‘i’s food and agricultural system to reach their full potential in an environmentally and socially compatible way.”

Increasingly, large areas of agricultural land, representing over 70% of the area devoted to the production of diversified and edible crops in Hawai’i, have been acquired through lease or purchase by five large seed-and-pesticide corporations (Monsanto, Syngenta, Dow Chemical, BASF and DuPont-Pioneer) that have come to Hawai‘i over the last five decades. Their purpose was not to improve or increase Hawai‘i’s food production but rather to exploit Hawai‘i’s ideal soil and climate conditions in order to grow and test genetically-engineered and pesticide-resistant seeds for export to other areas worldwide. It is surely questionable whether, in terms of a land-grant institution’s mission, such corporations should even be treated as members of “Hawai‘i’s food and agricultural system” at all. Yet CTAHR does not merely regard them as an indispensable part of “diversified agriculture”, it gives the appearance of favoring them over other branches, and has provided its full support, in articles, workshops, and outreach programs, to the various activities of these corporations. Time and energy used in such ways have inevitably detracted from time and energy that could have been spent in support of Hawai‘i’s food producers.

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