“40 Things Every Local Must Do,” October 2005
HONOLULU’s cover story last month.

Good list, but for bumperstickers, I would have included “SHOPO Supporter” and “New York Paris London Waimanalo.”

Chad Blair, Honolulu

“Head’s Up,” October 2005

I found the listing for Yom Kippur in your “Head’s Up” column to be offensive, insensitive and highly prejudiced. If a Catholic takes off from work to attend Mass on a state holiday such as Good Friday, is that “skipping” work? When Christians celebrate Christmas with their families, go to church or stay at home, are they “skipping” work when almost every business is closed? But when our Jewish population goes to Temple Emanu-El or any other congregation for services on Yom Kippur, The Day of Atonement, you write we “skip work.” You should not foster hatred, bigotry and ignorance with such a comment. We are exercising our right to freedom of religion on this very holiest of Jewish holidays.

Elissa Josephsohn, Honolulu


“HONOLULU Magazine/Hotels and Resorts of Halekulani Photo Contest,” October 2005

How delightful that you have awarded third prize/dinner at La Mer to Mr. Lemos for his most interesting photo of his son, breaking both state and federal law by swimming with his hand on that honu! Thank you for rewarding this behavior toward an endangered species. Always nice to see the media encouraging us to protect what little remains of Hawai’i’s precious ecology.

Lynn Pullen, ‘Ewa Beach

“Afterthoughts,” September 2005
Kathryn Drury Wagner’s piece on the intrusiveness of marketing.

Your column says there’s no escaping advertising. Hawai’i is one of only four states that prohibit billboards–one of the most ubiquitous and invasive forms of advertising. Hawai’i also has stringent laws regulating the size, placement and other factors relating to commercial signs of all types. Most of these restrictions are the result of nearly 100 years of work by The Outdoor Circle (TOC), which is dedicated to the task of protecting Hawai’i’s scenic environment.

Recently, TOC successfully sponsored legislation that closed a potential loophole that would have allowed aerial advertisers to tow huge banners over our beaches. Now the battle against invasive and inappropriate advertising is moving to a new front–mobile advertising. These trucks have been created to dodge the anti-billboard laws and they certainly fly in the face of what is acceptable to generations of Hawai’i residents who have grown up without the scourge of billboards polluting our visual environment. You can read more on our Web site, www.outdoorcircle.org.

Bob Loy, director of environmental programs, The Outdoor Circle, Honolulu

“Who Grows There?,” September 2005
Writer Joan Conrow’s piece on GMO (genetically modified organisms) crops produced a lot of response.

It was refreshing to see an article informing people about GMOs in your magazine. I have been an organic gardener for more than 20 years and am very concerned about the risks of genetically modified organisms. Joan Conrow wrote an excellent article.

Tracey Schavone, Anahola, Kaua’i

Much is made about the public right to know where field trials are carried out, but the author fails to mention the anti-GMO vandalism on Kaua’i in May 2000. In this incidence, the vandals uprooted non-GMO corn, pineapple, taro, ‘awa and papaya plants. The current regulatory system is based on scientific evidence: opinions are not scientific data. We have more scientific evidence for GMO crops’ impact on human health and the environment than about the unknowns and risks (allergens, poisons) associated with traditional breeding methods, including mutation breeding. Plant breeders will tell you that every new variety they develop by traditional breeding and release is novel. So novelty is not an issue.

Hawai’i’s environment is threatened more by invasive insects, diseases and plants than GMO-crops.

Robert Paull, professor and chairman, UH Manoa, Tropical Plant and Soil Sciences, Honolulu

There has never been a single, documented, scientifically proven instance where eating an approved biotech food or food product has caused allergies due to a gene that was inserted by genetic engineering. The reason is simple: Experimental biotech products that cause allergies are not commercialized for obvious reasons. The most telling fact is that people have consumed more than a trillion servings of foods that contain biotech ingredients, and there has not been a single documented case of an illness caused by a food developed with biotechnology.

Furthermore, the article implies that biotech seed companies are conducting outdoor trials that somehow put people at risk. This also is not true. Before experimental biotech plants ever reach a farmer’s field or end up on a dinner table, they undergo years of rigorous testing, with oversight and review by the FDA, the USDA and the EPA as needed, to ensure that they are safe for people, animals and the environment.

Overall, the article is filled with hasty generalizations and misleading statements that overlook the huge body of biotech knowledge amassed over the past two decades that is the accepted standard among mainstream scientists and governments throughout the world. Some 31 regulatory agencies in 17 countries, plus prominent international scientific authorities in the U.S. and throughout the world–including 3,400 scientists and many Nobel Prize winners–have stated that biotech crops are as safe as conventional crops.

Paul Koehler, President, Hawai’i Crop Improvement Association, Kihei, Maui

Writer Joan Conrow responds:

The millions who choose organic foods, because they do not believe conventional crops are safe either, likely won’t be reassured by Mr. Koehler’s closing statement.

Both Mr. Koehler and Dr. Paull appear to base their comments on the belief that the existing scientific data about GMOs is somehow infallible and inviolate. In the realm of pure science, that might be a reasonable assumption. But in the real world, with industry funding influencing science and government to an extraordinary degree, some skepticism seems reasonable.

I agree with Dr. Paull that invasive species pose a great threat to Hawai’i’s environment; however, our awareness about the dangers of many of these pests came only after they were established.

It’s my hope that public awareness and rigorous scrutiny will prevent a similar catastrophe with GMOs.


Hanahauoli School’s “O Joy to the World!” event was listed under the wrong date in the fourth quarter Kokua Calendar. The correct date is Nov. 19. For information on the event, please call 949-6461, or visit www.hanahauoli.org.

Also, in “Suck ‘Em Up!” in our October issue, the photograph was wrongly attributed to Karl Hedberg.