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Seed crop industry here is significant, responsible

Andrew Gomes’ story about Hawaii’s thriving seed crop industry ("Isle seed crop value jumps 26 percent," Star-Advertiser, Nov. 18) was based on the findings in a report issued by the Hawaii Field Office of the USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service.

Neither the story nor the report "gives a distorted view" of the seed crop industry, as Melissa Yee states ("Seed crop firms here negligible," Star-Advertiser, Letters, Dec. 9).

The NASS report is an annual report that looks at the value of the seed industry; it does not examine food production or land resources. According to this year’s report, Hawaii’s seed industry is valued at a record high of $222.6 million, a 26 percent increase over last year. This growth translates into more than $200 million in direct spending, making the industry a stable force in Hawaii’s economy, especially important in these troubled financial times.

Last year, the seed crop industry provided almost a quarter of all agriculture jobs — nearly 2,000 — in the state. Yet we own or lease only 5 percent (25,000 acres) of the available agricultural lands. What’s more, we use state-of-the-art protocols for irrigation, soil conservation and land management, and are committed to being responsible stewards of our natural resources.

We believe there is a role — and enough land in Hawaii — for all types of agriculture to thrive, including agricultural biotechnology.

Fred Perlak
President, Hawaii Crop Improvement Association


How to write us

The Star-Advertiser welcomes letters that are crisp and to the point (~175 words). The Star-Advertiser reserves the right to edit letters for clarity and length. Please direct comments to the issues; personal attacks will not be published. Letters must be signed and include a daytime telephone number.

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Fax: (808) 529-4750
Mail: Letters to the Editor, Honolulu Star-Advertiser, 7 Waterfront Plaza, 500 Ala Moana, Suite 210, Honolulu, HI 96813


Use programs proven to cut criminal behavior

Mahalo for the good news that Gov. Neil Abercrombie is bringing Hawaii’s incarcerated people back from mainland prisons.

It is also great that Abercrombie wants to use programs other than imprisonment to deal with criminal behavior.

Research on criminal desistance shows that most people outgrow drug use and criminal behavior. We can increase desistance with good rehabilitation and reentry programs while imprisonment can increase criminal behavior. Drugs are sometimes easier to get in prison than on the streets.

Hawaii’s HOPE and restorative justice programs are examples of effective interventions that have gained worldwide attention for reducing criminal behavior more that typical prison and judicial practices. Vital, too, is that these programs also help victims and families heal even if their loved ones relapse and re-offend.

Lorenn Walker


Chart with ‘Felix’ article had misleading bar graphs

I am a substitute teacher working with special education students for the first time at Radford High School. Your "Following Felix" report is timely for me, but I was deeply disappointed in the inaccuracy of the bar graphs with the article, "Left out and Lagging" (Star-Advertiser, Dec. 14).

In 2009 for example, the national score for eighth grade reading was 229 and Hawaii’s score was 215 — a difference of 14 points — and yet the bar illustration shows Hawaii students measuring about half as well as the national score.

The illustrations of the data and the actual data don’t mesh, leaving the impression that our students are doing far worse than the numbers show.

Jolie Zimmermann


Let more students attend Koko Head Elementary

My children are enrolled at Niu Valley and Koko Head schools. My child who is at Niu is in the orchestra, came in second place in the Hawaii State Science Fair, and just completed her second robotics competition. My daughter at Koko Head is as advanced in the arts as her sister is in academics. I am confident they are getting an education that rivals any of Hawaii’s top private schools.

I want to see Koko Head remain open for several reasons: It is a Blue Ribbon school, its test results are the state’s highest, it has a diverse student body and a community of dedicated parents, teachers and administration, and it has a proven formula for success.

Why doesn’t the state market its amazingly successful public schools to build up enrollments instead of dismantling them? Shut down schools that do not work and bring more children to Koko Head so they, too, may succeed.

Paula Bender
Hawaii Kai


Bicyclists on sidewalks endangering pedestrians

Could we please move the bicyclists off the sidewalks and onto the street?

In my neighborhood (Kapiolani and University) there are lots of pedestrians walking, joggers jogging, seniors shuffling, wheelchairs rolling, dogs and their caretakers exercising, and bus patrons boarding and alighting.

Introduced into this mix are the bicycles careening around the various sidewalk users. I have seen pedestrians knocked down by bicyclists. It is becoming increasingly dangerous to use the sidewalks these days. I hope one of our new or old government officials addresses this hazard soon.

F. David Wagner


Co-ed barracks a bad idea, just like gays in military

I have sat on the sidelines long enough, watching and listening as both sides argue the merits of allowing gays to serve in our military. I can only speak from my experiences as a Marine recruit and drill instructor, but everything connected to Marine boot camp is done in a communal environment.

Would a female Marine recruit’s family have any problems with her being billeted in a large open barracks, her bed a few scant feet from a male? Would a straight male recruit feel uncomfortable with his bed being three feet away from someone who by definition is attracted to his gender?

The job of our appointed military is not to fulfill President Barack Obama’s campaign promise to a vocal minority but to manage this great treasure that they have been entrusted with — America’s young men and women.

Vince Vento


Kudos to Abercrombie for signing rail’s final EIS

I applaud Gov. Neil Abercrombie’s signing of the final environmental impact statement on the city’s rail project.

I am so happy for everyone this project will help, from the unemployed construction worker that will now have a job to the daily commuter who will save more than $11,000 a year by using rail.

Rail will help keep the country country while ensuring that future generations will have a place to buy a home. The future is looking better every day.

Michael Golojuch Jr.


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