An Exclusive Interview with Dustin Barca


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Dustin Barca is more than a professional surfer who tackled some of the biggest waves on the planet. He’s more than an MMA fighter clawing his way up the ranks in hopes of reaching the UFC. He’s more than an environmental and agricultural advocate fighting some of the most powerful corporate entities in the world. He’s more than a husband and more than a father, though those traits drive him. Dustin Barca is a voice of reason for his community, and a beacon of hope for an island of people looking for a way out.

Massive companies have been using Barca’s native Kauai as a testing ground for new genetically-modified organisms for years, putting profits ahead of health and sustainability. Barca grew sick of watching the greedy companies pillage the land he grew up on and took charge. We have immense respect Dustin’s ultimate courage and heart, so we wanted to speak with him about the fight he’s been waging in Hawaii, as well as what makes him tick. First of all, how do you find the time to do everything?

Dustin Barca: [Laughs] How do I have the time? I can’t buy time, but I just try to fit as much as I can into every day and keep progressing with where I’m at. I can’t do everything, everyday, so I try to focus my week around trying to accomplish goals in whatever area I’m at in the moment. I have a lot of things I’m into, but I’m not doing all of them every day, you know? My week is spread out. Some days I’m doing activism stuff, every day I’m training my fighters and fighting, surfing too. You just have to pick your days and what you’re going to do when you have so much going on like I do.

M: What do you have going on today?

DB: Today I’m building rock walls [laughs].

M: I read that you said fighting was a way of life in Hawaii. When did you start fighting in an organized environment?

A011_C008_0313GVDB: I started jiu-jitsu when I was 14 and boxing when I was 16, but surfing was always my number one priority. I started cross-training in martial arts to get in better shape for surfing but it kind of just took over my passion once I got into the depths of the training and tested myself. I went beyond what I ever thought I could do with my own body. It’s a life changing thing because I’ve been a surfer my whole life. My dad was a karate teacher, so I always had it in my head that I was tough. It’s always a cool thing when you think you’re tough and then realize you’re not. Then you get to rebuild yourself as a human being, and that’s what I’ve gotten out of martial arts.

M: Do you gravitate towards activities where you can continually push your own limitations?

DB: Yeah, I’m always looking for really challenging things. You have to go with your heart, what feels right and wrong to you. Are you going to stand up to those things? The martial arts have helped me become fearless in things like raising my voice when I feel something is wrong. Being a martial artist has allowed me to be fearless in life to things that really matter.

All the big waves I’ve surfed or cages I’ve fought in have been this big setup for what I’m supposed to do with the rest of my life, which is to make where I live a better place. Hopefully, that’s a clue for the rest of the world.

M: Has your fight against these GMO companies been more difficult than any wave or MMA fight you’ve faced?

DB: Oh, for sure. It doesn’t happen quickly when you start getting into passing laws and lawsuits and banning pesticides to protect people. It doesn’t just happen in one day. That’s the hardest thing to swallow. We’re impatient as human beings, and we see things are going wrong, but they’re still going on. It’s a pretty hard fight, and you really have to have the heart to never give up and keep pushing. You know when things are right and wrong.

I’ve done enough homework on these war chemical corporations that have taken over our food industry. This is worth fighting for. This is worth dying for in my case because they’re doing all their experiments on my island. It gets to the point where you’re ready to die for your children’s future and your people’s future. It tends to be a blueprint for the rest of the world to stand up against the tyranny going on right now in the world.

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M: For people that aren’t aware of what’s going on in Hawaii, can you give them some insight as to why these companies target the Hawaiian islands?

DB: The main reason they’re here is because we get three seasons, so they can do their experiments three times as fast as in the Americas. We have three full growing seasons, whereas America only has one or two. The other reason they come here specifically is we’re a quarantined island. If anything goes bad, the collateral damage here isn’t as bad as other places. We’re dealing with corporations who have patents for chemical warfare through food. Once you start to learn the patents these corporations own, to know that all their experimenting is done on my island … Not only that, but they’re spraying sixteen times more pesticides per acre on our island during these testings. This is next to schools in our communities, next to our rivers. It’s unbelievable. Once I really started learning what was going on about ten years ago, I couldn’t believe it was going on right at home. I really educated myself and looked into every one of these companies doing experiments. I looked at their histories, and basically everywhere they’ve been, they’ve poisoned communities and had lawsuits against them. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to see what our future holds. If you educate yourself on history, you start to get a pretty good idea of where things are headed in the future. I don’t want to anticipate my island becoming a superfund site, you know? We have large cancer clusters on that side of the island where they’re doing testing. We have a high number of birth defects, so we’re already feeling the effects of these companies.


I’ve taken to the streets with thousands of people. I’ve put on marches all over the state and had thousands of people from every island standing up to these guys, but they’ve got all our politicians in their pocket. They have our Water Boards and infiltrated all levels of government here in Hawaii, totally corrupt. It’s really disheartening to see people actually sell themselves out for a few dollars when things are going to affect their kids and grandkids.

M: That’s what I wanted to touch on; it seems like it’s people from the island who are facilitating these companies.

DB: Yeah, unfortunately, we have a “plantation mentality.” The plantations from the 1800s brought in a lot of Filipinos, Portuguese, and Puerto Ricans to work here. It was colonial-style farming with sugarcane and pineapple, so all these people have done is switch from those crops to GMO corn and soy and experimental crops. All these people have been brainwashed to think this is their way of life, that plantation life. When it comes down to passing bills, these companies have really divided the island. They divide and conquer by making it a race thing, making it a cultural thing, really trying to pit people against each other. At the time we were organizing the marches and passing a bill, we had shirts that were red, and these companies made shirts that were blue. They wanted to make it bloods versus crips, blue versus red kind of thing.

M: Can you tell us about Bill 2491?

DB: Bill 2491 was created after we started the marches. My partners and I educated some of the politicians in regard to what’s going on and together we created a bill. When we created the bill, there was a huge pushback from the companies, which is where all this division started on the island. Bill 2491 had a bunch of hearings where people from both sides testified. We held a 20-hour meeting to discuss it, followed by a huge “Mana March” with 4-6 thousand people on our little island (Mana means your spiritual energy). Finally, these guys listened to the people and passed the bill. When they passed 2491, the Mayor vetoed the bill because he’s in the pockets of the chemical companies. It was a super corrupt deal. Once he vetoed it, everybody pushed the County Council to override it. They overruled the Mayor’s veto and pushed the bill through, and now we’re in litigation because the county of Kauai is being sued by companies like Dow Chemical, Monsanto, BASF, Syngenta, DuPont Pioneer. These chemical companies are suing the county for trying to protect the health and wellbeing of its people. As public officials, these people take an oath to do their job and protect these people. It’s one of the first things they say they’re going to do when they get in office. It’s pretty wild to see corruption first hand, so clearly in your face. That’s why I had to run for office; I had to run for Mayor. These guys are so corrupt and so full of crap, I couldn’t take it. I wanted to fight the guys. You look at the decisions they’re making like, “what the hell is going on?” They’re being paid off.

M: You said there was a meeting where both sides testified. I’m interested in the reasoning of the other side, what do they even say?


Courtesy of Vice

DB: Jobs. It’s all jobs. They’re saying it’s going to kill thousands of jobs. There’s probably a thousand people employed in the whole state of Hawaii, maybe 1,200, who are actually employed by these companies. It was just a fear tactic, another way to divide and conquer. They were saying things like, “these people are trying to kill farming in Hawaii, they want to end our way of life.” They put out commercials and all this other bullshit. They spent $10 million trying to kill a of couple different bills in Hawaii through commercials, radio ads, etc. They went to town doing anything they could to create propaganda, trying to scare people out of the way. Our side of the fight was all grassroots and we still passed the bill.

M: It shows at least a certain amount of people are aware enough to see what’s going on around them. While it’s unfortunate the politicians are corrupt, there will be a tipping point for sure it sounds like.

DB: Just running for office last time motivated a lot of different people to run this time around.

M: If the people of Kauai are worried about losing farming jobs and need a replacement crop, we know of a really good one.

DB: [Laughs] It’s coming! But it’s crazy right now, the majority of the guys who got the actual dispensary licenses in Hawaii are actually big time GMO advocates.

M: You have to be kidding.

DB: There’s a guy named Richard Ha. He’s one of the main GMO guys in Hawaii who’s been fighting against us. He just got a license for the big island, so we’re just like, “what the hell.” We just have to stay aware of what’s going on around us, and that’s the most important thing.

M: In a future where there’s widespread legalization, do you think marijuana could offer Hawaiian farmers an alternative to GMO crops?

DB: I think between hemp, medical cannabis, and food, there’s a lot of other opportunities. The people of Hawaii are just stuck in a 200-year mental slavery, thinking this is the only way to farm. I’m sick of complaining about what’s wrong; I want to find a solution and be that change we want to see. That’s why we’ve started our own farm, growing food and raising animals. We’re doing it the right way and trying to be a motivational blueprint for these next generations to grow their own food and medicine. In Hawaii, we import 90% of our food and we’re the most self-sustainable place on Earth.

M: Now that you’re running your own farm, have you seen the effects of the chemical testing firsthand in the air or soil?

DB: Oh yeah, almost any agricultural land you find in Hawaii has been affected by 150 years of spraying poison. If you’re starting a farm, you’re going into a problem already. You have to remediate your soil big time before you start growing food. Every piece of ag land is old sugar or pineapple land, so you’re dealing with a lot of plastics and legacy chemicals in your dirt. We’re already dealing with the challenges from two generations ago, but they just keep doing the same farming. Nobody is learning from their mistakes. For our generation, we’re going to learn from their mistakes and not make the same ones anymore.

M: It’s a crazy cycle to import 90% of the food on the island, which has an inherent expense, then pay for it by taking money from these chemical companies.

DB: People don’t realize they’re complete slaves until they wake up. We’re told we’re independent our whole lives, but Americans are the most dependent people in the whole world. We depend on someone to give us food, water, power, gasoline, oil, anything that revolves around life. I’m trying to create some sort of independence for our kids, some kind of freedom. I don’t want to be a slave to the system, so I’ll do anything I can to change that.

M: How has cannabis helped you? What value do you find in it?

DB: I’m really pushing the CBD right now because I’m seeing the effect it has on people I know with diseases. I have a nephew who has been Epileptic his whole life, and some friends of mine got him some CBD extract. The kid is completely healed from just using CBD oil, and he hasn’t had any seizures. He’s riding dirt bikes now, he’s a really talented kid. The epilepsy was really holding him back, and now we’re seeing this kid totally thriving. He was taking pills and all this other crap that wasn’t working, so to see the CBD oil work a miracle first hand is pretty wild. It makes me really believe in the effects of the medicine.

M: You said certain pockets of the island have been inflicted with cancer at a higher rate, what’s the awareness like on the island for CBD oil?

DB: We’re a pretty conscious place, people are pretty hip to the beat of what’s out there. There’s just a certain percentage of people that think hemp and marijuana are the Devil and still live in that “Reefer Madness” mindset. Hopefully, they start snapping out of it and understand the benefits of the plant. Propaganda killed the ability to use hemp and marijuana in America, and we’re seeing these entities use fear mongering again today. You have to know your history to understand the future. I just want to learn real history, and I try to do that every night of my life. I want to learn the truth. It’s fun to go back in history and put the pieces back together because everything we were taught is bullshit. Somebody’s been blowing smoke up our butt for a long time and once you start learning real history, it changes who you are. You become a certain person because of a way of life, and then you start opening up your mind, eyes, and spirit to what’s really going on. I’m just happy to be awake and promoting the things I do because they are the path to the future.

M: What does the future hold for the island?

DB: I see the island being a lot more self-sustainable in the future. I think we’ll be a lot more conscious and work together to better our future. People on the island are waking up and working towards growing their own food, educating their kids on new-style farming. They’re getting more connected with their Hawaiian culture, which is so rich in agriculture and natural farming. Indigenous-style farming is one of the most sustainable farming methods in the history of our planet, based on using our natural resources and flowing with them, not working against them. We aren’t supposed to be “taking,” but rather “working with” nature.

M: Is that the backbone of Ohana Farms?

DB: It is. We’re going back to these old styles of farming and using our resources instead of importing. We’re really getting back on track as far as sustainability, which means we’re sustaining our natural resources for the next generation. We’ve gone away from that as a society, trying to get the most out of our resources for us, and it’s just not working. In many places in America, it’s hard to use your resources because they’ve been taken up so much. So with a place like this where we still have many of our natural resources, I’m going to do my best to make sure we don’t end up like the rest of the world. The knowledge is out there for us to work with our resources instead of taking from them.

All photos, unless otherwise noted, are courtesy of Change For Balance

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