Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Musings: Myth-Busters

It's been fascinating to watch the fear-mongering associated with the ever-so-slow easing of cannabis laws. The latest is a Colorado study that suggests more kids may be sickened after accidentally munching their parents' Alice B. Toklas brownies. However, Lucky Charms, McNuggets, Mountain Dew and all the rest of the GMO-laden crap they're intentionally fed is perfectly alright.

Because as the “seed farmers” — aka chemical companies — will tell you in the “myth-busters” ad they've been running in The Garden Island:

Since 1996 we have been safely eating foods from genetically engineered ingredients with no evidence of harm demonstrated anywhere in the world. Genetically engineered crops are the most regulated agricultural commodities in the nation.

Well, not so tightly regulated as that other agricultural commodity, hemp, which still cannot be grown without a rarely issued federal license — despite its proven value as a food, fiber and fuel source that doesn't require a lot of water, fertilizer or pesticides. So why is it that GE crops and their associated chemicals can be planted with impunity anywhere in the U.S., but hemp is still outlawed?

The myth-busters piece, which claims to want to “put the falsehoods aside and talk facts,” then goes on to deliver the biggest whopper of them all, and I'm not talking burgers:

Genetic engineering has helped decrease pesticide applications from our plant care routine.

Oh, really? That's not what the U.S. government says:

The greatest glyphosate use is in the Mississippi River basin, where most applications are for weed control on genetically-modified corn, soybeans and cotton. Overall, agricultural use of glyphosate (Roundup) has increased from less than 11,000 tons in 1992 to more than 88,000 tons in 2007.”

In these studies, Glyphosate was frequently detected in surface waters, rain and air in areas where it is heavily used in the basin. The consistent occurrence of glyphosate in streams and air indicates its transport from its point of use into the broader environment.

"Though glyphosate is the most widely used herbicide in the world, we know very little about its long term effects to the environment," says Paul Capel, USGS chemist and an author on this study.

So please, don't try to tell us that GE crops are some of the most thoroughly researched in the world.

Continuing on the topic of chemical companies, the international spotlight recently has been trained on imidacloprid, the world's most widely-used insecticide. The European Union recently banned it and two other neonicotinoids from some crops for two years because it's linked to bee deaths. But Dutch researcher Dr Jeroen van der Sluijs says much stronger action is needed because the pesticide is devastating dragonflies, snails and other water-based species:

Van der Sluijs added that half the 20,000 tonnes of the imidacloprid produced each year is not affected by the EU ban. It is used not to treat crops, but to combat fleas and other pests in cattle, dogs and cats. 

"All this imidacloprid ends up in surface water," he said. The pollution was so bad in some places that the ditch water in fields could have been used as an effective pesticide, he said.

Not surprisingly, another U.S. government study has for the first time documented just how fast frogs, toads and salamanders are disappearing from their habitat. Significant declines are occurring even in protected areas, like national parks and wildlife refuges. Why should we care?

"Amphibians have been a constant presence in our planet's ponds, streams, lakes and rivers for 350 million years or so, surviving countless changes that caused many other groups of animals to go extinct," said USGS Director Suzette Kimball. "This is why the findings of this study are so noteworthy; they demonstrate that the pressures amphibians now face exceed the ability of many of these survivors to cope."

And it ain't just wildlife in the U.S. that's reeling. As The Guardian reports:

An unprecedented stocktake of UK wildlife has revealed that most species are struggling and that one in three have halved in number in the past half century. [M]any animals, birds, insects, fish and plants are in trouble.

The causes include the intensification of farming, with the consequent loss of meadows, hedgerows and ponds and increased pesticide use, as well as building development, overfishing and climate change.

Getting back to that ubiquitous high fructose corn syrup — made from all that Roundup Ready and Bt corn and added to nearly every processed food sold in the conventional grocery store — another study finds a possible link between the practice of feeding commercial honeybees high-fructose corn syrup and the collapse of honeybee colonies around the world.

It seems that feeding bees high fructose corn syrup, which is cheap and allows the valuable honey to be sold, compromises the bees' immune systems and makes them more vulnerable to pathogens and pesticides. Or to put it more scientifically, “constituents found in honey...specifically induce detoxification genes.”

It's so fascinating how we make like we know it all, like we've really got a handle on this crazy complex thing called life, yet we're constantly finding new pieces to the puzzle and trying to fit them in. You know, before it's too late. Though just last night, listening to Midnite's “Bushman,” I was struck by the lyrics:

Don't you think they know
The system is too far gone”

Which could prompt some folks to get anxious, anguished, apocalyptic. As Robert Jensen writes:

Many associate “apocalypse” with the rapture-ranting that grows out of some interpretations of the Christian Book of Revelation (aka, the Apocalypse of John), but it’s helpful to remember that the word’s original meaning is not “end of the world.” “Revelation” from Latin and “apocalypse” from Greek both mean a lifting of the veil, a disclosure of something hidden, a coming to clarity. Speaking apocalyptically, in this sense, can deepen our understanding of the crises and help us see through the many illusions that powerful people and institutions create.

But there is an ending we have to confront. Once we’ve honestly faced the crises, then we can deal with what is ending—not all the world, but the systems that currently structure our lives. Life as we know it is, indeed, coming to an end.

Or as a wise friend observed, "Shouldn't you just try to create diversity in your own life every way you can?"

And for our last myth-buster, does Shaylene Iseri-Carvalho actually think anyone believes she wasn't involved in going after Councilman Tim Bynum for a zoning violation? Give it up, girl. Please. 


Elaine Albertson said...

I have to laugh (because crying isn't much fun and is less productive methinks) when anyone says that Roundup is essentially innocuous. Bull. I'm not particularly sensitive to chemicals of any kind, but when a former landlord had her gardener soak the ground underneath my cottage with Roundup as a "preventive measure" the aroma was sickening...literally. I had to take my dog (Shasta was still with me then) and cat and go stay with a friend for a week. Even the dog (a 120 lb German Shepherd) was also showing effects of the crap.I saw the "mythbuster" bit and about choked on it. What bull. Either they really believe their own BS, or they know what they're doing is bad for us and don't give a rusty duck. Either choice doesn't say much for the integrity and/or acumen of American business.

Anonymous said...

Bee aware... http://topinfopost.com/2013/05/28/russia-warns-obama-monsanto

Anonymous said...

The most convincing evidence for me relates to the egrets that once covered the trees on the east bank of the Waimea River just below Pioneers research center and gmo corn fields. . . . . it was a bit gross seeing the trees in the evenings--covered with egrets(so many that the trees turned white) . . . . it's, at the present, scary because there are NO egrets on the trees. Even if they are called "rubbish birds", their disappearance is a tell tale sign of the consequences of what's taking place up on the east plains of the Waimea River.

Anonymous said...

With ex-Monsanto executives now working for the USDA and FDA appointed by Obama, it seems "government" is not for the people but for profits for those who support it with campaign contributions.
If pot were legalized, people would grow their own, and then, where would the drug dealers....including the pharmaceutical industry peddling anti-anxiety drugs make their money?

Its always about money not health.
Dr Shibai

Evan Meek said...

We should all be extremely upset with these, now criminal, denials of the effects of glyphosate on humans. http://www.mdpi.com/1099-4300/15/4/1416 This link details a study done by Stephanie Seneff from MIT, a specialist dealing in research into "western disease." (Diabetes, Autism etc....) What she has proven here is that glyphosate effects the "shikimate" pathways in the gut bacteria, causing serious problems with vitamin synthesizing, digestion and whole lot more. Monsanto and Syngenta etc... have been using the science that in the human body (excluding all bacteria) the cells do not have the shikimate pathways, so it would be impossible to effect humans with glyphosate! The gig is up, and the internet has allowed those who wish it, the proper knowledge to begin calling these so called scientists what they really are, LIARS and Criminals. They do nothing to improve our economy, and worst of all, they are destroying Hawaii's #1 resource, the land and the water. The days of the failed monoculture industry are numbered, and once they are gone, we can once again start to build a sustainable economy through REAL food production.