It was so odd reading Councilman Gary Hooser's letter to the editor today, like he actually wants and hopes to learn that westside Kauai babies are being born with defects, just so he can advance his political agenda.
Instead of welcoming the news from westside ob/gyn Dr. Graham Chelius, who last week publicly assured us, “There is not an increased rate of cardiac defects of any kind on the Westside of Kauai,” Gary disputes it.
Well, he doesn't actually come right out and dispute it, because he's not a doctor, and he doesn't have one tiny shred of proof that Dr. Chelius is wrong. But in the smarmy, deceptive rhetoric that is so typical of Gary and his followers — most notably Andrea Brower, who used the same tactics in a guest editorial on Saturday — he casts vague aspersions on Dr. Chelius' report before noting:
I sincerely hope Dr. Chelius is correct.
However, other physicians on Kauai’s Westside have submitted public testimony indicating their increased concern about high birth defect rates and the need for further investigation into this area.
What Gary doesn't say is those physicians made that testimony more than a year ago, and since then, further investigations have been made. These include updating the birth defects registry, which Gary himself acknowledges is under way, and conducting the review of Kauai birth defect data upon which Dr. Chelius based his letter.
I also find it curious that Gary claims he got a letter from the state Department of Health on July 1, advising him that the birth defects registry was in the process of being updated. Yet in an Aug. 31 letter to the editor and a Sept. 16 post on his blog, Gary makes the case for the county taking matters into its own hands, stating:
the State birth defect registry has not been updated since 2005.
Seems that an honest person would've revealed the full story:
The state is working hard to bring current the most recent few years of Kauai data, however 2006, 2007, 2008 and 2009 and 2013 remain incomplete. Data collection from 2010–2012 and input for Kauai Veterans Memorial Hospital is complete and for Wilcox Hospital they have completed 2010–2011.
Instead Gary waits until now to disclose that tidbit, hoping it will cast aspersions on Dr. Chelius. Whatta guy. Can you spell sleazy?
In his letter today, Gary goes on to reference the EPA and American Pediatric Association, both of which say — duh — that “people who live and work in areas that are subject to regular pesticide use have higher rates of various ailments including certain cancers.”
What Gary refuses to acknowledge is this: 1) the state DOH did a cancer study that showed no elevated rates of cancer anywhere on Kauai, save the North Shore, where haoles have higher rates of melanoma; and 2) there is no indication that field workers — folks with the greatest exposure — are having health problems associated with pesticides, much less people who live nearby.
For Gary to continually raise the specter of “increased birth defects, nerve damage, cancer and autism," without having any proof that residents are, in fact, subject to pesticide exposure from the seed companies is classic fear-mongering. What's more, it's absolutely irresponsible, even perversely sick.
Look at the facts: Hawaii SEED, whose mission is to destroy GMO cultivation on Kauai, never found any evidence of pesticide drift, despite spending tens of thousands of dollars on studies. Surfrider, which has joined the lawsuit defending Gary's Ordinance 960, came up similarly blank with its bee pollen and water studies. And state Department of Health tests found pesticide levels were far below the acceptable federal levels in water samples conducted in rural areas, but elevated in Oahu's urban streams.
Yes, studies should continue, and even be expanded, but shouldn't Gary ramp back his rhetoric? I mean, he's been screaming "wolf!" for two years now and so far all we've seen are his huddled sheep, baahing in fear.
Which brings me to Andrea, who took the exact same approach in her guest editorial, seizing on the health effects of one pesticide, chlorpyrifos. Once the seed of fear was planted, she fertilized it with bullshit:
On Kauai, chlorpyrifos is sprayed by the chemical and seed companies at a pounds-per-acre rate that is estimated to be 10 times the national average.
Strange, how everything is always 10 times the national average. Not five, or 20, but always 10. Guess because that's an easy number to repeat and remember.
The problem with estimates, as Andrea herself acknowledges, is they aren't precise — especially when they're being figured by a “reporter” whose "research" was funded by the same anti-GMO/anti-Big Ag Media Consortium that financed 10 biased reports.
But Andrea blames the seed companies, “because the industry has refused to give us precise data.”
Actually, if you go to the Kauai Agricultural Good Neighbor Program website — a restricted use pesticide disclosure site that Andrea claims arose from “more than 10 years of persistent community members’ efforts” when it was negotiated by Gov. Abercrombie's team — you'll find very precise data. The companies report exactly how much of each RUP they used, as well as the total area and total field area to which each pesticide was applied.
There's no need to estimate, just go in there and do the tedious basic arithmetic, which is how I discovered that Andrea, Gary and the rest of their flock have long been lying about overall pesticide use. Yeah, that "18 tons" they keep parroting is pure shibai. But apparently Andrea is too lazy and the reporter wasn't paid enough, because neither did the work.
But then, haven't we seen that over and over and over again among Gary and his flock of fistees? They don't actually want hard data, because it doesn't support ANY of their claims. And when evidence emerges that points out their falsehoods, they move on to another hazy accusation.
A perfect example: Right after Dr. Chelius reported the 10-times-national-average cardiac birth defect claim was bogus, I had someone persistently (and anonymously) try to leave the comment that gastroschisis, a birth defect in which the intestines stick outside the belly, is occurring on Kauai at 10 times the national average. There's no shortage of rumors spread by those disinclined to tell the truth.
Both Andrea and Gary again repeated the lie that the seed/chem companies are suing to keep their pesticide use hidden. Andrea made it the entire basis of her article, which was entitled “Why the facts make our 'right to know' more important than ever,” while Gary ends his letter with the disingenuous:
All we are asking for is basic disclosure, modest buffer zones and a health study. It shouldn’t be so hard.
Again, as I previously reported, the companies are already providing more than basic disclosure and they have voluntarily imposed buffer zones around homes, schools and hospitals. As for the health study, tell us, Gary, have you asked the CDC or any other agency to come in? Or are you putting all your stock in the EPHIS, which is now in the same legal limbo as Ordinance 960, and thus unable to provide any information for years, if ever?
But then, that will suit Gary and Andrea just fine as they can continue to make their claims without being bothered by the discovery of any new pesky facts.
At least Andrea is honest enough to admit, “We do not know the extent of current harm,” though it was negated by this comment:
While fear is never a good basis for politics, accusations of “fear-mongering” are serving to marginalize very real concerns and shield an industry that does not have the health and well-being of our community as a priority. A lot of misinformation has circulated around this issue, much of it intentionally manipulated by the industry, and some of it genuinely confused by well-meaning people trying to make sense of a scientifically, politically, legally and socially complex situation.
At the risk of mixing metaphors, what you are experiencing, Andrea, is a phenomenon known as "your chickens coming home to roost." You and your cohorts consciously chose the fear-mongering, misinformation-based approach to this issue. It worked to get Bill 2491 passed, but now it's backfiring, because the claims just aren't holding water under scrutiny.
So don't be blaming the industry for your own devious tactics, while claiming you and the other activists were “genuinely confused” and “well-meaning people.” Yes, you're confused, though you're too smart to pretend your manipulations weren't intentional, Andrea.
And no, I can't believe any of uou were well-meaning, because all of you continue to deliberately deceive the public to keep your agenda afloat.
If you're truly well-meaning, you, Gary, Councilman Tim Bynum, Council candidate Felicia Cowden and the rest of the fibbing flock would sit down and figure out a way to get this important discussion into the realm of facts and truth.
You might even have a chat with your dad, Rob Brower, about his hypocrisy in denouncing the pesticide use by seed companies when he, as a contractor, used tons of treated lumber and sprayed chemicals on the ground beneath houses he built.
But you're not doing any of that, are you?
Which is why you're losing control of the debate to those of us who are not "seed company shills," but discerning citizens seeking some reality, and in the process, outing the real wolves in sheep's clothing — the ones that are preying ruthlessly upon their flock.