Friday, February 3, 2017

Musings: Fib-Busting Friday

The New York Times travel section has published a piece that could lead to increased deaths by drowning — or gagging on the overblown rhetoric.

Writer Bonnie Tsui describes how, while staying in “the little north shore town of Haena,” she went daily to “Tunnels Beach” where she “tailed two spear fishermen” going after mahimahi. Bet they loved that....

She also describes a swim at the notoriously dangerous Polihale:

We swam in that heaving body of aquamarine, and what I remember most is the profound feeling that the ocean water had weight — that the powerful, muscular waves that lifted me could reverse their force at any time, pounding me into mush on the sand or sucking me far out to the horizon. It was humbling, and not a little frightening. Daring to risk was part of the thrill of swimming out there.

Ya, until you find yourself enroute to Niihau, with the water safety guys risking their own lives to save you. Twelve people drowned on Kauai last year, and another three this past January alone.

Yet people like Ashley Lukens, director of Hawaii Center for Food Safety, continue to make like agricultural pesticides are the primary threat to health and safety:

Our message is: say what you spray and give us space. We must protect our vulnerable communities from pesticide drift NOW. Of course the industry minds the "inconvenience" of an informed community. #toobad

I don't speak for the industry, but I can safely say they and every other person involved in commercial agriculture would welcome an informed community with open arms. It's a community misinformed by CFS that makes us all nuts.

Speaking of misinformed, Tsui's article attracted this comment urging people to use “mineral-based” sunscreens:

Just one drop of chemical-based sunscreen (the majority of sunscreens) is enough to kill coral within the volume of six olympic-sized swimming pools.

Uh, if that were the case then Hawaii wouldn't have any coral left. Still, the state House has advanced a bill to ban the sale of sunscreens containing oxybenzone in response to a study that linked it to deformities in coral larvae and an acceleration in the rate of coral bleaching.

In its coverage of the bill, The GardenIsland featured one of its regular sources, marine biologist Katherine Muzik, pushing raspberry oil, which she claims “has an amazing SPF 50 ... and it helps smooth wrinkles. It’s safe and organic.”

However, that claim has been dismissed as "absolute nonsense" by medical experts, the Daily Mail reports. And the study on raspberry oil also seems to have been misinterpreted, with the product actually providing an SPF closer to 6.75 to 7.5.

Continuing on the topic of the misinformed, a walk and talk is set for Saturday to supposedly educate people on the Ala Loa — an ancient coastal trail. Organizer Aggie Marti-Kini is quoted as saying:

We want to bring awareness to the Ala Loa and to the fact that it is our legal right to be walking on that trail. We had people threatened because they were going to go down spearfishing like their father and grandfathers before them, or people that tried to access the trail to pick the limu. It started happening more frequently with everyone.

The problem lies with several wealthy landowners in the Koolau area who don’t believe that the Ala Loa Trail exists, before going on to claim it crosses Mark Zuckerberg's property.

Actually, I'm pretty sure these landowners believe the trail exisits. The questions is, what is its actual route?  I've heard everything from along the coast to Koolau Road. So while Aggie, Hope Kallai and Richard Spacer claim to know its alignment, they don't. 

And that question likely won't be resolved until there's legal action to flesh it out. Native Hawaiian Legal Corp. was planning a lawsuit several years ago, but it never came about. Why?

Meanwhile, the issue is complicated by the fact that some claim the trail crosses land owned by Mark Zuckerberg, Waioli and Patricia Hanwright — property that is now very expensive and home to major albatross nesting sites. 

TGI headlined the event as “spreading mana'o.” Possibly. But if participants keep claiming to know the route of the trail, it's more likely spreading manure.

Finally, a group called Humane Watch is fighting against the disingenuous tactics of the Humane Society of the United States with this ad planned for the Super Bowl: 
As Joni Kamiya, the Hawaii Farmer's Daughter, noted: We need one for the Center for Food Safety!

Yes, something along the lines of, "We don't actually get involved in real food safety issues, like the recent food-borne hepatitis outbreak in Hawaii. We just fear-monger and talk trash about GMOs and conventional ag because it's an effective fund-raising tool, and we must do our part to keep the Kimbrell family employed and traveling in style."


Anonymous said...

Great blog! Very interesting.

Washington, D.C.-based "Center for Food Safety" (misnomer if ever there was one!) pays LOBBYIST "Dr." Ashley Lukens (PhD in political science, clueless about medicine, agriculture, toxicology, epidemiology, plant pathology, etc., and certainly NOT a farmer) to hang out and spread lies for them at the State legislature.

In oral and written testimony on bills being considered there, some of which CFS authored, she claims that CFS is a nationwide "public interest, sustainable AGRICULTURE nonprofit organization" with "over 800,000 farmer and consumer members across the country, including nearing 10,000 in Hawai‘i."

I find this impossible to believe. First of all, CFS is certainly not an agriculture organization. Second, how many farmers do you think would sign up as members of this regressive, voodoo-like, fear-mongering, ill-informed group?

I raise livestock on a small scale. I would never call myself a farmer or rancher --- I love it but there's no way I could make a living from it. But I know hundreds of farmers, big and small, across the state and not one of them is a member of CFS. Farmers are generally honest, hard-working, and practical people. They base their decisions on science, evidence, and reality. No way that would fit into the CFS/Ashley Lukens scheme.

Anonymous said...

Regarding sunscreens, I don’t feel a total ban on the sale of products containing those two chemicals is necessary. There are many consumers who use sunscreen but do not swim in the ocean. Product choices should be kept available for those who are working outdoors, gardening, hiking, enjoying their back yard, or doing other non-ocean related activities.

Creating awareness and urging consumers who do swim in the ocean to use products that are labeled as reef safe, or do not contain the harmful chemicals noted, would be a better partial solution to the problem of reef damage, in my opinion.

Continued thanks for your informative and thought provoking blog.

Anonymous said...

Not every illness is from pesticides.
The dose makes the poison.
Natural doesn't mean not toxic.
Toxic compounds are found in plants, even those we eat.


Every year since 1995, a mystery illness has plagued a town in Bihar, India. Around May and June each year, large numbers of young children would start showing signs of fever. They'd have seizures and convulsions, before slipping in and out of consciousness.

In 2014, hundreds of children were admitted to hospital exhibiting symptoms of this illness, said to resemble encephalitis. Of 390 admitted for treatment, 122 died.

Teams of researchers and medical experts searched exhaustively to find the cause, but to no avail. Heat, humidity, malnourishment, the monsoon and pesticides have all been considered at one stage to be contributing factors to the illness.

A new report, published in The Lancet Global Health medical journal on Tuesday, claims to have discovered what's behind the devastating disease: the unassuming lychee.

Analysis of blood and spinal fluid samples showed no signs of infection or exposure to chemicals and insecticides.

This area is the largest lychee farming region in India.
Parents reported that children in the affected villages spent most of the day eating lychees from the surrounding orchards, often returning home in the evening "uninterested in eating a meal."

Urine samples showed that two-thirds of the ill children showed evidence of exposure to toxins found in lychee seeds -- found in higher levels in unripe fruits. In the presence of these toxins "glucose synthesis is severely impaired," the study said, leading to dangerously low blood sugar and brain inflammation in the children.

"The synergistic combination of litchi consumption, a missed evening meal, and other potential factors such as poor nutritional status, eating a greater number of litchis, and as yet unidentified genetic differences might be needed to produce this illness," the study said.
Similar outbreaks had been reported in another lychee cultivation areas in West Bengal, and also beyond India in parts of Vietnam and Bangladesh.

Previous research had focused on pesticides rather than the fruit itself.

Anonymous said...

Small doses over long periods of time = chronic exposure = negative health impacts. Big dose and small doses over time BOTH will kill you and or accelerate, exacerbate your health problems.

Anonymous said...

600 pm, seems like you have forgotten that the human body has organs that remove poisons from the system. Explain what the liver and kidneys do. Things are not simplistic as you say. What you say are heavy metals like mercury, arsenic, etc. that do accumulate. Your logic fails.


Robin Clark said...

@6:00 pm. Sorry, that is a gross generalization and is generally false. 35 years in the pharmaceutical industry tell me so. Small doses would have a negative health impact over time only if their was accumulation. Small doses are generally metabolized quickly and eliminated. Please provide examples to back up your statement. And please, don't mention lead, mercury, or DDT which are relics of the past.

Anonymous said...

Hmmm. How come all these non-Hawaiians like Spacer and the Kallais are trying to make claims about an ala loa? Why do people even listen to them? And why does the garden island print this "news" on the front page? Is it really "news" they are "exposing" and does it help sell papers? Just trying to sort out the real factual information here.

Anonymous said...

That ad on YouTube. Still trying to make sense of the "message".

Anonymous said...

I'm puzzled that haoles Spacer and Kallai are leading the charge to find a long-lost Hawaiian fishing trail. They must know that there is and always will be legal access from Pila'a and Larsen's. They aren't fighting for a trail. A trail exists. They are fighting for an EASIER trail. What idiots.

Anonymous said...

But factory farming is horrible an should be regulated.

Anonymous said...

February 5 @ 10:01 AM, please provide examples of factory farming that are not regulated, and please describe what is horrible about that. While you're at it, please continue on with other industries besides agriculture, and please include organic agriculture as well with those other industries.