Thursday, April 13, 2017

Musings: Real and Imagined Dangers

I awoke to loud rumblings and booms, a sound that elicits a bit of dread in a place like Alamagordo, New Mexico, home to Hollman Air Force Base and the White Sands Missile Range. But then I walked outside and smelled the distinctively wonderful fragrance of rain in the desert, and knew it was thunder, not a bomb.

I'm here not for the military, but for the amazing natural beauty of White Sands National Monument. It's the world's largest gypsum dune field, 275 square miles of shimmering, glistening, sparkling white standing in brilliant contrast to the blue New Mexico sky. We hiked five miles through those shifting dunes, where we saw only the endemic earless ghost lizard, a fluttering black butterfly that was perhaps migrating from Mexico, a few ants and a small swarm of gnats. It is not a place conducive to much life, but it does not feel desolate or dead.
At two points during our hike formations of sleek Air Force jets streaked overhead, creating sonic booms that brought back early childhood memories of Stead Air Force Base in Nevada, where screaming jets and sonic booms were rather thrilling to kids too young to understand their chilling purpose.

Afterward, at the visitor center, I read about how the world's first atomic bomb was tested at the Trinity site, just 110 miles to the north, in 1945. It had been developed at the Los Alamos Laboratory, in the northern part of the state.
New Mexico has a long atomic heritage that continues to this day, with rural communities in the southeast part of the state now considering whether they're willing to host the nation's growing stockpile of nuclear waste, buried in shallow storage caverns carved from the ground.

Some worry about accidents, contamination of groundwater, the loss of a rural lifestyle practiced in wide-open spaces. Others see benefits for New Mexico's struggling economy, the development of jobs in a state with the nation's highest unemployment rate. A few politicians even speak with pride about New Mexico's opportunity to serve the entire country by taking on its nuclear waste burden.

Meanwhile, billboards near the capital city of Albuquerque advertise legal services to the uranium miners, Cold War veterans and “downwinders” who are suffering health problems as a result of radiation exposure. Residents of four counties in the Tularosa Basin, near the Trinity test site, recently completed their own health impact assessment in an effort to be included in the federal Radiation Exposure Compensation Act, which is already helping downwinders in Nevada and Arizona.
Coincidentally, The Garden Island yesterday carried a story about a “downwinder” who now lives in Poipu and his extensive health problems.

Reading about his very real health problems, and those suffered by others who were exposed to radiation, got me thinking about the claims that have been leveled against the seed companies in Hawaii. None of those claims have been documented. Indeed, assertions of higher cancer rates have been disproven

And though defeated state House candidate Fern Rosenstiel is quoted in the March Against Syngenta e-book as saying she was prompted to join the anti-GMO movement after a friend of hers “had a baby with an abdominal wall defect through which part of its small intestine protruded,” there's no evidence that ag pesticides caused that birth defect, or that Kauai babies are disproportionately affected. 

The antis also have repeatedly asserted that the Hawaii Department of Health is ignoring their health concerns in favor of catering to corporate interests.

It was rather ironic, then, to see a recent report that ranked Hawaii #1 in the country for public health, #3 in health care quality and #2 in health care access. That's pretty good, considering all the hysterical assertions about how people and “paradise” are being poisoned by pesticides — but only the agricultural kind.

Meanwhile, the antis have been surprisingly mum about the rat lungworm disease that actually is making people seriously ill in Hawaii. You'd think a group that calls itself Center for Food Safety would be issuing public service announcements about how people can protect themselves from contracting rat lungworm disease, especially since it appears to be especially prevalent on the organic produce that group promotes.

But then, the whole anti-movement in Hawaii has never been about safety and health. It's all and only about trying to destroy GMO crops and conventional agriculture.


Still, it diminishes the real suffering of people like the downwinders when false claims are made about adverse health impacts to advance a political agenda. 

And despite all the money that's been poured into the Hawaii anti-GMO movement, we have yet to see any "evidence" — save for the very questionable hair samples provided by anti-GMO activist Malia Chun — that Hawaii folks are even being exposed to pesticides, much less harmed. Surely, if it's actually happening, they would have been able to produce one set of test results or some other smoking gun.

43 comments:

Anonymous said...

Always love your prose.


I apologize but I was ignorant as to the existence of the White Sands National Monument; Ill have to put it on the bucket list.

Anonymous said...

"Meanwhile, the antis have been surprisingly mum about the rat lungworm disease that actually is making people seriously ill in Hawaii. You'd think a group that calls itself Center for Food Safety would be issuing public service announcements about how people can protect themselves from contracting rat lungworm disease, especially since it appears to be especially prevalent on the organic produce that group promotes."

Sooooo true!

Anonymous said...

How's Marghee Maupin, aka Pat Gegan's better half, not! She's complaining about the current County Council, except of course Joann and Mason. Still bitter about Bill 2491? Bynum and Hooser getting voted out? Keep complaining f-ing Haole! It will only get worse for you and your crybaby Husband Pat. Hey Pat, how 'bout running in a real election? Let's see where you stand?

Anonymous said...

Rat lung can be found on any produce...Not exclusive to organic. Haven't seen any sources mentioned in recent news that attribute Maui cases to organic. Snails, slugs, rats (especially rats) difficult to control in the field organic or not. Has there been a trace back or recall??

Anonymous said...

That place is a corridor for the drug cartels, human trafficking and drug addicts. If a survey is done on unemployment problems, most will see that those who are affected are mostly natives and also Mexicans that are high risk and the drug addicts and alcoholics would dominate the statistics.

I've been there and also lived near by that area. White Sands is a TS area.

Anonymous said...

The spread of Rat lungworm disease in Hawaii is so ironic. While the agitators like Hawaii Center for Food Safety Litigation Group and friends are screaming about pesticides, real victims of this debilitating and possibly fatal disease are suffering the consequences of NOT using pesticides.

Pesticides can reduce the population of disease vectors such as rats, snails, and slugs. Without these and other vectors, people won't get sick. No one likes to use pesticides, but they are necessary in some cases, like this one. And toxicity to slugs doesn't necessarily mean toxicity to humans.

Of course we should wash all produce thoroughly before eating it, but since these vectors can be extremely small and hard to see, the prudent thing is to get produce from farms and gardens that control disease vectors.

Anonymous said...

Long-time reader, first-time commenter. I appreciate your level-headed reasoning and your unfiltered way of expressing yourself. Thanks.

Anonymous said...

To 1:22 PM:

Yeah, it's a lot harder to control snails, slugs, and rats when you don't do anything about them! And anyway, it's natural to have pests, right? If it's natural, it must be good.

The media is not going to advertise that many of the cases of Rat Lungworm were from people grazing in their gardens or otherwise eating food from "organic" sources.

It's just not politically correct in these days of organic worship.

Anonymous said...

12:02 We gotta get Pat Gegan off the KIUC board. Him and Bynum pushed the plastic bag ban and now what, people gotta buy plastic bags to dispose of dog poop. Before was free. Plus paper bags take up 10+ times the space of plastic bags in the landfill. What an idiot!

Anonymous said...

Ashley Lukens is offering a new service to best use all the donated money. She will come to your house and show you how to properly scrub your veggies and spray them with vinegar to help stop the spread of rat lungworms. It will be so enlightening. An actual doctor to come help you wash veggies.

Anonymous said...

KHON2.com had an article on their website 4/11. The State Department of Health epidemiologist Joe Elm suspects the popularity of eating organic as a reason for the spread of the disease. He is quoted as saying “A lot of people are going for organic produce. And fruits and vegetables. I think the lack of pesticides on these crops are just an invitation for insects. Like… here’s lunch! When you buy these products, we have to be careful.”

http://khon2.com/2017/04/11/what-may-be-causing-recent-rat-lungworm-cases-and-how-to-wash-your-produce/

Anonymous said...

You do realize that 1 out of 4 people in Hawaii are obese and every year that number increases. They all have something in common, the crappy ass gmo food they eat

Anonymous said...

They make crappy ass non gmo food too... You can't make healthy eating and exercise choices for other people. Life doesn't work that way. Naomi Carmona isn't exactly super model thin and she eats only non GMO/organic. Same applies to Ashley lukens. Same applies to Alika Atay too.

Please take your hypocrisy elsewhere @8:44.

Anonymous said...

Mr. Elm, State Epidemiologist can suspect all kinds of things, but that doesn't prove anything.

Organic farmers can and do use very effective snail control, Sluggo Slug and Snail Bait. Sluggo contains iron phosphate and is highly effective, yet safe to wildlife and the environment. Sluggo is OMRI® Listed, NOP approved and residue exempt. Plus, it’s zero hours re-entry time and non-toxic to pets and beneficial insects. Snails travel and eat mostly at night. Trapping is also effective by providing ground contact materials in the cropping areas where snails hide during the day. By checking these stations daily, they can easily be spotted and removed and eliminated. Sluggo is still the best solution for large farms.

Organic rat control is also very effective and includes Vitamin D Baits, corn gluten baits, and traps. Other conventional poisons used for rodents are highly toxic to pets and wildlife if not properly handled.

Whether organic or conventional, both rats and snails/slugs are best controlled by proper management. Keep the farm clean. Remove and compost windfall fruit and other waste. Other than intentional trap sites, reduce areas where slugs and snails can hide during the day.

Anonymous said...

You show me an obese person who's diet consists solely of eating organic food and I'll show you a unicorn @2:55. And by the way, super model thin isn't healthy either. You might want to brush up on the definitions of hypocrisy and healthy.

Anonymous said...

The relative nutritional and safety "benefits" of organic versus gmo plant foods exist only in the advertising and scaremongering of Big Organic ( and April 13@ 8:44PM). And since the largest food borne kill-off in the last 10 years stemmed from organic sprouts, I avoid paying a premium for organic food that is no more satisfying, safe, and nutritious than its non organic equivalent. My primary care Doc thinks this is quite sensible as long as I exercise and lay off desserts to stay out of 8:44's obese 25% of the population.

Bradley Choquette said...

@5:43 How about Rosann Barr? While she has shed some weight with her organic veggie diet, most of the weight loss is due to less carbs, eating more often, and exercise. Causation doesn't always equal a direct correlation. Maybe the unicorn will transform into a feather light butterfly; but, it's because of her lifestyle changes, not switching to eating organic.

As for super model thin, those models train 6-8 hrs a day and are in fantastic physical condition. You don't keep muscle tone like they have sitting on your butt all day long. They eat very specific diet, and even change that diet based on what they're training for... i.e adding more meat in their diet if they are trying to add muscle or more carbs if they're going to run a marathon. That being said, super models are very health people.

2:55 doesn't need to brush up on anything....

Anonymous said...

Bradley that is the dumbest thing you have ever said on this blog. You obviously don't know what a super model is. And Rosanne Barr? Seriously? You need to stop reading The National Enquirer

Anonymous said...

@8:44 if you have to resort to an ad hominem attack...

On a side note, here in an interesting Cornell study that explains why people put on weight after switching to an organic diet.


http://www.dailymail.co.uk/health/article-1375469/Health-warning-Organic-food-make-fat-warn-experts-people-assume-contain-fewer-calories-conventional-products.html

could 8:44 suffer from the "halo effect"?

Anonymous said...

Super models carb loading for marathons, Roseanne Barr, and people getting fat from eating organic food ? WOW! I think I'm speechless

Anonymous said...

I can throw the Cornell card too. (If Joan will allow me) "T. Colin Campbell is an American biochemist who specializes in the effect of nutrition on long-term health. He is the Jacob Gould Schurman Professor Emeritus of Nutritional Biochemistry at Cornell University." The connection between nutrition and heart disease, diabetes, and cancer trumps 9 cases of rat lungworm.

Bradley Choquette said...

That's a very interesting article 1:42. I love the part were they label non-organic food organic, put it in a taste test against the same product, and the foodies say the organic taste way better. Retail therapy at its finest. (I wonder if this is part of organic food's allure). Apparently, this is a common problem. Here is a message board with foodies who have suffered through, or are suffering through, the same problem.
http://www.city-data.com/forum/green-living/333654-eating-all-organic-food-making-me.html
I like the comment where the lady says the organic food taste so much better that she ends up eating more, which is causing her weight gain.

Anonymous said...

Does Rosanne still live on her farm in Hawaii? Interesting to see a red shirt making fun of one of their own. She testified for 2491 with BAB. Especially someone who worked so hard to loss all that weight. Not cool. 8:50, 8:31, 9:44, 8:44, and 5:43 (all the same person) could be from mainland. Must have no life too. He comments like every two hours on multiple blogs.

Anonymous said...

April 14, 2017 at 8:50 PM said "I can throw the Cornell card too. (If Joan will allow me) "T. Colin Campbell is an American biochemist who specializes in the effect of nutrition on long-term health. He is the Jacob Gould Schurman Professor Emeritus of Nutritional Biochemistry at Cornell University." The connection between nutrition and heart disease, diabetes, and cancer trumps 9 cases of rat lungworm. "

Following your logic, we should gorge on more food carrying rat lungworm to stay healthy? No one here has argued that there is no link between poor nutrition and overeating and disease; however some people's argument is that even a balanced diet that includes (even mostly or all) non-organic food is dangerous, and that is outrageous nonsense. Eat whatever you want and leave the rest of us to our Cheetos and conventionally grown fruit and vegetables in peace.

Anonymous said...

You better start stocking up @6:35 because "Surging sales of foods marketed as made without genetically modified crops" are showing manufactures what people really want. And, by the way, directly from cheerios.com "We don’t use genetically modified ingredients in original Cheerios. Our principal ingredient has always been whole grain oats – and there are no GMO oats. We use a small amount of corn starch in cooking, and just one gram of sugar per serving for taste. But our corn starch comes from non-GMO corn, and we use only non-GMO pure cane sugar."

Anonymous said...

Not proud to be fat, but I am, despite eating vegan and vegetarian my entire life and only eating organic foods, so it happens.

Anonymous said...

It was Cheetos, not Cheerios. See what happens when you read for what you want to see?

If you believe GMOs are going to disappear, you probably also believe in unicorns.

Anonymous said...

Surging sales of organic and non-gmo is laughable. Organic food sales account for4% of the market.
https://www.ers.usda.gov/topics/natural-resources-environment/organic-agriculture/organic-market-overview/

Anonymous said...

@8:51 is correct, antis read what they want to hear. Further, Frito-Lay (while they sell some organic products) will continue to buy GMO grains.

Anonymous said...

Any of you GMO junkies want explain why McDonald's won't use gmo potatoes? And why Wendy's, McDonald's, and Gerber won't use GMO Arric Apple?

Anonymous said...

Your not telling the truth

Anonymous said...

4/15 @9:57 PM, I don't know what a "GMO junkie" is, but to answer your question, it's because of fear-mongering caused by Big Organic.

Bradley Choquette said...

McDonalds has their own band/genetics of potatoes They clone them so they are exactly identical and the genetics is solely their own. They have done so since 1991 when I went to UNL Therefore, they have no need for simplot taters. They feel their genetics program is superior and so is the taste/mouth feel of their product.
http://www.foxnews.com/food-drink/2014/11/18/mcdonalds-rejects-gmo-potatoes.html

Does that answer your question homo sapiens? (name calling is a two-way street.)

As for the article apple, they're not needed because of the preservatives they apply to regular apples.

Anonymous said...

"But that hasn’t stopped McDonald’s from rejecting it. A spokesperson told Capital Press that the company will not use the Innate potato, nor any other GMO potato."

Anonymous said...

That quote isn't in Choquette's link... Natural News and ecowatch is fake news. Try using your critical thinking skills.

Anonymous said...

@8:51 please explain then why:

"Ben & Jerry’s

These ice cream moguls have bid farewell to GMOs in all of their products. Notably, the company yanked the ever-popular Coffee Heath Bar Crunch flavor from shelves, updating and re-releasing a GMO-free version of the recipe called Coffee Toffee Bar Crunch"

"Post Cereal

In early 2014, Post released its non-GMO formula Grape-Nuts, which was verified by the Non-GMO Project. Additionally, Post Shredded Wheat and other wheat-based Post cereals are derived from wheat that is not genetically modified. The company expressed a wish to verify more of its brands as non-GMO in the coming months and years."




Anonymous said...

The actual quote from the Capital press article says, “McDonald’s USA does not source GMO potatoes nor do we have current plans to change our sourcing practice,” a company spokesperson said in an email to Capital Press.

It doesn't say they rejected the GMO potato. They just plan on keeping the varieties they are currently using. Way to take things out of context 4:56.

Anonymous said...

McDonalds made it perfectly clear they wanted nothing to do with GMO and the NON GMO emblem popping up on food containers are there for a reason. Companies are distancing themselves from GMO and that's a trend that ain't going away and that's why Bradley and Joni are so concerned and hate the movement because their livelihood is contingent upon GMO. NO GMO means no money for them.

Joan Conrow said...

"And that's a trend that ain't going away.."

Uh, except for all the companies that are already putting on labels that say, made with genetically engineered ingredients.

But I do find it humorous that now you're holding up McDonald's as a beacon for sound food choices! lol!

There are always going to be suckers who are willing to pay for a non-GMO product -- even if there is no GMO version. Like wheat, oats, orange juice, almonds, etc., etc.

I can't speak for Bradley, but I know Joni shares my disgust for the anti-GMO movement because of its fear-mongering and lies, like the claim that her livelihood is dependent upon GMO. Actually, Joni's livelihood is not even associated with ag, much less dependent upon GMOs.

Anonymous said...

4/17 @ 6:37 AM, I am very interested in Bradley's and Joni's responses, if any, to your post. My concern is that some companies are avoiding GE ingredients strictly because they are concerned about loss of revenues due to the demonizing of GE products by various entities, based upon lies and without any credible science and reasons to avoid GE; and the entities leading the lying and demonizing are doing so strictly out of selfish economic interests, without regard for the negative impacts of their behaviors, while falsely promoting themselves as being altruistic and noble.

Anonymous said...

The point is if a fellow company as evil as McDonald's is distancing themselves from your product the writing is on the wall.

Bradley Choquette said...

They label GMO soda at mcdonald's and there sales are going up. McDonalds isn't exactly a stop for foodies, so GMO issues are less of a concern.

Frito-Lay is going to continue to use and promote GMOs due to there higher level of employee safety vs non GMO grain. (the Herculex gene is bug resistant, so they fumigate grain less.)

Companies like general mills and Quaker oats have seen declining sales for two decades, as people's eating habits have change. Adding non GMO products did nothing to improve sales because foodies don't like eating processed foods.

Anonymous said...

This is such a valid comment. Many of us share those concerns.

As consumers, we need to get that message out loud and clear to food producers and retailers.