Driving down Kawaihau Road, near the busy intersection at St. Catherine's, a big, un-neutered pitbull crosses the street behind me. I watch in my rearview mirror as he stops in the middle of the road and just stands there, looking confused. He is obviously lost, but I know my dogs, already barking, will never let him into my car.
On the outskirts of Anahola, a shirtless young man walks into the opposite lane as I pass and begins waving his arms wildly to induce an oncoming motorist to stop. I watch in my rearview mirror as the approaching vehicle slows, veers tentatively to the center of the highway, a string of cars stacking up behind.
At the beach parking lot, a guy sitting in his truck, American Bull Terrier beside him on the passenger seat— “my baby,” he says — strikes up a conversation as Paele pisses on his tire, tells me they leave the house so rarely that the dog does all his business in the bathtub. They are both blinking in the pale sunlight. “This is all kind of new and different for us,” he says, in a trembling voice, as I smile in reassurance and head for the trail.
An hour later, returning home, they are all gone, and I can't help but wonder what happened to them, how they are.
Just as I wonder how the 3,000 residents of Lanai will fare when I read that Oracle co-founder Larry Ellison — America's third richest citizen, a man the Wall Street Journal described as “one of the nation's most voracious consumers of trophy real estate” — is their new owner. It seems so bizarrely feudal that their fate is tied to the whims of the uber-wealthy. But then, when you stop to think about it, isn't that true for all of us 99 percenters?
And it strikes me, as I think of Pierre Omidyar, Steve Case, and now Larry Ellison, how the techies are becoming the new colonialists in Hawaii, wielding vast power and influence by virtue of their wealth alone.
Also wielding vast power is the American Medical Association, which decided at its annual meeting this week that there is no scientific justification for labeling bioengineered — as in genetically modified — food.
Never mind that a majority of Americans want it. Big medicine, which is controlled by big pharm and big insurance, has joined big chem in saying consumers shouldn't have information that will allow us to make a choice. And not just a choice about what we want to put into our bodies, but a choice about a pesticide-intensive farming method that many of us find questionable.
Though the AMA report dismissed concerns about eating modified foods — “The review of peer-reviewed literature revealed no reported and/or substantiated overt consequences to human health” — it couldn't say the same about ecological impacts:
During the testimony, it was acknowledged that there are concerns about the environmental effects of bioengineered foods. As Mario Motta, MD, a representative from the AMA Council on Science and Public Health, explained, "there are potential problems, but they aren't so much in the eating of the food."
The adopted report, entitled "Labeling of Bioengineered Foods," calls for continued research into the potential consequences to the environment of bioengineered crops. It also urged the government, industry, and consumer-advocacy groups to educate the public and provide unbiased information and research activities on bioengineered foods.
There are currently 80 transgenic crops that have undergone regulatory clearance in the United States. Approximately a dozen of these are marketed for human consumption.
And I can't help but wonder what will happen to us, and the planet, from this grand open air GMO experiment, which is not unlike the decision to introduce dozens of chemicals before we really understood — or admitted — that they are terribly harmful to human and environmental health. But once they're out there — and now they are — there's no turning back.