Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Musings: Growing Evidence

Things are turning lush again after a way-too-dry March. The waterfalls are flowing and the soil is enjoying a thorough soaking as another day dawned under the patter of much welcome rain. It felt good to go out in the moonlit night and hear nothing but the roar of a swelling stream. And then the clouds swirled in and consumed the pale white sphere, which grows to fullness tonight.

A beekeeping friend whose family grows corn in the Midwest sent me a piece from NPR about neonicotinoids — pesticides used to coat the seeds of many agricultural crops, particularly corn. When the seed sprouts, the chemicals spread through the plant and insects that try to munch it get a deadly dose.

These chemicals are used in the seed crops grown on our island and elsewhere in Hawaii. 

Now there's growing evidence that these pesticides — developed by Shell and Bayer — are killing bees, prompting beekeepers and conservation groups to file suit against the EPA to suspend registrations of insecticides identified as highly toxic to honey bees.

The same debate is raging in Europe, where 13 EU nations are calling for a ban on neonics. But Britain is putting up fierce resistance. Though 30 scientific papers have been published in the past three years linking the chemicals to bee harm, the British environmental minister and Bayer are calling for “real-world, not theoretical” studies that pesticide poisoning is to blame for bee declines around the world.

As NPR reports, Purdue University entomologist Christian Krupe tested the dust produced by the machines that are used to plant corn and “found amazing levels of neonic pesticides: 700,000 times more than what it takes to kill a honeybee. That toxic dust lands on nearby flowers, such as dandelions. If bees feed on pollen from those flowers, that dust easily can kill them.”

Other recent (2012) studies show that pesticide dust released at planting time may persist in nearby fields for several years and be taken up into non-target plants, which are then foraged by bees and other insects.

Plants grown from treated seeds produce pollen that contains low levels of neonics. Bees get cumulative exposure when they collect this pollen, which is used to feed their young.

As I mentioned, these pesticides are widely used in Hawaii seed crops. So what is the impact on our wildlife, our bees, the people who live within blowing dust distance of these crops? We don't know, and no one is looking.

But a study by the very mainstream American Cancer Society suggests it's time we started (emphasis added):

A growing number of well-designed epidemiological and molecular studies provide substantial evidence that the pesticides used in agricultural, commercial, and home and garden applications are associated with excess cancer risk. This risk is associated both with those applying the pesticide and, under some conditions, those who are simply bystanders to the application. In this article, the epidemiological, molecular biology, and toxicological evidence emerging from recent literature assessing the link between specific pesticides and several cancers including prostate cancer, non-Hodgkin lymphoma, leukemia, multiple myeloma, and breast cancer are integrated. Although the review is not exhaustive in its scope or depth, the literature does strongly suggest that the public health problem is real.

So it is not reassuring to learn, as reported in Andy Parx's blog, that Kauai County officials have employed the lobbying services of James Pacopac, who also works as a lobbyist for Syngenta. That's the same company whose agricultural practices were suspected of sickening kids at Waimea Canyon School numerous times, prompting the county to spend $50,000 on a study that came up with no real conclusions.

Surely the county — and KIUC, which also employs Pacopac — could find a lobbyist who isn't affiliated with the chemical companies to represent us in the Legislature, where GMO crops, pesticide registration and related issues were hotly debated this session. And from the agenda item posted for tomorrow's County Council meeting, it appears Pacopac was also representing the Hawaii State Association of Counties (HSAC) Legislative Packages for 2013.

As the Biblical saying goes, “no man can serve two masters.” And in this case, it's likely the fat pockets of Syngenta inspire greater lobbyist loyalty.

If the county wants to build credibility with its citizens, whose concerns about pesticide exposure from the seed crops are mounting, it needs to start by eliminating the perception that it's already in bed with the chemical companies that grow them.


Anonymous said...

Well itʻs time for Kauai to set this administration straight and fire this piece of crap, James Pacopac.

What are they thinking? or not thinking more like it.

Anonymous said...

Wow. What we won't do for money!

Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

I am not going to say you are necessarily wrong about all of this, but your constant state of hysteria needs to be addressed. You must calm down. The enemy is not always around you.

Anonymous said...

The enemy IS those killing the planet with pesticides and making money from the denaturing of the Planet.

No bees No food. Simple.

Dr Shibai

Anonymous said...

The inspectors for TVR's and the fraudulent waste of 50k to sabotage a study on what caused(s) the children at Waimea canyon school to get sick are all apart of the same group of GOBAG that killed the 8 people in the Ka Loko Dam incident.

Things will never change on Kauai unless the AG or FBI federally charge and convict these greedy criminals. They had Imai and Costa but let them walk. They got the illegal firearms dealer and now they have to get the rest of them.

Anonymous said...

don't worry it just takes time to document their wrong doings - they can only convict them when they have all the evidence.

Dawson said...

> ...your constant state of hysteria needs to be addressed. You must calm down. The enemy is not always around you. <

Reality check for Anon. 9:30 p.m.:

The year is 2013. In the half-century since the publication of Silent Spring, there has been an invention called the internet, with which, using your very own personal computing machine, you can research mountains of evidence that will show you the Monsantos of the world are no longer your friends.


tophatandscarf said...

Well after what happened today w the Obama administration - looks like they are gonna kill us all off. There's too much money and power.

"When the power of love overcomes the love of power, then the world will know peace." J. Hendrix

Looks like it ain't happenin anytime soon here in paradise or any where else.

Anonymous said...

"The only way to beat GMO is to quit buying their stuff"

This is true for those informed, but the majority of people ("the deal breaker") have no clue.

It would take a "revolution" in our culture to stop eating junk food, and prepackaged or canned heavily processed store bought food most Americans take for granted.....to make a difference. Perhaps a massive ad and information campaign costing millions of dollars.

But even so, the pesticides and herbicides will continue to ruin the land, air and water....due to GMO production.

Locally, we need to hire an outside investigator who could dig up the dirt on the politicians who "sleep" with GMO companies and enjoy their perks, etc., and allow them to do their dirty deeds on Kauai

Dr Shibai

Anonymous said...


For the un-informed on the subject of GMO's.....watch above video

Knowledge is power

Dr Shibai