A reader left this comment yesterday:
Want to comment on the Maui vote Joan? How is it that over 50% of the Maui voters passed the anti farming initiative? Is there that many crazy people on Maui? Monsanto spends $8,000,000 and loses? How can this be? Facinateing. Regardless of the language of the proposal and its legal viability, it seems pretty amazing that over half of Maui voters chose to send the gmo companies packing. Maybe we will see the fistees and Barca all moving to Maui?
With 52.7% of the registered voters casting ballots, the final vote on the anti-GMO initiative was 50.2% in favor, 47.9% opposed and 1.9% blank.
I took a careful look at all the precincts on Maui, and found the measure had strongest support in areas where GMO crops aren't even grown. But it was repeatedly rejected in communities that actually have GMO fields and workers.
Molokai, with all its GMO acreage, overwhelming opposed the measure, while Hana, with no biotech, soundly supported it. Haiku — the largest precinct in Maui County, but with no GMO fields and a big population of newcomer mainland haoles — also voted overwhelming for the initiative, which pushed an initiative that was running pretty much neck-and-neck throughout the county over the top.
So we see the same dynamic playing out as it did in the Kauai elections, where voters on the westside soundly rejected anti-GMO candidates. And that dynamic is this:
People who are not working in or even exposed to the GMO fields are all for banning and regulating them, while those who actually live nearest to and work in the fields have no desire to be “saved” from this alleged agricultural menace.
Sounds an awful lot like ye olde “white man's burden” colonial mindset, which was expressed so well by this comment, also left yesterday, in all its “sic” glory:
west side generations of migrant sugar and pineapple hordes were forced to drink the kool aid decades ago...they abide by what is told TO them. Theres no rationale or creative thinking...can't go against the machine,theres no popular advocay for a better way. anger in your face/kick your ass fuels the discourse as if its amazing dialogue. the poisons theyve lived immersed in taint the world thats bigger than them.they don't get they don't get it ...two steps removed. Defending against a psuedo enemy keeps them believing the nemesis is out there and not from them. The whole ploy of the corporations is to keep it that way. pawns line up quietly and dont question.
This is the underlying attitude that is driving much of the anti-GMO sentiment throughout the Islands and creating much of the polarization. It's incredibly offensive to the “migrant sugar and pineapple hordes” who actually built modern Hawaii, whose manual labor created, ironically, the economy that allows so many of the mainland haole anti-ag folks to now live in "paradise."
Meanwhile, another commenter left a link to a new paper that purportedly links GMO crops and glyphosate (Roundup) to “the deterioration of American health," thus becoming gospel for the anti-GMO crowd. I sent the study to a friend who is very akamai about scientific papers to get his take. His response:
I've had some time to look over the glyphosate-disease study. Entire fields of red flags.
The first one is the authors. Three of them work in geological imaging, as best I can determine, with no indication of health care or statistics credentials.
The lead author, Nancy Swanson, is a math and physics professional who did her early career work at the Naval Surface Warfare Center and advertises her specialisy in remote sensing and imaging, optics and laser light transmission.
The corresponding author, Leu, is president of the activist organization, International Federation of Organic Agricultural Movements. One of its core principles: "IFOAM opposes genetic engineering in agriculture due to the unprecedented danger it represents for the entire biosphere and the particular economic and environmental risks it poses for organic producers. Leu (who appears from his photos to be haole) is a tropical fruit grower in Australia who wrote "The myths of safe pesticides." He has no medical or epidemiological training, or at least claims none in his bio. So we know where he's coming from.
And it's no surprise they found a bunch of apparent correlations, because that's all they were looking for: "Databases were searched for epidemiological data on diseases that might have a correlation to glyphosate use and/or GE crop growth based on information given in the introduction."
Did they find any negative correlations that might disprove their thesis? We don't know. They didn't report it. I think the term of art for this is cherry-picking.
One caution is that almost all of the statistics show significant increases in disease before the use of glyphosate. The authors don't address that anomaly, but it seems to be to be a significant one.
Example, there is a 100% (that's kind of a lot) increase in death from hypertension from 1982-1992, before glyphosate and long before GE crops---this is from Leu's own data. Several of the charts show disease levels doubling in the decade before glyphosate.
The elephant in the room, it seems to me, (although I hurry to say I'm not an expert) is overweight. The authors don't consider that obesity could be causing everything else. But we all know this, right?
Obsesity alone is about the most significant disease-causer you can think of.
Obesity is closely associated with Parkinson's. Here's a study of Japanese men in Hawaii.
Obesity is associated with liver and bile duct disease.
Here's what Mayo says about obesity and kidney disease.
Primary risk factor for diabetes? Overweight.
Are obesity and chronic gastrointestinal disorders linked? People think so.
And it goes on and on.
Here's a fun one, The authors [of the critiqued study] assert that glyphosate is linked to autism:
Maybe we can blame the sugar industry, because this problem tracks sugar use for far, far longer than it does pesticides:
In short, things aren't always what they first appear, whether it's a supposedly objective study claiming to link GMOs and glyphosate with disease, or an election that seems to show "over half of Maui voters chose to send the gmo companies packing."