Friday, April 3, 2015

Musings: Here and There

Basmati rice is unloaded manually at the grain market.
A Sirsa field worker with her children and goats.
(Tip: To get a better view of the images, click on a photo and it will enlarge and present the others as a slide show.)

Skimming through news of the Islands from thousands of miles and 16 hours distant, it's so sad to hear kanaka crying and see them getting arrested on Mauna Kea to protest yet another telescope on that peak. Hawaiians need more say over what happens to their land, especially the most sacred parts of it.

And it's sad — as in pathetic — to see Babes Against Biotech capitalizing on the 30-meter telescope demonstration, posting video from the mountain with references to “our 31 arrests” and “our kupuna” and “our brothers and sisters,” like the Babes aren't a collection of mainland haole transplants trying to impose their own version of “we know best” colonialism on the Islands.

One of my favorite lines from their Facebook posts: “WOW UH is being really misleading!” Uh, hello...

They were also promoting a crowd funder for bail and legal assistance. Hey, I've got an idea. Instead of vindictively parking the domain names of all the people who call you on your bullshit, why not put that dough toward something useful like bail?

One of their followers, no doubt soon to be barred from their Facebook page, commented:

Did BAB change their mission? I'm confused. Other people probably will be too. Might want to start a separate group for this. Doesn't seem like BAB's kuleana.

Guess it's a little slow in the anti-GMO realm, what with all their bills dead in the Lege and their crappy laws tied up in court, so they have to find something else to do. But then, wherever the cameras are, the Babes — and Dustin Barca — are sure to go.

Which is why he posted this photo with the caption:
Locked and Loaded With Aloha. OUR Aloha for OUR Aina will only Grow in Numbers . This is about the Future of OUR Natural resources for the future of of OUR Keiki and their Keiki From Hilo to Hanalei!! Today was an Honor to be arrested with Aloha Ainā Warriors to Protect OUR sister Mauna Kea. From Wai'ale'ale to Mauna Kea We are united in the Light.

So if it's all about OUR and WE, and neither the Babes nor Dustin are kanaka, whose interests exactly are they promoting?

I also noticed that Jan TenBruggencate had posted a commentary on Civil Beat about pesticides, and how much more likely it is that homeowners will be misusing the stuff than agricultural entities, which are actually trained in their application and have machines that can pinpoint their delivery.

This prompted Theresa Menard, a Hawaiian bat expert, to post a link to a CDC study on “Acute Pesticide Illnesses Associated with Off-Target Pesticide Drift from Agricultural Applications: 11 States, 1998–2006.” She noted that it found:

Common factors contributing to drift cases included weather conditions, improper seal of the fumigation site, and applicator carelessness near nontarget areas. Agricultural workers and residents in agricultural regions had the highest rate of pesticide poisoning from drift exposure, and soil fumigations were a major hazard, causing large drift incidents. Our findings highlight areas where interventions to reduce off-target drift could be focused. Drift included off-target movement of pesticide spray, volatiles, and contaminated dust.

So I checked out the report, which was quite interesting, especially its conclusion, which Theresa apparently missed:

These study findings suggest that the incidence of acute illness from off-target pesticide drift exposure was relatively low during 1998–2006 and that most cases presented with low-severity illness.

Aerial applications were the most frequent method associated with drift events, and soil fumigations were a major cause of large drift events.

Granted, soil fumigation could cause drift from Hawaii fields. But when you consider that they aren't doing aerial applications here, and acute illnesses from drift incidences were relatively low even in places where they are doing aerial spraying, how likely is it that westside residents truly are getting sick and dying from the pesticides used there? Especially when there hasn't been even one case of worker pesticide poisoning in those fields.

Fear mongering, anyone?

Meanwhile, the state has posted data on all the restricted use pesticides sold in each county. Civil Beat took credit for pushing the state to comply with Act 105, without also noting that the data is essentially meaningless, as those of us who opposed this time-wasting bill had predicted.

But Kauai folks should take some comfort in the fact that a total of 15,949 pounds were sold in their county — how did Councilman Gary Hooser ever come up with his claim that the seed companies alone were using 18 tons? — compared to 138,632 pounds on the Big Island, 334,097 in Maui County and 906,890 on Oahu. And the bulk of it was chlorine, used in water and sewage treatment facilities.

While I'm on the topic of pesticides, we interviewed Dr. Gulab Singh Sihag in Sirsa, who said that pesticide poisonings had decreased in the intensively agricultural Punjab region since 1995, due to increased awareness, the use of different chemicals and most importantly, the mechanization of pesticide applications.

And with that, I'll leave you with some more images of life in rural India.
A farmer transports silage for his cows.
A cow snacks at the grain market.
Workers clean mustard seed at the grain market.
Vendors buy veggies from farmers for daily sale at market.
Seed and pesticide shops line the main street.
Another one of the all-purpose farm shops.
Seeds and pesticides are big sellers here.
Bt cotton, India-style.
A water buffalo cruises the vegetable market.
Vendors hire men to hawk veggies throughout town.
Women and men clean basmati rice at the grain market.
Wheat is damaged by unseasonal wind and rain.
Though Punjab farms are largely mechanized, they still require manual labor.


Anonymous said...

Hi there, long time reader and lurker here. I'm enjoying your posts about India.

This giant telescope is nothing new. It's been in the works for years. So suddenly the anti-GMO people are protesting it? I guess they want the Native Hawaiian groups to join their ranks. It's kind of creepy in my opinion. Nobody seems to realize how we are being played by these mainland groups.

Anonymous said...

Joan-your photos are very interesting-but I still do not see any other visitors in the pics-even in the markets-are you the only one? and if so where do you stay when you travel? is there available accommodation other than hotels?are you a welcomed visitor?
Just curious

Joan Conrow said...

As I responded to your comment on a previous post, I have seen very few foreigners during my two weeks in India, and in this town, no, there was not even one other, aside from my traveling companion. I was the subject of great interest and curiosity. Now that I am back in Delhi, I have seen a few more foreigners — Caucasians, Japanese and Chinese. I have not seen any accommodations offered other than hostels and hotels. I have been staying at hotels.

Ken Burch said...

Mahalo to Dustin and all the aloha ʻāina warriors who are standing on the front lines. Your actions speak so much louder than petty words which question your motives for being there. Now is the time for lokahi and the coming together of all people who love our earth mother Papa, sky father Wakea and support kanaka ʻōiwi culture, regardless of ethnicity. All of you who walk the talk are true inspirations for the rest of us and our keiki. Mahalo nui loa!!!

Anonymous said...

plenty aloha warriors!
ku ha'aheo

Anonymous said...

Interesting how those vegetables, for the most part, are exactly what we have here. Scary though, in the uncontrolled use of pesticides.

Anonymous said...

Joan, I appreciate your perspective...questions...the butterflies?Their larve is also compromised. Are they present? What crops surround the Bt crops?

Joan Conrow said...

I believe that research has only found possible impacts on monarch butterfly larvae from Bt corn pollen, not Bt cotton. It's important to remember that frequently spraying insecticides, as was done with non-Bt cotton, would also have a deleterious impact on butterflies and larvae

Plants typically grown near Bt cotton vary by farmer, but include paddy (rice), vegetables and fruit orchards.

And Ken Burch, I find it curious that you define "walk the talk" as self-promotion on Instagram.

Ken Burch said...

Joan, I checked my post, but failed to find any words defining "walk the talk" as self-promotion. Perhaps the words are yours? Anyways, I hope you are enjoying India. It is such a fascinating country!

Anonymous said...

In regards to Joan's claim that "there hasn't been even one case of worker pesticide poisoning in those fields." She fails to inform the reader that Hawaii does not have a pesticide poisoning surveillance program of the sort established in other states to monitor that. Online testimony to the Hawaii Legislature for House Bill 1514 has testimony by a Kauai westside primary care provider outlining a number of cases of where pesticide poisoning is suspected. The written testimony of Marghee Maupin also mentions an agricultural worker poisoning incident. It's online on pages 457-472 at:

Joan Conrow said...

Hawaii most certainly does monitor pesticide poisoning, especially among field workers, and "suspected" is a long way from "confirmed". It's possible through blood and urine tests to determine pesticide loads so if the westside provider suspects poisoning then he/she should order the appropriate tests. Marghee Maupin has made a number of inflated and discredited claims that have eroded her credibility on this issue. In light of all the claims that have been made, why hasn't even one person been able to provide documentation of pesticide poisoning?