Dr. Graham Chelius, a Board Certified Family Medicine physician who practices in Waimea, and lives in Kekaha, submitted some insightful comments to the Joint Fact Finding Group on agricultural pesticides on Kauai.
As you may recall, Dr. Chelius previously published a letter to the editor soundly refuting Councilman Gary Hooser's oft-made — and unfortunately, oft-published — claim that the westside had a birth defect rate 10 times the national average.
Dr. Chelius' comments on the JFFG report are so thoughtful and informative, from both a common sense and public health perspective, that I thought they should be shared with the general public:
I appreciate the immense amount of work that went into the report; however, I found the report to be amateur, incomplete, biased and irresponsible.
Here are some areas that need to be rectified:
As stated in the AAP policy "Pesticide Exposure in Children" which you cite, the greatest source of pesticide exposure for most children is food. Your report completely ignores this. Where are the recommendations to test for pesticides in school meals which many Westside children eat twice a day during the week? Who is monitoring for pesticide residue at Big Save and Costco? Who is educating the public about the greatest risk of exposure? The report should clearly state this fact. The report found virtually all testing for pesticides on Kauai to be very low level if found at all, suggesting that while monitoring should continue, the exposure risk to humans from agricultural use is lower than from other sources.
Even mentioning a non-peer reviewed unpublished high school science project smacks of desperation. This pathetic level of biased disregard for scientific integrity pervades the entire report. Only high quality data should be included. Including the opinion of a retired EPA employee from Chicago who did no original research on the Waimea Canyon School events is another example of laughable lack of scientific rigor.
Much of the report focuses on RUPs, without addressing if they are a greater health and environmental risk than GUPs. Then GUPs, such as glyphosate, are discussed at length without any data regarding the use pattern on the island, which certainly includes significant home, golf course and governmental use.
The explanation of the difference between causation and correlation in the appendix apparently did not translate to the report. As the report shows there are high rates of smoking, obesity and diabetes on the Westside. These exposures are known to be causative regarding a number of cancers, birth defects and developmental problems in offspring.
Using your own language in the appendix, it is implausible that the low levels of pesticide exposure that the numerous studies have demonstrated on the Westside are responsible for the burden of disease found here. That is the difference between causation and correlation, and it is irresponsible to confuse the public by creating the impression that pesticides have caused disease on the Westside. An epidemiologist should have sat on the panel and one is needed to rewrite the health section. Also it needs to reflect the reality that it is very unlikely that the low levels of pesticide exposure that have been measured are causing any health effects when compared to the known risks of high rates of smoking, obesity and diabetes.
There are a number of residents on the Westside who suffer with kidney failure, all of whom have a known causative exposure, mostly diabetes and hypertension. It is important to note in the report that the one study you cite did not show low level pesticide exposure to cause kidney disease, it is only a correlation, and can be explained by changes in modern lifestyle and agribusiness. More pesticides of certain types are being used and people are generally more sedentary and eat differently causing more obesity, diabetes and hypertension. This again shows a level of bias that is irresponsible. First off, one study doesn't mean anything. Second, there are obvious other causative factors at play. It is so unlikely that pesticide exposure has anything to do with kidney disease on the Westside that even including it without clearly stating that is ridiculous.
Finally, $3 million is a huge amount of money that could be spent on far greater threats to the health of our community. In the last few years, there has been three motor vehicle deaths with in a 1 mile radius of my house, but no pesticide related deaths. Where is the $3 million for traffic cameras and police patrols? There is a very busy dialysis unit and frequent early deaths caused by diabetes on the Westside, where is the $3 million for case management and prevention? The children on the Westside have high rates of poor dental health, obesity and diabetes, where is the 1000 foot buffer zone for sugar around the school? Not addressing that there are well documented causes of disease which are more common and threatening than the minuscule pesticide exposure you found is shameful.
Wasting our limited resources on what has essentially become a witch hunt against Westside Agribusiness is disgusting.
Yes, monitor for continued compliance with the law but clearly state that you came up empty handed, all of the tests show low levels, often due to legacy agricultural use, there is absolutely no scientific evidence of actual harm to humans or the environment, and the most likely exposure most people will have is from the store through food or home use of pesticides.
As a comparison, we soon will have Zika virus spreading to Hawaii. Zika very likely causes birth defects and is not some long shot correlation based on sketchy data like much of the JFF report. Are we going to be so overwhelmed with fear of pesticides that people will resist mosquito control efforts? It will be interesting to see if we come full circle and embrace vaccines and pesticides when we see what an actual threat looks like.
This is remarkably insightful and highly articulate and germane. We've seen that the Crusade of the Irrationals does not feel itself bound by ethics, facts or evidence. The rationals need to keep on keeping on. The community is steadily coming to see that the anti-GMO campaign has been a bill of goods sold by political opportunists. A couple of nights ago, before the public meeting, I reread the version of Bill 2491 that was originally filed. I'd been on a radio program with Councilmember Hooser a couple of weeks before in which I asserted that 2491 was conceived as an anti-GMO measure with pesticides an also-ran issue. He asserted that this was simply untrue and that 2491 was primarily a pesticide measure from the beginning. Reading the original bill again confirmed that what I'd said was accurate. This whole campaign is not really about pesticides. It's about finding an indirect means of assault against genetically engineered agriculture. It reminds me of the tactics we've seen from the "pro-life" movement in the decades since Roe v. Wade. If you were at the JFFG meeting, you could only have been as impressed as I was, and remain, with the performance of Sarah Stayan. One can only wish that more minds and voices like hers had been central to this controversy from the beginning.
If accuracy is important to you Joan, I don't think this is an accurate statement: "Councilman Gary Hooser's oft-made — and unfortunately, oft-published — claim that the westside had a birth defect rate 10 times the national average." What he has said repeatedly is something to the effect of "several Doctors who serve at the west side Kvmh hospital have testified that they believe there are 10x the birth defect rate". It is true that many doctors in that hospital remain very concerned and they have made those statements.
8:55. Hooser has made the claim straight out, and also couched it in the vague "doctors believe" without ever identifying the doctors so we can check. In his letter to the editor, Dr. Chelius said those concerns had been resolved after another review of the data. If doctors still truly are concerned, let them step forward and state specifics and give their rationale.
@8:55 bullshit. Dr. Chelius and his partner do most of the births at KVMH. There are not "several" or "many" doctors at KVMH who believe any such thing.
A lot of us have utilized KVMH. We know nurses and doctors. The hospital is right at the hub of both the fields and the controversy. They not only do not see any trends re pesticides, but are extraordinarily proud of the obstetrics department. They are concerned about adult diabetes in Hawaiian and Filipino community and crack heads that terrorize everyone.
As Dylan wrote in Subterranean Blues "you don't need a weatherman to know which way the wind blows" and not many of us need an ethics adviser to know that Hooser is not exactly a stickler for accuracy or honor. Ultimately, this comes down to character, forthrightness and honesty. Nice try 8:55, but no cigar. It's the whole package and not the minutiae. Thanks to Dr. Chelius for a cogent, informed and fair opinion from the front lines of the battle for the west side's health. The stakes are high, and I hope the Department of Health and the Mayor get a copy of his letter. Holo Holo 2020 should dedicate some serious funding and staff time to the real health risks on the island and not dump another dollar into the anti-GMO rat hole of hyperbolic speculation.
Unpublished Anonymous 10:24. You need to re-submit your comment as your own views, rather than trying to put words in the doctor's mouth, if you want it published.
@8:55...woooowww...not a single comment on the doctor's "FACTS" could you find, so you attack something Joan said instead.
YAAAAAAASSSS!!!! SLAY, Dr. Chelius, SLAYYY!!!
Alright, all silliness aside, THANK YOU, Dr. Chelius, for putting together such smart, relative, factual information for the JFFG. A board certified physician, who lives and works on the westside, who is talking to and treating the westsiders, who can outline true medical facts and statistics...I am so happy this man has brought true light to the situation as it really is on the westside. We are not being poisoned, we are not being brainwashed, we are not suffering from diabetes because of biotech, we are not killing off owls.
Thank you, Dr. C, for being awesome and slaying the Joke Fake Finding Group.
Thank you Dr. Chelius for saying what many of us have been thinking and have occasionally tried to articulate. The antis clearly don't want to address the real problems: drug use, smoking, obesity, diabetes, alcohol abuse and teen pregnancy (which are of course not restricted to the West side). Instead they want to buddy up to the mainland special interest groups (such as the utterly misnamed Center for Food Safety) to promote their anti-GMO campaign. I would like to see Dr. Chelius' comments appended to the "Fact" Finding Group report in their entirety.
Another gem Joan! Clear language driven by a clear and active critical thinking process. I think that is all any of us can ask for. The lame arguments that are used like "Doctors believe" or "health authorities surmise" is not grounded in science. A scientist will consider all of the evidence (data) and present a conclusion based on processing that evidence by statistical means that are agreed upon by the scientific field. Truth does not require our belief.
There are no short cuts in life. If the community is demanding that something be done then data collection has to be high on the list of priorities of things to do. Without the gathering of the facts (data) then concluding statements are simply conjecture. Those of us who are in the scientific field would be very comfortable with the gathering of the data needed to address the concerns of the community in this particular case (pesticide impact to human health on the west side of Kauai). That is the only way to know, for sure, if there is an issue. And even then, the best we can say is that we are 99% confident, based on the data, that there is a concern.
Please keep doing what you're doing. I have so much respect for the fact that you are willing to put yourself out there, nearly every day, and demand that we need to have higher standards than what we are currently seeing in order to get to the "meat of the matter." I know that you have been called names, been mocked, and been subject to sarcastic remarks that impugn your integrity. And that's just what we see as a result of reading your blog post. But please know that we support what you're doing and look forward to your posts no matter where you stand on the issues. You have earned our trust and respect by simply sticking to the facts. What a concept!
Joan at 12:05 PM said "Unpublished Anonymous 10:24. You need to re-submit your comment as your own views, rather than trying to put words in the doctor's mouth, if you want it published."
Those words were my conclusion based upon what the Dr. said about children getting most pesticides in children's food. "the greatest source of pesticide exposure for most children is food." I doubt the schools are adding pesticides to the children's food so the government must be buying it from corporations that are putting pesticides in the food. This is similar to the role the schools played in the current diabetes epidemic by feeding students sugary foods which the corporations put in everything! Public Health's multi-decade anti-smoking campaign reduced smoking but neglected to mention the diabetes epidemic they were helping create. I concluded that it is easier to study the problem upstream at the corporate source instead of the downstream food delivery system of public schools, Big Save, and Costco. Look at the first link in the chain, agriculture pesticide use, instead of the last link in the chain, innocent children.
Joan, why would you give credence to some baby Doctor at KVMH. He is only a Doctor.
Gary Hooser is Councilman, successful businessman, real estate agent, president of HAPA, a former Senator and a beacon of hope and enlightenment on Kauai. Gary knows more than Doctors, he has insider knowledge on what is really happening on the westside. He has friends in high places and they share their secrets with him. Gary is only trying to protect the people and we should hearken to his words.
It is shameful that Gary gets maligned. Even the Garden Island Newspaper uses Gary as their paragon on Agriculture, Pesticides, Water and Society. The GI, as we all know is the foremost publication on Kauai and is well known for its in depth reporting and careful analysis of Kauai life.
We must band together and make sure Gary gets re-elected. With Derik Kawakami running for Council, Gary's slot is jeopardized. Kauai needs elected officials who are smart, humble, self-sacrificing, honest and judicious.
Gary, Mason and JoAnn are Kauai's last hope for a better future. These three brave souls sometimes take a road less traveled.
Gary is lion-hearted and courageous. Another attribute and testament to Gary's character can be observed by the loyal following he has from so many of us on the Northshore. Just because we have money and like to share our wealth of knowledge with the less educated and inexperienced residents we sometimes get maligned, but Gary stands with us. He understands the the real future of Kauai isn't with local style. The progressive, organic wave of the future is at hand. Keep up the good work Gary.
Gary is the real truth teller.
For 3:18 PM, thanks for the laugh! Definitely needed!
Thank you 3:18! Ross is the only true leader among the 7. He is humble and does not feel the need to speak the Kings English just to impress the transplants. He looks and sounds like one of us because he is one of us. He understands that the issues important to local people are all that matters. Protecting the culture of Friday night lights at football games, and allowing our dogs to bark whenever they need to are two important policy initiatives Ross has championed and is most proud of. Replacing Puhi Road is another of Ross's achievements and they will be finished with that project soon.
Ross knows the limitations of his friends and has pragmatically asked the Police to lower their entry level requirements so more locals can be hired for these good jobs. We should thank him for recognizing that you don't need to be a rocket science to be a police officer.
We need to keep Ross in office cause he is the only one of the 7 willing to work non stop to block any proposals put forward by Hooser and Chock. Ross killed the Barking Dog Bill, he almost killed the lobbyist Bill and he will surely kill the affordable housing Bill. He knows how to deal with smarty pants council members who try to make him look bad.
Ross will win and be the top vote getter in upcoming elections. He has his local farmers and chamber of commerce friends as a base. Plus his second full time state government job allows him to understand what real locals go through having to work two jobs or more.
Ross is real. He does not put on airs or adopt phony mainland manners to impress people.
The last doctor that spoke against the chemical companies, Godding, got ran out of town.
4/7 @ 2:23pm, stop mixing your medications.
Looks like even The Economist is supporting the JFF recommendations. WTFIUWT?
So farmers and school cafeterias do not add pesticides to food, but rather corporations do. Must be an interesting job.
And notice how GMO has now become a nonissue. Not that many of us thought that it ever was an issue, but wasn't that they point of the hysteria?
For years I was proud of what the Univ of Hawaii contributed to the cause of the eradication of hunger in the Philippines first, then the rest of South West Asia. Now I was supposed to be ashamed. Because rich North Shore hippies don't like us, but like the island.
I don't think people understand that being exposed toxic chemical soups can cause diabetes and liver failure.
Agent Orange: American Diabetes Association®
www.diabetes.org › related-conditions
Mar 27, 2015 - The evidence of a link between exposure to Agent Orange (or dioxin, the problematic contaminant in ...
If you all don't know then you research or axe somebody.
gary hooser a realtor, really? President of HAPA but is not a farmer.
Things are starting to smell around here.
I keep hearing things like the Upscale realty company Hawaii Life also funding the shenanigans around Kauai. Hooser gets his political contributions from them.
I've been to one of those county hearings during the great 2491 debates and could not help noticing a lot of cars with realtor signs on them.
A friend of mines from the north shore was pointing out people wearing red shirts as realtors, there were a lot of them. Some of them also belong to Emerald Isle realty.
Something really stinks here.
The westside has lots of sunshine, sandy beaches, brown local people who unfortunately live there. Why not destroy their economic base by pushing out Kauai Coffee and the seed companies. Close PMRF and raise their property taxes and run the county broke with law suits so people loose their homes and businesses.
Way to go Gary! If you pull this off it wont be Hooser Da Looser
So what about the Syngenta workers who were sent to the ER for pesticide exposure?? Hmmm...
So did you read the pesticide label, 2:15? Hmmm... Do you even know what it is? Hmmm... Are you a realtor? Hmmm... Did you just get home from a bar? Hmmm... I like this hmmm... game!
Gary has no intention of farming anything other than money. The realtor interest is in the land, you can see them licking their lips, chomping at the bit and drooling, my my the west side is beautiful, just get rid of agriculture, get rid of the seed companies and voila, so much land ripe for development. If they cared about the people or pesticide use, they would have raised a fuss about the Princeville housing project being located next to a pesticide mixing station, they would care about people by funding pesticide free termite control since that is the number one RUP used on Kauai, they would care about the shitty water used to irrigate island golf courses, no the island is mostly developed with the west side lands the realtors best hope, so they fund the anti movement. If you think HAWAII life really cares about the people, think again. They drive up the price of land , and want to sell the land to developers, they don't give a shit about the health of the west side residents, or any other, they do care about having more land available to sell and gentrify Kauai.
3:18 April 7 - I see your opening comment refers to the physician who submitted his statement that started this firestorm. Well based on lots of statements that have been flung around recently he happens to be the foremost authority in delivering babies on the westside at KVMH. So given those credential he is right in the thick of things and he is giving a first hand account that many of the so called "data" on high rates of birth defects is simply untrue.
As a simple person I would tend to believe someone who is an expert who actually delivers babies for a living and if he says in his practices that he hasn't seen the defects that has been reported, then I have to believe it. And yet I know there are birth defects from mothers who are drug users and yet the study doesn't show those stats.
So while I see your desire to campaign for Gary Hooser on this issue, I think you have to do a better job because many who I have spoken to have indicated they voted for him the last election but this go around will not. So what I am saying is to stick to the issue. The tax payers are funding a witch hunt. And thank you Dr. Chelius for your honesty and insight. We all would have never known the truth..
2:15 - So what about those Syngenta workers that went to the ER at KVMH? We are laughing hysterically cause we are with them telling them that you would like to know what? If you weren't there that day you wouldn't know the procedures that has to be followed no matter how big or small an incident. It is required. Even if you as the employee does not want to go to the ER or does not have any complaints, you have to go because it's part of the protocol. Now if you were there that day you would have known but you weren't right? So I, like many of my fellow co workers live and work on the westside. Do you?
Syngenta screwed up and then sent the impacted workers back home to Mexico. Everyone who lives on the west side knows this. Who are you trying to fool? Stupid.
I work for Syngenta and everything was done with the number one priority being the health and safety of all the workers. All procedures were followed.
For those of you that keep saying the field workers were "sprayed", they were not "sprayed" with anything. They entered a field 20 hours after the field was sprayed safely.
7:52 -- You might want to avoid calling others stupid when your own "facts" are so wrong. The workers returned to California when their employment contract period was completed. Nobody was "sent" anywhere. That's the problem with relying on the coconut wireless. It's nearly always wrong.
Joan, You used to cover a wide variety of topics. These past few years your focus seems to have narrowed to GMO/pesticide/Hooser et al issues. Do you have any plans to expand topics in the future? Homelessness, ice, military, Hawaiian Kingdom, public access, education, environment, global warming, sustainability, etc? You occasionally bring up these topics, but I would like to hear more about them and less about gmo/pesticide/Gary Hooser. Reading his name over and over again is becoming a little tiresome. How about focusing more on community members who you think are doing the most good for the island?
Rodney Haraguchi, president of the Kaua'i Taro Growers Association response to the JFFG draft report is awesome, too. Provided is an excerpt below:
"Recently a taro farmer was spraying weeds and along came a woman that said to please stop because she and her friends were being affected by the drift. The taro farmer had anticipated that this would happen so he had bought a new sprayer and was only using water. He reached into his sprayer and drank a handful of water and told her it was only water, then asked for her and her friend's names and telephone numbers so he could talk with them. She just turned and walked away without providing him that courtesy."
@11:40. Kauai has plenty of fluffy and puffy publications telling about all the good people doing good things. Citizens also need to know about the bad people doing bad things, especially when they're claiming it's for the public's good.
Of course they want you to stop writing about Hooser! LOL!!!
3:18 PM - Would you write my eulogy please?
when the bad people doing bad things publication starts, they'll be a long list of candidates.
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