Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Musings: A Hair-Raising Tale

Through fear-mongering, relentless social media and the complicity of lazy media, the anti-GMO movement has succesfully established this false narrative: Seed companies in Hawaii are using unprecedented quantities of pesticides in a largely unregulated, wantonly reckless manner that is poisoning the keiki.

A key messenger for this meme is Kekaha resident Malia Chun, who serves as the token Hawaiian poster child for the movement. She is regularly trotted out to tell her manufactured tale of woe to publications ranging from Hawaii Business to Truth Out.
Malia has even used her children to help advance these falsehoods. As the Natural Society website proclaimed:

She flew all the way to Switzerland to attend Syngenta’s board meeting to draw attention to the fact that corporations like theirs are poisoning her children. Recent tests revealed that one of her daughters was riddled with 36 different pesticides – the shocking discovery was found from taking a simple hair sample to a lab.

This claim was followed by a plea to sign a petition to “help Chun and other families defend themselves against biotech’s careless spraying.”

Malia also submitted that hair sample to the Joint Fact Finding Group on agricultural pesticides, which included it in its report, and she used it in a press conference demanding Gov. Ige adopt all the JFF recommendations.

Like so much of the tripe put out by the antis, the hair sample was accepted by many as gospel — “proof” that kids are being poisoned by seed company pesticides.

As the anti-GMO movement again ramps up its efforts to demand the state Legislature impose buffer zones around schools, longtime science reporter Jan TenBruggencate got to wondering about that hair sample.

So he spent hours over the New Year's weekend analyzing the report, and published his findings on his Raising Islands blog:

It turns out that most of the detected chemicals listed as the most dangerous are not agricultural but home-use chemicals—consumer products. And those are also the ones in the highest concentrations.

They’re the chemicals people use to kill fleas and ticks on their pets, that they drip into dog and cat ears to kill ear mites, that are used for roaches and ants, that people use in their gardens for weeds and insect pests and molds.

Why is this important, other than to prove the antis love to lie and make stuff up? Well, it shines a spotlight on the real cuplrit in childhood pesticide exposure: the home.

As Jan notes:

The hair study--to the degree that it has value--confirms what the National Pesticides Information Center, and the EPA, and American Academy of Pediatrics have found—that the most serious pesticide threat to children is found in and around their homes.

Government inspectors keep track of our farmers' use of chemicals, but nobody's checking you and your neighbors. And if there is any danger, that's most likely where the danger is.

This is borne out by the state Department of Agriculture assessment of school evacuations, which determined that not one of the 16 incidents reported between 2006 and 2014 was caused by seed company pesticides. Ten were caused by homeowners.

Meanwhile, state water studies detected only negligible amounts of pesticides in agricultural areas on Kauai, while urban Oahu had higher pesticide levels than any rural area in the state.

Though 293 pesticide complaints were made statewide between 2010 and 2013 — just 42 were from Kauai — “less than half are due to agricultural activities.”

According to a summary of calls to the Hawaii Poison Center:

Of the 4,800 human pesticide exposure calls, approximately 90% of the exposures occurred in a residence, 4.4% in the workplace and 1% in a school. The remaining 4% consisted of miscellaneous locations (i.e., other/unknown, public areas, health care facilities, and food service.) At least 90 percent of the exposures caused no or minimal health effects.

Even Surfrider failed to find a smoking gun in its own still-unpublished report of its two-year water study. All of the results were in the “no concern” parts per billion level — with termiticides the number one contaminant.

So what is the real problem here, other than groups like Earthjustice and Center for Food Safety, which are using pesticides as a guise to destroy biotech farming in Hawaii — and the politicians like Rep. Chris Lee and Realtors like Wil Welsh, who play along?

If we're going to expend time, money and political capital, let's make sure it's for something worthwhile — not a manufactured concern drummed up to the satisfy the anti-GMO agenda of activist groups.


Anonymous said...

Joan why are you not disclosing that Jan Tenbruggencate also works with you and the other Alliance for Science bloggers out of Cornell University, whose mission is to promote biotech? Jan also works for others closely tied to the chemical companies. Jan used to be a respectable environmental writer until he, like you, joined the dark side. Jan was the only person to testify in support of repealing 2491. Why is he so interested in this topic and so motivated to oppose the move to regulate these companies? Answer: Because he is getting paid to do so.

Joan Conrow said...

I'm so sorry to derail your conspiracy tale, Anonymous, but Jan is not getting paid for this and there are no "Alliance for Science bloggers."

Jan is interested in this topic for the same reason I am: We loathe BS, especially when it's being used to frighten people and advance political agendas through policies that are not needed, but harm agriculture.

But I guess when you're unable to counter his scientific findings, you must stoop to attempting (anonymously, no less) to discredit him.

Money is not the impetus for every action — except perhaps your own?

Anonymous said...

Interesting post, I truly wonder why Malia was using:

Bifenthrine, a home-use insecticide, sold as Bifen
Cypemethrine, a home use insecticide sold, among others, as Bayer Home Pest Control
Deltamethrine, a home insecticide sold as Raid Max and D-Fense, and Bed Bug Dust Powder
2,4-D, an herbicide used in home products as well as on farms.
Propiconazole, a home use fungicide sold as Honor Guard PPZ
Thiabendazone, a home use fungicide used on pets as Frontline Plus and Tresaderm
Oxadiazon, a home use herbicide sold as Ronstar
Trifluraline, a pre-emergent herbicide found at the level of detection
Propargite, a miticide, which best I can determine is used mainly on fruit crops.

Wonder if someone who lives next to her was the culprit or is Malia being a hypocrite? Hmmm...

Jan T said...

In response to 9:06, I am not being paid by any seed company or any organization associated with seed companies. (I did once have a contract with an affiliated organization, but that has long since expired. I've never been paid directly by Dow, Syngenta, Pioneer or BASF.)
And I did attend a training session last month put on by Cornell's Alliance for Science. At the time, I was receiving no compensation from any seed company or affiliated organization, and I was not paid by Alliance for Science and do not anticipate being paid by them.
As for 2491, I testified for the repeal because, in my view, there's no point in leaving an invalidated law on the books.
It's fascinating to me that folks getting handsomely paid to oppose conventional farming can't believe that someone would support the farm community without compensation. Not enough mirrors around, I suppose.

Anonymous said...

geez, the cornfields in that picture looks! as usual, great post ms. joan

Joan Conrow said...

Dear Unpublished Anonymous @9:46,

If you have further inquiries to make, you'll need to use your name. There's no reason why a person on record should be subjected to interrogations about his personal finances by an Anonymous.


Joan Conrow said...

Oh, and Anonymous, since you're so keen to dig into financials, try check on this:

Who paid for Gary and Fern and Malia's trip to Switzerland?

Anonymous said...

This is great! So Malia Chun is poisoning her own children at home as "evidence" in her anti-ag, anti-GMO agenda. What a great parent this woman is! Wish my Mom had done that for me.

Anonymous said...

Interesting as you posted, "who paid for those that went to Switzerland?" Surely they wouldn't pay to mouth off their bullshit.

Joan Conrow said...

Yes , it is interesting. Though Hooser loves to blather about transparency -- most recently pointing finger at the Maui County Council -- he doesn't actually practice it himself. He has never disclosed who paid for that trip (while he was a sitting councilman, no less) or who funds HAPA.

Anonymous said...

He probably used his wife's flight benefits from United. As the spouse all you have to do is pay some small fees and you can fly almost free anywhere in the world.

Anonymous said...

Malia if you wash your pets and use a flea comb you don't have to dose them with poisons that get on your kids.

Anonymous said...

Malia, too bad you adopted the same thought process and beliefs of those who have migrated here from the mainland and beyond. These outsiders continue to make efforts to change our lifestyle. Malia, you represent a very small percentage of Hawaiians who have been brainwashed to be making these false claims regarding the ag companies who provide many jobs for our people. And then we find out the claim you're making about your children being poisoned is actually from household sprays. How hilahila is that?

Anonymous said...

HAPA - $366k in donations in 2014... where do they get the money for their 'education'?

Anonymous said...

I am so sorry that you have again placed another person on the chopping block here on island. I feel that your rhetoric and reporting have hurt many individuals and that you may step on the wrong sacred rock and suffer from doing so. Be careful, we all have feelings and can take only so much. Why the photo of Malia? Was that necessary? I just cannot believe that people can be so darn mean with comments like 12:50, 3:09, 11:01----people, where are your souls?!!

And people are wishing others a HAPPY 2017----is this blog on the same page. Whoa, what a way to say happy 2017 to Malia---talk about dividing the community, fingers now point to you! Can't you all be a bit nicer and begin the new year with some love and understanding?!

Anonymous said...

Let's be fair to Malia, the pesticides could have come from neighbors, friends, other is unlikely she uses them herself.

Anonymous said...

3:26---guess from people like myself who think HAPA is a good thing.

Anonymous said...

6:29 -- That's the problem it's all Anonymous people.

Joan Conrow said...

@5:49. Oh yes, poor little Malia. No mention at all of the harm she's caused with her unfounded accusations, her rhetoric. She put herself on the chopping block with her hare-brained claims. As for the photo, why not? She's a publicity-seeker.

Anonymous said...

To 5:49 PM: That photo of Malia, and her trumped up story of child poisoning has been used and posted all over the place by her and others who are trying anything to make it appear that the seed companies are doing something wrong.

Because of that, I don't see how Joan's blog has unfairly exposed or criticized Malia.

Unknown said...

@ 5:49 Happy New Year Malia and Gary Hooser.

My New Years Resolution for 2017 is the same as 2014, 2015, 2016, and that is to help them (antis like Gary and Malia) step out of their echo chamber.... Hopefully both sides of the issue can sit down and have a constructive dialogue in 2017.... At least a guy can make a wish on the NEW YEAR. To everyone else in Joan's blog.... Have a great 2017 and thank you so very much for your insightfully commentary.

Anonymous said...

Mr. Tenbruggengate's analysis of the hair analysis dismisses the chemicals in the data to describe them as "consumer products." However, these ten chemicals are also used in agricultural formulations, but not all of them are Restricted Use Pesticides (RUP). If he is referring to the Good Neighbor Policy report for what chemicals are used by the seed companies, he may, indeed, not find all of these chemicals because non-RUP are not reported there.

The seed companies use many pesticides that are not RUP and therefore, there is no public record. However, looking at the Good Neighbor data:

Mr. Tenbruggengate incorrectly states that the seed companies do not use bifenthrin. They do use it and one formulation is an RUP, SNIPER. Again, there are numerous ag pesticides that use bifenthrin, but not all are RUP and therefore not reported by the seed companies.

They also use a cypermethrin formulation in Mustang Maxx.

The same goes for other chemicals on this "detected and dangerous list" which Mr. Tenbruggengate dismisses as "consumer products". Once again, just because they are not RUP formulations does not mean that they are not used in agriculture.

Hair analysis may or may not provide valid information on chronic exposure. But one thing for certain, no one can say for sure where the chemical originated, and it is incorrect to dismiss this plethora of chemicals as "home-user" sources only. That is simply false.

Joan Conrow said...

Dear 7:36,

Thank you for making this point:

"But one thing for certain, no one can say for sure where the chemical originated."

In our chemical-intensive world, it is nearly impossible to ferret out one single source of exposure (if, indeed, there is exposure). The problem with so much of the activism we have seen is that all the blame is laid at the feed of the seed companies, when many of the same chemicals are widely available and used by consumers, many of whom have little knowledge about proper use, as well as other commercial applicators.

If the activists are indeed concerned about pesticides, they would be looking at the bigger picture. But by focusing solely on the seed companies, they serve only to reinforce my contention that their efforts are not about protecting human or environmental health, but eliminating the seed companies. It's no coincidence that this activism is based in and directed by anti-GMO groups.

Anonymous said...

Just read Jan's piece - talk about bad science analysis. He starts by saying the hair had not really been analysed and the proceeds to analyze it in his column. He surmises and speculates, and clearly does not understand the connection 7:65 makes. The good news is he did not attack Malia by name, but used " a Kekaha woman" reference instead.

Joan Conrow said...

@7:36 Here is Jan's response:

I appreciate the author's commitment to deflection, being so intent on attacking farming, throwing up a confetti storm of distracting facts, and never once admitting that home use pesticides are a significant threat to families.

Here's what a 2007 article in Issues in Nursing said: "Home environmental health risks and the pollution of indoor residential air are becoming increasingly recognized as sources of injury and exacerbation of illness, particularly in vulnerable populations such as pregnant women, infants, children, the elderly, and those living with a chronic medical condition or disability."

Let me vent a little frustration at a writer who hides behind the veil of anonymity to attack me while not even conceding the main point of the story--the risk to children. Why in the name of humanity would you minimize an immediate risk to our kids so that you can continue to keep the focus on attacking agriculture?

(By the way, as anyone can read in my piece, I never said bifenthrin was not used in agriculture.)

Manawai said...

@ January 4, 2017 at 5:49 PM:

"Fools faces appear in public places." She willingly put herself out there for all to see and comment. "If she can't stand the heat, then she should get out of the kitchen!"

Anonymous said...

I am curious why Malia is labeled as a token Hawaiian. As i see it, her agenda is to protect her children. It's not against agriculture, but it surely is against pesticides that can cause harm to her children, you and me. I feel that many of you are taking this solely about agriculture. All the company has to do is move away from the Hawaiian homestead and other neighboring communities and be cautious about buffer zones like Syngenta did in Waimea . . . away from the subdivision and Waimea Canyon School. There is plenty land away from these areas, check out the Mana plains and the many acres owned by the state.

And no talk about only the newcomers are with her----plenty locals and Hawaiians have her back! Jen and Joan, are you not newcomers?

Anonymous said...

That is the problem! These people lump everyone from the far left to the radical right together. Even when people comment about support for agriculture but also responsible regulations on pesticides use, they get attacked for being against agriculture. Then there's the papayas crowd. The hippies living off of EBT and telling everyone to eat just plants and seeds. Then you have the greedy land speculators, that wants to find anyway to pimp and profit the land. These people believe that 500K is low income housing. You have the the seed company employees that's fighting to save their jobs and will say anything and do anything for that check. You have the land owners that just want to collect a check that's not a dollar an acre for 20 years leasing to a cattle rancher. They'll lease to the highest bidder. Then you have the families that live around the fields and areas that are exposed to the downwind chemical soups. These people say their health and properties are being negatively affected and everyone wants to discredit them and call them names. You have a whole entire school that suffered a major chemical exposure that was covered up by the state as being stink weed exposure. The first ever incident report of that nature in the last 40-50 years, then the 10 employees suffer the same symptoms and get treated for the exposure and the cover up would have been another stink weed incident had there not been an official on site. Then you have the plantation families that say oh we lived in worse circumstances and lived a long life by just taking it up the ass by sugar plantation owners. You have many different factions fighting for different causes and are all lump into red shirt and blue shirt loonies and yet most of everyone eats GMO. The field slave fighting with the house slave and this is just pure entertainment for the wealthy and powerful. Pure entertainment and nothing more.

Anonymous said...

5:57 and 6:59, Nice try to re-writing history. It's your 2017 spin of what went down on 2491. here's a fact, the last key person got voted out of office. he got voted out for many reasons besides, lying while in office, dividing our community, thinking he's above everyone else and making his stay a show. he lost because a lot of people saw through the curtains on what he really was. look at the voting record, from central Kauai to the west (agricultural based population) voted WAY less for the 9th place candidate, then the top 7. this data are facts. Both of you are still the vocal minority still trying to keep your spin alive. While the silent majority want to move on with our lives and let the process work itself out (state studies).

Jan and Joan whether you like them or not, one thing you can say, they do their homework before they put pen to paper. that is fair for all their reading public. In this case, you both don't like it. go read another blog or better yet, start your own blog and build your reading public instead of bashing theirs.

In the big picture of why they're still writing about the results of 2491 BS, is because life's risks are more complex then agriculture and you all don't see it yet.

I've said it before and i'll say it again. who died directly related to GMO or pesticides! I'll match you 10 to none that more people died (HERE ON KAUAI) from drugs. and here's the final point! what's worse, shielding your kids from ice / meth / heron use, or pesticide use. I say, ag pesticides is the least of your worries.

Freaking stupid, westside braddah's killing a westside braddah. and the word out on the westside streets: drugs is part of the equation. and drug deaths are not happening only on the westside, it's all over Kauai.

Protect the keiki's! Yeah, from meth / ice.

Anonymous said...

Please take your meds before you fly back home to LAX. Joan's blog is far more accommodating than the Flight Attendants, they will slap down your behavior.
Life will go on. Relax. We are on island together.

Anonymous said...

Bull shit not the way flight benefits work. Immediate family only rest will pay at a slight discount.. x3? lol facts only please

Anonymous said...

Born and raised kauai dummy!

Anonymous said...

How can you put drugs and alcohol into the equation and dismiss the 2 well documented chemical exposures?

You people are what's wrong with Kauai and kauai has always been divided.

The house slave and field slave plantation and plantation owner mentality has ruled kauai for over a century.

You people just don't get it and never will. You people are worst than Mormon and radical Islamic religious zealots.

Even with using logic of having inputs A, B then C as being the outcome; you people can't seem to figure shit out.

You people are weak minded and a waste of a life worth living.

Find a purpose and accomplish it instead of being apart of the It crowd to satisfy your worthless selves.

Joan Conrow said...

What well-documented chemical exposures?

As for the rest, well, you might want to pick up a mirror and catch a glimpse of an awfully ugly reflection.

Anonymous said...

9:35 We are dummies, more like you and Hooser, the Looser! Still sour after the Election, get over it, Hooser, Fern, and Bynum! All you Hippie Haoles need slaps!

Anonymous said...

Mothers like Malia have a concern when they find pesticides in their childrenʻs bodies. Malia does incredible work with children in her community, so of course she is concerned about their health. The precautionary principle actually has meaning for mothers like her. Yes, how differently we look at the world when we have children of our own. How about you Joan, do you have children? How will you respond when they question you about the pesticides found in their bodies? Tell them not to worry, I guess. Tell them a little pesticide in our bodies is wonderful and nothing to worry about. Cause the government and pesticide manufacturers say so?

Anonymous said...

9:35. I'm 7:32. I'm also born and raised. you make great points. that's your opinion of re - writing history.

"You people are what's wrong with Kauai and kauai has always been divided." if this is wrong, then why does everyone who moves here always say, the island is beautiful and the people are great with Aloha! from one end of the island to the other, that's who we are. that division you talk about just got put aside in the last election.

"The house slave and field slave plantation and plantation owner mentality has ruled kauai for over a century." Actually, we are past that era, a lot of us are educated and we move away from agriculture to "make a living" and we did that JUST to get away of the plantation mantality, others chose a simpler life in agriculture. but that's our choices.

"You people just don't get it and never will. You people are worst than Mormon and radical Islamic religious zealots." Actually we do get it. that's why we support Joan in her A + B + C = stop it!!! YOU and live with us or not, or you can move to somewhere else. this is really a free world to live in.

"Find a purpose and accomplish it instead of being apart of the It crowd to satisfy your worthless selves." Actually we have. it's call living aloha in paradise, we are the IT crowd! we all get along with each other or respect each other's opinion, except when the opinion divides this island of Aloha. And that! YOU don't get.

That's why we are the silent majority. we respect each other's space on this island. we have friends and family on this island that are both red shirted and blue shirted, at the end of the day, we are still friends and family. THAT! is way more important the ousted politicians agenda.

And watching out for the night marchers / ice heads are way more important then your pesticide deaths (sarcasm).

Hey, it's aloha Friday! and that! you can't take away from all of us!

Anonymous said...

"How can you put drugs and alcohol into the equation and dismiss the 2 well documented chemical exposures?"

drugs kill people and people kill people. the guy who just got shot to death, he's got keiki's, don't you feel sorry for his kids. alcohol kills people on our roads. alcohol killed our keiki's in a lot of our graduation seasons. well documented TGI articles prove DUI deaths. THAT'S FACTS!!!! maybe, you don't see that side of the world we live here on Kauai with. Maybe you should open you mind / eyes up a little more.

Joan Conrow said...

@11:08 Congratulations! Your sanctimony enabled you to miss the entire point of the post!

No one is saying people shouldn't be concerned about pesticides in their children's bodies. The issue is whether they are wrongly assigning blame.

If Malia is truly concerned about pesticides, she should a) stop relying on bogus methods like hair analysis to determine if her kids do indeed have pesticides in their bodies; and b) scrutinize the household sources of pesticides that comprised the bulk of what was found in her kids' hair analysis.

But then, that sane approach wouldn't garner her the same media attention, now would it?

Anonymous said...

Drug and alcohol deaths has been going on for decades/centuries in the state of Hawaii and the world and the just the west side of Kauai.

The new drug is chemical compounds that kill you over a longer period of time so they can get as much insurance money and prescription copayment.

It's like the reverse mortgage scam and the fact that countries go to war over chemical weapons, where hundreds of thousands of people die each and every year. Don't be so naive and ignorant to know all the variables associated within this discussion.

Yes west side has a drug problem but so does the entire island. Ask yourselves where is the meth/heroin coming from and who is supplying these drugs that's killing and destroying our families on Kauai, the state of Hawaii and the rest of the United States.

All America has to do is drop a nuke on that filth of a country that's south of the border but it's all about the mighty $$$$$$$$$$$$ if you know what o mean Vern.

Anonymous said...

I don't even support Hooser or Bynum and I'm definitely not a hippie. I fricking hate the hippie soap smell as bad as summers eve.

Anonymous said...

If you people have or had children and aren't afraid of their safety then let them walk on the side of the road on the shoulder at the Wailua golf course daily when they approve the let's get drunk off of the county dime (Mayor Kenoi style) BAR. How the fuck is the tax payers paying for a golf course which costs over a million dollars a year to operate? The bums only pay $40 a month to golf at the Wailua golf course. Charge those fuckers $200 or $400 a month and make the golf course pay for itself. They want to play but don't want to pay and wants the rest of us to pay for them like EBT welfare scammers.

Anonymous said...

Chemicals is not a new drug. It's been used forever also. Where's the chemical deaths!

Still 10 to none.
No make excuses / scare tactics / unfounded claims. Pesticides also evolved just like drugs. Just because people like drugs n acholol they still poisoning themselves. DAILY! that's a slow killer too.

Come on! Blind eye!

Anonymous said...

You are too stupid to even teach. You can't learn and will not learn so it's a waste of time. Go and get your cancers, diabetes, thyroid disease and everything associated with long term exposure and die an idiot. You are surely a waste of a life. No one can help you.

Anonymous said...

8:39. Funny, that's what Joan's been saying about your attitude too. That's why she said take a hard look in the mirror, because you're really talking to yourself.

Please dispute my claims!

Don't call me stupid, I may be to you, but others I'm level headed and a fair thinker.

I'm not asking for help. When the good Lord takes me, he will. I almost died several times. It is what it is. Scare tactics, go live in your chenical free bubble.

Anonymous said...

8:39. Funny, that's what Joan's been saying about your attitude too. That's why she said take a hard look in the mirror, because you're really talking to yourself.

Please dispute my claims!

Don't call me stupid, I may be to you, but others I'm level headed and a fair thinker.

I'm not asking for help. When the good Lord takes me, he will. I almost died several times. It is what it is. Scare tactics, go live in your chenical free bubble.