Jan 30, 2014 - Aabitoose with Winona LaDuke: G.M.O. & Pesticides in Hawai’i

On today’s episode of Aabitoose with Winona LaDuke, our host visits with Ben Cohn, who is currently fighting G.M.O. and pesticide test fields on the Hawaiian Islands. The amount of pesticides sprayed on the island of Kauai’i is six times the national average, and spraying continues more than half the year. Also, there has been no study done on the long-term environmental impact of G.M.O. crops. Ahupua’a is the traditional Native Hawaiian agriculture, which grows more food in less space without using any pesticides or chemicals.

Listen to audio file here: https://soundcloud.com/honortheearth/aabitoose-with-winona-laduke-g

The test fields do not produce any crops that go to market and are often located near schools and parks. Pesticide drift endangers lives and has increased the rates of cancer, asthma, seizures, auto-immune disease, and birth defects in Hawai’i. The herbicide atrazine is linked to Gastroschisis, a birth defect which causes the intestines to grow on the outside of the body. Already four cases of Gastroschisis have been reported in the Wimea community of 1,787 people on the Big Island. Kauai County has passed a bill to demand transparency in the type, amount, location, and schedule for pesticide application. Citizens of Hawaii are also demanding buffer zones between experimental test fields and schools, hospitals, and peoples’ homes. Three of the chemical companies in Hawaii (Dow, DuPont Pioneer, and Agrigenetics, Inc.) filed a lawsuit against Kauai County on the basis that their pesticides are “trade secrets,” and they do not want other companies to know. More importantly if a link is made between pesticides and environmental health risks, then the chemical companies risk having a complete ban on pesticides.

Presence of G.M.O. test fields, owned by companies such as Monstanto, endanger cross-pollination between test fields and organic farms. On Big Island Hawaii County passed a bill banning the introduction of any new G.M.O. plants. The county has not been sued yet, and the organic Kona coffee and taro farms on the island have political clout. However, the Governor of Hawaii Neil Abercrombie recently stated at a private meeting with chemicals companies: “You don’t have to lobby me. I lobby you!” The Hawaii State Legislature has proposed legislation that will stop counties from banning genetically-modified crops and pesticides. The papaya is one G.M.O. crop that has already cross-pollinated on the Big Island. Fortunately, farmers have not been sued by any chemical companies, as we have seen Monsanto do in the past. G.M.O. corn is also grown in Hawaii, and Cohn reports a U.S.D.A. employee has admitted to not testing the so-called “organic” corn. So consumers might be buying G.M.O. corn with an organic label.

Over four thousand people recently took to the streets of Kauai in protest of G.M.O.s. The positive light in this situation is that the people of Kauai are coming together for the purpose of self-defense. The era of silence, segregation, and plantations is coming to an end. Native Hawaiian, Chinese, Japanese, Filipino, and white communities are coming together to defend health, water, life, and a future that does not include babies with intestines born on the outside of their bodies. The burden of change is on the people of Hawaii.

Folks can find out more information from Babes Against Biotech (www.facebook.com/BabesAgainstBiotech),
Native Hawaiian protector Walter Ritte (www.facebook.com/WalterRitte),
And food security group HawaiiSEED (www.facebook.com/pages/HawaiiSEED/233569556776043).
Here is a short film with pro-surfer Dustin Barca, produced by HawaiiSEED

Photo Credit: GMO Free Hawaii
“Hawaii ’78” – Israel Kamakawiwo’ole
“Anti-G.M.O. Anthem” – Makana

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