Category Archives: Research 101

The SHAKA Movement: More Mainland Money to Maui

Let’s face it that the mainland activism groups have decided to take root here in our islands.  We already know from an investigative report late last year that the majority of the funding is indeed from mainland sources.

Many mainland donors are getting tax deductions giving monies to fund supposedly non-profit groups like Hawaii SEED in doing lobbying efforts under the guise of being an “educational” entity.  It’s no wonder why other groups, like the Center for Food Safety and Earthjustice, have latched on also.

When you look further into the this supposed grassroots movement, it is clearly not based here in Hawaii.  It looks like Southern California has come to turn Hawaii into their tropical paradise.  It also includes followers that believe in UFOs, ascension, conspiracy, and spirituality.  That sounds like a lot of Southern Cali woo indeed.

Screenshot 2014-02-26 16.31.12

These people not only believe in woo but have decided to bring it to Maui under the guise of a Hawaiian sounding name, SHAKA.  When you look up the website (www.shakamovement.org) on WHOIS, you’ll find that it was started on 10/29/2013.  Pretty recently formed just a few months ago.

This movement was first announced on the Galactic Connection website right about that time in October 2013.  Galactic Connection is associated with a Steven Meadors as the registrant and administrator for the website.

Registrant Name: Steven Meadors
Registrant Organization: Royal Alliance LLC.
Registrant Street: 970 W Valley Parkway # 270
Registrant City: Escondido
Registrant State/Province: California
Registrant Postal Code: 92025

Royal Alliance LLC appears to be an investment company that purchased land for a “natural healing center.”

As much as this SHAKA movement sounds local, it is far from it and being funded from California.

The conspiracy and UFO folks also have convinced the Hawaii Farmers Union United to join in on this ideology too.  In their last Maui Farmers Union United newsletter, they placed a link on there to have people join in.

Screenshot 2014-03-09 22.08.53

The Maui A’oles are trying to also trying to get this on the ballot with this mainland petition.  One of them, Karen Chun, tried to use Whole Foods to get folks to sign and it looks like, gasp, they refused to allow the petition to be there!

Karen Chun WF

So as much as you might think that this SHAKA thing is a locally initiated thing, you’re wrong.  It indeed is California style coming to Hawaii with UFOs, ascension, conspiracies, and spirituality.  The woo factor is floating around indeed.

Single Study Syndrome and Other Maladies of the A’ole GMO Club

What’s the latest comments that have come to this blog?  This past week we had several comments received here.

Commenter One:

“Solid Science” Studies

One commenter stated that she uses “solid science” to support her beliefs in why GMOs are bad.  All of the ones provided ranged from the Bt in mother’s womb scare study which has been debunked to a bunch of other pesticide related ones.

All of the pesticide ones listed were single studies.  A single study cannot be considered solid science and in each of the conclusions of those papers states that “further research must be done.” She also included a study that appeared as such in her list:

Image

Note that in the citation for this article that the name GE Seralini appears as well as Criigen, both well known anti-GMO touters.  To consider Seralini’s study as proof of anything isn’t going to convince me of these purported claims of danger.

Claims of Heath Issues from Living by GMO Fields
The state of Hawaii recently published some data on the health issues occurring on Kauai.
What did the report find?

1.  In general, cancer incidence on Kaua‘i was similar to or lower than that of the entire state of Hawai‘i.

2.  Overall cancer incidence rates (all cancers combined) were significantly lower on Kaua‘i compared to the entire state of Hawai‘i for both time periods (2000-2004 and 2005-2009).

3. Cancer incidence rates on Kaua‘i were lower for the following cancers during one or both time periods: breast cancer (2000-2004 and 2005-2009), endometrial cancer (2005-2009), Hodgkin lymphoma (2005-2009), liver cancer (2005-2009), ovarian cancer (2000-2004 and 2005-2009), prostate cancer (2000-2004), and thyroid cancer (2000-2004 and 2005-2009).

4. The incidence of melanoma on Kaua‘i was significantly elevated for the time period 2000-2004.

5. Within individual census tracts of Kaua‘i, cancer incidence was generally lower or comparable to that of the state.

6. The incidence of melanoma for census tract 401 was significantly elevated for the time period 2000-2004.

7. No other census tract showed elevated rates of cancer.

Living by GMO Fields Cause Birth Defects

She also made a claim that birth defects are higher because of living near seed farm fields.  In small populations as in a single city, the birth defects may appear higher but that may not reflect the entire picture of what is going on.  The same issue was studied in another farming town in California, where there were issues of cancer clusters that showed higher rates of disease.  However, when studied more closely there were no causal relationships to what was being seen.  The data on that will likely be released soon by the state.

Some of the defects that are being blamed include gastroschisispolydactly, and anencephaly.  It is unfortunate that babies are born with these issues, however these defects have not been attributed to anyone specific factor or pesticides as many anti-GMO people claim.  More research on these issues can be studied further as to understanding why it happens.

Commenter 2:

So much for the first commenters issues with her studies and claims.  Another commenter provided an invitation to be on the KKCR radio show.  This show is led by well-known anti-GMO folks like Jimmy Trujillo and Felicia Cowden and from what I’ve heard, allows pro-GMO voices.  However, their following is well trenched in the anti-GMO doctrine so, no, I will not allow myself to be skewered by such people.

I already have been skewered by the anti-GMO club.  From Helen Lovell tweeting that I’m a roach and Sara Jo Thompson giving me a nickname of Tokyo Rose, that shows me plenty right there that there will be no discussion.  It will come down to name calling and shill accusations.  It’s clear that this radio station rejects anyone who supports biotech as they didn’t invite a pro-biotech KIUC candidate to their show.

Commenter 3:

if your so proud of gmos you really shouldnt have to hide them with no label, let people choose or your one of those kind :(

Well, this commenter apparently does not know that this whole issue isn’t about being proud of what GMOs are and why people are fighting the misinformation campaign being pushed by the “right to know” crowd.  No one is hiding any GMOs, we are fighting against the misinformation that people are stating against things.

From what State Senate candidate Terez Amato said that she wants to educate me on those “thalidomide papayas,” to others stating that papayas are drenched with poisons, and so on.  You know that if it isn’t labeled organic, that you can bet it has some GMOs in it.  If you really want a label, please ask the organic industry executives to stop with the fear mongering or better yet, ask them to label their food as GMO free.  The GMO label isn’t coming as soon as you like so go back to your preferred folks for some peace of mind.

Latest Claims that will be Buzzing this Week in Anti-GMO Land

That’s today’s issues of things that the anti-GMO club says.  We can’t end here however because the latest buzz on “whackosphere” sites right now is that, “There is Roundup and Atrazine in 75% of Air Samples!” It’s all over the place according to sites from Natural News to Green Med Info and so on.  Don’t get your undies in a bunch just yet.  The stuff being touted is cherry picked information to scare your skivvies off.  Note that they haven’t tested for organic pesticides though.

And hey, if you don’t want pesticides in the air, now might be a really good time to really look at GMOs.  If we don’t want more pesticides being sprayed in the air, this might really be a better alternative.  Did you know that 99% of pesticides are naturally occurring to begin with?

Research 101: Mana Magazine Against the Grain

**Much of what was claimed in this Mana Magazine article was debunked in a recent article about Greggor Ilagan’s journey to dispelling the myths of biotech by Amy Harmon on the New York Time’s front page several days ago.  A’oles won’t like it but should read it before stating the popular claims.**

There was an article published in the July/August 2013 issue of Mana Magazine titled, “Against the Grain: Kamehameha Schools finds itself at the Center of Hawaii’s GMO Controversy.”

The author, Brittny Yap, attempts to make it sound like a balanced article by adding information from both sides of the issue which is seemingly fair.  However, when you delve closer into what written in there, one who has a skeptical eye can see that she is far from being balanced with what is presented on the anti side.  A member of the general public may just read portions of it and take it as fact.  That’s where problems lie when people don’t know how to research what they read.

A healthy dose of skepticism is a good thing to have that many should start to learn more about.  Just because you openly state that you love science doesn’t count for beans by the way.  Learn why your arguments learned from this article just don’t hold up.

Issue 1

What worries a lot of people in Hawai‘i is that many of those seeds were created using genetic engineering: Taking a gene from one plant and putting it into another plant to create a new variety. 

By putting this statement in this article, the writer clearly shows that she does not have an understanding of basic genetics.  All living things have shared genes with other species and DNA is not species specific.  When one does not have a clue about genetics, this is a very common statement that starts to freak people out.  What is important to know is that while we may share some genes with other species, how the genes function and turn on or off is what makes each organism unique.  Just because a plant’s genes are crossed, it doesn’t automatically make a completely new species.  GE doesn’t always mean crossing plants either as in the case of the seed industry.  Learn more about GE crops before sharing a that stupid meme with a skull and crossbones on it and freaking yourself and others out.

For a perspective of this, see the meme below and get an idea about why we can’t say that we only have human genes?  Better yet, take a free course and actually learn a thing or two about basic genetics!

blogmeme

From 23andme.com meme about how genes are not species specific.

Issue 2

But many consumers and activists are not convinced. They fear that unhealthy and dangerous products could enter the food supply via genetic engineering, that allergens could be transferred from one food to another and that GMO “super weeds” could overrun ecosystems.

So the same people who don’t understand basic genetics and the driving reason for GE are the very ones who are suspicious.  The black marketing scheme of the organic industry has a lot to do with this fear of the unknown.  There is a considerable amount of research and testing done to satisfy regulatory processes to get GE food into the market.  With the majority of the public having very little to no education on genetics and a basic science understanding, this kind of repeated statements turn into fact.  The terminology used in the writer’s statement also point towards fear mongering tactics too.

Issue 3

Foods containing GMOs are very common in America’s grocery stores today. The Center for Food Safety, an anti-GMO group, estimates that up to 85 percent of U.S. corn and 91 percent of soybeans are the products of GMO seeds. Biotech crops grown in the United States today also include cotton, canola, squash, papaya, alfalfa and sugar beet. “It has been estimated that upwards of 75 percent of processed foods on supermarket shelves – from soda to soup, crackers to condiments – contain genetically engineered ingredients,” says the Center for Food Safety. But consumers rarely know if they are consuming GMO products or not.

It is interesting that the writer takes into consideration the Center for Food Safety as her source for GMO foods.  Bill Freese, who is the CFS science policy analyst, apparently lectures about biotech issues but really appears to be overstepping his bounds with his claims.  It is interesting that his BSc in Chemistry suddenly makes him an expert in biotechnology issues.  He does not have any ag background either.

This paragraph also conveniently forgets to mention the fact that when the GMO foods are processed in the case of sugar or oil, there is likely no have no DNA to be found.  Nor do they explain that DNA itself is a very fragile molecule that is likely broken down when digested and processed.  There is nary a mention either that the chemical composition of GE foods aren’t significantly different than conventional.

Issue 4

Pomai Emsley is concerned about the spread of GMO foods. The 2002 graduate of Kamehameha Schools-Kapālama first learned about the subject while completing her bachelor’s degree at the University of Hawai‘i at Hilo and preparing to be a teacher. One of her professors set up a classroom debate about GMOs: half the students would argue for and half against. Emsley was among those assigned the pro argument. After weeks of researching the benefits of genetically modified crops, she decided to research the negatives to prepare for her rebuttal.

“I started to have more and more questions about the process and its safety,” she says. “At the time, I just had [daughter] Mele. She was a baby. Based on the research I did, it’s too new to tell if GMOs are safe for us to eat. And that’s my problem with it.”

Someone who is just completing a teaching degree’s opinion is in this article for what reason now?  Okay, so she’s concerned about GMO foods “spreading.”  How much education does she have to determine what is and isn’t black marketing strategies?  She obviously does not know how to determine what is and isn’t vetted information as indicated by her second statement.  Does someone being trained as a teacher have enough science to clearly figure out what is and isn’t factual?  Not always.  This is clearly an attempt to cast doubt of the unknown and target it with fear mongering.

Issue 5

One reason Emsley and other anti-GMO advocates distrust Monsanto is its past. The 100-year-old company had been a leading producer of plastics, synthetic fabrics and dangerous chemicals such as DDT, PCBs and Agent Orange, a chemical weapon used by the U.S. military during the Vietnam War, which killed or injured about 400,000 people and caused an estimated half-million birth defects, according to the Vietnamese government. After a series of mergers and spinoffs, the chemical company’s sole focus became biotechnology by 2002.

Now we know why Hawaii A’oles keep using these worn out old arguments about Monsanto’s past as a reason to distrust biotechnology.  Note how the writer uses “dangerous chemicals.”  She fails to do her own homework to know that DDT is still in use and has been approved for malaria control by the WHO.  Malaria causing mosquitos have become resistant to pyrethrins and the benefit definitely outweighs the risk.  Next argument she adds is the Agent Orange one and fails to mention the true toxin or the fact that the active ingredients are still sold today in hardware stores.  The problem was the contaminant dioxin that caused problems and note that Monsanto didn’t spray it in Vietnam, the US government did so.  As for PCB, it was made before Monsanto ever made it back in 1914.  They did make it commercially in 1929 and it was eventually banned in 1979.  The cancer links are inconclusive also at it is not listed as one of the causes of non-Hodgkin lymphomas.

Issue 6

Another complaint about Monsanto is that it sues farmers who it says save some of their harvested seeds and reuse them to plant the next crop; Monsanto and other seed companies require buyers to sign an agreement that they will not harvest seeds to reuse.

The writer is clearly not doing her homework when writing this.  If she were to simply do some research in patent law as to why the seeds were legally covered as such in a contract, this statement would not be in this article.  The seed is an innovation that is protected under patent law.  Farmers who want to use this innovation must agree to the owner’s terms as written in a contract.  If you understand basic genetics and want to ensure your crops, you wouldn’t want to save the seeds as the genetics change with each generation.  You many not get the qualities you want with saved seeds because of hybridization.  The seeds saved will not contain those hybrid qualities due to genetics.  Think about why each year the garden shops have new packets of seeds.  Even a gardener wants first generation of seeds with the best qualities in it to plant.

Issue 7

Monsanto’s website says it has filed suit against farmers 145 times in the United States since 1997, mostly for patent infringement involving saved seed. Wood says this is a low number considering that Monsanto sells seed to more than 250,000 American farmers a year. Of those 145 it filed suit against, the company proceeded to trial against only 11 farmers, according to the company website. All cases have been found in Monsanto’s favor, including a unanimous decision by the U.S. Supreme Court in May.

Another criticism of Monsanto is that it sues farmers whose non-Monsanto crops have been contaminated by pollen from neighboring Monsanto crops, or by seeds distributed by animals, winds or water.

Brittny Yap really hasn’t done her homework once again with this paragraph.  If you take a look at the actual court cases of the lawsuits against Monsanto, you can clearly see that this farmer wanted to use their technology without agreeing to a contract (see “Farming Practices” and “Testing of Fields” in the case).  The writer does not mention that this farmer who was sued had 95-98% of his canola as Roundup ready, which doesn’t sound like an accidental contamination that he claimed.  This guy admitted to using Roundup and knew that he had the technology, hence he got sued.  There are other court cases that follow the same reasoning for Monsanto bringing upon a lawsuit against those trying to skirt around the agreement.

Issue 8

Monsanto critics fear the company has too much power over the world’s food supply, with more and more farmers and consumers forced to pay Monsanto to grow food or eat it. They say the non-GMO seed options are diminishing every day and could eventually lead to a world in which Monsanto has control over who eats and who starves.

There goes the conspiracy theorists and their corporations rule the world argument.  This paragraph implies that farmers are “forced” to use Monsanto’s seeds which is blatantly false.  If they have a good technology, that is a great reason why farmers want to buy their seeds.  They do have choices as to what seeds they want to use in their crops.  The widespread use of GM crops may also be encouraging a return to non-GM crops because of decreased pest pressure.

Putting profits into perspective with Monsanto and Whole Foods.

Putting profits into perspective with Monsanto and Whole Foods.

If we really want to see which corporation is really making a lot of money, here’s an even better perspective that Monsanto isn’t as big as you think it is.

Which corporation is making the biggest profit and "ruling the world?"  It isn't what you'd think.

Which corporation is making the biggest profit and “ruling the world?” It isn’t what you’d think.

Moral of this story…

Just because you’ve read something that sounded like a fact, it doesn’t make it fact.  Even if it is repeated over and over, that does not turn something into a fact.  Research the claims being made and if you repeat them, especially the ones listed above, you’ll be ridiculed by someone reading your comments because it shows that you didn’t do your research on them.  Just because you’ve read it on the internet, heard it from Gary Hooser or Walter Ritte, and from the Babes Against Biotech, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t cross check it.  Save face by researching!  (Then again, maybe you don’t care about saving face.)

Inciting the Mob: Let the Fear Mongers Unite!

Bring on the FEAR MONGERING once again!  The seed companies have filed a lawsuit against the county which comes as no surprise.  The health studies and environmental studies found nothing to support their claims so time to spread more and more fear.

Just to start off the day, GMO Free USA posts this meme of a baby with a condition called gastroschisis.  It is nice and scary and attempts to make the uneducated social media follower think that the seed companies have something to do with this.

Screenshot 2014-01-11 18.19.43

From GMO Free USA’s Facebook page

Of course, few of the A’oles would ever know what the condition is but will automatically correlate biotech with this birth defect.  However, a skeptical reader will attempt to look further than just a picture for their information and find that there is no known causes of this defect .  It is a very rare condition but the meme implies that this is a very common occurrence which the data does not support.

Another scary picture posted of Facebook recently was this condition called polydactly by a well known A’ole radio personality.  She purports to link this to working on the seed farms.

Screenshot 2014-01-11 15.24.32

A public post made by an A’ole radio personality

Well, when you look up this condition more, you find that it is genetic and has no link to GMOs.  People have been experiencing this condition long before biotech was even heard of!

Remember that just because your read or saw it on your friend’s Facebook page, it doesn’t make their claims completely true.  The goal of the A’oles is to create fear and doubt to win the masses to created mob rule.  Mob rule based in fear and misinformation has worked well because of politicians afraid of losing their seats in this year’s election!

Russell Ruderman Sorts GMO Facts from Fiction???

It’s really interesting that Senator Russell Ruderman who has a degree in biology and owns 4 natural food stores on the Big Island is now going to do a column about the facts and fiction of GMOs.  Somehow, an organic shill plans on writing facts about something he has openly criticized?

Screenshot 2014-01-11 00.14.04

Of course his post lacks a shred of evidence or citation to back up his claims of facts.  That is something very common on bogus articles, which leads us to the conclusion that he needs to rename his column as “GMO Fictions and Fears.”  Fears are a great way to make a profit in those stores everyday!

Research 101: To Feed and Protect a World, Rein in Corporate Ag

Remember, that what you read on the internet is not always true and you have to research the sources first before you profess it as your proof.  If you don’t, and use the statements from the post as your evidence, you won’t be able to source out your statement.  That source is called evidence which you are frequently called upon to present.

Let’s start todays lesson with a recently published post on Andrea Brower’s HuffPo blog site titled, “To Feed and Protect the World, Rein in Corporate Ag.”  First off, note that it is a blog.  Blog can usually be opinion pieces but can’t be used as evidence.  There may be links to the evidence in it and that is what you must research out more.  Also in this blog post, there are multiple references to emotionally charged terms such as destructive, poison, toxic, untested, and so on.  These words are meant to evoke emotions in this piece.  Typical tactic of the A’ole GMO club to gain more followers.

Let’s take a closer look at what she’s saying in this blog post.

Problem 1:

“World Food Day serves as a reminder that nearly one billion people go hungry, despite there being more than enough food for all. With sustainability central to this year’s theme, the event also directed attention to the fact that our global food system is highly fossil fuel dependent and is a primary contributor to greenhouse gas emissions. It is also rapidly degrading the soil, water, forest, genetic diversity and other resources that are vital to agricultural productivity, human health and all life.”

The World Food Day here in Hawaii turned out to be another anti-GMO march.  When you go to the actual website, there is no anti-GMO themes found anywhere on there, but Hawaii folks took up a notch.  There is no mention of the issues that Andrea takes up found on the site listed.  Hawaii folks decided to do their own interpretation apparently.  Take a look at the poster that was used.

The Hawaii Anti-GMO version of the World Food Day poster. Notice the background is Waikiki and hotels. Where’s the producers of food there?

Problem 2:

But moving in the direction of a sustainable and equitable food system requires reining in the power of transnational corporate agribusiness, and its drives to intensify and standardize production, privatize resources that were previously “common,” and monopolize the global food system.

Andrea makes a very broad statement here essentially meaning that there should be no corporate agribusiness.  No sources are used to back her statement up to support what she is saying.

Problem 3:

Smallholder agriculture currently feeds an estimated 70 percent of the world using only 30 percent of agricultural resources, while industrial agriculture sucks 70 percent of resources and only produces 30 percent of the world’s food.

When you click on her source for this information, you’re lead to Mark Bittman’s opinion piece in the NYT.  No sources, just his opinion.  He is also a food writer who had decided to take on the scientific literature somehow.

Problem 4:

The idea that a “free-market” (ie policy-facilitated monopolistic) corporate food system will somehow nourish us all has proven imaginary.

Note how she references her own blog on this point made.  Case closed for this reference already.

Problem 5:

We all pay the prices of a hungry, sick, progressively toxic and heating-up world, with the poorest paying the highest.

Yes, the consensus is there that there is climate change, but from this statement it sounds as if everyone is dying and being poisoned.  Why is it that more people are living longer lives and Hawaii being ranked as one of the healthiest states?

Problem 6:

On Kauai, experimental operations apply pesticides 250 to 300 days per year, 10 to 16 times per day.

Her source for this quote is a video.  The mention of a number doesn’t quite give the right perspective of the actual spraying which she implies as it is all fields, everyday.  That is not the case and it defies logic as to why entire fields are sprayed that often.  If these companies are all about making money as she claims, why would they waste it spraying so often?  Pesticides and the application of it costs money and over doing it would be a waste of money.

Problem 7:

On Kauai, our fragile ecology is undoubtedly impacted by the use of an estimated 18 tons of restricted use pesticides annually, as well as likely five times that amount of general use pesticides.

Once again, Andrea omits to mention that the true amount is actually 9.89 tons of RUPs according to the Department of Ag.  Sounds horrendous but when put into perspective, it comes out to the size of 5 standard cars that is used over 5600 acres by 5 companies.  They make up 13% of the RUPs used on Kauai.  The county uses nearly half of the RUPs and is exempted from this disclosure law.

Anyone can write anything about any issue and it is up to the reader to investigate the claims.  Of course, for many folks, there is no incentive to investigate.  Just believe.  Do your homework and read what the facts and find some background on what evidence is presented.  When everyone starts repeating the same numbers over and over, there’s something fishy going on.  When the real facts are pointed out to you, what will you have in retort?!  Nothing and the result is the usual statement, “Well, you must work for Monsanto then.”  And you’ve just proven your arguments invalid.