I don’t usually write about politics, but the “Mana March” I participated in on Sunday was more than political…
Some of the world’s largest agricultural biotech companies have taken up 15,000 acres of Kauai land to test genetically modified crops. A part of their process involves massive amounts of pesticide use. About 18 tons of “restricted use pesticides” are sprayed annually (Atrazine to name one, which was banned in Europe in 2004), as well as employing at least five times that amount of ‘non-restricted’ pesticides, which are potentially just as harmful.
One company, Pioneer DuPont, has been recorded as applying these pesticides to their crops between 10 – 16 times a day, at least 250 days a year. There are currently no buffer zones to protect nearby schools, neighborhoods or waterways from the drift or seepage of these toxic pesticides. Currently, the agribusiness companies utilizing Kauai’s 15,000 acres for their genetically modified crop experiments, refuse to disclose the exact chemicals being used, when, or where.
Residents of the surrounding community where these crops are located are reporting unexplained illnesses. Babies are being born with strange, life-long defects. Doctors, nurses and teachers are voicing concern, especially for children, who’s developing bodies (in utero and in maturing years) are most susceptible to the harmful effects of these chemicals.
A bill, titled Bill 2491, has been created to insist that our island have a right to know what pesticides are being used and that a buffer zone be created around drift-prone areas, especially schools. It also insists that environmental evaluations begin to determine the safety of these chemicals, implementing restrictions when necessary.
Sunday, Jeb, the Bohemian, and I walked with about 4,000 Kauaians down Rice Street to the County building in support of Bill 2491. The demonstration is said to have been the largest in our small island’s history.
This issue of Genetically Modified Foods, pesticide use, and monoculture farming is complex and multi-layered. There is much that I have yet to learn.
One thing I do know, you have to care for the earth in order for it to care for you.
For myself, for my island, and for our children, I walked to represent this truth. It was one small gesture, but with 4,000 strong, it was many steps in the right direction.
Check out the Garden Island Newspaper’s report:
And for more information on GMO experiments on Kauai, here’s a FACT page from www.stoppoisoningparadise.org.