Two of most important cases of 2014 you never heard of involve teeth and trains—and whether corporations can just become the government.
Continue reading The Year’s Most Important SCOTUS Case
Two of most important cases of 2014 you never heard of involve teeth and trains—and whether corporations can just become the government.
Continue reading The Year’s Most Important SCOTUS Case
This episode covers the economics of migrants, choosing not to go to college, and corporate tax dodgers and their effects. We also discuss the economics of insurance and the basic economics of capitalist corporations, and respond to listeners’ questions on the Rockefellers selling their fossil fuel holdings and the economics of “mutual” companies. Download the show To listen in live on Saturdays at noon, visit WBAI’s Live Stream Economic Update is in partnership with Truthout.org Your radio station needs Economic Update! If you are a radio station, check this out. If you want to hear Economic Update on your favorite local station, send them this. Visit Professor Wolff’s social movement project, democracyatwork.info. Permission to reprint Professor Wolff’s writing and videos is granted on an individual basis. Please contact email@example.com to request permission. We reserve the right to refuse or rescind permission at any time.
Continue reading Economic Update: The Economics of Corporations
October 2nd, 2014 | Tags: ants, eff, local, old, Tax | Category: 20, 2014, als, ANC, Ants, art, ass, Box, CAP, capital, cat, CIA, class, college, companies, con, corporate, corporations, covers, democracy, div, DOD, e, economic, economics, EFF, er, fec, fossil fuel, fu, GE, hi, hp, i, insurance, ISS, it, Jr., la, listen, local, MAI, Men, migrants, movement, NEE, News, NIE, no, old, own, partners, please, pr, Print, questions, radio, rant, rants, right, Social, social movement, spa, target, tax, the right, the rock, TI, time, truth, Truthout, update, US, Video, videos, WBAI, we, web, wolff, work, Writing, x, yo, you | Comments are closed
San Francisco’s controversial plan to charge tech employee shuttle operators $1 daily to legally use city bus stops has hit a bureaucratic roadblock. The pilot program’s launch date has been pushed back to August 1st “because all the necessary hearings would not fit in the board of directors’ summer schedule.”Read more…
Continue reading San Francisco Tech Bus Program Scaled Back and Delayed
June 23rd, 2014 | Tags: america, eating, logo, save, youtube | Category: 2014, 21, 24, 3D, 5@5, 9/11, ack, action, activist, Activists, ade, adl, ads, Advertising, afa, aid, AIT, AMA, Amazon, America, Anarchist, anarchists, ANC, anti-food, Ants, Apple, arrow, art, Article, ass, assets, attack, Audi, author chat, authors, avatar, AWK, AWS, backbone, BBC, beats, benefits, best restaurant, bill, Billboard, billion, blockade, Blogs, Body, bonus, Bonuses, book, border, bounce, Box, BP, bra, BS, BT, bubble, Buses, Buttons, campaign, CEO, Chevron, CIA, City, clam, class, closure, collapse, Color, column, columns, Comment, commute, companies, con, construction, control, corporations, cost, Cree, CSA, Cuba, cut, cw, data, DC, DEA, dead, Deadspin, death, default, demand, Design, directors, discussions, disrupt, div, divide, DOD, dog, DOMA, Dumb, e, EADS, earmark, earmarks, ears, eating, ebook, EFF, email, employee, employment, Environment, environmental, EPA, EU, excerpt, exclusive, export, exports, f1, Facebook, fail, fame, FCC, Feature, Features, Fed, files, fire, fires, fix, food, forces, ford, foundation, France, frances bean cobain, Francis, fu, fun, Fur, future, gawker, gawker media, GE, gentrification, GI, gif, Global, Globe, GM, good, Google, google buses, google shopping express, grid, GSA, Ham, Hands, harrison ford, hate, hbo, headlines, Heat, height, hi, HIV, hmm, hope, hot, hp, ICE, illegal, ILO, image, images, import, INM, Internet, iron, IRS, ISS, it, ITN, Java, job, jobs, kevin rose, kill, King, kinja, Kotaku.com, la, label, lana del rey, law, laws, lawsuit, Lead, leader, left, legal, lice, lies, Life, local, locke, logo, love, luxury, MAI, Make, Mali, map, marc andreessen, Mary, Maxim, McDonald's, Meat, Media, Medium, Men, mers, meth, metrics, mine, MIT, Mobile, mom, morning after, moving, mta, muni, Music, mute, names, Navigation, nba, NEE, neighborhood, nest, new, News, NIE, no, north, npr, NRA, NSL, officials, ok, old, Opera, Orb, ouch, own, pac, pace, Pain, Parking, PATH, Pay, PBS, pc, people, pilot, Pinterest, piss, Policy, Poll, portland, Ports, Portugal, PPR, pr, prep, privacy, problem, profile, progress, progressive, prom, propaganda, protest, protesters, protests, Psy, Public, Rain, ram, random, rant, rap, rapper, rb, Reading, recovery, red, rent, research, respect, right, rio, rip, Rivers, roadblock, Robots, Rove, rules, run, Ryan, sale, San Francisco, save, search, SEC, sentence, sex, sfmta, shopping, sia, Silicon, silicon valley, Simple, Skin, snow, sons, soylent, Space, Sport, square, star, START, stats, sting, stories, style, sue, summer, sure, t.i., T1, target, Tea, tech, technology, tension, test, texts, the environment, the future, the intern, the mission, the va, the view, thor, TI, time, tips, Tires, Tools, Train, transparent, TSA, TV, twitter, u.s., uber, UC, ugh, UN, undefined, unf, update, US, usc, Va, vice, Video, videos, war, we, web, who, will, Wind, witches, words, work, world, World Cup, Xe, yo, YouTube, zen | Comments are closed
Seattle, home to the highest minimum wage in America , legal weed, and as of yesterday, incarcerated female soccer player Hope Solo , has beat out over 200 other American cities as the most generous city in the country in a study that tracks online donations. Read more…
Continue reading Seattle Tops List of Cities With Highest Online Donations—Again
June 22nd, 2014 | Tags: domestic-violence, forces, gsa, Privacy, sun | Category: 2014, 2016, 21, 24, 3D, 420, 5@5, 9/11, ABA, ack, action, activist, Activists, ade, adl, ads, Advertising, afa, aid, AIT, Akin, Alaska, alexandria, AMA, Amazon, America, American, ANC, apartment, Apple, Arlington, arrest, arrested, arrow, art, Article, ass, assets, Atlanta, Audi, author chat, authors, avatar, AWK, backbone, Bail, baltimore, ban, beats, belle, Biden, bill, Billboard, Black, blame, bling, Blogs, Body, book, boomer, border, bounce, Box, bra, BS, bubble, business, Buttons, campaign, CAP, Chevron, CIA, Cities, City, City Council, clam, class, closure, colin firth, collapse, Color, column, columns, Comment, Communities, con, control, corporations, cost, country, coup, Cree, cut, cw, data, DC, DEA, dead, Deadspin, default, DINA, discussions, div, divide, dog, doll, dollar, DOMA, domestic, domestic violence, donation, donations, ducks, e, EADS, earmark, earmarks, ears, eating, ebook, EFF, EPA, EU, excerpt, exclusive, export, exports, f1, Facebook, faking it, fame, Family, FCC, fears, Feature, Features, fec, Fed, FEMA, files, fire, fix, forces, ford, foundation, Francis, fu, fun, FWW, Gambling, gawker, gawker media, GE, generosity, GI, gif, girls, Global, Globe, GM, Gold, Google, Gossip, governor, grid, GSA, gtl, guilt, Ham, headlines, hi, Hips, HIV, hmm, hope, hope solo, hot, House, hp, ICE, illegal, image, images, import, initiative, INM, IRS, ISS, it, ITN, Java, job, jobs, joe, Joe Biden, Jr., kids, kill, King, kinja, Kotaku.com, la, Lead, leader, left, legal, lice, lies, Life, lizzy caplan, local, locke, logo, luke bryan, Macau, MAI, Make, Mali, map, Mary, Maxim, Media, Medium, Men, meth, metrics, mia, miami, miami gardens, millennials, Minimum wage, MIT, Mobile, mom, money, morning after, MoST, movie, muni, museum, names, Navigation, Nazi, nba, nest, new, New York, News, no, nonprofits, north, npr, NRA, Nsfw, NSL, ok, old, Oman, Orb, ouch, own, oxford comma, pac, pace, paddington, PATH, patriot, PBS, pc, penis, penises, people, Philadelphia, phones, police, Policy, Poll, pope, Pope Francis, Population, Ports, Portugal, pow, power, powerpuff girls, PPR, pr, pregnant, prep, Prince, prison, privacy, profile, profit, progress, progressive, prom, Psy, raid, Rain, ram, random, rap, rapper, rb, Reading, red, rent, research, respect, right, rio, riot, rip, rise, Robots, Royal Family, rules, run, Ryan, sale, San Francisco, save, school, Scott, scott aukerman, search, Seattle, SEC, sentence, Service, sex, Simple, Sip, Skin, Smartphones, snow, Soccer, Social, Social Media, Space, Spanish, Sport, square, star, START, stats, stories, studies, style, Sun, sure, t.i., T1, Tapas, target, Tea, test, texts, the va, the view, thor, TI, time, tips, today, Tools, transparent, TSA, TV, twitter, u.s., UC, ugh, UK, UN, undefined, unf, update, US, USA, USA Today, Va, via, vice, Video, videos, violence, wage, Washington, we, web, weed, West, who, will, Wind, witches, words, work, world, World Cup, wow, Xe, yo, young, Young people, younger | Comments are closed
The Drakeford sisters didn’t start thrifting because it was the environmentally friendly thing to do. They just had a fashionable reputation to keep up in Oakland, and vintage threads were affordable, unique, and helped them stand out. “People knew us — ‘Oh, the Drakeford sisters,’” Dominique Drakeford told me over the phone recently. “We had this really cool identity.” It wasn’t until she was studying business and environmental management in college that everything clicked. “I decided vintage is one of the most radical forms of sustainable fashion,” she said. There’s no production with used clothing, she says, and the price point makes it more accessible than new green fashion choices. Jazmine, left, and Dominique, right. And so three years ago, Dominique, together with her sister Jazmyne, started a semi-annual community thrift sale in Oakland. The pair brings bags of their own clothes to a youth center in East Oakland. They put reasonable price tags on the threads — from $1 to $15 — and donate a portion of the proceeds to a program that helps send East Oakland youth to college. There’s an educational component, too. Attendees learn about sustainable fashion and take a pledge to be more responsible consumers. The events have sparked a lot of interest in the topic — participants often offer to volunteer at future events — and clears up misconceptions. Many of the attendees of the first sale hadn’t even heard the term sustainability, Dominique says. If they had, “they thought that in order to participate, they had to spend a lot of money on organic cotton,” she says. “That’s not the case. You can be a part of this movement.” Today, Dominique is deep into the sustainable fashion movement. She’s sporting a master’s degree in sustainable entrepreneurship and fashion from NYU, and lives in New York, where she models, runs her own PR company, and helps put on fashion shows and shoots. She’s rubbed shoulders with DKNY’s Donna Karan and works with exclusively sustainable companies — from Skraptacular, which teaches kids to create art out of trash to REpurposingNOLA, an accessories company that sources materials and labor from New Orleans. Jazmyne still lives in Oakland, where she has her own line of repurposed vintage, Blvck Nostalgia and a YouTube channel where she posts videos on fashion and beauty. The sisters influence each other and still find time to thrift when they’re together. Their advice for those of us who are looking to score great vintage? Dominique recommends patience, first and foremost, as well as figuring out different stores’ price points, taking lots of photos to see how things fit, and getting great, but ill-fitting, finds altered. When I asked Dominique how sustainability could change the fashion industry, she remembered a question one of her professors once asked: “What do you do if there’s a man throwing babies off a cliff? Do you go to the river and save the babies that he’s throwing? Or do you go to the cliff and stop the problem there?” “The thing with the fashion industry is that you have to do it in both places,” she said. “There are issues with production, consumption, marketing, distribution, large corporations, governments, and regulations. That’s the cool thing about what I’m seeing: People are finding a niche and finding what their passion is, and they’re attacking it for the greater good of the issue. It needs to be attacked at every level.” Filed under: Article, Living
Continue reading Meet the sisters who put the rad in radical vintage
June 20th, 2014 | Tags: college, mai, most, videos | Category: 2014, 21, 24, 3D, 5@5, 9/11, ABA, access, ack, action, ade, adl, ads, Advertising, advice, afa, aging, aid, Akin, AMA, Amazon, ANC, Ants, Apple, arrow, art, Article, ass, ATF, attack, authors, avatar, AWK, Babies, ban, Beauty, bees, Black, Body, book, border, Box, BP, bra, Brain, BS, BT, business, Buttons, campaign, CAP, Celebrate, CEP, change, changing the world, CIA, Cities, City, class, cliff, climate, Climate & Energy, collapse, college, Color, Comment, Commentary, community, companies, con, Conservative, Conservatives, consumers, consumption, copyright, corporations, Cree, currency, cut, cw, Dairy, data, dateline, DC, default, Devices, disco, div, DOE, DOMA, doom, drake, Dumb, e, EADS, ears, ebook, education, El Nino, electric, elon musk, email, energy, entrepreneurs, Entrepreneurship, Environment, environmental, EU, Events, evolution, excerpt, exclusive, f1, fab, Facebook, Fashion, Feature, Featured, Fed, feds, fellowship, files, fix, food, ford, fu, fun, future, FWW, fx, G8, GE, GI, gif, Global, Globe, GM, good, Google, government, green, gun, hacks, hate, Heat, hell, Hells Angels, hey, hi, Hips, HIV, hope, hot, hp, humor, ICE, ice t, identity, image, import, industry, influence, information, iPad, iron, IRS, ISS, it, Java, jet, job, jobs, Jr., kids, King, kiss, la, label, Labor, Language, left, legal, Liberal, liberals, Lists, Living, logo, love, MAI, Make, make it stop, management, market, marketing, Mary, math, Media, Medium, Men, mers, meth, metrics, mine, MIT, Mobile, models, Modi, money, MoST, movement, muni, Navigation, NEE, new, New Orleans, New York, News, nfl, NHL, NIE, no, no thanks, nola, Nostalgia, npr, nyu, Oakland, oil, ok, old, Orb, ouch, own, pac, pants, Patents, PATH, pc, people, photos, Pinterest, please, Policy, politics, pow, power, pr, prep, Print, privacy, problem, Production, profit, Public, q&a, radical, Rain, ram, random, rap, rapper, rb, red, reddit, regulation, regulations, rent, Revolution, Rice, right, rights, rip, Robots, Rowing, run, sale, save, search, SEC, secret, secure, Series, Service, shot, signs, Sip, Slides, slideshow, slideshows, Social, speed, Sport, star, START, stats, sting, style, sue, sure, SurveyMonkey, sustainability, t.i., T1, target, tax, Tea, tech, technology, Tesla, test, the environment, The FA, Theme, things, thor, thought, TI, time, tk, tmz, today, Tools, Train, trash, TV, twitter, UBS, UC, ugh, UK, UN, undefined, US, Va, via, vice, Video, videos, Voices, water, we, weight, well, what, who, Wind, work, world, WWI, Xe, yo, youth, YouTube, YouTube.com | Comments are closed
Ian UmedaChris Kobayashi (right), her husband Dimi Rivera (extreme left), and a friend harvest taro on their 10-acre farm on Kauai. Kobayashi says transitioning to small-scale, agroeological farms will be a lot of hard work, but will lead to a vibrant local economy.For Chris Kobayashi and her husband, Dimi Rivera, it all started with Japanese cucumbers. “In 1997 we said, ‘OK, let’s grow Japanese cucumbers, but let’s grow it organically,’” Kobayashi tells me as we walk around her farm in Hanalei Bay on Kauai’s North Shore. “You know, because they are crispy, crunchy, and yummy and you can eat the skin and everything,” The couple knew that it would be a tough vegetable to grow. Cucumbers are prone to extensive damage from fruit flies in Hawaii. So they covered every single cucumber that came up with plastic bags. “We’d charge a dollar for each at the farmers market,” says Kobayshi. “We set up a sign on that said ‘Japanese Cucumbers, $1.’ We offered samples and people got hooked because it’s so crunchy. Then they started asking, ‘Do you have any kale?’ I was like, ‘Kale? What is that?’ So that’s how we started growing other kinds of veggies. It was just all an organic thing that happened. None of this was planned.” Today, Kobayashi’s family’s 10-acre Waioli Farm, named after the stream that runs beside it, grows produce using organic practices — mainly taro, which they supply to families and traditional poi (taro paste) makers on Oahu and the Big Island, but also some fruits and vegetables for their local farmers market stand. Kobayashi, whose family has been growing taro commercially for generations, is a member of Hawaii SEED, a coalition of grassroots citizen groups and food activists that promotes ecological food and farming in Hawaii. I met with her when I went to Hawaii to report on the growing citizens’ movement against the genetically modified seed industry in the islands. (Read my in-depth story on the issue here.) To be more specific, I met with her, and several other small-scale farmers on Kauai and Oahu, in an effort to understand whether there were indeed any viable alternatives to industrial-style farming in Hawaii. Could this remote island chain, which currently imports nearly 90 percent of its food, transition to growing enough food to feed itself though small-scale, agroecological farming? Kobayashi certainly thinks so. “Have you seen this?” she asks, sweeping an arm to indicate the lush fields and emerald mountains around us. “Over here we have year-round warm weather, we have land, we have water … We just need more farms that produce food.” Of course, the transition would have to be more intentional than how she started out, and it would require setting up complementary cottage industries that could employ more people, she adds. “It will be a lot of hard work, but it can be done. … I can see a vibrant economy take shape.” The thriving local food economy on Kauai’s North Shore — with its diverse community of homesteaders, small-scale farmers like Kobayashi and Rivera, and upscale homeowners and tourists who often buy out the farmers markets in a matter of hours — offers a window into what’s possible in Hawaii. A widespread switch in farming systems, however, would first require a larger shift in perception of what most Hawaiian residents (and in fact, most Americans) consider the kind of farming that feeds and employs the multitudes. In Hawaii specifically, the problem is that because of the islands’ colonial history, its people have been alienated from their traditional livelihoods and sustainable agricultural practices, says Albie Miles, director of the University of Hawaii–West Oahu’s Sustainable Agriculture program. Large-scale, plantation-style agriculture was a centerpiece of Hawaii’s economy for more than a century, until competition from overseas drove local sugarcane and pineapple plantations out of business in the 1990s, leaving many jobless. The dying plantations were then replaced by large biotech seed farms. For many Hawaiians, who worked or grew up with this kind of agricultural system, it’s impossible to even conceive that islanders can sustain themselves without Big Ag. As Kauai Mayor Bernard Carvalho told me: “This kind of agriculture really feeds our families.” What Hawaiians forget, Miles says, is that the islands have another, much older agricultural and land-use history — one that is deeply intertwined with the region’s environment and indigenous culture, one that had sustained the people of this remote island chain for several centuries before the arrival of the first European explorers. Ian UmedaHawaii’s year-round weather, fertile soil, and freshwater supply make it ideal for growing a wide variety of food crops.The early Hawaiian settlers, who arrived in the uninhabited islands around A.D. 300 from Polynesia, developed a unique system of resource management to support their growing population. Recognizing the connection between the mountains and the oceans and the key role of freshwater in linking the two, they divided the islands into self-sustaining units called ahupua‘a. The ahupua‘a were usually wedge-shaped sections of land that ran from the mountains to the sea (extending into coastal fishing grounds) and contained a freshwater source such as a stream, spring, or river. Each ahupua‘a contained within it all the resources needed for a community to sustain itself independently. It was the responsibility of the community living within the ahupua‘a to manage the land and water resources in a balanced way. The community’s kahuna, or priests, helped oversee this by imposing taboos on things like fishing certain species during specific seasons, or gathering certain plants at the wrong time. Food, goods, and services were distributed within an ahupua‘a via a system of sharing and mutual cooperation. This kind of resource management helped develop a strong sense of community and interdependence between the people and the natural environment. When Captain James Cook, the first European explorer to land in Hawaii, sailed into Kauai in 1778, the islands were supporting a population of about 300,000. (Estimates vary from less than 300,000 to more than 700,000. The current population of Hawaii is 1.39 million.) There are few ahupua‘a left intact in Hawaii today (Kobayashi’s farm is part of a fractured one), and none of them can support an entire community as in pre-industrial days. But some interesting efforts to restore versions of this ancient land-use system are being undertaken by organizations like the Waipa Foundation and the Limahuli Garden and Preserve, which lies just a little further north of Kobayashi’s farm on Kauai’s North Shore. Hawaii’s grassroots movement against the biotech farms and industrial agriculture finds much strength in this ancient agrarian history. While it’s unlikely that the islands can completely revert to the ahupua’a system, it does offer a model of self-sufficiency that can be emulated, says environmental lawyer and author Claire Hope Cummings. “Most of the country has this mix of the means needed for local food and fuel production, and a choice of models,” Cummings writes in her book Uncertain Peril: Genetic Engineering and the Future of Seeds. “But very few places have the needed leadership and proven ways to go about creating our ideal of diverse and locally controlled economies.” Like Cummings, many farming experts and food activists say Hawaii has to look beyond its colonial history to find the way forward to a food-secure state. The kind of agricultural model they are looking back to, and would like to see take root in Hawaii, is gaining increasing international support. A large body of scientific research — including studies by nonpartisan organizations such as the National Academies of Sciences, the U.N. Committee on Trade and Development, and the lesser-known but hugely important International Assessment of Agricultural Knowledge, Science and Technology for Development (IAASTD) — indicates that the best way to ensure food production as the world’s population grows (and its climate changes) is by transitioning from the industrial, monocrop model to smaller, biologically diversified, agroecological systems that have proven to be better at addressing the challenges of food sovereignty, preserving biodiversity, and reducing poverty. In fact, such food systems are already feeding most of the world. According to a 2012 report by ETC Group, a Canadian research and advocacy organization, at least 70 percent of the food the world consumes every year is grown by small-scale rural and urban farmers, while industrial farming, which gets most of the attention, land, and R&D dollars, actually produces only about 30 percent of the world’s food. “Our 70 percent estimate is inadvertently corroborated by the fertilizer industry who worry that somewhere between 40 percent and 60 percent of the world’s food is grown without their synthetic chemicals,” notes Pat Mooney, the group’s cofounder and executive director. Unfortunately, research and development related to diversified farming systems receives minimal funding. In the U.S., it gets less than 2 percent of public agricultural research funding. Miles of Hawaii University argues that this neglect has led to a “knowledge gap” that makes it easy for Big Ag supporters to cite a “yield gap” between agro-ecologial and industrial food production. “The estimated 10 to 15 percent yield gap has to be understood in the context of historic underfunding of crop development using organic and agroecological farming methods,” he says. “Even with a small investment into these alternative methods, we’d be able to close the yield gap.” Miles believes that if the U.S. Department of Agriculture shifted its focus toward research and education in agroecology and biologically diversified farming systems, the potential to address global resource challenges would be enormous. The state of Hawaii came pretty close to making that shift on its own just two decades ago. When the plantation economy crashed in the ’90s, the state agriculture department considered replacing the plantations with a more community-friendly model that included small farms growing diverse crops. Ian UmedaComplementary cottage industries producing value-added food products — like breadfruit chips and taro hummus (left) and kulolo, a traditional taro pudding (right) — could offer employment to many.“Back then the University of Hawaii’s agricultural extension agents would come by and say that we were going into diversified ag and truck farming and that they were going to provide us with the training and support to make that transition. But that never happened,” says Walter Ritte, a veteran Hawaiian political and environmental activist based in Molakai. Instead, the governor at the time, Ben Cayetano, began courting the biotech seed industry. “All of a sudden the best lands were being given to these big chemical companies and we were back to industrial ag again,” Ritte says. Most of these companies produce commodity crops, mainly genetically engineered seeds, which get shipped to the U.S. mainland and overseas, leaving the islands heavily dependent on food imports. “Everyone realizes that Hawaii is in an incredibly risky situation in terms of food security,” Miles says, referring to reports that show that in case of a disruption in shipping the state’s inventory of fresh produce would feed Hawaiians for no more than 10 days. But, he says, there’s clearly a way out of this precarious position that could also create jobs and sustain the local economy. A recent Hawaii State University study estimates that replacing just 10 percent of imported food with locally grown food would create about 2,300 jobs (about the same number that the seed industry provides) and keep $313 million circulating within Hawaii’s economy. Miles says the state government needs to make “some serious choices” about its agriculture sector and needs to start removing the “structural obstacles” in the way of small, diversified farms. The obstacles aren’t small, either. For starters, there’s the problem of providing potential smallholders access to land. Much of the state’s 280,000 acres of arable agricultural land belongs to big trusts set up by erstwhile plantation barons and Hawaiian royal families who prefer the security of leasing out or selling large parcels rather than divvying their land up in sections of 10 acres of less. They can’t really be blamed for that either, given the massive property tax burden that they have to bear. (Kobayashi says a possible solution could be giving landowners some kind of tax incentive for taking a chance on new farmers.) Then there’s the issue of finding enough people willing to take up farming in the first place — a core problem facing the agricultural sector worldwide. Scott Enright, the chair of the Hawaii Board of Agriculture, told me there simply weren’t enough people in Hawaii who were interested in taking up farming, or who had the basic knowhow in the first place. “But that said, we are looking to open up land in Kehaka [in Kauai] for agriculturalists. We’ll see who steps forward,” he says. Farming advocates counter that the onus is on the state to invest time and money in teaching Hawaiians how to farm. “When the plantations closed, about 200 farmers were given two acres of land [each] to cultivate, but they weren’t given full support. We didn’t show them how to farm. So after a few years they gave up,” says Hector Valenzuela, a crop scientist at Hawaii University. “Even at the [state-run] university, we diverted our attention to GMOs. Crop scientists shut themselves up in labs when they should have been in the fields, showing farmers how to grow food,” he says. “The hardest thing to do is to convince somebody to start farming, so when one decides to do so we have to help them succeed.” Back at Waioli Farm, Kobayashi says that it is pretty clear Hawaii needs to start the transition with some rulemaking. “I don’t know how to put it all together, but that’s what we want to work on. … It’s quite a big complex issue, but we’ve just got to start chipping away.” —– See also: GMO companies are dousing Hawaiian island with toxic pesticides GMO giants’ pesticide use threatens rare Hawaiian species These articles are part of “What The Fork!?! Corporations and Democracy,” a collaborative media effort investigating corporate control of our democracy and our dinner plates. The articles and radio segments are the combined work of Making Contact, The Progressive, the Center for Media and Democracy (publisher of ALECexposed.org), and Food Democracy Now, along with reporting from Earth Island Journal, Grist, and Cascadia Times. Reporting has been made possible in part by a generous grant from the Voqal Fund. Read stories and more at WTFcorporations.com, and follow #wtfcorps and #BigAg on Twitter and Facebook.Filed under: Business & Technology, Food
June 19th, 2014 | Tags: activist, chemical, families, orb, solution | Category: 2012, 2014, 21, 24, 3D, 5@5, 9/11, ABA, access, ack, action, activist, Activists, ade, adl, ads, Advertising, advice, afa, aging, agriculture, Agriculture Department, agriculture sector, aid, Akin, alien, AMA, Amazon, America, American, Americans, ANC, Ants, Apple, Arab, arrow, art, Article, ass, ATF, authors, avatar, AWK, ban, believe, biodiversity, biotech, Bite, Black, blame, Body, book, border, Box, BP, Brain, Bread, BS, BT, business, Buttons, campaign, cane, CAP, CEP, chain, challenge, change, chemical, Chemicals, chips, CIA, Cities, citizens, City, class, Clean, climate, Climate & Energy, climate change, coal, Coalition, collapse, Colon, Color, columbia, Columbia University, Comment, Commentary, community, companies, con, Conservative, Conservatives, control, Cooper, copyright, corporate, corporations, country, coup, Crash, credit, Cree, crops, culture, currency, cut, cute, cw, data, dateline, DC, DEA, dead, deal, default, democracy, development, Devices, disco, disrupt, div, diversity, divide, DOE, doll, dollar, DOMA, doom, e, ears, earth, eating, ebook, economies, economy, ecosystem, education, EFF, El Nino, electric, electricity, elon musk, elves, email, employment, energy, engineer, Engineering, Environment, environmental, environmental law, EPA, estimate, EU, Euro, Europe, European, Events, evolution, excerpt, explorers, f1, fab, Facebook, fact, families, Family, farmers, farming, farms, Feature, fellowship, fertilizer, files, Fishing, fix, food, food security, food sovereignty, fortunate, foundation, Fruit, Fruits, fruits and vegetables, fu, fun, funding, Fur, future, FWW, fx, G8, Game of Thrones, gap, GE, generation, genetic, Genetic Engineering, genetically engineered, genetically modified, GI, gif, Global, Globe, GM, God, good, Goods, Google, government, governor, Grass, grassroots, green, gun, hacks, Hair, hate, Hawaii, Heat, hell, hey, hi, Hips, history, HIV, homeowners, hope, How To, hp, hummus, humor, ICE, ice t, image, import, India, indigenous, industry, information, international, iPad, iron, IRS, ISS, it, Japan, Japanese, Java, jet, job, jobless, jobs, journalism, King, kiss, kittens, knowledge, KOB, la, label, Labor, Language, law, Lead, leader, leadership, left, legal, Liberal, liberals, lies, Lists, Living, local, local food, logo, lol, looking back, magazines, MAI, Make, make it stop, management, market, Mary, math, Mayor, Media, Medium, Men, mers, meth, metrics, MIT, Mobile, models, Modi, money, Moon, MoST, Mountains, movement, moving, muni, names, National academies, Navigation, NEE, new, News, NHL, NIE, no, no thanks, north, npr, Oceans, oil, ok, old, Op/Ed, Opera, Orb, ouch, overseas, own, pac, pace, Patents, PATH, pc, people, Pesticides, petition, Pets, Philadelphia, Philadelphia Zoo, Pie, Pinterest, please, Policy, politics, Population, Ports, pot, poverty, pow, power, pr, prep, Priests, Print, privacy, problem, Production, profit, progress, progressive, prom, Public, q&a, radio, Rain, ram, random, rant, rap, rapper, rb, red, reddit, reign, rent, research, research and development, resources, Revolution, right, rights, rio, rip, risk, Robots, Rove, Rowing, run, science, Science and Technology, Scott, search, Seasons, SEC, secure, security, seeds, Service, shot, sia, signs, Sip, Skin, Slides, slideshow, slideshows, Social, Soil, Solution, sons, Sovereignty, Space, speed, Spring, spy, star, START, state, state government, stats, sting, stories, strategy, studies, style, sue, sugar, sure, SurveyMonkey, t.i., T1, Taboos, target, tax, Tea, teaching, tech, technology, tension, Tesla, test, The FA, the future, the mountain, the national, Theme, things, Think, thor, thought, threat, TI, time, tk, tmz, today, Tomatoes, Tools, tourists, trade, Trade and development, Train, trial, Tuna, TV, twitter, u.s., UBS, UC, ugh, UK, UN, undefined, unf, US, Va, Vegetables, Vermont, veteran, via, vice, Voices, war, water, we, weather, weeping, weight, West, what, who, will, Wind, Wine, work, world, wtf, WWI, Xe, zen | Comments are closed
U.S. Geological SurveyAn endangered Hawaiian honeycreeper.WAIMEA, HAWAII — Given its fragile and unusually rich ecology, the Hawaiian island of Kauai seems ill-suited as a site for agricultural experiments that use heavy amounts of toxic chemicals. But four transnational corporations — BASF Plant Science, Dow AgroSciences, DuPont Pioneer, and Syngenta — have been doing just those kinds of experiments here for about two decades, extensively spraying pesticides on their GMO test fields. As a result, the landscape on the southwest corner of the island, around the town of Waimea, has become one of the most toxic chemical environments in all of American agriculture. This poses serious risks for the people of Kauai, as I’ve documented, but even less noticed are the hazards posed to the unique flora and fauna of the island and the coral reefs just off its shores. Each of the seven highly toxic pesticides most commonly used by the GMO giants on Kauai (alachlor, atrazine, chlorpyrifos, methomyl, metolachlor, paraquat, and permethrin) is known to be toxic to wildlife, plants, or both. U.S. Fish and Wildlife ServiceAn endangered flowering plant on Kauai: Lysimachia daphnoides, aka Pacific loosestrife.The isolated geography of Kauai has fostered the evolution of a great diversity of birds, bugs, and plants. Kauai has more unique species — species that live only on the island — than anywhere else in the world, said Carl Berg, an ecologist and long-time advocate for clean water with the Kauai chapter of the Surfrider Foundation. Berg and others fear that these endemic species are being put at great risk of extinction by exposure to the chemicals, though he says he has no idea the extent of the damage. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service added 48 species that live only on Kauai to the endangered species list in 2010, including two different species of the Hawaiian honeycreeper, a small bird, and the large Hawaiian picture-wing fly. Also, several protected marine species rest or breed on the island’s beaches, including the highly endangered Hawaiian monk seal and the threatened green sea turtle. Occasionally, an endangered leatherback and hawksbill sea turtle will wander close in. A total of 17 different kinds of dolphins and whales frolic in the island’s harbors and bays. Elsa Flores AlmarazKauai’s unique geography.To best understand the island’s ecology, start at its highest point, Mount Waialeale. The island’s central volcano, it was born in a massive eruption 6 million years ago on the ocean floor and now stands 5,200 feet above sea level at its summit. Over the millennia, natural forces (wind, rain, volcanic eruptions) have carved a series of unique micro-ecosystems into the landscape, from the rain-swept mountain peak to the hot and dry southern coast. As you go down the mountain, the mix of unique species that fill each ecological niche changes dramatically every few feet, from the tropical rainforests dominated by the prized hardwood koa to the mist-shrouded swamp forests of lapalapa, a small endemic flowering shrub. Mount Waialeale, one of the three rainiest places on earth, receives an average of 460 inches of rain per year, according to the National Climatic Data Center. The GMO test fields, located just 12 miles away near sea level, receive less than 20 inches of rainfall per year. Steady trade winds, which blow in from the northeast, carry a cargo of pollen, birds, bugs, and other life forms to Kauai. And as winds whip around the island, they also kick up dust and agricultural chemicals and deposit them on top of the island’s many native species and habitats. Elsa Flores AlmarazThe Waimea River is the lifeline connecting each micro-ecosystem. It begins its journey above the spectacular 3,000-foot-deep Waimea River Canyon (the Grand Canyon of the Pacific, some call it), meanders down toward the lowlands where it picks up polluted runoff from the fields where Dow and DuPont test their GMO crops, and gently eases into the Pacific Ocean. Offshore, it deposits the polluted water on top of the coral reefs that form a ring around the island. Underground rivers of water also contaminated with the chemicals follow a similar route to the sea, finally emerging from submerged springs that bubble up through the corals. The coral reef ecosystem, which includes the colorful coral, tiny reef fish, and sea grasses, is lodged between the polluted surface water and groundwater like a waffle in a waffle iron. Water quality tests show that the levels of chemical contamination in the river and groundwater are too low to violate drinking water standards, but are high enough to pose a hazard to aquatic life. The amount of this pollution, while small, appears to be increasing. Water sampling results published by the U.S. Geological Survey show that the levels of atrazine, chlorpyrifos, and other pesticides in surface waters near Waimea increased nearly four-fold from 2012 to 2014. Studies from Australia show that agricultural runoff tainted with atrazine and chlorpyrifos are harming corals and other aquatic life in the Great Barrier Reef, the world’s largest coral reef ecosystem. No studies have been conducted to see if similar effects are occurring off Kauai. Barely detectable levels of pesticides are enough to damage the coral, said Australian biologist Andrew Negri, who has written several papers on the issue. “As corals are symbiotic organisms, the insecticides are most likely to affect the host animal, whereas the herbicides can affect the symbiotic microalgae,” which provide corals with energy, he said. Later this month, the U.S. government is expected to add more than 60 types of reef-building corals to the endangered species list, including many from in the Indo-Pacific oceanic region, which includes waters around Hawaii and Kauai. The courts have ruled that it is illegal for pesticide use to harm endangered species. The Endangered Species Act can be a powerful tool in the hands of environmental lawyers. In the 1990s, endangered species litigation was used to block many timber sales in spotted owl habitat in the dense old-growth forests of the Pacific Northwest. No such lawsuits have been filed on behalf of Kauai’s endangered wildlife — so far. —– Also read this related article: GMO companies are dousing Hawaiian island with toxic pesticides. These articles are part of a collaborative media effort sponsored by The Media Consortium and made possible in part by a generous grant from the Voqal Fund. Read more stories at WTFcorporations.com.Filed under: Article, Business & Technology, Food
Continue reading GMO giants’ pesticide use threatens rare Hawaiian species
June 17th, 2014 | Tags: access, anger, hey, logo, trade | Category: 2010, 2012, 2014, 21, 24, 3D, 5@5, 9/11, ABA, access, action, ade, adl, ads, Advertising, advice, afa, agriculture, aid, Akin, Algae, AMA, Amazon, America, American, ANC, anger, Ants, Apple, aqua, arrow, art, Article, ass, ATF, Australia, authors, avatar, AWK, AWS, ban, Barrier Reef, Beaches, bill, Bird, birds, Black, Body, book, border, Box, BP, Brain, BS, BT, bubble, bugs, business, Buttons, campaign, CAP, change, chemical, Chemicals, CIA, Cities, City, class, Clean, clean water, climate, Climate & Energy, climate change, climate deniers, coal, collapse, Color, Comment, Commentary, common, companies, con, Conservative, Conservatives, Cooking, copyright, coral reef, coral reefs, corn, corporations, country, courts, credit, Cree, crops, culture, currency, cut, cw, danger, data, dateline, DC, DEA, default, deposits, Devices, disco, div, diversity, DOE, dolphins, DOMA, doom, Drama, Drinking, DuPont, e, ears, earth, ebook, ecosystem, EFF, electric, email, energy, Environment, environmental, environmental law, Eric Cantor, EU, Events, evolution, excerpt, f1, fab, Facebook, fall, Feature, fec, fellowship, files, final, finally, fix, food, forces, Forests, foundation, frolic, fu, fun, Fur, FWW, fx, G8, GE, Geography, GI, gif, Global, GM, Google, government, Grand Canyon, Grass, Great Barrier Reef, green, growth, gun, hacks, Hands, hate, Hawaii, hbo, Heat, hey, hi, Hips, HIV, hope, hp, humor, ICE, ice t, illegal, image, import, information, iPad, iron, ISS, it, Java, jet, job, jobs, journalism, journey, King, kiss, KOB, Koch, la, label, Labor, Language, law, laws, lawsuit, lawsuits, left, legal, Liberal, liberals, Life, Lists, Living, logo, MAI, Make, make it stop, Mary, math, McCarthy, Media, Media Consortium, Medium, Men, merge, meth, metrics, MIT, Mobile, Modi, MoST, movement, Navigation, NEE, new, News, NHL, NIE, no, no thanks, north, npr, Obama, offshore, ok, old, Orb, Oregon, ouch, own, pac, pacific, Pacific Ocean, papers, Patents, PATH, Paul, pc, people, Pesticides, photos, Pinterest, please, Policy, politics, Poll, pollution, portland, pot, pow, power, pr, prep, Print, privacy, profit, Public, q&a, Rain, rainforest, ram, random, rant, rap, rapper, rb, red, reddit, reef fish, Reefs, rent, reporter, Revolution, rich, right, rights, rio, rip, risk, Rivers, Robots, run, sale, science, search, SEC, secure, Series, Service, shot, signs, Sip, Slides, slideshow, slideshows, Social, South, Southern, Southwest, speed, spot, Spring, star, START, stats, sting, stories, studies, style, sue, suits, summit, sure, SurveyMonkey, t.i., T1, target, tax, Tea, tech, technology, Tesla, test, the Great Barrier Reef, the mountain, the national, the south, Theme, thor, thought, threat, TI, time, tk, tmz, Tomatoes, Tools, trade, twitter, u.s., UBS, UC, ugh, UK, UN, undefined, US, Va, Vermont, via, vice, Voices, war, water, we, weight, West, Whales, what, who, Wildlife, will, Wind, work, world, wtf, Xe, young, Young people | Comments are closed
US President Barack Obama will sign an order banning federal contractors from discriminating against gay and transgender workers, officials say.
Continue reading Obama to protect some gay workers
June 16th, 2014 | Tags: class, iss, pay, prom, queer | Category: 2010, 2011, 2012, 2014, 21, 24, 5@5, 9/11, abuse, access, action, ADA, ade, adl, ads, Advertising, afa, Africa, aging, aid, air force, AIT, Akin, AMA, America, American, Americans, Amputation, ANC, anger, Ants, Apple, Apps, arp, arrest, arrested, arrow, art, Article, Arts, Asia, ass, assault, assets, ATF, attack, Audi, audio, AWS, ban, Barack Obama, BBC, Beauty, Biden, big brother, bill, bling, Blogs, Body, Boehner, book, border, Box, Brain, branding, British, broadcast, BS, BT, Bush, business, businesses, Canada, CAP, CARE, casey kasem, casting, CCTV, Census, CEP, change, Chicken, children, CIA, class, college, Color, column, Comedy, Comment, Commentary, common, Communities, compensation, con, Congress, contract, contractors, control, Cookies, copyright, corporations, country, Cree, crime, cut, cw, Dallas, Dallas Morning News, Dance, data, DC, default, Democrat, democratic, Detroit, digg, discrimination, div, DNA, documents, DOE, DOMA, domestic, drone, Dublin, e, E-Mail, EADS, ears, eating, ebook, economic, Editorial, editors, education, EFF, email, employee, employees, employers, employment, England, entertainment, Environment, EPA, EU, Euro, Europe, execution, f1, fab, Facebook, fall, families, Feature, Features, fec, Fed, federal government, filth, fix, food, football, freedom, fu, fun, future, gas, gay, gay rights, gays, GE, gender, GI, gif, Global, GM, Google, government, grid, guilt, happy, Health, hell, hey, hi, Highlights, history, House, House of Representatives, House Republicans, House Speaker, hp, huffing, Huffington Post, hype, ICE, identity, images, INM, international, Internet, iPhone, IRA, Iraq, Ireland, iron, IRS, isis, Islam, Islamist, ISS, it, jail, Java, job, job creation, John Boehner, journalism, judge, Justice, Kenya, kids, King, kiss, la, label, Language, Latest News, Latin America, law, laws, lawsuit, lawsuits, Lead, leader, left, legislation, legs, lesbian, lgbt, lice, lies, lions, listen, local, magic, MAI, majority, Make, map, Mary, Massacre, math, Media, Medium, Men, metadata, meth, Michigan, middle east, militants, mine, Minimum wage, MIT, Mobile, Modi, MoST, mta, muni, Music, nature, Navigation, NBC, NEE, new, News, NIE, Nielsen, no, nola, north, NSA, NSL, Obama, obit, officials, ok, old, Oman, Opinion, Orb, ouch, Overtime, own, pac, party, PATH, Paul, Pay, people, please, Podcast, police, Policy, politics, pow, power, pr, prep, President, President Barack Obama, Print, privacy, problem, profile, prom, prosecution, Protection, Public, queer, radio, Rain, ram, random, rap, rapper, rb, Reading, red, reddit, release, rent, rental, Republican, Republicans, research, Review, right, rights, rip, Roma, romance, Rove, run, Running, Russia, satellite, science, Scotland, search, SEC, secure, security, Senate, Service, sex, sia, signs, Skin, small business, Social, Social Media, Software, Solution, speaker, split, Sport, stabbing, stalled, star, START, state, stats, sting, stock, Storage, stories, strikes, struggling, style, sue, suits, sure, t.i., T1, tech, technology, test, the intern, the internet, the national, Think, TI, time, tk, Tools, Top Stories, Transgender, Translation, translations, transparent, Travel, trial, truth, TV, twitter, UBS, UC, ugh, UK, Ukraine, UN, undefined, update, US, US Senate, USA, Va, vice, Video, vote, voters, wage, Wales, Wall Street, Wall Street Journal, war, Washington, Washington DC, watch, water, we, weather, web, weed, well, West, what, White House, who, will, Wind, work, worker, workers, workplace, world, World Cup, Xe, young, zen | Comments are closed
The United States has inked free-trade deals with 20 countries over the past three decades. This country plunged headfirst into the World Trade Organization before it formally launched in 1995. It’s now clear that this zeal benefits corporations while hurting the rest of us. These accords stoke inequality by driving down wages. The United States exported nearly 700,000 jobs between NAFTA’s 1994 debut and 2010, despite promises that it would expand employment.
Continue reading Recipe for Ripoffs
June 16th, 2014 | Tags: ass, country, Employment, united | Category: 2010, ade, ass, benefits, BS, class, corporations, country, DEA, deal, div, driving, e, employment, Equality, export, GE, hi, inequality, IRS, it, job, jobs, la, Men, NAFTA, News, no, ok, Opinion, own, pr, prom, state, states, TI, trade, UN, united, United States, US, wage, wages, we, world, World Trade Organization | Comments are closed
WAIMEA, HAWAII — The island of Kauai, Hawaii, has become Ground Zero in the intense domestic political battle over genetically modified crops. But the fight isn’t just about the merits or downsides of GMO technology. It’s also about regular old pesticides. The four transnational corporations that are experimenting with genetically engineered crops on Kauai have transformed part of the island into one of most toxic chemical environments in all of American agriculture. For the better part of two decades, BASF Plant Science, Dow AgroSciences, DuPont Pioneer, and Syngenta have been drenching their test crops near the small town of Waimea on the southwest coast of Kauai with some of the most dangerous synthetic pesticides in use in agriculture today, at an intensity that far surpasses the norm at most other American farms, an analysis of government pesticide databases shows. Each of the seven highly toxic chemicals most commonly used on the test fields has been linked to a variety of serious health problems ranging from childhood cognitive disorders to cancer. And when applied together in a toxic cocktail, their joint action can make them even more dangerous to exposed people. Last fall, the Kauai County Council enacted Ordinance 960, the first local law in the United States that specifically regulates the cultivation of existing GMO crops, despite an aggressive pushback from the industry, which contends that current federal regulations suffice. The law’s restrictions will go into effect in August. The GMO field experiments are supervised by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, and the pesticides have the U.S. EPA’s stamp of approval. But where some see oversight, others see blinders. Kauai County, which encompasses the entire island, contends that the federal agencies have ignored the health impacts while allowing the corporations to freely pursue profits, so it has claimed authority to regulate the pesticides used within its borders. Pesticides on KauaiAnti-GMO activists on Kauai.Ordinance 960 creates no-spray buffer zones near schools and other buildings where people live, work, or receive medical care, but falls far short of a complete ban on GMO crops. In recent weeks, however, Kauai residents have proposed an amendment to the county charter that would tighten the new regulations a lot further. If approved in a countywide vote, it would ban all GMO cultivation until the companies can prove to the county’s satisfaction that their pesticide usage does not harm public health. The agribusiness giants are not going to back down without a fight. In January, the companies filed suit in an effort to quash Ordinance 960; a court ruling on the suit is expected in the next few months, before the law takes effect. The companies are also expected to mount a vigorous political campaign to fight the charter amendment and to support a slate of GMO-friendly candidates to compete with pro-960 candidates in the November general election, when the mayor and all seven County Council seats are on the ballot. “Kauai is Ground Zero for the testing of GMO crops,” said Gary Hooser, a member of the Kauai County Council and an author of Ordinance 960. “It is also Ground Zero for democracy in action.” Why the locals are fighting Perhaps no one personifies the battle better than Klayton Kubo, who lives at the east end of Waimea, at the heart of what he calls “poison valley.” He showed this reporter a brief video of himself cleaning the screen covering the window on the street side of his house. Clogged with reddish dirt similar in appearance to volcanic soils found throughout the island, the screen is his house’s last line of defense against the dust. However, it blocks only the biggest chunks, and can do nothing to stop smaller pieces of grit, toxic vapors, and chemical odors that appear to be emanating from DuPont test fields located just beyond the street and Waimea River in front of his house. Klayton KuboRed dust blows up from a GMO test field.Kubo began looking for answers to his questions about what’s in the air some 15 years ago. More than once, he says, a DuPont representative came to his house only to lower his head and mutter that it’s “against company policy” to reveal any information about activities on the test fields. Kubo is among 150 of his neighbors who have joined a class action lawsuit against DuPont, seeking damages and an injunction against the use of suspected toxic chemicals. At the other end of town, the Waimea Canyon Middle School, a health clinic, and a veterans’ hospital line up in front of another GMO test field operated by Syngenta. In two incidents in 2006 and 2008, students at the school were evacuated and about 60 were hospitalized with flu-like symptoms like dizziness, headaches, and nausea. Many people in town blamed the outbreak on blowing dust from the GMO test fields. Steady northeasterly trade winds averaging between 8 and 9 miles per hour blow daily across the test fields and into town. The companies blamed nearby fields of noxious stinkweed. In an attempt to find out what actually happened, federal, state, and local government agencies in 2010 collaborated to test the air at the school for the presence of 24 kinds of toxic pesticides used on the test fields as well as for chemicals emitted by stinkweed. The study was inconclusive, finding that the “symptoms could be consistent with exposure to certain pesticides, but could also be caused by exposure to volatile chemicals emitted from natural sources, such as stinkweed.” It detected traces of the toxic pesticide chlorpyrifos in the air both inside and outside the school, but said it found “no evidence to indicate that pesticides had been used improperly.” Concentrations of all chemicals were below EPA exposure limits. But Gerard Jervis, a Honolulu lawyer representing the residents in the class-action lawsuit, said he doubted stinkweed was the source of the problem. Chemicals emitted by stinkweed are found in the air at similar concentrations elsewhere on the island and to his knowledge have never caused any health problems, he said. Moreover, the concentrations of airborne pesticides were found at much higher levels in Waimea than elsewhere on the island. Jervis also noted that the air quality study did not even try to look for more than 30 specific pesticides that have been used at the GMO test fields since 2007, including two of the most dangerous, paraquat, a weed-killer, and methomyl, an insecticide. Ordinance 960 was designed to prevent the recurrence of outbreaks like the one at Waimea school. Why the companies are fighting back The four agribusiness giants chose to locate their R&D work in the tropical climate of the Hawaiian Islands because they say it enables them to work their fields year-around, expanding the annual growing calendar to three or four seasons while compressing the time it takes to develop a new genetically altered seed by nearly half. Ian UmedaThe companies produce much more than newfangled seeds. At their core, they are large chemical companies that manufacture many types of agricultural chemicals. A major chunk of their income is generated from the sale of pesticides to farmers on the U.S. mainland. The farmers are told that they must use the chemicals in order to protect their pricey GMO crops from never-ending attacks by bugs and weeds. The agribusinesses are like printer manufacturers that make their money selling high-priced ink cartridges. An early achievement was Monsanto’s development of “Roundup Ready” corn and soybean seeds that can resist applications of the herbicide glyphosate, also known as Roundup. Ideally, on Roundup Ready fields, the crops live while the weeds die. However, in the 18 years that Roundup Ready seeds have been on the market, they have lost much of their effectiveness. The crops still survive, but on many farms across the U.S. a significant percentage of the weeds have mutated to the point that they no longer die as intended. Increasingly, varieties of herbicide-resistant superweeds are sprouting up in fields worldwide, wherever Roundup Ready crops are grown. On some fields, insecticide-resistant superbugs such as the corn rootworm are creating an additional set of problems for GMO farmers. The companies have responded by trying to create new seed varieties that can coexist with other chemicals that they hope can be used to enhance or replace Roundup. For example, Dow has developed new corn and soybean seeds that are resistant to 2,4-D, an older herbicide that was an active ingredient in Vietnam War-era Agent Orange and has been linked to reproductive problems and cancer. The company has asked the USDA to approve the seeds in hopes that a new generation of herbicide-tolerant crops can come to the market. Dow has given no assurance that overuse of 2,4-D won’t create additional new varieties of superweeds. Hooser said Dow officials told him that research conducted on Kauai played a key role in the development of 2,4-D-resistant seeds. What’s blowing in the wind across Kauai Some of the pesticides in use on the test fields around Waimea are toxic enough to pose a serious health threat to its population of 1,855, even when used according to directions. These are classified as “restricted use pesticides,” meaning they are more tightly regulated by the EPA than “general use pesticides.” The restricted-use chemicals applied most heavily on the GMO test fields of Kauai are alachlor, atrazine, chlorpyrifos, methomyl, metolachlor, paraquat, and permethrin. The four agribusiness companies with test plots on Kauai have voluntarily released data about how much of the restricted pesticides they used on the fields from December 2013 through April 2014; the information is now available in a database on the Hawaii state government website. We compared that information to 2009 data from a U.S. Geological Survey database on pesticide usage in the United States. We found that annualized pounds-per-acre usage of the seven highly toxic pesticides on Kauai was greater, on average, than in all but four states: Florida, Louisiana, North Carolina, and Indiana. (For the purpose of this comparison, the analysis assumed the chemical companies used pesticides on all 12,000 acres they control on the island. It also assumed that farmers used pesticides on all 314 million acres of harvested cropland on the mainland U.S. Yes, there are organic farms that don’t use pesticides, but they encompass just slightly more than 1 percent of U.S. agricultural land, according to the USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service.) As shown in the charts below, the per-acre usage of the bug killers permethrin and chlorpyrifos on Kauai is each projected to be significantly greater on average than in California, and more than 10 times greater than the national average. The analysis also projects that Kauai would rank second nationally for methomyl, fifth for metolachlor, sixth for alachlor, ninth for paraquat, and 23rd for atrazine. Steve Savage, a former manager of research at DuPont and a former professor at Colorado State University, has also found that the overall pounds-per-acre pesticide usage on Kauai is among the highest in the nation, but he said that 98 percent of the pesticides used on the island are general-use ones that are less toxic than a cup of coffee. Savage may be right on that point, but the remaining 2 percent give serious cause for concern. “Different pesticides can vary in something like their toxicity to mammals by more than a thousand-fold,” he said. Six of the seven restricted-use pesticides used most heavily on Kauai are suspected of being endocrine disruptors, which can cause sexual-development problems in humans and animals, according to the EPA. Tyrone Hayes, an endocrinologist at the University of California-Berkeley, has raised particular concerns about the potentially gender-bending effects of even tiny amounts of atrazine. His reputation has been viciously attacked by Syngenta, as reported by The New Yorker. A study published in March in the British journal The Lancet Neurology found that chlorpyrifos, a neurotoxin, is one of a dozen chemicals commonly found in the environment that “injure the developing brain” of children. Four of the seven heavily used restricted pesticides are suspected or likely carcinogens. And between them, the seven have been linked to, among other things, neurological and brain problems and damage to the lungs, heart, kidneys, adrenal glands, central nervous system, muscles, spleen, and liver. Combine the pesticides together and the effects could be even worse, especially in the developing bodies and brains of children and fetuses. The EPA knows little about the synergistic effects, or combined killing power, of multiple chemicals when people are exposed to them at the same time, but it recently observed that the joint action of atrazine and chlorpyrifos can result in “greater than additive toxicity.” In other words, the whole cocktail can pack a bigger punch than the sum of its ingredients. In another example, the combined presence of the insecticides permethrin and chlorpyrifos has been shown to be “even more acutely toxic” than the sum of each, former EPA scientist E. G. Vallianatos writes in his new book Poison Spring: The Secret History of Pollution and the EPA. As if all that weren’t bad enough, there’s reason to believe that the agri-giants might be violating federal rules about the application of the restricted-use pesticides on Kauai. The rules are supposed to ensure that the pesticides do their damage to bugs and weeds, not kids. For example, consider Dow’s Lorsban, which consists of about 45 percent chlorpyrifos. Lorsban is the restricted-use pesticide product that’s most heavily sprayed on the Kauai test fields, and may have been the pesticide most responsible for making the children at Waimea Canyon Middle School sick. The EPA prohibits its application whenever the wind blows greater than 10 mph. The average wind speed in Waimea is between 8 and 9 mph, according to the National Weather Service, meaning that on many days the spraying of Lorsban might not be legal. The EPA says that applicators must “not allow spray to drift from the application site and contact people, structures people occupy at anytime and the associated property, parks and recreation areas, non-target crops, aquatic and wetland sites, woodlands, pastures, rangelands, or animals.” The agency stresses, “Avoiding spray drift at the application site is the responsibility of the applicator.” In Waimea’s windy climate, it’s a rare day when Lorsban and the other heavily used toxic chemicals can be applied to the test fields without the wind blowing them right into somebody’s face. —– This article is part of a collaborative media effort sponsored by The Media Consortium and made possible in part by a generous grant from the Voqal Fund. Read more stories at WTFcorporations.com.Filed under: Article, Business & Technology, Food
Continue reading GMO companies are dousing Hawaiian island with toxic pesticides
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