GMOs On Kaua‘i And Seed Freedom

Dr. Vandana Shiva will speak here Jan. 17

Dr. Vandana Shiva will speak here Jan. 17

You can always plant the seeds from inside your fruit and vegetables to grow more, right?

What if the answer is no? Would that make you concerned? What if there were no “free” seeds left? What if the only seeds available had random fish DNA and were blasted with pesticide?

I don’t pretend to be a genetically modified organism (GMO) expert, and that’s why I know what I’m going to be doing Jan. 17 at 5 p.m., when Dr. Vandana Shiva, Indian philosopher, environmental activist, author and eco-feminist (also one of the leaders of the International Forum on Globalization) will be in Lihu’e at Kaua’i War Memorial Convention Center. Whether you’re on the fence about GMOs or want to learn more about them, I’m not being hyperbolic here: This is an amazing opportunity to learn. Shiva will speak to legislators, students, agricultural specialists and community members about food justice and sustainable agriculture – issues that are gathering momentum as Hawai’i attempts to address the question of its growing food insecurity. The theme of Shiva’s presentation – “Seed Freedom is Food Freedom” – refers to the importance of preserving biological diversity and intellectual democracy in agricultural policy. Her work has been informed by the experience of traditional farmers in India, who have lost their livelihoods because of industrial agriculture and biotechnology.

“A significant portion of our state’s agricultural lands are currently used by seed companies to produce an inedible product that is shipped off island, rather than contributing to a local farming economy,” says Jeri DiPietro, president of Hawai’i SEED and one of the tour’s organizers. Di Pietro adds that Shiva will visit Kaua’i because it is the island with the largest acreage of genetically engineered agriculture in the state (approximately 13,000 acres). “Dr. Shiva will speak with the island’s West Side residents, many of whom are impacted by chemicals and agricultural dust drift. Currently there is not enough oversight and very little understanding about field experiments and the chemical pesticides and herbicides being used. People living close to the fields are suffering chronic exposure and poor health; many children on the West Side have asthma, and many adults are experiencing adult-onset asthma. We also are seeing a very high and unexplained rate of cancer in the areas near fields used for seed testing.”

Patricia Lewis

Patricia Lewis

I’ll end this segment with a quote from Hawaiian activist Walter Ritte of Molokai, who I believe addresses this issue best: “GMOs affect anybody who eats.” …

Following the psychotic hurling of a Japanese tourist over a cliff at Kalalau last month, police have reopened the portion of Kuhio Highway that allows vehicular access to Ke’e Beach. However, access to Kalalau Trail from the Ke’e Beach trailhead remains closed until further notice while officers continue to pursue suspect Justin Wynn Klein. The victim, a 31-year-old woman from Fukuoka Prefecture, Japan, has been upgraded to stable condition. CrimeStoppers is offering a $1,000 reward to anyone who provides information resulting in Klein’s arrest. Police are looking for the 37-year-old, whose last known address is in Kilauea. Klein is a Caucasian man, 6-foot-1, with brown hair, possibly in a Mohawk haircut, and with a moustache and a beard. He has a tribal band tattoo on his left arm. Klein is considered dangerous and should not be approached. Anyone with information on Klein’s whereabouts is asked to call Kaua’i Police Department at 241-1711. More information on the investigation will be released as it becomes available. I’ll take this opportunity to mahalo KPD, especially as it, along with the Department of Land and Natural Resources and Kaua’i Fire Department, have spent days clearing the valley of any campers who could be located as the search continues. Mahalo nui! …

And speaking of KPD, mahalo also for swiftly arresting Patricia Lewis, the Lihu’e woman accused of using a baseball bat to smash an ATM machine and several store windows at Kukui Grove Shopping Center. Lewis, 31, is currently in police custody in lieu of $31,000 bail for multiple charges relating to criminal property damage. According to a preliminary investigation, Lewis used the bat to smash an ATM machine at American Savings Bank at the mall. She then continued on to Longs Drugs and struck a glass door before heading to Jamba Juice and smashing a glass window. From there, Lewis attempted to strike a window at Starbucks when she was confronted by three uniformed police officers and an off-duty officer, who disarmed the woman and arrested her …

A painful encounter with a swarm of Hawaiian box jellyfish years ago off Waikiki put Dr. Angel Yanagihara on the path to identifying the debilitating and sometimes lethal toxin in box jellyfish venom, according to the University of Hawaii at Manoa. Using that discovery, Yanagihara has now developed a therapy to not only treat the burning sting of the Hawaiian box jellyfish, but also to block the venom of its deadly cousins, such as the Australian box jellyfish, and prevent cardiac arrest or even death in humans from severe stings. Her findings and data from years of research are the subject of a published article. In 1997, Yanagihara set out to determine what makes box jellyfish stings so incredibly painful. An avid swimmer, the biochemist in her was intrigued when she discovered that there was not much research published on box jellyfish venom and no reliable antidote. In Hawaii, box jellyfish stings are usually not much more than a highly painful nuisance, causing a strong burning sensation in people when stung, and resulting in beach warnings and sometimes closures once a month. However, its larger relatives found in Indonesia, Thailand and Australia are known to cause cardiac arrest and even death. An Australian box jellyfish has the potential to kill an adult male in as little as five minutes. Yanagihara developed an inhibitor that blocks that toxin in its tracks which has been proven to work on both human blood and a live animal model. Yanagihara also has developed the inhibitor into a topical sting treatment that can be applied to treat the pain, swelling and redness. Waterlife Research is in the process of doing clinical trials and bringing the product to market …

The Kapa’a and Waimea swimming pools will be closed to the public (the Kapa’a pool will be closed Dec. 29 and Jan. 19, and the Waimea pool will be closed Jan. 12) to allow some Kaua’i Interscholastic Federation (KIF) swim meets to take place. Two other KIF meets are scheduled, one at Kaua’i High School and the other at the YMCA facility in Puhi. Regular hours of operation for the Kapa’a swimming pool are: Tuesday to Friday, 7:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.; Saturday, 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.; and Sunday, noon to 4:30 p.m. The Waimea pool is normally open Tuesday and Thursday, 7:30 a.m. to 2:45 p.m., Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday, 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. and Sunday, noon to 4:30 p.m. Both facilities are closed Mondays and holidays including New Year’s Day. Anyone with questions about the swimming pools can call the Kapa’a office at 822-3842 or the Waimea office at 338-1271. For more information on the KIF swim meets, call Kaipo Kealalio, Island School athletic director, at 246-0233 ext. 240 …

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