If you ever wondered what results a controlled experiment of Monsanto farming methods would yield, look no further than the unwilling residents of Molokai. Until 1969, by fact of its geographical isolation, Molokai was home for over 100 years to a leper colony. With the arrival of Monsanto’s test fields, the beautiful island has become a laboratory and the islanders are being treated as the lab rats.
The island of Molokai looks like paradise. Travel brochures call it the “old Hawaii” and the most Hawaiian of the islands in the archipelago. It has a small population of between 5500-7500 residents. It is covered in waterfalls, rainforests, and rolling hills, and the island exudes a unique lush green atmosphere.
Amidst this wild tropical beauty, Death has come to the island. Death arrived, hidden like lethal warriors in a Trojan horse, beneath a shiny veneer of jobs and prosperity for the islanders, most of which turned out to be false promises.
(Note the numerous “No Trespassing” signs in the pictures below.)
1850 acres of the island has been planted with Monsanto’s Bt corn. Workers wear head to toe protective gear during spraying, including respirators. Nearby residents, however, are not provided with such equipment and have no option but to breathe in the toxic dust that comes from the fields.
The State Health Department has said that there is no proof genetically modified crops are dangerous to the people of Hawaii or any place where they’ve been tested.
The people of Molokai tell a different story. They tell the same story that the people of India told when Monsanto invaded their cotton fields. They tell the same story the farmers of Argentina told when Monsanto polluted their tobacco fields with Roundup.
Many Molokai residents have been suspicious of Monsanto since the beginning. Walter Ritte, a Molokai resident, said, “We have concerns. These concerns have been pushed under the rug, and everything that’s being grown is a big secret. Nobody is telling us anything. We’re afraid for our health, we’re afraid for our children’s health, the cornfields surround our town. Well what is a GMO, what is going on?” In November 2005, Monsanto executives paid lip service with a town meeting with concerned residents of Molokai. Ray Foster, the research general manager of Monsanto-Hawaii, said, “We’re very proud of what we do, and we welcome the questions. We’ve been planting biotech’s products now for 10 years. We’ve planted over a billion acres, and so there hasn’t been one case of harm to people or the environment.” (Source: Island Breath)
The state health department agrees with Monsanto executives that there is no problem at all. Statistics for cancer, miscarriage, birth defects, respiratory problems, neurological issues, and skin disease on the island are not easily found.
Much has been discussed about the dangers of consuming GMOs. But what about the farming practices themselves? There are serious environmental concerns and human health hazards that relate to the toxic chemcials and the “drift” from Monsanto’s fields.
Monsanto likes to say that Roundup (glysophate) has a low level of toxicity and that is the reason it is their pesticide of choice. A report by Thanal.com (an India-based Research, Advocacy, Education and Action Trust)explains how this “low toxicity” is damaging human and animal health:
As the acute toxicity – reflected in the WHO classification of glyphosate is low, it has long been promoted as safe. However, recent evidence shows substantial adverse health and environmental effects, especially of the formulated products.
The marketed formulations of glyphosate, such as Roundup, contain adjuvants (accessory chemicals), usually 50-60 percent, added to enable the active ingredient to work more effectively. There is mounting evidence that the adjuvants are more toxic than glyphosate and/or potentiate its toxic effects. Publicly available information about the nature of these chemicals is incomplete because adjuvants are treated as proprietary secrets by the manufacturer. One major known agent used e.g. in Roundup is ‘POEA’.
Although glyphosate itself shows low acute toxicity, serious poising effects such as severe eye irritation and injury, skin and respiratory problems, and damage to lung tissue have been recorded with formulated products – probably due to the presence of POEA. Farm workers exposed to Roundup, e.g. by eye rubbing, has been reported to “have caused swelling of eye and lid, rapid heartbeat and elevated blood pressure. Other reported effects of POEA are: vomiting, diarrhoea, haemolysis (destruction of red blood cells), altered mental status, and pulmonary oedema; ingestion can cause in addition pharyngitis, abdominal pain, liver and renal damage, and erosions of the oesophagus, oropharynx, and stomach.
Recent experiences and studies show a wide range of long-term adverse health effects, again mostly related to formulated products, such as leukaemia and other cancers, skin diseases, and birth defects, gastrointestinal problems, and alterations to the central nervous system. Other findings link glyphosate and especially formulations with affecting embryo development, damage cells and DNA, and interrupting the hormone system. In addition, POEA contains dioxin, which causes cancer and damage to the liver and kidneys in humans. A new study found adverse effects of four glyphosate-based herbicides on human embryonic, placental and umbilical cord cells at dilution levels far below agricultural recommendations, corresponding to low levels of residues in food or feed.
Although the only evidence on Molokai is anecdotal, the case for chemical drift causing myriad health problems is strong. A landmark case in France last year found Monsanto “guilty” when a French farmer successfully sued the mega-corporation for effects sustained after he inhaled Monsanto’s “Lasso” weed-killer: he suffered neurological problems including memory loss, headaches and stammering. Victories like this are rare, however, because no matter how numerous the complaints, the company generally is not held accountable.
Evidence is slowly increasing as independent studies take place. Sayer Ji of Green Med Info just released an article with evidence of the link between breast cancer and Round-up. “An alarming new study finds that glyphosate, the active ingredient in Roundup weedkiller, is estrogenic and drives breast cancer cell proliferation in the parts-per-trillion range.”
What’s happening in Hawaii isn’t my story to tell. It means more when it comes directly from residents of Molokai…those who are under siege in this chemical warfare waged by Monsanto, on the island many of them have called home for generations. The quotes without sources are taken directly from emails by people who wish to remain anonymous, because they fear retaliation for speaking out.
“Native Hawaiians have the highest health issues in the islands and this little island we have so little resources for ourselves that we have to malama, care for, those resources and we have to look at not only today but for tomorrow’s people, the children…I have also heard about people in [Manilla] Camp having different types of health issues, which they’ve never had before, things which doctors can’t describe what causes them. It’s a scary thing to deal with, something you don’t know enough about.” (source)
“We moved from Maui to Molokai 2 years ago. To be with our grandkids. About 2 months after moving in, I broke out with a bloody rash…I went to the local hospital, they gave me two shots, would not tell me what it was. Went back……no record of me being there.”
“Our daughter lost a baby here..many have..I buried the fetus myself.”
“It felt like we were being violated by the scientific community. For the Hawaiian community, taro is not just a plant. It’s a family member. It’s our common ancestor ‘Haloa …. They weren’t satisfied with just taking our land; now they wanted to take our mana, our spirit too.” (source)
“My wife got a huge tumor right breast. I began to seek the reasons. Right next to us, upwind, was an X crop, they spray bio chemicals as you know. After she got the cancer, many women came to our home, showing her they had lost their breasts……..it was then I realized, the rate here per capita is very high.”
“Toxic red dust storms from biotech fields on Molokai and West Kaua’i are linked to making people extremely sick–especially children. On Kaua’i, communities living near biotech fields in Waimea have a particularly high cancer rate.” (source no longer available – was originally Maui Weekly website)
“The first crops snuck in 26 years ago, AB corn. Now, God only knows what their doing, but the weeds are immune to round up now, and they hired people to shoot our deer if they enter the fields.”
“I’m marching today because of the pesticides that these companies use and the inability to keep them on their own fields. People want proof and the proof is in the people. We have a lot of sick people on this island — cancer, diabetes, ADHD, asthma — all these things are side effects of pesticides. People are putting the dots together. If you do a little bit of your homework you can see the clear connection between pesticide use and all these ailments, this is a sick island.” (source)
This isn’t an experiment on the other side of the world. This is happening right now, on American soil. Today, an American has no choice but to breathe in air with a toxic particle that may go rogue when it enters her body, resulting in a cancerous tumor, a miscarriage, or some other illness. That particle is created or released, not unknowingly, by Monsanto. There is no way to contain things like pollen or chemical sprays. Those who live downwind of these fields are helpless to avoid the poison being released into the air and into the groundwater.
If you haven’t heard about the plight of the islanders, you aren’t alone. In researching this article, I was hard-pressed to find any media coverage that was not based in Hawaii. Americans are crying out for help…but no one is listening. Their pleas are going unheard because there is an insidious collusion – in the government, in the media, and in the biotech industry. No one wants to believe that in this day and age, “someone” wouldn’t stop Monsanto. Many will read this and be incredulous, doubtful that such a thing could go on here in America. But it’s happening. Today it’s happening in Hawaii. Tomorrow, it might be in the field downwind from you.
Monsanto writes its own laws – that became clear with the passing of the Monsanto Protection rider, if it wasn’t obvious already. There is a revolving door between Monsanto, Washington DC, the FDA and the USDA, not to mention connections with the Supreme Court. There is a blatant money trail between Monsanto and many of the lawmakers in the US. Other countries’ governments have said “no” to Monsanto and other biotech firms, but the US does not. The US government is in clear collusion with the biotech industry, and they don’t even try to hide it.
Think about the notoriety of Joseph Mengele, who was reported to have performed horrific, gruesome experiments on human beings in World War II concentration camps. We look back in horror at the stories of those stomach turning experiments, unable to comprehend how things so awful could be true. But the people of Molokai are living in an equally callous science project right now. Is it really any different than these experiments that were labeled as “war crimes”? Any person who has the misfortune to live near a Monsanto field is being subjected daily to toxins that have caused massive illnesses and deaths elsewhere in the world. They are breathing it, eating it, and drinking it. Some people are able to resist the toxins, but many others are not. They are developing tumors and respiratory problems. They are having to have body parts removed because of cancer. Their skin is covered with bloody sores. Their children are born dead or with birth defects. When do we say that this is a crime? When do we insist that the cover-up of the medical statistics cease? When do we hold Monsanto responsible?
Make no mistake, we are the lab rats in a giant experiment, and the mad scientists are Monsanto.