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SHAKA Initiative Does Not ‘Ignore Science’

Anti-GMO movement is grounded in scientific inquiry.

June 5, 2014
Joanne Herrmann - Makawao , Maui Weekly

Alicia Maluafiti, GMO lobbyist and professor of communications at Pacifica University in Hawai'i, is not a scientist but an owner of a public relations firm, Loihi Communications, utilized by GMO corporations. She does her job well, as shown in her "Commentary" in the May 22-28 Maui Weekly with the headline, "SHAKA Initiative Hurts Farmers and Ignores Science."

Trouble is she is not a scientist, but a public relations specialist who is good at making sweeping generalizations and framing issues to suit her clients. She can be convincing, as shown by her sensational headline.

But is she telling the truth? Let's take a look at her claim that the SHAKA Initiative "ignores science." Recently, SHAKA sponsored talks by Lorrin Pang, MD, MPH, World Health Organization consultant since 1985, and Dr. Tyrone Hayes, Ph.D., professor of Integrative Biology at the University of California at Berkley, known for his findings that the herbicide atrazine is an endocrine disruptor.

Considered to be among the top 3 percent of "America's Best Doctors" and presently the Maui district health officer, Pang, speaking as a private citizen, is well informed about the scientific aspects and possible deleterious health impacts of GMOs and is one of the leading advocates of the "precautionary principle." This principle is defined as "a precept that an action should not be taken if its consequences are unknown and possibly dangerous."

In other words, corporations that manufacture GMO products would have to prove that they're safe before they distribute them to the general public.

Pang and Hayes aren't the only scientists referred to by the anti-GMO movement. One of the most outstanding scientists is Michael Hansen, Ph.D., senior staff scientist at Consumers Union, the policy and action division of Consumer Reports, who has followed the development of GMOs for over 20 years. He cites the concerns of "very leading scientific minds," such as Nobel Prize winner George Wald and Erwin Chargaff, "one of the giants of biochemistry." He also has cited the "risks of new allergens and novel toxicities" in testimony before state legislatures.

Another notable scientist is Dr. Giles-Eric Seralini, Ph.D., professor of molecular biology at the University of Caens, France, whose findings, after a two-year study of rats fed Roundup Ready corn, proved that genetically modified food is unsafe.

Babes Against Biotech's (BAB) Website cites volumes of scientists and their findings.

I could go on and on, but I think you get the point, which is that the anti-GMO movement is grounded in scientific inquiry. Without the scientific studies alerting us to the dangers present in genetic engineering, the anti-GMO movement would not exist.

Ironically, it is the GMO corporations Maluafiti represents who are anti-science. Their tests, if any, are short-term--from 30 to 90 days at best.

Prominent scientists--Dr. Seralini among them--have insisted that only long-term studies of at least-two years would be sufficient, but the GMO companies have refused to comply. In the long run, it doesn't matter if ringspot-resistant papaya or drought-tolerant crops are developed through GMO methods if the end result is a nutritionally deficient, allergenic, toxic, potentially cancer causing faux food. (GMO rice, by the way, has been proven insufficient to stem blindness in third-world children, when what they need is a diverse and nutritionally rich diet.)

As for Maluafiti's claim that the "SHAKA Initiative hurts farmers," nothing could be further from the truth. According to his 1999 report for the California Institute for Food and Development Policy, researcher Peter Rosset stated: "While industry proponents will often hold out the promise of 15 percent, 20 percent, or even 30 percent yield gains from biotechnology, smaller farms today produce from 200 to 1,000 percent more per unit area than larger farms worldwide." This means that the diversified, sustainable agriculture from small farms is much more efficient and yields more than large-scale industrial farms using biotechnology. According to another report from Rosset in 2011, "Family farmers and peasants still produce more than 70 percent of the world's food."

So the GMO corporate boast that they are feeding the world is completely bogus. What do these behemoths do? They are the ones who undermine local farmers and businesses and contribute to climate change through their petro-chemically produced, poisonous herbicides and pesticides. They are the ones who, through their massive land grabs, drive out small, local farmers in order to grow GMO crops--not for food, but primarily for bio fuels and more untested, "Franken-crops" that they dump on the world market to compete with the local farmers.

"In the Philippines, for example, the government has signed an agreement that designates an area to be planted with agrofuel crops that is equivalent to fully half of the area planted with rice, the mainstay of the country's diet," stated Rosset. "We really ought to label feeding automobiles instead of people a crime against humanity."



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