Hawaii is seeing a spike in rare birth defects, and some people there – including some of the doctors treating those babies – suspect it's due to the island chain's growing stake in producing GMOs (genetically modified organisms).
A new report from The Guardian details the battle between the massive and deep-pocketed companies that profit from the state's production of genetically-modified corn, and residents of Hawaiian islands who say that giant pesticide clouds are destroying their and their children's health.
It's not eating the GMO corn that's suspected of causing the problems, it's the pesticides. The corn grown in Hawaii is genetically modified to be pesticide-resistant, which is why it's reportedly sprayed with 17 times more pesticide per acre than regular U.S. mainland corn in order to test it. Several of those pesticides are known to be harmful.
Meanwhile, doctors in Hawaii say they're seeing a rate of birth defects there that's more than 10 times the national average.
From the story:
When the spraying is underway and the wind blows downhill from the fields to the town – a time no spraying should occur – residents complain of stinging eyes, headaches and vomiting.
“Your eyes and lungs hurt, you feel dizzy and nauseous. It’s awful,” says middle school special education teacher Howard Hurst, who was present at two evacuations. “Here, 10% of the students get special-ed services, but the state average is 6.3%,” he says. “It’s hard to think the pesticides don’t play a role.”
That's why close to 10,000 people marched through the streets of Honolulu’s Waikiki tourist district this month, demanding answers and a stop to the production of GMOs. Residents in one county got an initiative passed to stop GMO farming until more extensive research on the impact there is done.
It may be thousands of miles off the mainland, but the way this plays out in Hawaii could be indicative of the way things are going all over the world as GMO farming just keeps growing. Keep an eye on it.