EarthTalk: Your Environmental Questions Answered

Hawaii’s Fight Against GMOs | Beyond Flint: America’s Water Problem


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Dear EarthTalk: Why do environmentalists consider Hawaii “ground zero” in the fight against genetically engineered crops? —Michael Van, Poughkeepsie, NY

Most of us think of beaches, surfing and luaus when we think of Hawaii. But the constantly warm and moist climate actually provides some of the most productive land in the world with a never-ending growing season. As a result, Hawaii has become a major player in commercial agriculture, and is frequently used to test new farming techniques.

Large agricultural companies moved in on this productivity by using Hawaii for trials of new genetically engineered (GE) crops. Monsanto and DOW Chemical both produce huge numbers of genetically modified seeds in Hawaii for distribution around the world. Some of Hawaii’s more common GE crops include corn, sugarcane, and papaya, among others.

But not everyone appreciates how widespread GE crops are in Hawaii. Many local Hawaiians are upset that their homeland, otherwise a natural paradise, is used for such risky activities. Most GE crops are designed to resist intensive chemical pesticides that kill most other plants. Around the state, vulnerable populations including kids and the elderly have suffered the effects of this type of chemical exposure resulting from the over-spraying of pesticides.

These issues aren’t unique to Hawaii. People all over the world are increasingly wary of GE products, even as the chemical companies insist they are safe. However, the information on long-term effects is still inconclusive. Consumers want to know what’s in their purchases. Chemical companies are denying them this right by refusing to label those products containing genetically modified ingredients.

Unfortunately, the state of Hawaii has hesitated to enact any legislation banning some of their most lucrative business ventures. Responsibility has fallen to the counties. Three Hawaiian counties initiated ordinances and moratoriums against additional GE crops and pesticide use in 2014. However, large companies like Monsanto and Syngenta sued to prevent these measures from being implemented, temporarily postponing these bans. While they did win their initial suit in late 2014, the counties have appealed the decision through the federal 9th circuit court of appeals in a trial that started this past June. The cases hinge on the concept of preemption, i.e. does the county legislation conflict with state rulings? The counties believe that the state’s acceptance of genetically engineered products does not mean that the counties cannot implement their own harsher regulations.

Whichever way the federal 9th Circuit Court of Appeals decides will set an important precedent. If the court decides the federal law allowing GE products preempts the rights of the Hawaiian counties, any future GE bans would likely experience a similar ruling. However, the converse is also true. The judge allowing the counties to construct their own regulations regarding genetic engineering would pave the way for other counties and states to do the same. The cases will hopefully be resolved before the end of 2016. Safe to say, Hawaiians, chemical and agricultural companies and the rest of the nation will be watching.

CONTACTS: DOW Chemical, www.dow.com; Monsanto, www.monsanto.com; Syngenta, www.syngenta.com.

 


 

Dear EarthTalk: I find it hard to believe that Flint, Michigan is the only city or town in the U.S. with lead contamination of its water system. Has anyone looked at where else this could be a problem? —Jason K., Clearwater, FL

A new analysis of data from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) by the non-profit Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) found that 18 million Americans live in communities where water systems contain unsafe levels of lead. In “What’s In Your Water: Flint & Beyond,” NRDC reports that 5,300 different water systems across the country either shirked responsibilities to treat their water supplies to reduce lead levels, failed to monitor water supplies for lead, or neglected to report unsafe lead levels to the public or regulators. “These violations were recorded because the systems were not doing everything that they are required to do to protect the public from lead issues,” added NRDC.

“Imagine a cop sitting, watching people run stop signs, and speed at 90 miles per hour in small communities and still doing absolutely nothing about it — knowing the people who are violating the law…” said Erik Olson, NRDC’s health program director. “That's unfortunately what we have now.”

Even more surprising to NRDC is the fact that Flint didn’t even show up as having violations for lead in the EPA’s database, illustrating “the serious problem of underreporting and gaming of the system by some water supplies to avoid finding lead problems, suggesting that our lead crisis could be even bigger.”

Of course, Flint is far from the only metropolitan area with contaminated water supplies. Researchers believe thousands of water supplies across the country have been “gaming” the system for decades, with the EPA turning a blind eye to the situation.

“Cheating became something you didn't even hide,” Marc Edwards, the Virginia Tech researcher credited with exposing water supply management issues in Washington DC and later Flint, recently told CNN. Some of the most common bad practices by water supply managers include testing only homes that are unlikely to have high levels of lead, asking residents to pre-flush their taps, and taking water samples slowly to reduce lead levels.

For its part, the EPA says that individual states are responsible for the majority of drinking water enforcement actions and should continue to be “the first line of oversight” of drinking water systems. The agency adds that “many of the drinking water systems that NRDC cites in its analysis are already working to resolve past violations and return to compliance with the Safe Drinking Water Act.”

So what’s to be done? According to NRDC, fixing Flint — with both emergency relief and long-term infrastructure and systemic improvements — should be priority #1. Beyond Flint, NRDC says that the EPA should be taking a hard look at the rest of the country’s water infrastructure, removing lead service lines and fixing other water problems, especially in underserved communities.

To find out if your community is affected, check out NRDC’s interactive map showing which communities’ water systems were in violation of the EPA’s “lead action level” of 15 parts per billion (ppb) and which have failed to monitor or report on lead levels.

CONTACTS: NRDC’s “What’s In Your Water: Flint & Beyond,”; EPA, www.epa.gov.

EarthTalk® is produced by Roddy Scheer & Doug Moss and is a registered trademark of the nonprofit Earth Action Network. To donate, visit www.earthtalk.org. Send questions to: question@earthtalk.org.

See also:
The Importance and Mystery of Soil
Can We Trust Our Drinking Water?

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Daily Astrology

November 13, 2019

During the wee morning hours the Moon enters Gemini. Curiosity is piqued and tongues are ready to wag. The focus on ideas and information is intense today. Retrograde Mercury slips into a sextile with serious Saturn and a trine to dreamy Neptune…
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Calendar

November 2019

No matter how broken or damaged you may feel, there is a deep well of stillness inside of you that is always there! Connected. Whole. Unchanging and Ever present. Yoga Nidra or Conscious Sleep...

Cost: $20 each session

Where:
YogaLife Institute of NH
6 Chestnut Street
Lower Level
Exeter, NH  03833
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Sponsor: YogaLife Institute of NH
Contact Name: Alice Bentley
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Come shine with us! Join us in harmony and in our goal to bring the light of Spiritualism forward to all those who are searching.

Where:
VFW Post 2597
775 Boston Rd, Rt 3A
Billerica, MA
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Sponsor: The Spiritualist Fellowship Church Of New England
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A beautiful collection of messages from Jeshua Ben Joseph (Jesus) that will transform your life, as it did his. Coming together to study these teachings, to ponder, to savor, to deepen our...

Cost: $25 per class

Where:
Heart and Soul Holistic Healing Center
130 Massapoag Avenue
Sharon, MA  02067
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Sponsor: Heart and Soul Holistic
Telephone: 781-258-9942
Contact Name: Barbara Ann Strassman
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In gratitude for your service, please join us at Dragonfly Wellness Center at 176 Jackson Road, Devens for refreshments and complimentary 15 minute sessions of: Chair massage Shamanic...

Cost: Free

Where:
Dragonfly Wellness Center
Dragonfly Wellness Center
176 Jackson Rd
Devens, MA  01432
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Sponsor: Yoga Anita
Telephone: 978-227-8297
Contact Name: Anita Perry
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2nd and 4th Monday of every month This psychic message circle is for anyone wishing to raise their connection using their psychic centers known as the “clairs.” Learn how to use...

Cost: $20

Where:
Messages From Heaven Healing and Learning Center
646 Central Street
Suite 3
Leominster, MA
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Join us at our free Boot Camp created specifically for post-divorce issues! About this event: Make new connections while learning essential strategies for building your post-divorce life with...

Cost: Free

Where:
RMS Residential Mortgage Services
465 South Washington Street
2nd Floor
North Attleboro, MA  02760
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Sponsor: Vesta: Redefining Divorce
Telephone: 508-744-6014
Contact Name: Deanna Coyle
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Come join us for a guided drumming circle to celebrate the November “Beaver” Moon. Arlene Dorischild will lead fellow drummers in a celebration to honor this special lunar event....

Cost: Donation

Where:
Peaceful Creations LLC
382 Boston Turnpike
Suite 102
Shrewsbury, MA  01545
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Sponsor: Peaceful Creations LLC
Telephone: 617-208-3333
Contact Name: Rebecca Resnik
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Free Evidence-Based Holistic Health Education Program at Wilbraham Senior Center The H.E.A.R.T. Program® (Health Empowerment and Real Transformation), created and instructed by Michelle...

Cost: Free

Where:
Wilbraham Senior Center
45 Post Office Park, #4502
Wilbraham, MA  01095
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Sponsor: Harmony Way
Telephone: 413-636-2475
Contact Name: Michelle Caron
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The Wellness Roundtable Holistic Practitioners Network creates an environment for wellness practitioners to inspire, educate and support one another, while building community and encouraging...

Cost: $20 (Drop-ins are welcome)

Where:
Sohum Yoga and Meditation Studio
30 Lyman St
#108B
Westborough, MA
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Sponsor: 01581
Telephone: 508-329-3338
Contact Name: Ritu Kapur
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How would it feel to have direct education on changing your feelings so you do start to ask for what you truly want? Each month, come and practice hands-on skills to get into the habit of...

Cost: $15

Where:
Awaken Holistic Counseling Services
2 Liberty St., Unit 2L
Newburyport, MA  01950
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Sponsor: Awaken Holistic Counseling Services, LLC
Telephone: 978-255-7893
Contact Name: Kerri Morrison
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This is a class that will teach you how to make your own wire-wrapped gemstone pendant! Don’t be discouraged—it is simpler than you think, and you’ll have great fun in...

Cost: Reg includes supplies $40 per person or $35 more than one

Where:
The Healing Power of Flowers - Heaven and Earth
68 Stiles Rd
Unit A
Salem , NH  03079
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Sponsor: The Healing Power of Flowers - Heaven and Earth
Telephone: 603-275-7688
Contact Name: Stacey
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Retire the Curse, Enhance the Blessing with Sally Sugatt, LICSW, C-IAYT Do you feel locked into your family’s karma (reactions, cycles or patterns)? Come explore how you have been...

Cost: $45

Where:
YogaLife Institute of NH
6 Chestnut Street
Lower Level
Exeter, NH  03833
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Sponsor: YogaLife Institute of NH
Contact Name: Alice Bentley
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Award winning artist, musician and channeler, David Young shares his amazing revelations. Orchestrated synchronicities over the course of four years uncover the truth of what happened 2,000...

Cost: $35

Where:
Peaceful Creations LLC
382 Boston Turnpike
Suite 102
Shrewsbury, MA  01545
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Sponsor: Peaceful Creations
Telephone: 617-208-3333
Contact Name: Rebecca Resnik
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Facilitator: Peyton Pugmire Fridays, 9/20, 10/18, 11/15, 12/20, 9:30am–10:30am Everyone leaves with a powerful message to inspire their weekend!  Join Peyton Pugmire,...

Cost: Pay What You Wish

Where:
Creative Spirit
80 Washington Street
Marblehead, MA  01945
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Telephone: 781-797-0389
Contact Name: Creative Spirit
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Four week series for girls ages 11 and up with Leigh Sloss This series of classes will focus on some of the most effective yoga and mindfulness skills for reducing stress and anxiety.  In a...

Cost: Series: $75; Drop in rate $20

Where:
YogaLife Institute of NH
6 Chestnut Street
Lower Level
Exeter, NH  03833
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Sponsor: YogaLife Institute of NH
Contact Name: Alice Bentley
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Learn the facts about Lyme Disease and how to protect yourself and your family! The Central Mass Lyme Foundation will host its 4th Lyme Disease Conference....

Cost: In advance: $30, at the door: $40

Where:
Sturbridge Host Hotel & Conference Center
366 Main St.
Exit 9 off Mass Pike
Sturbridge, MA
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Sponsor: The Central Mass Lyme Foundation
Contact Name: Michele Miller
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With Ross J. Miller, psychic healer, medium, regression therapist. In this unique, experiential workshop you’ll learn how to identify your guardian angels and spirit guides by name and...

Where:
Newton, MA


Telephone: (617) 527-3583
Contact Name: Ross J. Miller
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Instructor: Peyton Pugmire Ages 16+/Adult Like meditating with a paintbrush!  Come re-connect with yourself, your heart and soul, and your divine intuition—one brushstroke...

Cost: $120 (includes all supplies)

Where:
Creative Spirit
80 Washington Street
Marblehead, MA  01945
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Telephone: 781-797-0389
Contact Name: Creative Spirit
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Practice what you have learned in Yoga for Plantar Fasciitis Part 1 (Nov. 2). Relieve pain on the bottom of the foot. It's not the usual stretching. It's a gentle way to...

Cost: $35 preregister; $40 at the door

Where:
Sohum Yoga and Medittaion Studio
30 Lyman Street
Suite 108b (next to hair salon)
Westborough, MA, MA  01581
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Sponsor: Pat Lebau Yoga
Telephone: 508-393-5581
Contact Name: Pat Lebau
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Journey back into the experience of peace, harmony and inner power through this unique meditation practice. Explore the power of your thoughts and how they can bring you inner harmony and help you...

Cost: Free of charge as a community service, contributions welcome.

Where:
Inner Space Meditation Center and Gallery
1110 Massachusetts Ave.
Cambridge, MA
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Sponsor: Brahma Kumaris
Telephone: 617–547–1110
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Reiki Master Teacher Libby Barnett, M.S.W., integrates her healing skills with past experience as a medical social worker at Massachusetts General Hospital. 38 years experience. Reiki...

Where:
Weston, MA


Telephone: 603-654-2787
Website »

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Psychics, mediums, angel readers, spirit art. Reiki, chair massage, IET, Gaiadon Heart, crystal healings, etc. Sign yourself up for a few appointments and bring your friends! Appointments...

Where:
Women of Wisdom
118 Washington Street
North Easton, MA
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Telephone: 508-230-3680
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Learn to overcome spinal tensions through therapeutic postures, designed to decompress your spine and relieve pain. Taught by a certified yoga therapist, classes bring you through poses...

Cost: 5/$50

Where:
Bliss Through Yoga
484 Bedford St
East Bridgewater, MA  02333
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Telephone: 508-331-3564
Contact Name: Janice O'Brien
Website »

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