Wednesday, June 23, 2010


DARE I SAY IT?: The stereotypical mad scientist of science fiction from Dr. Frankenstein to Dr’s No and Strangelove has always been an almost comic-bookish aberration.

Perhaps that’s why, no matter how much real scientists try to invoke the precautionary principle, the more insanely oriented researchers blithely make decisions that carry the seeds (pun intended) of calamity.

Today’s announcement that the

(t)he state Department of Agriculture is expected to release an environmental assessment today... seeking approval to release a Brazilian scale insect into Hawaii forests to control the spread of the popular but environmentally needy strawberry guava tree

casts Art Medeiros, a research biologist with the U.S. Geological Survey, in the insane “don’t confuse me with the facts” researcher who seemingly has never heard of species mutating.

In the case of the Brazilian scale, although presently it infects only the admittedly invasive strawberry guava, the plant is in the same family as the `ohia lehua an endemic and significant part of local forests.

Of course should the introduction of the scale actually make the guava scarce it doesn’t take a genius to envision a slight evolutionary genetic change that would enable it to decimate the `ohia.

It all pales in comparison with the unknowns of generically modified organisms (GMOs) being cranked out to allow companies like Monsanto to control our food supply- assuming they don’t eventually wipe it out.

But there is hope.

This week the first GMO case reached the Supreme Court and while the court didn’t rule specifically on the dangers of widespread GMO crops it did note that they- as a Center for Food Safety news release (thanks to Joan Conrow for the pointer) says-

recognized that the threat of transgenic contamination is harmful and onerous to organic and conventional farmers and that the injury allows them to challenge future biotech crop commercializations in court.

What’s interesting in reading the whole opinion is that it seems almost a given that irreparable harm can come from GMOs with statements throughout the opinion seeming to indicate that there is no doubt about it with nary a challenge to the contention.

It’s hard to put our hopes on a supreme court whose concept of justice is warped by corporate subservience but it may just be that they can recognize junk science when they see it.

1 comment:

Punohu's Politics,Environment and Culture said...

On this issue, I will be testifying in favor of the biological control for the strawberry guava. Having worked with guava, I can tell you that guava is extremely invasive.

Strawberry guava actually has some practical applications. However the detriments far outweigh the benefits.

Hula halaus have been using the woods for hula implements instead of the proper traditional materials. Strawberry guava is also absolutely delicious, and makes great jams and jellies. T
The wood is also really aromatic.

However it really is everywhere and it really does actually choke out the ohi'a lehua.

This was after 15 years of research in Hawaii, with Hawaiian plants, making sure that this insect would only go after the strawberry guava and nothing else. After making some phonecalls, reading everything, doing the research, and using my own eyes, I have come to the conclusion that I will be testifying in favor of this.

Now, in my opinion, Java Plum is as great or more of a threat to heiaus then strawberry guava. Banana Poka also is invasive. We have a huge invasion of African Tulip as well in our native forests. I would love to see these dissapear as well.

This just may be a start. Anything that can help restore our native forests and plants is a good thing. Something to remember about how real indigenous biology and botany works.

Native Hawaiian plants are extremely specific, and that is why so many plants have died out. Because a certain bug, or bird perished, therefore the corresponding plant also perished.

This can be seen very clearly in the tetraplessandra plant, an indigenous plant, that is found on Kauai, where it is virtually impossible to reproduce it because the bug associated with it no longer exists. SO this idea of a single species only interacting with a single species is really very common here.

On the GMOs, I agree completely. I am definately not a fan, and support hierloom seeds.