Adrienne S. Dey’s letter to the editor (Sept. 7, Tribune-Herald) about genetically modified (GM) foods left out the large topic of glyphosate-resistant crops in her discussion of GM foods having pesticides that may be harmful to humans.
Glyphosate is the chemical herbicide found in several commonly used weed-killers such as Roundup. Glyphosate effectively kills plants and bacteria. Glyphosate-resistant crops, also called “Roundup Ready” crops, have been genetically altered by genetic engineering techniques so they don’t die when sprayed with Roundup or other glyphosate based herbicides. Thus, a farmer growing such crops, like the corn here on the Big Island, can not only use these glyphosate-based plant killer herbicides to free fields of weeds before planting, they can also spray this herbicide on the crop as it grows, killing weeds but not the crop.
The success of these glyphosate-resistant crops since their introduction in 1997 has made glyphosate the most used pesticide in the world. Glyphosate and its breakdown product are beginning to be found in streams, rivers, and even human urine. Glyphosate has been shown to cause birth defects in amphibians and birds. Something to consider for people on catchment water systems: Glyphosate is very soluble in water.
Two-thirds to 100 percent of air and rainfall samples tested in Mississippi and Iowa in 2007–2008 contained glyphosate.
Ms. Dey’s letter gave a thoughtful comparison of BT corn’s pesticide, inserted via genetic engineering technique, and “natural pesticides” widespread in the plant kingdom. However, the potential dangers of glyphosate-resistant crops on the Big Island and whether we should continue, expand or decrease them is a whole different and very important topic that her letter neglected to mention.
I regret that time limited my ability to respond to Nancy Cook Lauer’s telephone call last Friday (Sept. 6) regarding the published article “Report: Lobbyists violating isle code” (Sept. 8, Tribune-Herald). I suspect a conversation with the reporter would have clarified any misunderstandings and shown that I am in compliance with all lobbying and ethics laws in Hawaii County, as well as at the Hawaii state level.
Monsanto does not have, nor do we intend to have, any operations on the Big Island. As a result, I typically have no reason to speak with Hawaii County representatives and, therefore, have never registered as a lobbyist with the Hawaii County Clerk’s Office. While I testified at a July 2 hearing at the request of some on the Big Island, the duration of my comments was less than five minutes, well below the county code’s criteria of “more than five hours in any month.” In addition, my objective was solely to testify. My comments were limited to specifically addressing and dispelling rumors about our company’s operations.
Monsanto takes its obligations to report all lobbying activities very seriously, and we are rigorous about adhering to ethics’ compliance laws. In fact, to ensure compliance with the state laws, we require a number of our employees working in Hawaii to register as state lobbyists, even if they rarely visit the legislature and would not be required by law to register. We are now considering this at the county level, as well, so as to avoid any future misunderstandings.
Community affairs manager,