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Local doctors find themselves in the eye of a storm swirling around the Hawaiian archipelago over whether GMO corn is a source of prosperity, as the companies claim – or of birth defects and illnesses, as the doctors and many others suspect.
In Kauai, chemical companies Dow, BASF, Syngenta and DuPont spray 17 times more pesticide per acre (mostly herbicides, along with insecticides and fungicides) than on ordinary cornfields in the U.S. mainland, according to the most detailed study of the sector, by the Center for Food Safety. That’s because they are precisely testing the strain’s resistance to herbicides that kill other plants.
As for whether this spraying has anything to do with birth defects, “We have not seen any credible source of statistical health information to support the claims,” said Bennette Misalucha, executive director of Hawaii Crop Improvement Association, the chemical companies trade association, in a written statement distributed by a publicist. She declined to be interviewed.
Carla Nelson, a local pediatrician, points out that American Academy of Pediatrics’ report, Pesticide Exposure in Children, found “an association between pesticides and adverse birth outcomes, including physical birth defects”. Nelson says doctors need prior disclosure of sprayings: local schools have been evacuated twice and children sent to hospital because of pesticide drift.
Sidney Johnson, a pediatric surgeon at the Kapiolani Medical Center for Women and Children is working on a study of his hospital’s records to determine whether the parents of infants born with birth defects were exposed to spraying around the time of conception and early pregnancy.
“You kind of wonder why this wasn’t done before,” he says. “Data from other states show there might be a link, and Hawaii might be the best place to prove it.”
Read full, original post: Pesticides in paradise: Hawaii’s spike in birth defects puts focus on GM crops