Maui District Health Officer Dr. Lorrin Pang discussed “chemtrails,” food safety and Roundup at a crowded Upcountry Sustainability public meeting in Pukalani earlier this month.
“Chemtrails” are a mysterious but widely reported phenomenon that is being studied around the world. Skeptics believe “chemtrails” are simply the latest addition to a growing list of conspiracy theories that have been discredited by the scientific community. Others view them as a clear and present danger, while some are simply left dazed and confused.
“Chemtrails,” short for “chemical trails,” appear to be white streams of vapor expelled from high-flying aircraft, but they don’t dissipate like condensation trails, or “contrails.” “We don’t know who they are—if they’re international or military—where they’re landing or where they’re taking off,” said Dr. Pang.
Dr. Pang cited a recent article in Science News about geoengineering (See sidebar: “Engineering a cooler Earth: researchers brainstorm radical ways to counter climate change”) which suggests that spraying “chemtrails” containing aluminum oxide or sulfuric acid into the upper atmosphere might deflect some of the sun’s rays, serving as “a sprinkling of tiny sunshades for the overheating Earth.”
The standing-room-only crowd at the recent Upcountry Sustainability meeting applauded Maui District Health Officer Dr. Lorrin Pang’s cautious and prudent reasoning when it comes to their safety and the health of Maui’s land and water.
“I don’t care about intention,” said Pang. “I don’t care why they’re doing it—we just need to know what it does,” he said. The potential dangers of excessive aluminum or other chemicals in our atmosphere have not been thoroughly studied. Dr. Pang conducted an independent study in Ha‘ikū, where he tested the aluminum content in rainwater daily over a month. He found no correlation between the possible “chemtrails” that were reported and aluminum levels. In fact, he found only two samples that were minimally above normal, acceptable levels of aluminum found in rainwater.
That leaves him even more puzzled, but, he said, “I don’t doubt there’s strange stuff going on.”
Even without proof that chemicals are being sprayed into the atmosphere, and by whom, Dr. Pang and many of the meeting attendees expressed that they would like the Maui County Council to acknowledge the possibility, and then require an Environmental Impact Study (EIS) of the potential damage such spraying could induce on our land, ocean and population.
With a required EIS in place, said Dr. Pang, “If you’re doing this without our clearance, you’re breaking the law.”
Next, Dr. Pang emphasized his biggest concerns for Hawai‘i residents regarding food safety—germs and chemicals. “Germs you can wash off—chemicals, you can’t,” he said.
He applauded the Obama administration for enacting regulations to more carefully monitor the “downstream” sector of the food industry—namely, the processing and serving steps (Food Safety Modernization Act, January 2011).
Dr. Pang said the increased numbers of E. coli (Escherichia coli) bacteria and food-borne illness outbreaks we’ve seen in the last decade came from “sick people serving or making the food.” So, he argued, “It doesn’t matter if you have a perfectly clean farm if the facility that processes the food for sale or shipment is dirty. And it doesn’t matter as much if you have a dirty farm, if the processing plant is clean.”
However, this does not apply to pesticides, only bacteria. Pesticides can get inside plants, especially the highly susceptible fruits and vegetables known as the “Dirty Dozen”—apples, celery, strawberries, peaches, spinach, imported nectarines and grapes, sweet bell peppers, potatoes, domestic blueberries, lettuce, and kale and collard greens (www.ewg.org/foodnews/summary). No amount of cleaning can fully remove the chemicals from these produce items.
Dr. Pang also raises the issue of unsafe chemical combinations. “Although one pesticide may be approved by the FDA, we still don’t know what different pesticides in combination may be doing to our food or bodies.” A middle school on Kaua‘i, where students have become ill, has raised a public outcry over this issue. The school is adjacent to and downwind from an agricultural field, which is sprayed regularly with combinations of powerful chemicals (maluiawcms.blogspot.com).
Dr. Pang said an EIS should be demanded for all combinations of pesticides used to spray our food. “Whatever you put into the air, regardless of what intentions you have, I want an EIS for it.” “The number one concern at the production level is chemicals,” summarized Dr. Pang. “The number one concern at the processing and serving level is germs.”
Dr. Pang’s third topic was Roundup, an herbicide that kills nearly every plant it contacts by arresting its hormonal development. It is widely used by large, conventional agricultural producers. Monsanto and other genetically modified crop producers have produced Roundup Ready crops modified to resist the effects of Roundup, so the field can be sprayed and become weed-free without killing their cash crop.
Monsanto claims that Roundup is safe for human consumption. However, the primary concern of Dr. Pang and many others at the meeting is its purported ability to cause significant birth defects when inhaled or consumed.
Chemical compounds in Roundup have been found to cause birth defects, cancers and other harmful conditions in experimental animals (gmwatch.org). Monsanto’s argument for Roundup’s safety is that it specifically targets a growth enzyme in plants that is not present in humans and mammals. However, stated Dr. Pang, “We don’t have the same enzyme, but we have some that are very similar. You haven’t proven the harm, but you haven’t proven the safety, either.” Dr. Pang believes in scientific testing of any foods, drugs or chemicals. From medicinal herbs to the mysterious components in “chemtrails,” he said he wants every substance that could be inhaled or consumed to undergo rigorous safety tests.
In all cases, he believes, “If you don’t know what you’re doing, don’t do it. Especially if it affects the other guy, and especially if it could be irreversible.” The standing-room-only crowd applauded his cautious and prudent reasoning when it comes to their safety and the health of Maui’s land and water.
Science News / June 5, 2010
“Engineering a cooler Earth: researchers brainstorm radical ways to counter climate change”