Ignoring the Science for Ideologies

For too long. the public has been manipulated by disinformation spread across the news and social media. Some claim it is harmless to believe in false information.

Russian bots spread anti-vaccination messages across the social media

Story here and here on anti-vaccine rhetoric traced back to Russia that backfired on them.

What was the result of that? 957,000 deaths to date.

Russian disinformation on GMOs

Biotech in agriculture has been seen as a product of the Western world and disinforming the US spread across Europe. That in turn prompted Putin in increasing exports of non-GMO and organic products globally. This campaign stalled agricultural innovation and even banned GMO technology across the world keeping improve seeds from so many small farmers. It keeps farmers from maximizing their productivity and ability to adapt to climate change across the board.

History has shown that the Russians have conducted disinformation against scientists for a very long time, including starving a key plant geneticist, Nikolai Vavilov. Before being imprisoned, his last trip was to Ukraine to collect seeds to address famine.

Hawaii depends upon Russian oil for 30% of its energy needs

I was listening to NPR yesterday where it was quoted that up to 30% of Hawaii’s energy needs come from Russia. Other outlets have states that nearly half of our energy comes from Libya and Russia, two regimes full of corruption. It has been suspected that NGOs do not disclose much of their funding and have long repeated false information around the energy issue. We are now faced with sourcing energy domestically given the invasion at hand. Will we now be willing to consider geothermal or continue to fund Russia’s war effort?

Do we have the political will to work from facts already?

War is ugly as we are seeing in Ukraine. It is evident that there is a huge impact on the many refugees fleeing a country to find safety and families. For too long, the idea towards false balance has promoted the very propaganda that has led up to this war because we had to give the other side input. If we are to create a grounded and balanced decision on an issue, we need to work from facts already.

We don’t need to have to have an anti-vax mom’s opinions repeated on a news feature about getting COVID vaccinations for their kids. We as a society need collective efforts to address real issues at hand in this day and age. We also do not need a well-funded activist influencing laws on agriculture when she is not part of the effort to grow food for the community. What we need right now are the real problem solvers working on the ground to make change in the right direction.

Years ago when I gave birth to my son, I hoped for my kids that they will never have to see the horrors of war. I fight for the facts now to return to a peaceful world. We have seen what disinformation has done in the pandemic and now we see the invasion of Ukraine. I am heartbroken to see the suffering happening.

The dissenting Russians are protesting are chanting, “No more war.” I fully agree with them for the sake of the children.

Read more on what’s happening here. We have seen this coming and chose to ignore the evidence and block innovations globally. The entire world will pay the price for following ideologies.

With Great Love

Yesterday we had to send our beloved cat, Asher, over the rainbow bridge. He had come down with a urethral blockage that could not be fixed and was suffering. It is never easy to make that decision but I could not let that poor cat be in pain and discomfort.

Thankfully, the vet allowed all of us to be present for our last goodbyes and that was just heartbreaking driving there with my 3 kids. I had to keep wiping back tears as we made the drive that evening while the kids sobbed.

The whole event made me realize that with great love comes great sadness when life ends. Across the world, so many others are crying too when peace ends. We’ve had so many years of peace that we must go through a war to learn the true value of what it really means.

Our kids had so many great years with our Asher cat and had so much love for him. We are reminiscing all the funny stories and cuddly moments we had with him. He gave us so much love and we to him. We will truly cherish our memories of him yet still grieve he is not with us.

I hope that the people in Ukraine stay strong and safe in these tumultuous times and those not in the war really understand the value of peace.

Tunnel Vision

Once again, the legislators in the state of Hawaii are saying one thing but doing another. At the start of this new session, so many proclaimed that they want to support agriculture but their actions say something else.

Take into point the raising of the minimum wage to help Hawaii’s low wage workers over 4 years.

With inflation, our small business costs are rising. This means the cost to deliver our goods to the store is much higher as fuel continues to run over $4.30 a gallon. That also translates to increased costs for our fertilizer, tractor parts, potting mix, and other supplies. Not only has those costs increased, new labeling laws have come into effect which means the printing of new boxes that costs more. Meanwhile, what we earn per pound has not changed to meet these costs.

To compound this even further, property taxes have increased and one of our vans had a catalytic converter sawed off. More money out and less in means we have to question our decisions on whether we can survive and plan for the future of our business.

Many farmers like Richard Ha and Dean Okimoto have stated that farmers are only going to farm if they can make money. Yes, we are a farm but also a small business. We may show profits on a ledger but most of it stays right on the farm to invest in it. We can’t share or grow if we don’t cover our costs.

I know that legislators see a very limited vision of how this will impact workers in the hotel and restaurant industries but fail to see how it trickles down to hurt the most vulnerable, our kupuna.

As costs for labor rises, caregiver costs have risen significantly. The wage for an hour caregiver is close to $30 to $35. With 3 hour minimums, a senior in need of care is paying over $105 a day if they can find one.

Not only do the cost of care rise but the cost of basic good also goes up. So many of my clients rely on takeout food for meals and a plate lunch has risen to $13. So many forget that their retirement income does not go up and as bills for basics go up, they have less to cover it.

Another consideration is that higher costs means that volunteerism can go down for those who service seniors. I know of several retirees who would love to volunteer to deliver meals but their costs to do so affects their ability to use that time to help others or work to meet their financial needs.

As a headline maker, raising the minimum wage sounds good in theory but in reality, is it going to help the local folks overall when small businesses are still being impacted by the pandemic?

After 2 years of dealing with pandemic and being a health care worker, I am tired. I am tired of having to wear PPE for work that leaves me hot, dehydrated, and sore. I do it to protect my family and others. The pollution of information by politicians have clearly demonstrated the dangers of it as we lost an opportunity to apply science to minimize the impact of this disease. The cost so far is over 800K lives lost and counting.

The legislature appears to be dead set on ignoring the entire impact of short term solutions and catchy soundbites. Over the years we’ve had bills attempting to label GMOs, legalize raw milk shares, anti-vaccine laws, buffer zones, and bans of who knows what proposed. We need to stop and ask if these time consuming legislative measures have served the needs of people of Hawaii or is it knee-jerk, serve serving for votes?

We all the know the answer.

Vaccinated Kids!

Yes, I did it. As soon as I got the word my 2 youngest kids could get their COVID shots, I scheduled it.

They were excited to be able to get it. Day 2 and the only side effect was a sore arm. No other changes noted.

Late afternoon day 2 and there are no issues other than an achy arm. No fever, no fatigue, no headaches.

The Cost of Disinformation

As of yesterday, Governor Ige signed an executive order clearing liabilities to health care facilities for the rationing of care during this pandemic. That just made my heart sink a thousand times. It also means health care providers are going to have to make the decision on who has the highest chance of surviving to receive care. That is no decision anyone who took an oath to care for people wants to make.

Why have we reached this point? How did we get here?

As a pro-science advocate, the writing was on the wall for a very long time. As much as politicians caved to the squeaky wheels who crafted the anti-ag laws over the last 15 years, this was bound to happen. Hearing after hearing, the least informed made so many false claims and none could ever be corroborated with data. Like a virus, that same disinformation was repeated over and over until it was believed as fact. Not one politician asked these testifiers for evidence ever. Even our former Department of Education Superintendent, Christina Kishimoto, fell for the anti-glyphosate predatort scheme. False claims were accepted as fact to create punitive laws. The main ones hurt by this were the farmers and their reputations.

The enforcement of these laws were written up where a private party could sue for a violation for mislabeling of a GMO, very much mirroring the anti-abortion Texas law. If a papaya farmer’s product lacked a sticker to label it, a consumer could sue that farmer for $1000 and court costs for each item. The state would not be the enforcer but consumers would be through litigation. It was like a job security jackpot for lawyers. Fortunately for us, it did not advance here.

I truly wish that our Hawaii legislators had the guts to stick with evidence based laws from a long time ago. They flirted with anti-vaxx laws and raw milk shares. The fact that the anti-GMO laws made it to the legislature allowed the disinformers to be legitimized in the public’s eye. Legions of backyardeners bolstered their claims through repeating false information.

Our educational system has also failed us when an adult can’t think critically when faced with disinformation. I suspect it has to do with the issue of false equivalency. My oldest daughter hated doing debates on vaccines and GMOs because she knew that evidenced based info was highly lacking in the anti side yet was presented as facts. High school kids who were not taught how to research science based information were flirting with those tales that sucked folks into simply believing it without asking questions. My daughter just despised listening to the ridiculous claims from her own classmates. Instead of debate, there should be instructions on how to research claims as well as teaching kids how the scientific process operates to provide knowledge instead of propaganda.

I have seen countless uneducated comments on COVID related stories where so many make these outlandish claims leading me to ask for evidence. I find it horribly sad when I get some off the wall YouTube video or link to some crank posted as evidence. It gets me even more angry when I see so many of my own classmates posting fake links spreading it among others. Critical thinking and an actual desire to learn has been lost in society and those who are educated and experts in their fields are ridiculed and called shills and sheep.

So what is the cost of disinformation? Lives are being cut short and quality of life is on a downward trend because someone chose to listen to the Aloha Freedom Coalition with their anti-vaxx and anti-mask attitudes. There is no freedom when you cannot breathe nor will you have a choice with what treatments your body undergoes. You will have zero choices on whether you live or die because a doctor will decide if you’ll make it. You are also denied any freedom to have your loved ones around. Your choice has forced you to be in a very lonely situation.

From this day on, I hope our politicians realize the need to support evidence based laws and be responsible for the information shared with the public. As we have seen, disinformation is deadly and highly infectious much like the delta variant. There has been great damage done to our communities right now where so many have died or maimed by COVID.

Right now, we need science more than ever to get through this pandemic. Follow the scientific data in your everyday lives from getting vaccinated, washing hands, and masking up. We as a community have to work together to overcome this pandemic.

Honoring Queen Liliuokalani

I received a timely email today from Congressman Kahele that is pertinent for what is happening in Hawaii and across the US. The lesson learned in her time should be heeded now.

From Representative Kai Kahele’s emal:

Today, as the the delta variant of COVID-19 surges throughout our community, we also reflect on the 183rd birthday of our beloved Queen Liliʻuokalani, who led Hawaiʻi’s people through the smallpox pandemic when it reached the Hawaiian Islands. Here was the then-Princess’s guidance to the Hawaiian people at the time:

“Know that my heart is filled with sadness, and that I am hopeful that this disease will not spread amongst us. I am doing, and will continue to do, everything within my power to prevent its spread, and I am strongly asking everyone to assist me in doing everything to defend against this disease by obeying the directives of those in power along with the medical doctors, and I am strongly urging that people go in large numbers to vaccination sites and to stop gathering in places where there are large amounts of people, and to report those infected with the disease to government officials.”

The Danger of Politics

There are 10,000 active cases of COVID in Hawaii right now and it continues to climb each day. Hospitals are filling up and ERs are inundated. Like places around the US, things are not at a good place.

Vaccinations had served as a hope to end this pandemic continue to be taken up slowly in many places despite it been given billions of doses with very few bed being filled with those experiencing vaccination side effects. Disinformation continues to flow all over the social media while the unvaccinated are filling hospital beds on ICUs.

Public health messaging has been on the safety of vaccines over and over again. It reminds me of how we farmers would say that GMOs are safe based upon scientific evidence, yet the fearful public refused to believe it. The same emotional responses are being repeated now. I even see science based farmers refusing the vaccinations too and angry about having to wear masks.

Farmers know that when their fields are being hit with pests, they have to treat the fields. If they wait too long to address the issue, they stand to lose the entire crop. Farmers are always scouting fields trying to stay ahead of their problems. This is how they remain resilient and sustainable.

The story of our papayas are very much like the pandemic. When the ringspot virus hit a tree here and there, we’d chop it down, much like the quarantining process. However, a virus is highly infective and spreads rapidly destroying the entire farm.

It is the same with COVID. This disease is the pestilence. Quarantining and isolating only can do so much at this point which is why we need that tool to give added protection to the community. For the papaya, it was the GMO technology that protected our fields and allowed us to sustain ourselves. The same goes for the vaccine to protect our health in the community. The more of us protected, the more we can sustain a healthy population. Basically we need less sick people around us.

Too many on the social media downplay the reality of COVID. This is a highly infectious disease. For some it can be a ticking time bomb that unleashes devastation to your lungs and eventually all of your organs. Like the farmer taking time to apply crop protection ahead of major problems, our community has to do the same if we are to curb this disease.

The anti-GMO activists were so afraid of pesticides that they’d wear hazmat suits to protests. Many of them see those suits on COVID wards and do not get the same level of concern and have even decided to take unapproved, untested remedies. It really shows how they do not understand what they speak upon. It would be a like a farmer with a mite problem spraying their crops with the wrong product that doesn’t work. It’s a waste of time to not use the proper treatment.

Right now, the best defense against infectious disease is to prevent it to begin with. If you value your health and value it, it starts with using the right preventative measure.

Poisoning of People

Just today, Senator Roz Baker and other senators called for the firing of Dr. Lorrin Pang, a long time anti-GMO touter and source of disinformation for his association with a group promoting quackery for COVID. It is quite funny to see this because the anti-GMO folks will fight tooth and nail against Senator Baker because she fought against buffer zones on farms, even if Dr. Pang is wrong.

I was reading a post of a long time anti-GMO activist who remains mad about Senator Baker because she still feels like they are allegedly still in danger from farms. As I read the comments, I saw the same old followers admitting that they are taking the quack cure of ivermectin to protect against COVID. Mind you, these same folks claimed that they have done their research on this and can attest to it.

Well, let me chuckle a bit more because their whole mantra was that farmers were poisoning them. Let’s really dig deeper on that shall we?

The mean lethal dose, or LD50, of the pesticide they banned, chlorpyrifos is 90-270 mg/kg in rats. That means it will take that amount to kill 50% of the testing population. Source: http://extoxnet.orst.edu/pips/chlorpyr.htmhttp://extoxnet.orst.edu/pips/chlorpyr.htm

The LD50 of glyphosate is 4320 mg/kg in rats. Source: http://npic.orst.edu/factsheets/archive/glyphotech.html#acute

The LD50 of hydroxychloroquine is 1240 mg/kg in rats. Source: https://core.ac.uk/download/pdf/236412374.pdf

The LD50 of ivermectin is 11 mg/kg in rats. Source: https://go.drugbank.com/drugs/DB00602

So, if we want to talk about the toxicity of these substances, the smaller the number, the higher the toxicity. So can you guess which one is the most toxic?

Yes, it’s Dr. Pang’s Pono Coalition’s recommendation that so many of his anti-GMO followers are taking over the vaccine. I have to laugh because they mocked me as being sheep but, uh, they are the ones taking enough of a toxic substance made for sheep!

The Breath of Life

When I was a young kid, I grew up with terrible asthma. As soon as I caught a mild cold, the stuffiness immediately went into my lungs. I remember being so congested with constant wheezing waking up my . I remember having dreams of feeling suffocated only to wake up way short of breath. I’d nudge my sleeping parents telling them I could not breathe. They’d get dressed groggily and jump in the car to take me to Kahuku Hospital.

Immediately there, the nurses knew exactly what I needed. They’d grab the nebulizer and inject the medication in and I’d be puffing away. Within minutes, my wheezing would subside and I could feel my airways open up giving me relief. My asthma was so bad that I’d spend several days there getting prednisone and nebulizers to manage the exacerbations.

These asthma exacerbations would happen multiple times and when that feeling of suffocation came on, I’d tell myself I was going to die. I thought I’d not make it to my 18th birthday but somehow, thanks to the great care I got as a kid, I made it.

As a mother, I now can empathize how my parents felt when a kid gets sick. To have to take my then 3 year old to the ER because his respiratory rate was over 50 breaths per minute, O2 sats below 90%, and heart rate racing over 150 beats per min scared the bejeebers out of me that I could lose my kid without proper care. I didn’t want to cry in front of him but I could not help it being so scared to not be able to provide comfort.

With school coming up and seeing COVID cases rise, I knew had to take action to protect my kids as well as my clients in home health. Their exposure could prevent me from caring for my homebound clients or potentially expose them. I was not going to take that chance.

There was a lot stress with trying to figure out what needed to be done to plan for this and fortunately, we were able to get into distance learning. Yes, it is not the same for kids but for their safety, it is worth the sacrifice.

What is even worse right now is the utterly disgusting self-entitled attitude among adults, including many parents, who are worried about their kids but are not vaccinated themselves. Then there are the teachers who have only 80% vaccinated but complaining about the DOE return to school plan. There’s always some excuse as to why they have not taken the vaccine. If you are worried about your kids and your own families, you’d do everything in your power to protect them. I hate hearing the selfish excuse of “my body, my choice” because it shows they don’t give a damn about others they infect.

I knew that my exposures from last year put my kids and others at risk and I jumped to get vaccinated. I didn’t even consider not getting it despite the side effects. I learned early on that the risks of COVID was way worse that the effects of a vaccine. I grew up knowing how awful it is to be short of breath. COVID steals people’s ability to breath.

The cases continue to rise and kids are now at higher risk. The years of disinformation has shown us how dangerous it is and many continue to believe it. Will we ever learn to trust the science again or will it take someone getting close to us very sick to realize that we have to follow the evidence? It is looking like the latter.

Flirting with Disaster

Let’s go back in time to the beginnings of the anti-GMO movement some 10 years ago. Remember when people came out of the woodwork to the Hawaii State Legislature claiming that politicians needed to protect the public against GMOs? It all started with a manipulation of the public by using fake news and fear that sounds all too familiar.

So many were fooled into believing that sites like Green Med Info, GMO Justice Coalition, Center for Food Safety, were all posing as legitimate information prveyors to the unsuspecting masses. The public would call legislators demanding that protections were needed in the form of labeling and banning. Forget the fact that trillions of meals were consumed with little evidence of harm, the anti-GMO activists were determined to get their way ignoring all of the evidence while creating lots of fake “evidence.”

Not only did the activists use fake news and fake sites to manipulate but they also casted a large cloud of doubt upon the regulatory agencies like the FDA and EPA. The public was told that the government agencies that regulated biotech products were not trustworthy without even knowing the process at all. People were led to believe that they were involved in some devious collusion. No activist ever bothered to teach people how the agencies approve products but closed the door by simply saying don’t trust them.

Opportunistic politicians decided to jump on board to this movement to ignore the scientific evidence too to seize upon popular opinion. They wanted to show the public that they were there to protect them. These supposed leaders fueled doubt within the very government that they were in charge of. The message basically was that, “I help run the government that you cannot trust.”

The activists and the politicians were successful in creating global furor that block innovations in its tracks. For years the media was complicit in fueling the rejection of scientific evidence. Poorly vetted stories and pseudoexperts like the Food Babe and Dr. Oz were placed in the spotlight feeding unfounded claims to a poorly educated audience.

So where has that led to after all of these years? We have lost some 435,000 Americans in this pandemic with 25 million cases. We have a deeply divided society with mass confusion as to what we should believe. It doesn’t appear to be getting any better given the latest news of new mutant viruses being found.

It should be of no surprise that a recent Star Advertiser poll found that only 50% plan on taking the covid vaccines. This should not be a shocker given the anti-vaccine campaigns that lead to a resurgence of measles globally and domestically also. It is becoming clearer that rejecting the scientific evidence comes with many unintended consequences.

Let’s think back to how things could’ve been different had we got a good handle on using evidence to base our policies upon. If the political leadership had weighed the facts to decide if labeling was truly needed, we’d probably have more faith in the regulatory agencies. When the politicians decided to create doubt, that sane doubt has remained through this pandemic. Few trust the CDC and FDA or even our own Department of Health at a time where we need to have centralized information being put forth.

Had we stopped giving anti-vaccine activists a stage at political forums, we may have less hesitancy with vaccines and less fear. The politicians gave them the stage to sputter fear and factless claims over and over again. The public was listening and started to believe that the shot is worse than the effects of COVID, which is absurd to me as a healthcare worker.

A poorly educated public, access to a wide array of websites, distrust in government, and too many not using critical thinking skills have led us down this deadly path in this pandemic. People are dying and some still refuse to wear a mask. We even have very selfish-minded people claiming that “my body, my choice” is better than taking a vaccine to protect others in the community. Our own Department of Education Superintendent Kishimoto is repeating that same anti-vaccination sentiment to the public, despite the fact that all public school kids must be vaccinated before attending class. The leadership is still not much more educated than the general public right now. Herein lies a problem.

As an elected leader, it is of utmost importance to lead with facts. By following the science, we can hopefully come to a point of agreement of the direction we must choose. If one uses deceit while knowing the truth, the public will pay for the consequences eventually. I so appreciate that my State Senator, Jarrett Keohokalohe, has helped my community get vaccinated by sharing information on the clinic that started this week. The message that sends to the public is a vaccination is just one step towards ending this pandemic. I have not once heard him state something contrary to the scientific evidence or repeat catchy phrases used by the science polluters. He is leading and informing the masses.

As I sat at the Windward Comprehensive Vaccination clinic this past week getting my 90 year old neighbor vaccinated, I got a bit teary eyed seeing so many seniors in my community getting their first shots. My neighbor joked that the entire Kaneohe community was there that day. I also overheard many of them saying they choose to get the shot to protect the rest of their family and loved ones. Yes, their body, their choice to protect others. These folks were listening to the scientific evidence and acting upon it.

There were no protesters around trying to deter people from doing this. It was my community willing doing their part to protect everyone around them. We were together to help save lives and follow the evidence towards a greater good.

We are living during a pandemic and that is why we must choose SCIENCE now!

The line to check in.
The waiting area was filled with vaccinated seniors.
My dad got his first vaccination from the Windward Health Comprehensive Clinic too.
Right after I took my neighbor for her shot, I received my second Pfizer dose.