Slashing rain, rolling thunder, lightening flashes—the island of O‘ahu woke Sunday morning to a severe storm advisory and warnings of flash floods. But the crummy weather that kept most people away from the beaches didn’t deter a spirited crowd of local citizens and activists from gathering in the town of Hale‘iwa on the island’s North Shore to celebrate the anti-GMO movement’s recent successes and keep up the pressure against the agri-biotech industry in Hawaii.
Sporting a motley mix of rain gear, some 700 people trickled into a 7-Eleven parking lot on the south end of town by noon. Among the crowd were most of the key figures involved in the fight against the GMO companies in the Hawaiian islands—from grassroots activists, to politicians, to Hollywood stars, to pro-surfers and locals from the beleaguered west side of Kauai island. Many had flown to Honolulu in the morning and made the hour-long drive across the island to the North Shore despite the heavy downpour.
“The rain hasn’t stopped us before,” said Nomi Carmona, president of Babes Against Biotech, a group that works to oust legislators who receive funding from biotech companies and one of the organizers of the “Ahola Aina March: Collaboration for a Better Tomorrow.”
“I haven’t done a whole lot of protesting since my college days, but I came out because this is important—it’s about our food,” said Mike Smola, a local art historian. “Its ridiculous to have bioengineering experiments in a closed ecosystem like this island.”
With its green-blue water and massive winter waves, O‘ahu’s North Shore is best known as a surfing mecca that hosts the international Triple Crown of Surfing competitions every December. The last big one—the Billabong Pipeline Masters—was held here on Saturday. But this part of the island is also where the biotech companies have thousands of acres of GM crop fields. Biotech giant Monsanto, for instance, leases more than 1,000 acres of land around Hale‘iwa from Kamehameha Schools, a private trust that owns about half of Hawai‘i's farmland.
Which is why the organizers—a coalition of community and food rights groups including, ‘Ohana O Kaua‘i, Hawaii SEED, Hawaii GMO Justice Coalition and The Mom Hui—chose to hold the event in Hale’iwa, the biggest town in the North Shore. The idea was to tap into the momentum of the international surfing competition, which draws a lot of media attention, and raise awareness about GMOs and Big Ag. The “Michael Jordans” of the pro-surfing world—stars like Kelly Slater and John John Florence—had been promoting the march during the past week, and they and several other pro-surfers turned up for the Sunday march.
“GMO is probably the most talked about issue in the pro-surfer world right now and that’s because most pro-surfers have made their careers here on the North Shore and they don’t want to see it polluted,” said Kyle Thiermann, founder of Surfing for Change and 2011 Brower Youth Award winner, who was filming the march for a short video documentary he’s making on the issue.
The goal of the event was to march a mile down the Kamehamehea Highway to the Hale’iwa Beach Park for a rally and non-GMO potluck party with some live music and dancing thrown in.
There was some confusion in the beginning, with the local department of transportation pulling the march permit because of unsafe weather conditions and a power outage that took out traffic lights. But the organizers decided to press on anyway.
“Walk safe,” advised Dustin Barca, a pro-surfer turned activist from Kauai and one of the key organizers of the march. “Let’s keep it respectful but let’s make some noise!”
And after a round of prayers and a resounding blow of the conch, off they set down the wet highway, chanting, “A’ole, a‘lole, a‘ole GMO! Monsanto has got to go!” (“A‘ole” means “no” in Hawaiian)
The local police, after a failed attempt to deter the marchers, helped out by closing off part of the highway and diverting traffic. As the marchers proceeded down the road, passing cars honked in support and people from the stores and restaurants along the single-lane road stepped out to wave and join the chanting. The rain slowed down to a drizzle and gradually petered off by the time the marchers reached Hale’iwa Beach Park.
“For me the ua [rain] that came down upon is a blessing,” said Ellie Cochran, the Maui council member who introduced a GMO regulatory bill on her island two weeks ago. Water, said a clearly emotional Cochran, “cleanses” and “purifies” and that’s just what Hawai’i needs right now.
In the past year Hawai‘i has turned into ground zero for the battle over genetically modified organisms. There’s been a growing groundswell of grassroots opposition against the five big biotech companies—Monsanto, Syngenta, DuPont, Dow Agrochemicals and BASF—that have been expanding their operations here, occupying tens of thousands of acres of former sugar and pineapple plantation lands to grow and test transgenic seeds. Hawai‘i currently has the largest number of experimental GMO crops in the U.S.
The islanders’ pushback against GMO companies came to a head in the past month when the island councils of Kauai and Hawai‘i (also known as Big Island) passed bills to regulate the industry. Much of this movement is centered around the Hawaiian idea of “Aloha ‘Aina”—or “love for the land—and the growing concern that their land, and health, is being affected by these companies’ heavy use of pesticides.
“Our generation took on the U.S. military and we won because of Aloha ‘Aina—which has nothing to do with negativity and has everything to do with passion and love and respect, and that’s what this younger generation is doing now,” veteran Hawaiian political activist Walter Ritte, who had been involved in the effort to wrest the island of Kahoolawe from the control of the U.S. military in the 1970s, told Earth Island Journal. “It is difficult to do this [organize a united movement] here because it’s expensive to travel between the islands, but we have taken the movement to each of the islands and shown that it can be done.”
But Ritte acknowledged that marching, “while good for the soul, is not going to get us where we have to go.” The anti-GMO movement must get involved in electoral politics, he said.
Continued public support of legislative efforts to regulate the biotech industry will be crucial once the Hawai‘i state legislature begins its new session in January. There’s already some talk of the state government introducing legislation that could nullify the Kauai and Big Island bills. (From 2007 to the current filing period, the biotech industry and its lobbyists have spent at least $515,775 on campaign contributions in Hawaiian legislative, gubernatorial and county council elections, according to a Babes Against Biotech analysis. The state government here is heavily pro-Big Ag.)
“It’s our job to make sure that county bills not only not get preempted, but become more powerful,” Ritte told the gathering at the beach later. “I’m pleading with all of you to register to vote. Your vote is your spear. It’s your weapon to fight the corporations.”
There is also the possibility of the biotech companies suing the Kauai and Big Island county governments on the grounds that the new laws unfairly target their businesses. “These are some cutting-edge issues that the courts have never seen before, so it’s going to be interesting,” said Paul Achitoff a Honolulu-based attorney with the environmental law firm EarthJustice. “This is all kind of new right now. A few years ago the state was controlled by industry, but now there are more things like this [march and regulatory bills] happening. It’s all in a state of flux.”
Visit EcoWatch’s GMO page for more related news on this topic.
EcoWatch Daily Newsletter
By Arkilaus Kladit
My name is Arkilaus Kladit. I'm from the Knasaimos-Tehit tribe in South Sorong Regency, West Papua Province, Indonesia. For decades my tribe has been fighting to protect our forests from outsiders who want to log it or clear it for palm oil. For my people, the forest is our mother and our best friend. Everything we need to survive comes from the forest: food, medicines, building materials, and there are many sacred sites in the forest.
Map of the Knasaimos traditional lands.
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By Farah Aqel
Overthinkers are people who are buried in their own obsessive thoughts. Imagine being in a large maze where each turn leads into an even deeper and knottier tangle of catastrophic, distressing events — that is what it feels like to them when they think about the issues that confront them.
Ruminating<p>According to the late Susan Nolen-Hoeksema, a professor of psychology at Yale University, <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5796420/" target="_blank">ruminating</a> involves replaying a problem over and over in your mind. We ruminate by obsessing over our thoughts and thinking repetitively about various aspects of a past situation.</p><p>It usually involves regret, self-loathing and self-blaming. Rumination is associated with the development of depression, anxiety and eating disorders. </p><p>People prone to such patterns of thought may, for example, overanalyze every single detail of a relationship that breaks up. They often blame themselves for what has happened and are overcome with regret, with typical thoughts being: </p><p>- I should have been more patient and more supportive. </p><p>- I have lost the most perfect partner ever. </p><p>- No one will love me again.</p>
Worrying<p>Worrying is wanting to predict the future. It involves negative thoughts about things that might and might not happen.</p><p>- They'll not like me in the interview; they'll not give me the job. </p><p>- I haven't heard back from other employers. How long will I be unemployed?</p><p>These thoughts are energy-draining and distressing. They could happen to anyone under stress. But when you reach the point where your thoughts and worrying are preventing you from doing what you want to do — from living your life to the fullest — then you should take action.</p>
Catch Yourself Overthinking<p>Reuben Berger, a psychotherapist at the university hospital in the western German city of Bonn, recommends several practical steps that you could employ in your daily routine when you catch yourself worrying or ruminating.</p><p>One effective remedy, says Berger, is the <a href="https://www.uofmhealth.org/health-library/uf9938" target="_blank">thought-stopping technique.</a></p><p>"When the negative thoughts come or ruminations start, you say to yourself: 'Stop!,'" he says, adding that it is more effective when you actually say the word out loud.</p><p>He even recommends having a rubber band around your wrist to ping against yourself while saying the word. Adding a visual component by imagining a stop sign also makes the technique more powerful, he says.</p><p>The main idea here is conditioning yourself to stop the loop of worrying (making future predictions) or rumination (obsessing over past events).</p><p>Berger says the technique could take up to two weeks to take effect and that it needs to be practiced every day. "Consistency is very important," he says. </p>
Thoughts Are Just Thoughts<p>Another way of dealing with negative thoughts often used in modern therapy is realizing that thoughts aren't facts, says Berger.</p><p>He says it is important when we think something to ask: Is that real? Did that really happen? What is the worst thing that could happen?</p><p>Flight anxiety is one example where untrue thoughts are accepted as facts. Although air travel is the safest way to get around, people suffering from fear of flying accept their thoughts and fears as reality, then act upon them by refusing to fly.</p>
Mindfulness<p>Berger also recommends the use of mindfulness techniques, in which attention is paid to experiences in the moment without judging them, as a way of reducing worrying.</p><p>"Mindfulness helps you to distance yourself from your thoughts and to be more present in the moment," he says.</p><p><a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3432145/#R2" target="_blank">Several studies</a> have shown that mindfulness has a positive impact on reducing stress-related behaviors such as rumination and worrying, as focusing on the moment makes anxiety about other problems impossible.</p><p>Mindfulness can be practiced during routine activities by paying attention to your body and your surroundings. For instance, when you leave for work in the morning, you can focus on sensing the breeze, listen attentively to birds, feel the gravel under your feet and monitor your breath. </p>
Trick Your Brain Into Happiness<p>People plagued by obsessive thoughts do not always choose healthy ways like mindfulness to distract from them, however.</p><p> Dr. Edward Selby, a psychologist at Florida state university, has shown in a study that people try to avoid rumination by engaging in a range of uncontrolled behaviors, such as binge eating and substance abuse.</p><p>But he says that a much better way to overcome such distress is by distraction and shifting attention away from problems that are obsessing us.</p><p>There are many activities that can be used to distract from rumination, he says, and people should choose the one that works best for them. Here are some examples:</p><p>- Listen to music</p><p>- Read a book</p><p>- Take a hot shower</p><p>- Dance or exercise </p><p>- Talk to a friend (not about the problem)</p><p>- Watch a movie</p><p>- Mindfulness meditation</p>
Changing the Perception of Events<p>The way people perceive a situation largely influences their emotions and behavior. It is not the situation itself that determines how they feel, but rather the way they interpret it.</p><p>Reframing negative thoughts can lead to positive emotions and, subsequently, healthier behaviors — including a reduction in damaging overthinking and worrying.</p><p>Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is currently a gold standard in psychotherapy. CBT aims to change the way people think and act. It largely involves challenging unhelpful beliefs or attitudes such as overgeneralization — thinking "I always fail at public speaking" when you have had one bad experience in front of an audience, for example — or "catastrophization," i.e., imagining the worst possible outcome to a situation. </p><p>A psychotherapist can teach people how to implement such thought-changing techniques into their lives. Techniques vary depending on their issues and goals.</p>
Solutions Are at Hand<p>Try to find ways of avoiding worrying, rumination and overthinking that make you feel most comfortable.</p><p>Incorporating any routine in your life when you're stressed isn't an easy task, but you can do it! If you feel overwhelmed, you can always seek professional help. </p><p><em>If you are suffering from serious emotional strain or suicidal thoughts, do not hesitate to seek professional help. You can find information on where to find such help, no matter where you live in the world, <a href="https://www.befrienders.org/" target="_blank">at this website.</a></em></p>
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By Michael Baker, Amanda Kvalsvig and Nick Wilson
On Sunday, New Zealand marked 100 days without community transmission of COVID-19.
Deaths From COVID-19 Per Million Population<img lazy-loadable="true" src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yMzU0ODIyOS9vcmlnaW4ucG5nIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTY0MjkzMDc1OX0.7Yp1h1hokihlMJUurDukGmq-Y8NJB0V-07O1ukEjGt0/img.png?width=980" id="0fe6a" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="6bce85a610aee18e2f4f1c1caca7b8a0" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" />
<div id="77fff" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="ce7b34f8986d3d36bee5d4d83ac0822c"><blockquote class="twitter-tweet twitter-custom-tweet" data-twitter-tweet-id="1292270210238447616" data-partner="rebelmouse"><div style="margin:1em 0">COVID-19 Update There are no new cases of COVID-19 to report in New Zealand today. It has been 100 days since t… https://t.co/Cz55ixGZUz</div> — Unite against COVID-19 (@Unite against COVID-19)<a href="https://twitter.com/covid19nz/statuses/1292270210238447616">1596936201.0</a></blockquote></div>
Getting Through the Pandemic<p>We have gained a much better understanding of COVID-19 over the past eight months. Without effective control measures, it is likely to continue to spread globally for many months to years, ultimately infecting billions and killing millions. The proportion of infected people who die appears to be <a href="https://www.medrxiv.org/content/10.1101/2020.05.03.20089854v4" target="_blank">slightly below 1%</a>.</p><p>This infection also causes serious <a href="https://www.bmj.com/content/370/bmj.m2815" target="_blank">long-term consequences</a> for some survivors. The largest uncertainties involve <a href="https://www.nature.com/articles/d41586-020-02278-5" target="_blank">immunity to this virus</a>, whether it can develop from exposure to infection or vaccines, and if it is long-lasting. The potential for treatment with antivirals and other therapeutics is also still uncertain.</p><p>This knowledge reinforces the huge benefits of sustaining elimination. We know that if New Zealand were to experience widespread COVID-19 transmission, the <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3310086/" target="_blank">impact on Māori and Pasifika populations</a> could be catastrophic.</p><p>We have previously described critical measures to get us through this period, including the use of fabric face masks, improving contact tracing with suitable digital tools, applying a science-based approach to border management, and the need for a dedicated national public health agency.</p><p>Maintaining elimination depends on adopting a highly strategic approach to risk management. This approach involves choosing an optimal mix of interventions and using resources in the most efficient way to keep the risk of COVID-19 outbreaks at a consistently low level. Several measures can contribute to this goal over the next few months, while also allowing incremental increases in international travel:</p><ul><li>resurgence planning for a border-control failure and outbreaks of various sizes, with state-of-the-art contact tracing and an upgraded alert level system</li><li>ensuring all New Zealanders own a <a href="https://www.nzma.org.nz/journal-articles/mass-masking-an-alternative-to-a-second-lockdown-in-aotearoa" target="_blank">re-useable fabric face mask</a> with their <a href="https://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=12354409" target="_blank">use built into the alert level system</a></li><li>conducting exercises and simulations to test outbreak management procedures, possibly including "mass masking days" to engage the public in the response</li><li>carefully exploring processes to allow <a href="https://blogs.otago.ac.nz/pubhealthexpert/2020/06/16/preventing-outbreaks-of-covid-19-in-nz-associated-with-air-travel-from-australia-new-modelling-study-of-alternatives-to-quarantine/" target="_blank">quarantine-free travel</a> between jurisdictions free of COVID-19, notably various Pacific Islands, Tasmania and Taiwan (which may require digital tracking of arriving travellers for the first few weeks)</li><li>planning for carefully managed inbound travel by key long-term visitor groups such as tertiary students who would generally still need managed quarantine.</li></ul>
Building Back Better<p>New Zealand cannot change the reality of the global COVID-19 pandemic. But it can leverage possible benefits.</p><p>We should conduct an <a href="https://blogs.otago.ac.nz/pubhealthexpert/2020/06/11/five-key-reasons-why-nz-should-have-an-official-inquiry-into-the-response-to-the-covid-19-pandemic/" target="_blank">official inquiry into the COVID-19 response</a> so we learn everything we possibly can to improve our response capacity for future events.</p><p>We also need to establish a specialized national public health agency to <a href="https://blogs.otago.ac.nz/pubhealthexpert/2017/12/20/the-havelock-north-drinking-water-inquiry-a-wake-up-call-to-rebuild-public-health-in-new-zealand/" target="_blank">manage serious threats to public health</a> and provide critical mass to <a href="https://blogs.otago.ac.nz/pubhealthexpert/2020/02/05/a-preventable-measles-epidemic-lessons-for-reforming-public-health-in-nz/" target="_blank">advance public health generally</a>. Such an agency appears to have been a key factor in the success of Taiwan, which avoided a costly lockdown entirely.</p><p>Business as usual should not be an option for the recovery phase. A recent <a href="https://www.nzherald.co.nz/business/news/article.cfm?c_id=3&objectid=12353555" target="_blank">Massey University survey</a> suggests seven out of ten New Zealanders support a green recovery approach.</p><p>New Zealand's elimination of COVID-19 has drawn attention worldwide, with a description just <a href="https://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJMc2025203" target="_blank">published</a> in the New England Journal of Medicine. We support a rejuvenated World Health Organization that can provide improved global leadership for pandemic prevention and control, including greater use of an elimination approach to combat COVID-19.</p>
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