Header image is Kapiti Island from Pukerua Bay (© EnvirowatchRangitikei)*
Aotearoa was once a pristine country and widely known as ‘clean and green’. Believe me, and I’ve lived here all my life… it is no longer clean and green. Our entire planet now is sadly, very polluted, and Aotearoa is no exception. Three of the very many environmental issues in that concern me and have prompted this site are (a) the widespread and accepted use of chemical sprays in NZ (in particular, Glyphosate aka Roundup, ‘the most toxic herbicide on the planet’ says Dr Don Hubert, Professor Emeritus of Plant Pathology in the US) … (b) our increasing exposure to radiation from Electro Magnetic Frequencies (EMFs) … mobile phone towers, wifi and now Smart Meters and (c) the largely unknown practice of geoengineering which our government says (as do all governments) is not happening. There are of course, many other issues and the potential for harm to all living things regarding them is being greatly downplayed by both governments and corporations. If you think your government wouldn’t lie to you, please watch the movie ‘The Corporation’ and see how they can and they do. In 2004 GlaxoSmithKline, the manufacturers of the Black Currant beverage called Ribena, were exposed by two 14 year old New Zealand high school students for false advertising regarding the percentage of Vitamin C in their product. Advertised as containing four times that of oranges, it was found in fact to contain virtually none.
“Commerce Commission Chair Paula Rebstock says that thousands of New Zealanders have been misled by the claim that Ribena contained high levels of vitamin C”.
This is not just a one-off. There are in the link provided, several similar instances of convictions for false advertising by corporations in NZ. And the Ribena name I recall, was right up there in the ‘healthy’ bracket; a household name in fact since World War II. Mothers (myself included) fed this to their babies trusting they were building healthy infants, when in fact it was little more than sugary syrup. Since this kind of corporate behaviour is becoming all too common, rather than just read the label as we used to be able to do, it is now advisable to research new technologies and products for ourselves before using them.
The company that makes Roundup (Glyphosate) also made DDT (now banned) and Glyphosate is many times more toxic than DDT. This same company also made Agent Orange, sprayed all over Vietnam, a product that is still producing birth defects in that population today … and seriously compromised the health of our own Kiwi Vets who fought in that war. Our own government, to their shame, has only very recently acknowledged the damage that product did. This is a company that said its product Roundup was biodegradable, a claim France’s highest Court has ruled is untrue. French Scientist Professor Séralini and his team revealed in their two year experiment (the first ever long term study on Roundup) that it caused enormous tumours in lab rats. (With Monsanto’s ongoing criticism and vilification of the study it has now been peer reviewed and the criticisms responded to by Professor Séralini and others on his website). Note, Monsanto had tested their product over the required ninety days (not long enough for tumours to develop) … the French Scientists tested it for two years, using the same kind of rats Monsanto used. Fortunately for the public, this kind of ongoing independent research on these and other products is revealing truth and exposing the biases of reports by those who stand to gain financially from a tick of approval. In other words the appraisals of the former are not industry funded. Ask yourself, would you purchase a car that had not been independently checked by a licensed motor mechanic? Or a house that had not had a full lim report? This is not rocket science. The fact is though, we are purchasing our products completely trusting that the manufacturers would not compromise our health, safety and well being by cutting costs and not telling us. Note, corporations are required to place their shareholders’ profits above the public interest, and these limited liability behemoths enjoy virtually guaranteed immunity under a body of corporate law built up over more than a century. And the current state of global pollution can be traced largely I believe, to the fact that corporations have ensured in their fine print they don’t have to clean up after themselves … they leave that to everybody else. With a mandate of maximizing profits, predictably, much greed now prevails in their modus operandi, a greed that can quite easily destroy its unsuspecting victims, witness the fallout of the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, and the true pollution from Fukushima, something we are not being told about. Greed places profits ahead of workplaces, environments and public safety, and opposing or counteracting the negative effects of corporate activities is for most, well nigh impossible. The reality is, few people have the cash available to take these giants to court. Their budgets are bottomless, and any fines imposed on them are pretty much payable from their petty cash. A tap on the wrist. People need and want to be employed, to be able to feed their families, to house them and keep them warm. The extremes of corporate greed have made this very difficult for a significant proportion of the population. We now have an ever widening gap between rich and poor and an increased rate of child poverty in this country. Corporate CEOs do not need millions to live on. The neo-liberal economic policies responsible for these changes are clearly set out in Bryan Bruce’s award winning doco on child poverty called ‘Mind the Gap’ (you can watch it on his website). The world wide push for assets of sovereign nations to be privatized and sold off to foreign investors that began in the ’80s with Rogernomics policies is stripping nations of their independence. The fruits of those assets no longer return to their country of origin where they belong, instead they go offshore. These assets are being sold without the general consent of the public, all under the publicly promoted Utopian dream of a global village where everybody supposedly helps each other. The two George Bushes and other US presidents including Obama have often referred to this New Order or New World Order in their speeches. Right now however, the only ones being helped are corporations and their profit margins. And to boot, their out-of-control activities have brought us pollution … increasing EMF radiation, increased off and onshore drilling that threatens our marine life as well as our environment, literal islands of plastic (268,000 tonnes last count) that aren’t going away any time soon, fracking, nuclear radiation (if you think we are exempt, above alert rad levels were recorded in the South Island twelve months ago) widespread
chemical spraying, the addition of chemicals and preservatives to our food, little known climate modification methods that involve aerial spraying of chemicals and finally, the threat of pesticide laden GE crops, which incidentally were secretly grown here (that word secret again) in 2000. (Read ‘Seeds of Distrust’ by Nicky Hager). At any rate, the mainstream media tells us it’s a matter of when not if, that they will be, in fact in December 2014 we have a call to introduce GE crops touting it as the only way forward. The article states explicitly that there are no known health effects which is not supported by the independent research to date. You may not realize it but we are already consuming GE foods (many corn and soy products are GE) and the ongoing refusal to label everything prevents us effectively from choosing against. If they refuse to label it then surely they have something to hide? And in the South Island it appears scientists have tinkered with swedes and produced super seed which are under investigation with regard to the many cow deaths that have been happening. Reminiscent of the ability of GE crops to withstand glyphosate spray, these swedes are tolerant to certain herbicides (HR … Herbicide Resistant) which the cows get to ingest of course (for info on GE crops see Hard to Swallow by Jeffrey Smith). All of these pollutants, call them what you will, come with effects for our personal health and our environment. Because they are mostly invisible and silent, the risks are not apparent. However, Professor Emeritus Samuel Epstein, (Chairman of the Cancer Prevention Coalition) in his 1978 book The Politics of Cancer points to the influence of avoidable environmental factors in this all too common illness that has now risen to one in two or three. Thankfully there are now many success stories with natural treatments (see our cancer pages). Environmental factors all bring their own unique kinds of damage that corporations are predictably ignoring to the best of their ability, preferring to sweep them under the carpet. The damage may not always be immediately evident, but it will come. It may be convenient right now to have instant phone contact however the growing evidence of cancers and brain tumours is the long term price you the consumer will pay (are paying) if you remain uneducated about safe methods of using them … the telephone companies don’t and won’t and their warnings re safety are in very tiny print. Brain surgeons can tell you what side of your head you use your phone and some report tumours the same shape as a mobile phone. You will also find studies that ‘prove’ there is no link and the industry will tell you you cannot prove any causative link however there is mounting evidence that people who live near the towers are suffering a myriad of health effects hitherto not present. (Do an internet search on cancer clusters to see if this is not true). The doco Take Back Your Power on Smart Meters by Josh del Sol reveals pages of names of students who lived in the same campus hostel rooms or adjacent rooms directly beneath a cell phone mast, who had died of brain and other kinds of cancers. No coincidence, surely? You can also listen to Dr David Carpenter on the Smart Meter page who outlines the dangers of cell phone radiation.
It is a similar scenario with chemical sprays. The Glyphosate in Roundup for instance has been linked to autism, cancer, birth defects, kidney disease, infertility and many more. All these alarming health risks make the recycling issue look minor by comparison, nevertheless they too are important. The plastic we discard will take hundreds of years to break down and is killing our birds and marine life … yet the ‘machine’ continues to churn it out, at the same time urging us not to buy or use it which is very contradictory and surely must confuse our children. They simply need to stop making it. It is cost effective for big business to keep making it but it is not cost effective for the consumer.
To resist the imposed choices of these of corporate giants however, requires firstly community awareness (knowledge) followed by community action. To learn how some have defeated these ‘Goliaths’ visit http://earthjustice.org/about. You will not read a lot of researched facts about these concerns in your local newspaper and if you decide to scratch below the surface, be prepared for the oft repeated mantra of those who don’t want to … ‘you can’t believe everything you read on the internet’. The same can be said of the mainstream media that is dominated by four overseas owned companies (APN News & Media, Fairfax Media, MediaWorks and News Corporation/Sky) and is increasingly driven by the profit motive. Those four companies are in turn owned by international financial institutions and a few foreign media moguls. Some controversial issues I’ve already written to the local media about and predictably … as they point out in their fine print, they’ve ‘reserved the right not to publish’. Newspapers are very tetchy about upsetting the people who fund them and free press is a modern day myth.
If you know of any environmental issue that is of concern to you, feel free to contact me or raise it here under ‘comments’. You can sign up with or without your real name, and comment using a pseudonym if you wish to remain anonymous. Your privacy will be respected and no information will be made public without your permission.
To read how NZ descended into the abyss of debt and lost her independence and sovereignty, go here.
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*Images copyrighted to the author – you can use them but please link to this site, envirowatchrangitikei