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Paradise Lost

By Kate Younger

In July and again in September 1996, our community of retired persons and farmers was sprayed with ROUNDUP® and other chemicals related to "Agent Orange." In the time since our community was sprayed, many animals have died or stopped reproducing. Our once organic food is no more. A dozen women have had their breasts removed in hopes of saving them from cancer. Three of my neighbors have died.

The aerial spraying was tested here at the direction of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency. Helicopters that conducted the spraying were accompanied by armed military helicopters. The area sprayed was from the volcano south of the town of Hilo, down along the coast around the point called Southpoint to the coastal fields of Captain Cook. That is a large area, to drive it would take about two hours.

After the first spraying in July, we complained to the local DEA because the chemicals reached our agricultural land. They told us that it would not happen again. In September, ten helicopters flew for 3 days, eight hours a day. They circled and sprayed, landed and circled us again.

In the island of Hawaii, our land was a training ground for what is about to occur in eleven states on the mainland, all of it Indian lands. Washington and Oregon are two of the states and their Departments of Ecology and Departments of Natural Resources have copies of the new draft. The DEA's plans to spray ditchweed and suspected marijuana for the next ten years. California, Nevada, Utah, Idaho, and Montana will also be targeted for chemical eradication efforts.

Hearings were extended to June 30, 1998 after CNN aired a short story after our September spraying here in Hawaii. CNN's story followed Honolulu TV news footage showing the chemical red dye that landed inside a private subdivision. They also aired footage of the birds that were killed.

Most of our community has little knowledge of marijuana and yet we have been caught in the cross-hairs of the drug war. Every member of our community has lost something, or someone we loved. We have all become victims of our own government's war.

We are not a third world country. We spoke up and were told to be quiet. Our doctors spoke up and were warned that the DEA issues them license to write prescriptions.

Sunday I went to a "celebration of life" Hawaiian style. People gathered at our local grassy park. Hawaiian men and women played music and danced. We were honoring a young woman, her husband and small children. This young woman has stage-4 breast cancer.

As I was talking with friends and neighbors a woman approach me. I have seen her and her husband at our farmers market each weekend, but we weren't personal friends. She was commenting how wonderful it is that Hawaiian people celebrate the life of a dying person. Together we counted the number of people we knew who had died or have recently been told they have cancer. It was then she said, "Count me in, I now have breast cancer."

I am a grandmother and have family living in states that are targeted for spraying. I am one of many residents willing to tell our story. Skin rashes, discolored skin, burning lungs, pain in the bones, black around the eyes, headaches . . . oh, the children's headaches were the hardest to heal. The list of chemicals, and toxic problems that can follow the use of such a spraying, fill 200 hundred pages.

A paragraph on page 75 reads: "The signs of symptoms of glyphosate toxicity in humans generally include gastrointestinal effects (vomiting, abdominal pain, diarrhea) irritation, congestion, or other forms of damage to the respiratory tract, pulmonary edema, decreased urinary output sometimes accompanied by acute renal tubular necrosis (kidney damage and cell death).

We are here to say this type of toxic poisoning is killing more than a couple of marijuana plants, and we will continue to tell our story. Business owners are speaking to media and have contacted CBS 60 Minutes. Our local government fears lost of tourism. We fear more loss of life.

Our voices are added to the other American citizens who are just saying "NO!" to the drug war on the American people.

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