‘Honey Expose’ lacked scientific credibility

After reading Jessica Else’s “Honey Expose” in The Garden Island on Aug. 6, I am disappointed that you omitted the most salient details. Even more so, I am appalled that the editor of The Garden Island has published this substandard piece of reporting. A conclusion without supporting evidence is more than worthless. In this era of deception, you are sliding your way into “fake news.”

In your report, where do you tell us the credentials of the “Kauai scientists?” Not every scientist is qualified to conduct such a study. Nor do you cite a source of the “peer-reviewed study.” A reasonable thinker would want to see the report herself. As a scientist, I certainly want to see the hypothesis, the methods and materials, the data and the results. I am interested in reading the authors’ conclusions, but as a scientist, I would make my own conclusions based on the information presented.

(My credentials include bachelor’s degree cum laude in microbiology and public health, 1977, Michigan State University; bachelor’s degree summa cum laude, medical technology, 1981, Michigan State University; clinical laboratory scientist certificate, 1998, California State University at San Francisco; clinical laboratory scientist license, 1998 to present, state of California; medical technologist license, 1998 to present, state of Hawaii.)

Asking your readers to accept the conclusions of these six “Kauai scientists” without supporting data is equivalent to using the infamous “people say …” in order to defend a personal belief.

In transparency, I state that Monsanto Company was one of my several employers in a 36-year career of research and analysis. I have also worked for a state university and several hospitals. In all of those positions I regularly conducted laboratory tests looking for many different substances from many different sources. One of those substances was glyphosate, the active ingredient in Roundup.

The most important fact I learned from my research on Roundup is that the source being tested can interfere with the chemistry of the test, frequently resulting in “false positives.” I am not aware that any test for glyphosate has been developed, validated and calibrated with honey as the source.

The omission of a link to the “study” you cite prevents the public from knowing the facts. Rather, you and The Garden Island, at best, have been duped by these “Kauai scientists.” Or worse, you and The Garden Island have given front-page, above-the-fold status to a shoddy piece of reporting that could, in fact, contain false information.

In this sensational “exposé” you ignore the controversy regarding the safety of glyphosate. A simple internet search reveals that the single agency (IARC) that classified glyphosate as a probable carcinogen was tainted by a leader who withheld data from the reviewers because of his own personal bias (https://www.forbes.com/sites/geoffreykabat/ 2017/10/23/iarcs-glyphosate- gate-scandal/).

I would hope that, in accordance with the highest standards of journalism and investigative reporting, you will publish a clarification of this issue.


Janet Nelsen is a resident of Kapaa.

  1. Charlie Chimknee September 3, 2018 5:38 am Reply

    Aloha Kakou…and Janet Nelson,

    As a reader I find it typical that you would defend your former employer, Monsanto, and by extension of that their petro chemical based agricultural poison, GLYPHOSATE.

    You apparently disregard the thousands of cancer lawsuits against Monsanto and who they Fire Sale sold out to, Bayer Chemical Company.

    You by your swaying of information claim you have never heard of honey being the basis for examination of contamination by The poison Glyphosate. Well if this is a first, Glyphosate in our Island’s honey, instead of trying to weaken the findings of the outcome of study, if you are so experienced in these type of studies, why don’t you do an honest study of your own, or at least, if you call Kauai your home, and with all your experience, help to repeat or further the study so we know just what parts of the island the sources of Glyphosate in honey are being contaminated.

    In fact why don’t you expand on the study and see if Chlorpyrifos is also a honey contaminant.

    Going beyond that why wouldn’t you, or why don’t you, with all your vast scientific work experience go beyond honey and see if we the people are being contaminated and on just which parts of the island.

    We appreciate your defending your employer, so do the other employees who are just field hands working for Monsanto and their ilk, and who are just trying to feed their families.

    It’s only natural that you science types protect your current and former employers in the petrochemical industry regardless if they are private or public government or university jobs.

    We know people with lots of scientific experience write letters and papers defending things like napalm, nuclear weapons, and carcinogenic petrochemicals like Glyphosate and Chlorpyrifos, we just wonder why?

    There’s just no getting around it, things made from oil, from petroleum, the petrochemicals, they cause cancer, and wouldn’t the higher motivation be to protect living things and human beings as well as the environment, instead of verbally soothing this horror?

    When you come to think of it petrochemicals are not natural, they are man made, often with “Bleeding Heart” advertising saying how wonderful they are and how they will save the world from starvation, all the while Cancer is multiplying in the population where even a tiny island, Kaua’i, has to have its own ONCOLOGY (cancer) building in LIHUE.

    Petrochemicals cause cancer, and they are known to be also much of the cause of poisoning the world’s air, water, and land; as well as the humans (cancers),and now honey.

    Thank you for your opinion, but many of us wonder why some scientists don’t DEFEND life and health, is it really just the wages?



    1. Just Saying September 4, 2018 4:03 am Reply

      Petrochemicals sound soooooo scary to Charlie!

      Glyphosate is organic; and can also play the piano!

  2. Joan Conrow September 3, 2018 5:43 am Reply

    The study author, Carl Berg, has bragged of cultivating relationships with TGI environment reporters, including Jessica, so that they print whatever he gives them without question. This may serve Carl and his agenda, but not the reading public.

    Carl also has publicly stated his desire to get glyphosate banned, so it really does raise concerns about his credibility in conducting this study.

  3. Rk669 September 3, 2018 6:58 am Reply

    Real and Truthfull Facts are very Important! The Bible says that the Simple Believe Anything!

  4. manawai September 3, 2018 8:10 am Reply

    Wow! Well said, Janet! Thank you for giving us this important unbiased information.

  5. Reverend Malama Robinson September 3, 2018 8:27 am Reply


  6. scientificLiteracy September 3, 2018 9:37 am Reply

    Thank You, Janet…and very well said and researched. Scientific illiteracy abounds, and according to an NSF study in 2012, 1 on 4 Americans believe that the sun revolves around the earth! I am hopeful that this ratio has improved in 6 years, however I am not optimistic! It has probably not improved at all for writers, and other “click baity” reporters who would rather cause a stir, and panic misrepresenting “scientific” studies. There is no substantial evidence that glyphosphate causes cancer. All evidence for this link is weak. At cancer.org, they have reported that Non Hodgkin’s lymphoma is one of the most common cancers in the US. our odds of developing this type of cancer is 1 in 47. Additionally,you can not prevent this type of lymphoma. It is also important to note that risk factors are not definitive in determining if you will get cancer. If this was the case, every single person who smokes cigarettes would get cancer. The general public is regularly educated on the risks of smoking, but they are not really “educated” on what risk factors actually mean. An “increased risk” does not mean you will get cancer from said risk, it means your percentage has slightly gone up. The European Chemicals agency says that glyphosphate should not be listed as carcinogenic as it is not carcinogenic at levels routinely encountered. The IARC says it is “probably carcinogenic” in a 2015 report. There is an issue with the IARC, though… They left out studies in their report showing glyphosphate is not carcinogenic. The EPA states that glyphosphate is not likely carcinogenic in their report of their findings. One of the largest studies performed (Agricultural Health Study) involving 89,000 families to determine health effects of herbicides on farmers…found no link of glyphosphate and cancer. In 2017, the UN and the World Health Organization presented a joint report stating “Glyphosate is unlikely to pose a carcinogenic risk to humans by food intake.” I would also strongly suggest to TGI that they adhere to higher journalistic standards, rather that incite fear and uncertainty through their newspaper : the residents of Kauai have had enough of this type of political chicanery for the past 5-6 years. It only serves those who propagate this “scientific illiteracy”, and “poison” Kauai’s ability to support a thriving AG community even further than it has been already.

  7. truth be known September 3, 2018 12:44 pm Reply

    So Ms. Nelsen, how much did Monsanto/Bayer pay you to submit this story? I would suggest that the beekeepers sue Monsanto for killing their bees. Perhaps they too could be awarded $289,000,000.00 in damages like the case in California. That “bee sting” might get their attention!

    1. Just Saying September 3, 2018 10:10 pm Reply

      Since you brought it up, why don’t you consider how much it would take to risk ruining your professional reputation and future and everything your years of student loan payments brought you, then multiply that by the thousands of scientists that make the scientific consensus favoring Monsanto, then tell us how a moderately sized corporation, that is publicly traded and is now a subsidiary of Bayer maintains a bribery slush fund larger than it’s annual profits and hides it from it’s stockholders and from Bayer. How do they do that? Huh? How? Inquiring minds want to know how that’s done! What’s that? You didn’t think of those kind of things when you were taking your cheap shot? What a surprise!

    2. LMat September 4, 2018 9:38 am Reply

      Obligatory “credible scientist bought out by Monsanto” post embedded in a “I’m too ignorant to counter actual science with anything but accusations” post.

  8. Gary Mack September 3, 2018 2:11 pm Reply

    I understand your beef with the article not citing sources. Your article had no better information to offer. If you really think the study was based on bad science you could have researched the study and enlightened as to why you make that claim. It took me less than one minute on google to find this article on the study. Please read it over and write a letter or (guest opinion) to the editor of what you think is wrong with the study after reading it.

    1. Joan Conrow September 4, 2018 3:08 pm Reply

      You’re missing the point of her letter, Gary. It wasn’t to critique the study but criticize the paper’s low standards, as evidenced further by its lousy headline choice here. A more accurate one would have been “Honey expose” failed readers with poor reporting.

  9. Icee Erras September 3, 2018 5:50 pm Reply

    Sadly, too many in the media are biased and lack the good common sense to report either objectively or factually. Scientists frequently disagree with organizations they work for, how they differ from many of the haters posting here is that they try to think logically rather than emotionally about the information confronting them. That is why we are experiencing such intense and bitter acrimony today; too many people are thinking and acting based purely on emotion. Chimknee’s post is a perfect example, he (she) doesn’t think logically, just blatantly attacks, positing one stupid and pointless assumption after another. That person’s comments are the perfect example of why our society has degenerated beyond hope.

  10. manawai September 4, 2018 7:57 am Reply

    Yes, truth be known. Saying they’re being paid off is ALL you have when the facts don’t meet your unfounded, irrational and incorrect view of this issue.

  11. David Gardener September 4, 2018 1:07 pm Reply

    Robust commentary here with the familiar corporate shills piling on to discredit the local “scientists” who made the collections and sounded the alarm.

    Thanks to Charlie Chimknee for his reasonable challenge to the attackers that if they don’t think the “study” was legitimate or accurate that instead of criticizing it for being amateurish, they should do their own more rigorous study and see what the “real” results would be.

    Personally, I am grateful for the amateur’s efforts as I believe it is a corporately perpetrated lie that there is any such thing as a “safe ppm amount” of poison. No thank you. Not buying it.

    It’s plausible to me to believe that those who performed the study were able to research and apply detection methods that would confirm the presence of Glyphosate in the honey. Maybe it didn’t accurately measure the parts per million but so what?

    Do I want the honey with the poison or do I want the honey without? That’s a no brainer.

    Thanks to those that supplied more scholarly responses than I to this obvious hit piece and yes, I wouldn’t be surprised in the least if there were an untraceable financial remuneration involved as this has previously been shown to be the case by investigative reporters back in the day of the red shirts and blue shirts on this island.

    1. Just Saying September 5, 2018 2:50 pm Reply

      The study refuses to name your so called “local ‘scientists’ who made the collections;” but earlier TGI articles reveal it to be James Trujillo, a mouth frothing activist beekeeper with no scientific background.

    2. Joan Conrow September 7, 2018 6:27 am Reply

      David, the only “untraceable financial remuneration” ever reported during the days of the red and blue shirts was documented by me, on my blog, and it showed the antis were getting substantial financial contributions from mainland organizations and foundations with an anti-GMO agenda. They included payments to Jen Ruggles, who was working as an operative for Pesticide Action Network while pretending to be a Kauai resident and political neophyte.
      And please, spare us the tired “corporate shill” rhetoric. It reeks of desperation by those who are unable to formulate a thoughtful response.

  12. truth be known September 4, 2018 2:27 pm Reply

    Thank you Gary Mack for providing us with the link to the actual report. I don’t think there will be a rebuttal to your post as the facts speak for themselves.
    As for manawai’s comment, how much money do you receive? Share with us your relationship to the chemical companies if you will.
    As for Just Saying’s comment, I would imagine, as the tide turns against Monsanto, the scientists who were so eager to jump on the chemical bandwagon are probably worried about their scientific reputation.

    1. Just Saying September 5, 2018 2:44 pm Reply

      In other words, YOU DON”T KNOW how a moderately sized corporation, that is publicly traded and is now a subsidiary of Bayer maintains a bribery slush fund larger than it’s annual profits and hides it from it’s stockholders and from Bayer. Gee, what a surprise!

      When you look at the “study,” start with the map. Only four hives were sampled West of Hanapepe, did not reveal the “expected” results, yet major conclusions about Westside Ag are made counter to their own findings. That’s the most IDIOTIC junk I’ve seen outside white trash trump’s White House! The study won’t reveal the “collector’s name; but, earlier TGI article reveal it to be James Trullijo, a mouth frothing activist beekeeper with no scientific background.

      You’re running soley on emotion just like every tiny fingered fist in the air at each and every white trash trump rally!

      1. correction September 5, 2018 2:51 pm Reply

        that should be “Trujillo”

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