Whether you are an occasional or frequent traveler to Puerto Rico, have never been but are considering visiting the island or you live here, you’ve no doubt heard or read about the Zika virus.
If you’re a fan of mainstream media, you have probably read that it is a dangerous virus that poses all sorts of threats, in particular to pregnant women.
Less discussed or published in mainstream media, but more concerning is the method the United States has (since February 2016) been using to eradicate Zika. As is so often the case with anything that is of major importance to those of us living on the U.S.’s colony island, we’re only recently catching wind of this.
Along with my husband, Paul, I live on a farm that is eco-organic. We are working toward self-sustainability. I have talked with other organic farmers and residents on the island who strive to eat healthy and they all share my concerns.
I sat down with Sadhu Govardhan of Govardhan Gardens to get his take on all of this. If you know Sadhu even a little bit and you follow his website, you won’t be surprised to know that he was very forthcoming.
Before I get into the interview with Sadhu, I’d like to tell you a little about him so you understand why I asked him to talk about this important issue.
Sadhu Govardhan is the author of Oro Verde - Securing the Future of our Food. He lives in Puerto Rico and works as agricultural consultant in Puerto Rico and surrounding islands. He is the first person in the Caribbean who has worked with over 500 tropical fruit crops, as well as hundreds of bamboo, vegetable and herb species.
What is your understanding about both Zika and Naled—the pesticide currently being sprayed over the island to prevent Zika?
Zika is spread by the Aedes mosquitoes. The virus can cause fever, rash, joint pain and conjunctivitis for up to seven days. 80 percent of infected people usually show no symptoms. The 20 percent of people who are infected (primarily because of a weakened immune system) show the symptoms described above, and nothing more. Once a person has been infected by this virus, he or she is likely to be immune to it in the future.
- “Many people infected with Zika virus won’t have symptoms or will only have mild symptoms. The most common symptoms of Zika are fever, rash, joint pain, or conjunctivitis (red eyes). Other common symptoms include muscle pain and headache.
- The incubation period (the time from exposure to symptoms) for Zika virus disease is not known, but is likely to be a few days to a week.
- See your doctor or other healthcare provider if you are pregnant and develop a fever, rash, joint pain, or red eyes within two weeks after traveling to an area with Zika. Be sure to tell your doctor or other healthcare provider where you traveled.
- The illness is usually mild with symptoms lasting for several days to a week.
- People usually don’t get sick enough to go to the hospital, and they very rarely die of Zika. For this reason, many people might not realize they have been infected.
- Zika virus usually remains in the blood of an infected person for about a week but it can be found longer in some people.
- Once a person has been infected, he or she is likely to be protected from future infections.”
- Difficulty breathing, bronchospasm, uncontrollable coughing, even severe respiratory distress
- Gastrointestinal problems, such as nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain and cramping, diarrhea
- Blurred vision, watery eyes, permanent or long-lasting constricted pupils
- Excessive sweating
Some of the more serious side effects are:
- Thyroid, breast and ovarian cancers
- Leukemia, colon, esophageal and kidney cancers
SR: How is Naled used to kill Zika-causing mosquitoes? And further, what are the effects on our eco-system?
SG: The most common and worst application of Naled is aerial because its toxicity increases up to 20-fold this way and it can drift up to 1/2-mile. Naled has been found to be highly toxic for fish, birds and beneficial insects, especially bees.
Unlike most other insecticides, Naled even interferes with the photosynthesis of plants and therefore causes damage in our flora. Breathing in Naled has been found the most dangerous form of ingestion. The toxocity of Naled can persist up to several days. In short, the toxic, acute and chronic, long-term effects of Naled on humans and nature are horrendous—by far worse than the virus it is used to prevent.
What adds insult to injury is that research conducted by the New York Department of Health showed that Naled spraying only achieved short-term reductions in mosquito population, but that these populations increased 15-fold over the 11 years of spraying that had been conducted.
SR: Are you aware which farms have been sprayed with Naled?
SG: No. But what I do know is that according to the EPA website, 14 still undisclosed sites in Puerto Rico were secretly fumigated during February and March of 2016. The EPA says they intend to lay out a plan of where they will spray. Regardless this still goes against the will of the people.
SR: In your opinion, what is the purpose behind spraying the whole island with Naled?
SG: This question is simple to answer: Profits! Enormous profits. Here is the usual way wide spread panic about a new dangerous virus is started: the pharmaceutical / biotech industries make sure that the rumor of a new, extremely dangerous virus or disease exists, and if not controlled, it could kill millions. Images abound throughout mainstream media of the same few cases, along with quotes from supposedly reputable sources using words like epidemic, risk of serious illness, etc. to corroborate the claims. These sound bites may come from doctors, researchers or a spokesperson at a government agency, and without a shred of solid scientific evidence, the hysteria has preyed on people's worst fears—en masse.
This is done on a regular basis, so that the resulting income from vaccinations keeps coming. In the last few years, we have heard about the Asian Flu Swine Flu, the Bird Flu, measles, and now more recently the Zika virus. They all have one thing in common: they are in the news overnight, the panic spread by the media causes millions to buy a worthless and often dangerous vaccine, and a few weeks later, you don't hear a word about them anymore. At the end of the day, the pharmaceutical industry has made hundreds of millions of dollars.
What makes matters worse is that there is increasing evidence that new viruses are not only made up scares, they are a form of bioterrorism carried out by the biotech industry. You’ll notice articles containing quotes and statistics cited by doctors and the CDC are usually vague but filled with hysteria, which is why pregnant women are told about the risks—fear of birth defects will get an expectant mother to submit to just about anything.
In the case of Zika, there isn't a shred of solid evidence to prove a correlation between and Zika. A paper was published in the New England Journal of Medicine whose conclusions are very flimsy. And now it makes sense why. The New England Journal of Medicine has a history of being bought off by big Pharma so their "research" slants toward the outcomes needed to support claims of safety and efficacy. So the only bit of evidence that suggests a correlation between Zika and microcephaly can be called into question. Unfortunately for the uninformed, it's enough to create hysteria.
So clearly the hysteria and flimsy evidence are disproportionate to the actual numbers of cases and the severity of symptoms. If 80 percent of those who are infected with Zika show zero symptoms and the remaining 20 percent have symptoms what is tantamount to the flu (fevers, aches, a rash, conjunctivitis and joint pain), forgive me but I fail to see the justification for using a pesticide that has been banned in so many countries because it has been proven to cause cancer, cardiovascular incidents, convulsion, coma and other serious illnesses.
Corporations like Monsanto live and thrive by producing toxic chemicals that are globally used. They have absolutely no moral compass and they are ready to harm or kill any amount of people, no matter who they are.
The original idea to spray Puerto Rico with Naled, an environmentally devastating insecticide that is restricted and/or banned in most the EU, Canada, Japan and several African countries, came from government officials in the U.S.
Puerto Rico is a haven for pharmaceutical and biotech corporations who can work here without any oversight. They generally don't pay a cent of taxes here, but in order to modify various laws, they do bribe our local politicians and feed them with false propaganda. As a result, the Zika virus scare and spraying of Naled was promoted by our government in general, and particularly by our State Epidemiologist, Johnny Rullan, Secretary of Health, Ana Rius, Secretary of Agriculture, Myrna Comas and Head of the Department of Natural Resources, Carmen Guerrero. Frankly, they should all be forced to resign for the crime of harming the people, flora and fauna of this island.
It is a tragic fact that we have a history—or more accurately—a historical tradition of experiments being conducted on Puerto Ricans over the past 100+ years. For anyone who wants to have a deeper understanding of the history of this island, I would strongly recommend to study Denis Nelson's bestselling book War Against All Puerto Ricans.
It's an excellent summary of what has been done to the colony over the past century.
SR: How do the people of Puerto Rico react to the spraying of the island?
SG: As with so much that goes on here, the masses are well be kept in the dark and the media will make sure that they misunderstand the issue as much as possible. The self-educated and free thinking part of society, however, have reacted very strongly to this crime.
Seeing how much reaction this latest government crime has caused, there is at least a silver lining of hope here: this issue has united many activists, government watchdogs and environmental groups. It has served as a reminder that toxic experiments are still conducted on a regular basis on the people of this island, and that it is imperative for the people of Puerto Rico to closely monitor their government, as well as the corporations that are poisoning our land.
So far, we had some demonstrations around the island, as well as some positive newspaper coverage. We heard excellent statements and testimonials by many professionals and activists. Some include Victor Ramos, M.D., president of Puerto Rico Surgeons and Physicians Assocation;
Fernando Cabanillas, M.D., an oncologist who practices at the Hospital Espanol Auxilio Mutuo De Puerto Rico and is a professor at The University of Texas, M.D. Anderson; a beloved actress and TV producer on the island and Silvia Gomez, an environmental journalist with Telemundo.
More people, however, are needed to stand up and help to expose our government for its assault on the island.
SR: What science was used to back the decision to spray the island? Has this been done in other countries?
SG: Absolutely no science was used to back the illegal decision to spray the island. It has been done behind the backs of our people, and we only found out at the beginning of July (2016).
Our politicians just blindly accepted one-sided, Naled propaganda and made sure to please their friends, allies and donors of the biotech and pharmaceutical industry.
SR: Do you know of any Zika research findings in other parts of the world? Why is Zika considered to be so dangerous by most people?
SG: Yes. Studies have been conducted since 1952, especially in Africa, Asia, South and Central America.
The main reason why Zika is considered to be dangerous is a simple lie that has been spread: that it is linked to microcephaly (small head and incomplete brain development). This is a genetic anomaly that is primarily caused by malnutrition and chemical toxins (such as Naled) in the womb. For more detail, please see this article. In other words, the culprit in this case is not a mosquito but primarily toxic agrochemicals and malnutrition. There is no evidence whatsoever, that the Zika virus has ever caused a single case of microcephaly.
Despite decades of studies that never linked Zika to microcephaly, the World Health Organization systematically spreads propaganda that leads to worldwide fears—and untold numbers of completely unnecessary vaccinations—which means more profit for big Pharma.
This begs the question of who is funding and controlling the WHO. Officially, the WHO claims to be mostly funded by governments, but there are countless examples that show a vested interest by the WHO to support the pharmaceutical industry.
Just a few months ago, President Obama announced that $1.8 billion should be spent on a vaccine to prevent microcephaly. Neither our governments nor so-called independent organizations like the WHO have even the slightest interest in studying the cause and effect of the Zika virus: their only interest is to give more money to the pharmaceutical industry to produce new vaccines. This is essentially a case of one hand washing the another: the pharmaceutical and biotech industries fund political campaigns and to return the favor, money is then later on funneled back to them.
One of the largest Zika infections in history was in Argentina: about 75 percent of the population were infected with the virus, but according to the Argentine's Physicians Organization, "not a single case was directly linked to birth defects." Another interesting fact: Colombia (where the Zika virus is similarly common) has not reported any microcephaly cases yet. In other words, the microcephaly-Zika virus link is not just a myth; it’s a straight out lie.
SR: What alternatives are there for combating the Zika virus?
SG: Since mosquitoes can and do transmit other, actually serious viruses, the issue is partially one of mosquito control. And yes, there are indeed very effective natural and safe means of mosquito control. One of them is a completely safe mosquito egg pheromone trap: the mosquitoes are trapped by the pheromone and drown in water. This has been used widely around tropical regions and found to be quite effective.
The most natural control, however, are natural predators like bats and birds (primarily swallows): bats can eat up to 1,000 mosquitoes per hour, and swallows can eat their own body weight in mosquitoes per day. Unfortunately, both bats and birds are decimated by the use of agrochemicals and insecticides like Naled.
We just had a survey done by some ornithologists from Missouri at the Guanica State Forest this year, and they concluded that we have a 66 percent decline of warblers over the past 20 years in Puerto Rico. We also lost a very high percentage of grass birds, like some of the munias, for example, because of the intensive use of pesticides and herbicides produced by the biotech industry (needless to say that Monsanto always plays a leading role), promoted by our Department of Agriculture.
In other words, we are systematically decimating bat and bird populations and then we act surprised if mosquitoes become a plague. The real issue here is not Zika or the mosquitoes but the recklessness of humans who contribute to the destruction of our environment.
SR: What do you think will happen next regarding the spraying of Naled in Puerto Rico?
SG: I think that the government will try to push on by any means necessary. The Governor will most likely claim that he will do so "by the advice of experts" and the "experts" he will consult will be the same people who recommended the use of Naled in the first place.
SR: Zika has been an issue for many years. Why has it started to spread suddenly?
SG: In my opinion, it was simply about time to try and make some giant profits using this virus in our region. Puerto Rico is a vulnerable island and therefore a continuous target for various assaults and experiments.
People have to understand that this is a continuous strategy: every year there will be a new scare, a new threat and people will be asked or at one point even be forced, to buy a new vaccine or spray a new chemical. If there's no convenient virus around to use, it’s extremely easy for the biotech industry to create one. After all, who can or will stop them? The corporate media that lives off of them? The politicians whose pockets are lined by them?
I think it’s time for people to understand that we live in society that is controlled by a few at the expense of the vast majority of people and the planet in general. All we have to fight back. Corporations can literally match every $1 we spend fighting them, with easily $10,000. So, monetarily we have only 1/10,000 a chance to fight them (and a judicial system that may or may not be just). But if the vast majority of us stands up and exposes the atrocities committed by thieves and murderers in the garb of leaders in society, we have a very good chance to turn the wheel around and save the planet as well as ourselves and future generations.
© Sadhu Govardhan and Sarah Ratliff, July 2016