The toxic mix of misinformation and hysteria that Barbara Kelley and Kim Kaufman presented in their Sept. 6 guest viewpoint does a disservice to science and residents of the Triangle Lake-Highway 36 area.
Unlike many who complain about the use of the herbicides Atrazine and 2,4-D in the area’s forest lands, we actually live and work in the area. Nobody is more concerned about safety than we are, but those concerns need to be based on science and transparency rather than on emotion, ideology and anecdotes. We want to know if there is Atrazine and 2,4-D in the bodies of the Highway 36 area’s residents at levels even approaching those that would have a significant effect on human health and, if so, what has caused this.
Despite Kelley’s and Kaufman’s claims, here’s what we, in fact, know so far. Some residents claim to become sick in the aftermath of aerial spraying of these chemicals, and some residents have provided urine samples to a researcher who has allegedly confirmed the presence of Atrazine and 2,4-D in these samples. But just as many others who live and work in the area say they’ve never been sick after aerial spraying.
Another fact is that no disinterested third party — not state or federal officials, not the media — have had access to the sample results that Kelley, Kaufman and the anti-pesticide activists publicize. Nobody has seen the research protocols and chain of custody in the samples that led to these claims.
In April, the head of a forest dweller group promised publicly to turn over the data and protocols. Since then, however, he has refused to do so, first telling KVAL-TV that it was his decision to make and then telling state agencies he couldn’t because a class-action lawsuit may be in the works. Our message to Kelley, Kaufman and company: Show us all the data and allow the science to speak for itself!
Many of the silent majority in the Triangle Lake-Highway 36 area are cooperating with the investigation by the Oregon Health Authority despite concerns about the lack of transparency regarding the initial sampling that triggered the OHA investigation and about the apparent protocols for the OHA’s sample collection. Our bottom line: Use a process with verifiable scientific integrity, and tell us what the science shows. Don’t hide it from the people who live and work here.
Along this line, the credibility of Kelley, Kaufman and the forest dweller group is suspect, and not simply because they won’t show us the data. They’re against all pesticide and chemical use, and their clearly stated goals are to repeal the Right to Forest Act and to change the Oregon Forest Practices Act to end the use of all pesticides, not just herbicides. They’re really anti-science.
“We don’t need to test. We just need to get rid of these chemicals,” one forest dweller member said at the July 14 Triangle Lake Grange on the state study. You can understand the appeal to emotion rather than science, when you consider that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, after reviewing thousands of peer-reviewed studies, recertified both Atrazine and 2,4-D for use a fact that Kelley and Kaufman neglected to mention in their Sept. 6 column.
Jason Klemp and Meleah Drago are residents of Blachly.