Interview with Sadhu Govardhan
Q: Puerto Rico just escaped one of the
most dangerous islandwide insecticide application in its history.
The plan to fumigate the entire island with the highly toxic and
ecologically devastating insecticide Naled was only proposed by a
handful of people with vested interests and it was rightfully
opposed by millions of people, including the vast majority of local
scientists and activists who realized the danger immediately.
In my last interview, you predicted that
the local Governor, Alejandro Garcia Padilla, would not care to
admit his serious mistake and would only consult the people who
recommended the nationwide fumigation in the first place: Tom
Frieden (CDC/U.S.), Gina McCarthy (EPA / U.S.), Myrna Comas
(Secretary of Agriculture / P.R.) and Ana Rius (Secretary of Health
How do you feel now about what just
SADHU GOVARDHAN: Although I am glad that the planned environmental
crime against the island was prevented, it is still shocking to see those few
people who were responsible for planning the act, were not held responsible
for it. All the people you just mentioned, are still in office, still don't
understand the issue at hand and are still in complete denial of the fact that they
were determined to commit a horrendous crime.
As long as we
have incompetent and corrupt leaders, these type of attacks against the
environment and people are bound to happen again. Unqualified leaders are
simply not capable of making intelligent and beneficial decisions.
Q: What happened
with the 25,000 pounds of Naled that are still in Puerto Rico?
SADHU GOVARDHAN: No one is taking responsibility
for having ordered it.
The official version is that it was "just sent to a
private company in Puerto Rico", and that the shipment was never inspected by
anyone when it entered the island. The government claims that it knew
nothing about it, which can obviously not be true - and if
its true, just highlights their incompetence. Secondly, the private company, that
received the shipment, refuses to make any public statements.
Even if anyone
tried hard, he could hardly come up with such an amount of lies. The case
has been sent to court, which may or may not mean that we will ever find
out the truth. As of the latest newspaper report, the toxins have been sent
back to Florida.
Q: Who was the
SADHU GOVARDHAN: The sender was the CDC, who claims that they sent 25,000 pounds "just
in case Puerto Rico wants to use them". They also sent BTi (Bacillus
thuringiensis var. israelensis) along, for the same purpose.
Q: The latest
statement by the Governor was that they want to keep the BTi.
GOVARDHAN: First, the BTi is in the hands of a private company, so how can
the government keep it? The next question is: what does the government
really know about BTi? They have already proven that they knew nothing
about Naled, or they did, and they didn't care about its dangerous effects.
Q: Aren't there
numerous studies about BTi and its global use for decades?
GOVARDHAN: Yes, hundreds of studies have been carried out, but all the
critical studies have been dismissed. There are plenty of critical studies
about the environmental effects of BTi and they should be researched before
using it in Puerto Rico.
Q: What would be
some of the concerns by scientists about BTi?
GOVARDHAN: The effects of commercial products of BTi on non-target
organisms are becoming an increasing matter of debate and controversy. Most
of the tests conducted in well-known studies have not been carried out in
the field, but in isolated, artificial environments. Neither the primary
nor secondary causes in nature are fully understood yet. Eco-systems are
highly complex and it requires long-term studies to understand all the
effects of an insecticide. Many so-called pests have extremely important
functions in nature, that are largely not yet fully understood. Once an eco
system breaks down because of human intervention and manipulation, it is
do know is that the toxicity of BTi does affect non target species, such
as Leptodactylus latran (a South American frog species) tadpoles. When
the tadpoles were exposed to nominal concentrations of BTi, it led
to abnormalities. In higher dosages the result was 100% mortality after two days of
There are also
other non-target organisms that are negatively affected by BTi. An
interesting study conducted at the University of Vienna, Austria, concluded
that the assumption that only target organisms (culicid larvae) are
affected, cannot be supported, as varying concentrations and combinations
of these proteins change the effect on different insect larvae and other
organisms. In short, the ecotoxicological risk of massive use of BTi
formulations on amphibian populations is much higher than many of the early
Q: So, what's the
solution to our mosquito problem then?
SADHU GOVARDHAN: As I tried to explain before, and I have been
trying to explain for a long time already: the problem is not the mosquitoes.
Increased mosquito populations are a symptom of the problem, but not the cause of
the problem. The real problem is the reckless environmental manipulation
and destruction by humans. So called pests that get out of control are the direct
result of abuses against nature. All animals have natural predators, and
once the natural predators are taken out of the picture, species that
we call "pests" get out of control.
therefore important to not lose sight of the bigger picture and understand
that all living organisms are interconnected in a fascinating web of life.
Once we compromise even the smallest particle within an eco system, the ripple effects can destroy the entire
Even from a
biologial control perspective, there are more accurate target controls than
BTi. As I mentioned in my last interview, a good example would be pheromone
main natural predators of mosquitoes are bats, dragonflies and birds,
specifically waterfowl, swallows and purple martins. There are countless fish
species that feast on mosquito larvae. Instead of protecting these species,
we are killing them by the hundreds of millions. Naturally, this has
lead to mosquito explosions. If we had secured the presevation of all these
natural predators, we would have never had a mosquito problem in the first
Q: What do you think
is the best way to deal with these kind of matters (prevention of pests and
diseases) now and in the future?
"Prevention" is the key word here. If we want to prevent
outbreaks of anything dangerous, we have to change our way of thinking and
living. We have to return to a way of life that is respectful of nature. On
one hand, we are producing millions of pounds of toxic trash every single
day, on the other hand, we are surprised whenever there are repercussions.
Although we have government agencies that talk about health and
agriculture, these same departments openly promote denatured, horrible
foods and staggering amount of toxic agro-chemicals.
think its time to detoxify the island: ban all toxic substances that harm
people and the environment.
Q: This sounds good
and logical but how do you want to implement that?
GOVARDHAN: We know by now, that our government has not only failed to do
that, it has never shown even the slightest interest to look for healthy,
natural solutions. For that reason, I think that our only chance to prevent
criminal scandals like the attempted Naled fumigation, is to establish a
board of independent, ecologically conscious local experts, who should be
charge in making nationwide decisions related to our land and the heath of
As the saying
goes, where there's a will, there is always a way. I don't think it is
difficult at all to identify all the toxins that we have in the island, and
then ban them one by one. I know many free thinking, concerned people in
the private sector as well as those teaching at Universities around the
island, who are qualified and
willing to contribute to a better future for Puerto Rico.
Q: So, you are
proposing a panel of non-political experts to deal with all specialized
issues that are related to our eco system and health?
SADHU GOVARDHAN: Yes. Who else is
qualified to make these decisions? The panel has to consist of people
who are not bribed by various industries (like Big Ag, Big Pharma) and who
are not influenced by political propaganda. This would be the best
investment we can make for Puerto Rico. If we don't do this, the ship will
continue to sink and we will continue to have one Naled scandal after the
I know that we have qualified people here, who are
also standing out as humans. Look at the people who sacrificed so
much time and energy to fight Naled. I mentioned just a few of them
in my last interview (http://www.organicfarm.net/Article_Naled_Assault.htm),
but there are hundreds that would qualify and deserve to be on such
Q: How can the
establishment of such a panel be put into practice?
SADHU GOVARDHAN: We have two options now: we can either all go back to
sleep just to find out that we will wake up in yet another nightmare soon, or
we can get together and demand that these much required changes
be implemented one by one. Naled was just the symptom of a bigger problem. If we
don't tackle it now, it will not go away and it will get a lot worse.
If we want a future at all, we have to demand these
changes, and we have to set examples in our own lives by staying
away from everything toxic whether it be dangerous foods,
herbicides, pesticides, toxic trash, or even toxic qualities like
greed, envy, selfishness, arrogance or complete indifference to the
sanctity of life.
Copyright by Sadhu Govardhan, July 2016