Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Big Sugar's Toxic Mercury Connection ... by gimleteye

It is not a secret that toxic mercury is pervasive in South Florida nor its causes, including the conversion of a non-toxic form of mercury into the lethal form through the introduction of fertilizer and sulfur laden runoff from sugar fields into the Everglades.

Toxic mercury makes people stupid. It can cause cancer, and is especially dangerous for fetuses and early childhood development.

Nor is it a secret that the State of Florida, defending billionaires, has taken extraordinary steps over decades to assure its ass is covered so that liability issues never exactly rise to the surface with respect to mercury and its link to water management practices that primarily serve Big Sugar.

Recently, FIU ventured the following: "FIU scientists examined dolphins from the lower Florida Keys, Everglades National Park and Florida Bay, looking for mercury and organic pollutants in their skin and blubber. Not only did they find high mercury levels in the coastal Everglades dolphins, but they found the highest levels of concentration ever recorded. Potential sources of mercury are both natural and from man-made sources. The finding raises concerns about potential impacts on the health of local populations."

Not a word, anywhere, about Big Sugar. Just "man-made sources". Like the bumper sticker says, if you are not outraged you are not paying attention.

For Big Sugar, it is always someone else’s fault: dairy and cattle ranches upstream or municipalities and coastal sprawl spreading inland from the coasts. Except for Big Sugar’s intransigence, there would be land enough to cleanse and store the millions of acre feet of water that are periodically pulsing into the Everglades and estuaries; fouling both. Florida’s waters are such a mess one wonders if God hasn’t reached down in exasperation of paradise lost and with His Thumb smudged out the value of homes and real estate values because of water pollution. As though that weren’t enough, toxic algae blooms — even flesh-eating bacteria — are proliferating in waterways contaminated by agricultural runoff. Sugar’s response; you can’t prove it has anything to do with us. The entire governmental investment for Everglades restoration, spending billions of taxpayer moneys and hundreds of thousands of agency hours in the multi-decadal effort, is a work-around of Big Sugar. ("The Lethal Costs of Big Sugar: Sweet Poison", Alan Farago, Counterpunch, August 22, 2014)

Let's see if a Republican state legislature, led by Senate President Joe Negron, can set Florida on a path away from the lies and misdirection of the sugar industry all designed to one purpose; to protect their profits.

A fair and equitable democracy would evaluate a threat like toxic mercury in concentrations measured as the highest in the world and act to protect its citizens. So would communities of faith and moral righteousness that make protection of the unborn their highest priority. How about this: we really save the children from mercury in Florida.

For Republican voters in Florida and Donald Trump supporters: is it too much for you to ask your legislators: why haven't you acted to support tough, numeric standards on sulfur/ sulfates used in farming practices to prevent mercury build-up in organisms? If it is not to much to ask, why has the GOP been silent for the past thirty years?

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