I once read that fear is a darkroom where negatives develop. One only has to pick up a magazine or newspaper to find that fear in so many articles. Fear sells. Fear of wrinkles sells beauty products, fear of being stranded sells roadside assistance, fear of burglary sells home security systems. Agriculture is no stranger to this fear either. Fear of pesticides push people to buy organic, and fear of the unknown causes people to reach for the “non-GMO” label.
Some fear is good. It warns of danger and can help keep us safe. But there are very few monsters who warrant the fear we have of them. Take for example dihydrogen monoxide (DHMO). Perhaps you’ve heard of it: It’s colorless, odorless, tasteless and kills uncounted thousands of people every year.
It has a pH level of 7, and is a main component of acid rain. It is deliberately sprayed on organic crops. It is dumped into rivers by big companies and never degrades. It corrodes metal. It is used as a cleaning agent in mortuaries. Water bottles stored on shelves longer than a month have been found to have high levels of it. It is used in industrial solvents, nuclear power production, as well as an ingredient in most baby foods.
Each year, dihydrogen monoxide is a major contributor to millions of dollars in damage to property and the environment — most recently affecting Texas. Contamination has reached epidemic proportions. Quantities of dihydrogen monoxide have been found in almost every stream, lake and reservoir in America. The pollution is global, and the contaminant has even been found in Antarctic ice.
Prolonged exposure to its solid form causes severe tissue damage. Symptoms of ingestion can include excessive sweating and urination, and possibly a bloated feeling, nausea, vomiting and body electrolyte imbalance. It has addictive qualities, and for those who have become dependent, DHMO withdrawal means certain death — 100 percent of all people exposed to DHMO will eventually die. Afraid yet?
The government has refused to ban the production or distribution of this chemical due to its “importance to the economic health of this nation.” Several individuals have tried petitioning for bans.
One of whom was 14-year-old student Nathan Zohner of Idaho. He actually had more than 85 percent of his classmates sign the ban for eliminating DHMO. For which he won first place in his science fair and actually had a term coined after him. “Zohnerism,” wrote journalist James Glassman, “(is to) refer to the use of a true fact to lead a scientifically and mathematically ignorant public to a false conclusion.”
For what is dihydrogen monoxide? It is two hydrogen molecules, and one oxygen — in other words, H2O. Water. All of those facts were about water. Are they facts? Absolutely. And there are more. Starbucks serves thermally agitated dihydrogen monoxide in many of their beverages, and it may cause burns if it contacts skin. Hot water can burn.
Prolonged exposure to solid DHMO causes severe tissue damage. Frost bite. Gaseous DHMO can cause severe burns. Steam is hot. All of this is factual. But it’s silly once one realizes DHMO is just water. And if all of that could be said about water, what else are we letting fear scare us from?
One of my favorite acronyms for FEAR is “False Evidence Appearing Real.” Before becoming afraid of food — whether you choose to eat organic or go GMO — take a moment to see behind the “facts.” Who’s feeding the fear? What is their agenda? Make your decision to continue to use DHMO or not based on your knowledge and common sense — not just what your neighbor does or what you see on TV.
Just parroting your neighbor can have dire consequences, as the second man discovered. A man walks into a bar and orders H2O. A second man says “I’ll have H2O too.” The second man dies.
(H2O2 is the chemical equation for hydrogen peroxide.)
Brianna Walker occasionally writes about the Farmer’s Fate for the Blue Mountain Eagle.