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Wednesday 14 August 2013

Let them die to maintain the hegemony of western science - II

Prof. Thattil in his opinion expressed in “The Island” of 2nd August 2013 states: “Government policy with regard to the problem should not be based on half baked studies and flimsy conclusions. Is reduced use of fertilizer and agrochemicals going to solve the problem ? Fertilizer and agrochemicals are used in all parts of the Island. If then, why is CKDu predominantly present only in the North Central Province ? There may be many other factors involved. The genetic factor and its interactions with other variables have not been studies at all. There are those who swear that rice contains unacceptable levels of heavy metals whose source is the fertilizer and agrochemicals applied to rice. But, they eat the same rice that is eaten by the farmers of the NCP and have no problems! The WHO quite clearly states that Cadmium levels in rice is less than allowable limits.”

As an academic Prof. Thattil should have gone through the literature (what is usually known as a literature survey in so called courses on research methodology taught to postgraduate students and some undergraduates) on the Agrochemical Chronic Kidney Disease (ACKD), before attempting to express his opinion in a national newspaper. I reckon that writing to national newspapers is more important than writing so called research papers in “reputed international journals” as usually more people are bound to take an interest in newspaper articles. Further the editors of newspapers do not have the luxury of employing referees to review the articles, and hence the author of a newspaper article has more responsibility in getting his facts correct especially regarding material published already. Though the academics do not have much respect for articles published in newspapers, it does not mean that the academics can publish in newspapers without presenting the facts correctly. I must say that I have published almost all my original ideas in newspapers, especially in Sinhala language newspapers, as I want to reach as many readers as possible knowing very well that I would not be awarded “points” for publication in newspapers in respect of promotions. In spite of that and being kept away from the University system for nearly fourteen years (one fourth of the normal academic life) mainly due to the colonial vijathika attitudes of the academics, I have not done badly as I was appointed to the Chair of Mathematics at Sri Jayawardhanepura, which I did not take up as I thought that my destiny was with Kelaniya. My decision to remain at Kelaniya was fruitful as I was able to lead the ACKD team of able Chemists, Botanists, Mathematicians and MBBS qualified doctors successfully against the opposition of western “scientists”, “statisticians” and others who are blind to non western methods of creating (acquiring) knowledge.   

It is regrettable that Prof. Thattil did not express his views when this matter on the cause of ACKD was discussed sometime ago. It may be that he was busy with Z score “analysis” that created chaos in the university admissions forcing the government to admit thousands of students more to the universities in the 2011/2012 academic year owing to the erroneous judgment of a bench that included a Chief Justice, which was based on so called specialist opinion of western “statisticians”. It has to be mentioned that there are residual problems emanating from the judgment, which have been over flown to the admissions on the results of the GCE (A/L) examination held in August 2012. It is unfortunately the government and the students who have to face the music, but not the judges and the “statisticians”. Similarly it is the poor patients suffering from ACKD that have to die as a result of the disease, but not the old western “scientists”, “statisticians”,  doctors and others who can afford to engage in useless academic discussions on the causative factors of the disease, until the crows both old and young come home.

The ACKD is confined to certain areas including Rajarata mainly because all the three factors, Arsenic, hard water and the particular soil known as “kumburu pasa” are found in those areas. Thus though farmers in other areas may be using the same agrochemicals they may not be victims of ACKD as the factors other than Arsenic are most probably not present in those areas. Even in Rajarata it should be noted that those who consume water from the “vevas” are not affected as hard water is not generally found in “vevas”. The ACKD team at Kelaniya did not claim that eating rice is a cause of the disease though rice contains arsenic. Thus while thanking Prof. Thattil for his concern towards those who eat rice it could safely be said that ACKD is not due to eating rice by the Rajarata farmers and other victims.  In fact in an article published in the “Irida Divaina” with the title “Api Bath Kamu” on the 3rd of July 2011, which is reproduced in a collection of articles in “Batahira Vidyava Arsenic ha Deviyo”, I have dealt with this issue. What causes ACKD is Arsenate both Calcium and Magnesium varieties formed as a result of interaction between Arsenic and the Calcium and Magnesium salts found in hard water. Eating of rice would not deposit Calcium and Magnesium Arsenates in the Kidneys and people would not become victims of ACKD by eating rice. It has to be reiterated that the Kelaniya group has presented their results at various seminars and workshops published in “international journals”. These results are based on tests carried out at Kelaniya and other places including accredited laboratories, and we do not want the “scientists” to believe the gods though some may believe in an all mighty God.

I know that the causative factors is curse for western science, western statistics being a handmaiden of the former. Now in  the article on “Arsenic as the cause of the CKDu, I had expressed my views in the following manner. “Now for mortals like us who have no direct experience with causative factors it is very difficult to identify the cause of something. Following Hume one may even say that there are no causes as such, because cause is not a direct experience. We only consider certain phenomena as causes of some others through induction and there is no way to "prove" that A is the cause of B. We after observing B following A on number of occasions come to the conclusion that A is the cause of B by induction of course after having constructed the concept of cause. In any event in the case of CKDu the western medicine has not identified the cause of CKDU in Rajarata and other areas and thus called it Chronic Kidney Disease with unidentified etiology. I am told that Kidney diseases are caused of various factors Cadmium being one of them. However, western medicine has not identified CKDU as caused by Cadmium though Cadmium is the cause of one or several kidney diseases. This meant that the symptoms of kidney diseases caused by Cadmium were not found among the patients of CKDu as if it were the case the western medicine practitioners at least from the western country could have come out with cadmium as the causative factor. As it is it did not happen the cause of CKDu in Rajrata and adjoining areas remained unidentified.” (To be continued)

Nalin De Silva