When it comes to RUPs, small farmers are not the problem
Not so fast, Mike Curtis (TGI, Letter to the Editor, Forum, June 6). It was struggling local farmers who brought the lawsuits against Hawaii island, Maui and Kauai to invalidate county ordinances regulating exposure to Restricted Use Pesticides (RUPs). No, those punitive lawsuits that overturned the will of the people were the work of Syngenta, Monsanto and a handful of other chemical companies.
Companies like Syngenta that are prohibited from spraying neurotoxins in their own backyards in Switzerland, for example, have turned Kauai into “ground zero” for open-air, experimental test fields. They have turned our lands, including fragile ecosystems with endangered species, and many areas adjacent to schools, like Waimea Canyon School, and residential areas, into open-air laboratories. Unlike the Mainland, our year-round growing season and abundant access to water allow them to do this year round. It is very profitable to the companies — and an injustice to the people who are forced to breathe in the poisons.
The community has now said “no more.” It took several years, but the community prevailed. The rights of our keiki to not be exposed to dangerous neurotoxins prevailed. Our legislators were slow to act, and it took years of determined organizing and repeated impassioned testimony by mothers, teachers, doctors, scientists, activists and advocates who put the community first to pass SB3095, the bill that bans chlorpyrifos, a descendant of World War I nerve agents.
For the record: retired EPA scientist, Dr. Milt Clarke, was one of those who provided data-based evidence in support of regulation. Clarke has “led or participated in more than 150 federal investigations regarding human exposure to toxic chemicals and pesticides.” He noted that “after an extensive science review, in 2015 EPA proposed to completely ban chlorpyrifos from all uses on crops, in large part because the residues on foods had the potential to cause adverse neurodevelopmental effects in infants and children. In addition, a 2016 EPA evaluation found that a buffer zone of at least 300 feet was needed for chlorpyrifos due to its tendency to be carried by the wind.”
Mike Curtis is right about one thing: do follow the money. It will lead you straight to the bottom line of companies like Syngenta who measure their success not by how much food they grow to “feed the world,” as they like to say in their glossy advertisements, but by how many million tons of pesticide they sell to farmers.
The community is grateful to the legislators who passed SB3095 and look forward to the governor enacting it into law with his signature.
Jeri DiPietro, Koloa