Pesticide concerns unwarranted

A great deal has been written recently about local Kauai seed companies by advocates of County Council Bill 2491. Since some of it involves our own farms, as a proud employee of Dow AgroSciences, let me offer a different perspective.

 First, it seems important to set the record straight on 2,4-D, one of the most commonly used herbicides in the world. Dow AgroSciences has not used the herbicide 2,4-D on any of its farms on Kauai. Many residents on Kauai may have used this herbicide themselves to control weeds in their own yards, because it’s a common ingredient in weed and feed products. It’s an effective herbicide, especially against common lawn weeds. But we haven’t used it on our farms on Kauai, because it hasn’t been the right tool for our pest management needs.

Second, I know that there are many opinions about the use of pesticides, but I’d like to share with you some information about crop protection products based on readily accessible public information.

• Every use of a pesticide – whether on Kauai or anywhere else in the U.S. — is expressly authorized by regulators charged with protecting public health and the environment. And that goes for “restricted” and so-called “experimental use” pesticides as well as for the weed, plant disease and insect control products that homeowners and gardeners use.

• These regulatory authorizations are based on extensive health, safety and environmental research. Generating the data to gain approval for the commercial use of a pesticide takes on average nine years and $200 million dollars. Costs for pursuing regulatory approvals for a GMO crop are comparable, as is the time it takes to generate the required research data for review.

• Once approved, pesticides are subject to continual regulatory review. Regulatory authorities routinely require new research to maintain these authorizations, and regulators have the power to force companies to immediately withdraw these products from the market if they consider them an imminent risk to public health.

 Third, products are typically designated as “restricted” because they’re intended for professional use. This is a common precaution taken with many kinds of products, including certain cleaning supplies, and these restrictions ought to be a source of reassurance, not concern. Sometimes products are labeled “restricted” to make sure workers know to use the right precautions when they mix and load the material, which seems to me like a good thing.

 I’m proud to be a member of a highly-regulated, environmentally conscious local industry that employs some 2,000 Hawaii residents, produces Hawaii’s largest agricultural export commodity (high-value crop seed) and generates $13.8 million in tax revenues for our state.  As Dow AgroSciences employees, we want to be good neighbors.  I live here, too and want you to know that I wouldn’t use anything on our farms that I wouldn’t use around my own family.

 Please come and see our farms and judge for yourselves. We only ask that you get the best information before forming an opinion that may jeopardize our continued operations on Kauai and the jobs of your neighbors who work for us.

• Peter Wiederoder is the Kauai Site Leader of Dow AgroSciences, a company working to boost agriculture productivity to keep pace with the growing needs of our world’s rapidly expanding population. An active member of our local communities, Peter is vice president of Habitat for Humanity where he has spent countless hours helping to eliminate poverty housing and homelessness on Kauai. He lives in Kalaheo where he enjoys spending his free time with his family.


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