The agri-chemical industry here dubbed the “chemical cartel” (Syngenta, Pioneer, Down, Monsanto & BASF and the Hawaii Crop Improvement Association) was quick to dismiss the recent findings of trace amounts of pesticides in the statewide water study, dismissing them as below toxic thresholds and within regulated amounts.
But the absolute truth is this, they are present, in some amount. That was all the study set out it do. This was only a pilot study. It tells us where to focus our studies. Now we adjust to season, to rainfall, to event specific sampling. This is only the first snippet of information we are starting to get as these studies gain traction.
So don’t be quick to dismiss the concerns or be satisfied with these findings, after all, they are not suggesting all is well in paradise, anyway.
The study suggests that there are areas where there are more pesticides in surface samples, Oahu and Kauai. There are locations within those that have more elevated levels. This is where the effort should now focus. It will be a while before we know for sure what’s coming down in the runoff from these properties.
The chem cartel wants you to be easily deterred by their reassurance that the study supported “their side” of all this, that their having no impact on our surroundings, but the study didn’t do this. Instead, it did the opposite.
“The statewide pilot pesticide sampling project has found over 20 different types of pesticides in Hawaiian waterways, some of which are no longer registered for use in Hawaii,” it read.
This is river water, not groundwater from drinking wells that has absorbed chemicals that were being applied 20 years ago, but from river (surface) runoff and water and sediment associated with it (which can have residual chemicals from years prior). This is only one environmental element, water, and of that it is only one part of it, surface water.
“Twenty-five herbicides, 11 insecticides and six fungicides were detected, with atrazine the most commonly found … atrazine is the most detected pesticide in the study with 80 percent of sites containing the chemical. The report theorizes these frequent detections are due to downstream impacts of current and historic uses in sugar cane and seed corn (GMO corn).
“Some atrazine detections in Kauai exceeded aquatic benchmarks.”
Yes, the pilot study even found levels here on Kauai that “exceeded aquatic benchmarks,” or in other words, were high enough, even the government and industry will acknowledge, and can have a negative impact on the life of our land and the animals and plants that are present here.
Yes. The pilot study supports more study. It supports disclosure, buffer zones, a thorough environmental and health study. The study supports Ordinance 960.
Nearly two years ago, I sat down with Gary Hooser and explained that we needed to know how much of these different pesticides, atrazine specifically, they were spraying, that we needed to know where, so we could really target our studies to better understand what the concern is. The response from the chem cartel to Councilman Hooser was simply, “we don’t use atrazine”.
It’s astonishing how much their tune has changed in two years. We went from “we don’t use atrazine,” to “well, we do but, this is how much we use (believe us) and don’t worry, it’s not that much, it’s actually only a little compared to the ocean, and don’t worry it disappears when it hits the ground, like magic, it doesn’t hurt a thing.”
Sorry, no trust here. Your time for open, voluntary disclosure has long passed, it’s time to follow the regulations our island has set in place. It’s time you comply with Ordinance 960.
• Fern Rosenstiel is a resident of Kapaa.