How pesticides help keep Hawaii paradise

We are all grateful for the paradise we are privileged to live in called Hawaii. But with every new human culture there are also new weeds, diseases, insects and other pests. These pests threaten our neighborhoods, our native forests, and our agricultural lands. To protect our homes, our farms and our native ecosystems, we use environmentally safe tools, sometimes including pesticides.

The largest users of pesticides in Hawaii are urban users, although the greatest interest seems to be in the agricultural uses of pesticides. To help educate interested individuals to the truth behind the registration of pesticides, the Hawaii Crop Improvement Association (HCIA) offers these facts:

Pesticides are the most thoroughly tested and reviewed chemicals in the world. The evaluation of pesticide products far outweighs even that of pharmaceuticals.

Pesticides are regulated by the United States Environmental Protection Agency, the scientific body that reviews all scientific studies and information involving pesticide products. For a single product, the agency can require more than 300 short- and long-term scientific studies. As a result, it takes years to register products.

The EPA registration process is so thorough and scientifically sound that acclaimed independent institutions like the National Academy of Sciences have stated that it is a waste of resources for states to be re-evaluating data that has already been reviewed by the EPA. That said, states can and do place additional restrictions or require additional information be provided before a product can be registered. As an example, the Hawaii Department of Agriculture requires registrants to provide additional groundwater data.

The EPA develops risk assessments on all new pesticides and new uses of existing pesticides before they are registered, to evaluate:

Potential short- and long-term human health and environmental hazards including wildlife, fish, plants, endangered species, and non-target organisms;

Contamination of surface water or groundwater from leaching, runoff, and spray drift.

Studies and testing protocols to develop scientific data are established by the EPA, not the registrants, and are deemed acceptable by credible scientific bodies.

The United States EPA has the most thorough review and registration process in the world. In instances where either the EPA or the state of Hawaii deems additional care is needed for the use of a product, they require that only licensed individuals can apply them.

Allegations that Hawaii uses higher rates of pesticides than other states are completely unfounded. The EPA establishes application rates for pesticide products. No state may allow a higher rate be applied than what has been established safe federally.

It is to the benefit of all users of pesticide products to utilize these tools through safe practices as stated on the label. It is HCIA’s goal to help provide the facts regarding the use of pesticide products. HCIA will continue to help facilitate a respectful, fact-based conversation on how and why products are used.

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Bennette Misalucha is the executive director of the Hawaii Crop Improvement Association, a nonprofit group that represents the seed industry in Hawaii.

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