We have waited years and years for protections. We marched thousands strong through the streets, multiple times. We fought industry lies and backlash during months of marathon hearings. We passed Bill 2491, overturned a veto and followed the democratic process and won. We won the very protections the Joint Fact Finding Group (JFFG) study just recommended, only to be sued by the chemical companies (Syngenta et al vs. the County of Kauai) to invalidate our law. Their excuse: “It’s the state’s responsibility, not the county.”
The government study released recently asks for the very regulations we legislated in Bill 2491. The report calls for buffer zones, disclosure, better record keeping, data and assessments.
It reiterates exactly what we have been saying all these years. We need better regulations, better records and more data because the chemical companies are using tons of restricted use pesticides (RUPs), no one else is using the same ones at this volume and the science has repeatedly shown these are dangerous and persistent.
We can not sit idly by while companies continue to dump tons of RUPs surrounding our communities and sensitive places. Decades of scientific research show exposure to these chemicals comes with tragic impacts, particularly to children and pregnant mothers. There are countless studies and cases documenting drift and transport of pesticides in the environment.
The tone of industry is that we should and wait until we can prove beyond a doubt that a scientifically significant number of people were poisoned, impacted, maybe even killed. How many people is that?
As the report clearly says over and over, with almost no data available, even to this JFFG and the small populations, that scientific proof they are demanding is nearly impossible. It certainly isn’t reasonable when we are talking about children’s lives, all of which matter.
The JFFG report clearly shows high levels of known dangerous RUPs (and an unknown amount of General Use Pesticides) are being used, by the ton, in close proximity to schools, homes and hospitals with little to no regulation and oversight, not even adequate or accurate disclosure.
This has to change.
Fern Rosenstiel is a biologist and a resident of Kauai.