Letters for Tuesday, Aug. 22, 2017

• Rats get better protection than people • School activities bring communities together

Rats get better protection than people

TGI recently reported that Scott Enright, the head of the state Department of Agriculture, has after weeks not yet signed off on the rat eradication project for the island of Lehua. He is quoted as saying “I want to make sure the (DLNR) has got it right” — a statement that at first blush suggests that Mr. Enright cares about spreading poison over large areas of land inhabited by rats. He, however, is not so cautious when it comes to approving the spraying of tons of toxic pesticides on Westside farmlands, which contaminates towns, people, bees, water and the environment of those neighborhoods.

The state representative, Dee Morikawa from the Westside, is equally cautious about the poisoning of rats. Ironically, during the last legislative session she was impressively silent when it came to considering legislation to create safety barriers to pesticide spraying around schools and hospitals to protect children, the elderly and those with illnesses.

In a recent commentary in TGI, Allan Parachini wrote that those who oppose rat poisoning are guilty of practicing “anti-science.” Yet, when he reviewed the GMO data a year or so ago he glossed over the vast amount of medical and environmental peer-reviewed research related to the negative effects of spraying genetically modified crops with poison. He concluded that there was little or no risk involved to children, pregnant women, the chronically ill or the elderly when exposed to these highly toxic chemicals.

If the rats were a corporation and had a multibillion-dollar budget like the industrial agricultural companies, would these three individuals mentioned above take the same approach to the problem of rat removal on Lehua? It appears that in Hawaii, rats get more attention and protection then humans.

I don’t know the answer to this situation, but it seems like another paradox in paradise faced by the interaction “of mice and men.”

Douglas Wilmore, M.D., Kilauea

School activities bring communities together

Tailgates. Pep rallies. Friday night lights. The new school year is here! And that’s exciting news for student-athletes andhigh school sports fans alike.

Research shows that being a student-athlete is about a lot more than fun and games. It teaches important life lessons, too.In fact, high school athletes not only have higher grade point averages and fewer school absences than non-athletes, theyalso develop the kind of work habits and self-discipline skills that help them become more responsible and productivecommunity members.

Attending high school sporting events teaches important life lessons, too.

Among them, it teaches that we can live in different communities, come from different backgrounds, faiths and cultures,cheer for different teams, and still have a common bond.

That’s why attending the activities hosted by your high school this fall is so important. It’s not only an opportunity to cheerfor your hometown team, it is also an opportunity to celebrate our commonality. And that’s something our country needsright now.

The bond we share is mutually supporting the teenagers in our respective communities. We applaud their persistence, tenacity, preparation and hard work, regardless of the color of the uniform they wear. We acknowledge that education-based, high school sports are enhancing their lives, and ours, in ways that few other activities could. And we agree that, regardless of what side of the field we sit on, attending a high school sporting event is an uplifting, enriching, family-friendly experience for all of us.

Many of the high schools in our state lie at the heart of the communities they serve. They not only are educating our nextgeneration of leaders, they also are a place where we congregate, where people from every corner of town and all walks of life come together as one. And at no time is this unity more evident than during a high school athletic event.

This is the beginning of a new school year. Opportunities abound in the classroom and outside it. Let’s make the most of them by attending as many athletic events at the high school in our community as possible.

Turn on the lights, and let the games begin!

Bob Gardner, Executive director, National Federation of State High School Associations

Christopher Chun, Executive director, Hawaii High School Athletic Association

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