Pesticides issue debated at Legislature

  • Contributed photo

    Gary Hooser

LIHUE — Pesticides’ potential impacts on human health require further study, and those furthering that goal are still promoting bills — this time through the 2018 legislative session.

Meanwhile, agribusiness promoters are looking to increase agriculture on the islands, according to the Hawaii Crop Improvement Association.

“Our goal is to help Hawaii agriculture succeed in the long term, clear away misconceptions about our industry, and demonstrate how our members continue to be good neighbors and stewards,” said Bennette Misalucha, executive director of HCIA.

She continued: “HCIA is currently reviewing the various measures and will work to support Hawaii’s farmers and the future success of our state’s agricultural industry.”

But that increase has to be done responsibly in the opinion of Kauai people like Fern Holland and Gary Hooser, who are working through the Hawaii Alliance for Progressive Action to “put into place the regulatory protections that are needed.”

Pesticide-free buffer zones around schools, comprehensive testing of water, soil and air in impacted communities, a fully updated Birth Defect Registry and a statewide ban of the insecticide chlorpyrifos are all targets for HAPA in the upcoming session.

Holland pointed out a need for an industry environmental impact assessment, which brings forward the need for more information and better data, both on reported health impacts and pesticide usage.

“To conduct proper environmental assessments and protect the public, we need mandatory and detailed disclosure of the restricted-use pesticides used by these corporations,” Holland said.

Some of that research was put into a 2016 joint-fact-finding report entitled Pesticide Use by Large Agribusinesses on Kauai, and that is where the call for both the buffer zones and disclosure originated.

At the 2016 release of the JFF Report, JFF committee members said there is a need for more data in order to prove a connection between pesticide usage and human health issues.

“I am cautiously optimistic that the State Legislature will support the Joint Fact Finding recommendations,” Hooser said.

The Legislature is the body with the power to enforce regulations on pesticide usage and reporting after a November 2016 court ruling that stated that’s out of the jurisdiction of county governments in Hawaii.

“I’m hopeful that the 2018 Hawaii Legislature will step up and do the right thing this year,” Hooser said. “The large agrochemical companies on Kauai have a long and public history of causing harm and health to the environment.”

And while some gun for stricter regulations and more rules for big ag on Hawaii, others like Misalucha and HCIA say their goal is to keep the people of the islands fed.

“More than ever, farmers need our support given current challenges in agriculture and the state’s goal to increase food production,” Misalucha said.

  1. Keith January 30, 2018 8:40 am Reply

    Inspections should be done by qualified scientist hired by the state. Not HAPA or Gary or Fern who has no qualifications in pesticides. Safe guards needed should be determined after the scientists have determined what is needed.

    1. Fern January 31, 2018 1:54 pm Reply

      Keith, at no point do Gary or I suggest we are the ones to do the assessment. Even though my background is environmental science and I have worked on large and small EIS projects, this needs to be done by independent consultants who have the resources and ability to do it. Hope your well. Happy New Year.

  2. Manawai January 30, 2018 11:53 am Reply

    Yes, this is Hooder’s dream opportunity. To get rid of traditional agricultural in exchange for only organic farmers who must be government subsidized…or better yet, close down ag in favor of government subsidized housing. It all leads back to full-blown socialism because in Hooser’s mind the people are too stupid and only politicians like he should make all decisions for us. Hitler thought the same thing except he had different enemies. Same smell.

    1. Fern January 31, 2018 2:14 pm Reply

      At no point do we suggest getting rid of “traditional agriculture”. What do you consider traditional agriculture anyway? I would consider it food production agriculture not experimental research centers for giant chemical corporations to test GE test crops. What exactly do you consider traditional about this? Regardless disclosure, buffers, protection for our children is the priority. We CAN have a booming agriculture sector that provides good quality sustainable jobs without threatening the health of our keiki, our communities and environment and without highly toxic restricted use pesticides drifting through our communities and running off into our waters.

  3. Joni Kamiya January 30, 2018 6:43 pm Reply

    Once again, Gary and Fern have forgotten that their attacks against agriculture hurts all farmers just based on the language of the bill. Are they ready to ask taxpayers to pay for the land that is needed to be leased for these buffer zones proposed?

    The environmental extremists claim pesticide regulation is needed but then exempt other users of it like structural and landscaping applications. If pesticides really were the issue, why not apply the law to everyone who may be exposed?

    It’s not about pesticides and everyone better figure that out.

  4. Fern January 31, 2018 10:02 pm Reply

    Once again, Joni Kamiya uses fear mongering and propaganda to attempt to derail the conversation. Once again here she is sponsored to fight AGAINST disclosure by the largest RUP users in the state. AGAINST buffer zones around our schools to protect our children from known highly toxic pesticides. Here she is fighting AGAINST environmental assessment and AGAINST data collection, even against science as she fights for the chemical company GE research stations to NOT have to disclose their use, not have to protect surrounding schools and communities. Its a dirty job, but somebody’s got to do it.

    There is no tax payer cost to buffer our schools, most of these large ceded lands are state, ADC, or big Ag leases that are leased at incredibly low rates per year. The corporations can make the space to protect our people and environment. They have no right to drift, seep, drain their pesticides into the surrounding air, water and soil.

    Here she goes again derailing the issue by trying to make this about pest control companies (who apply their pesticides in targeted, smaller doses, over smaller areas and in concealed environments….). These bills are focused on the largest users of the restricted use pesticides, pesticides used in large quantities in single doses in the open environment. We are talking about pesticide drift by large open air applications in the amount of tons, not concealed or contained. There are laws needed all around to help protect our children from exposure to toxic pesticides, but your continual attempt to excuse the large applications by biotech research facilities and the potential impact it could be having is inexcusable and frankly quite telling.

    For you Joni it might not be about pesticides, but for us it is. It is about the protection of the next generation(s), the quality of our land, air and water and the health and development of our children and our communities.

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