Letter for Sunday, June 10, 2018

When it comes to RUPs, small farmers are not the problem

Not so fast, Mike Curtis (TGI, Letter to the Editor, Forum, June 6). It was struggling local farmers who brought the lawsuits against Hawaii island, Maui and Kauai to invalidate county ordinances regulating exposure to Restricted Use Pesticides (RUPs). No, those punitive lawsuits that overturned the will of the people w​ere the work of Syngenta, Monsanto and a handful of other chemical companies.

Companies like Syngenta that are prohibited from spraying neurotoxins in their own backyards in Switzerland, for example, have turned Kauai into “ground zero” for open-air, experimental test fields. They have turned our lands, including fragile ecosystems with endangered species, and many areas adjacent to schools, like Waimea Canyon School, and residential areas, into open-air laboratories. Unlike the Mainland, our year-round growing season and abundant access to water ​allow them to do this year round. It is very profitable to the companies — and​ an injustice to the people who are forced to breathe in the poisons.​​​

The community has now said “no more.” It took several years, but the community prevailed. The rights of our keiki to not be exposed to dangerous neurotoxins prevailed. Our legislators were slow to act, and it took years of determined organizing and repeated impassioned testimony by mothers, teachers, doctors, scientists, activists and advocates who put the community first to pass SB3095, the bill that bans chlorpyrifos, a descendant of World War I nerve agents.

For the record: retired EPA scientist, Dr. Milt Clarke, was one of those who provided data-based evidence in support of regulation. Clarke has “led or participated in more than 150 federal investigations regarding human exposure to toxic chemicals and pesticides.” He noted that “after an extensive science review, in 2015 EPA proposed to completely ban chlorpyrifos from all uses on crops, in large part because the residues on foods had the potential to cause adverse neurodevelopmental effects in infants and children. In addition, a 2016 EPA evaluation found that a buffer zone of at least 300 feet was needed for chlorpyrifos due to its tendency to be carried by the wind.”

Mike Curtis is right about one thing: do follow the money. It will lead you straight to the bottom line of companies like Syngenta who measure their success not by how much food they grow to “feed the world,” as they like to say in their glossy advertisements, but by how many million tons of pesticide they sell to farmers.

The community is grateful to the legislators who passed SB3095 and look forward to the governor enacting it into law with his signature.

​Jeri DiPietro, Koloa​

  1. Amused June 10, 2018 7:32 am Reply

    Yes, Jeri, follow the money and it will show how mainland-based big money donors are paying groups like your GMO Free Kauai to do their bidding. None of the anti-GMO bills passed in Hawaii were the “will of the people,” and many small farmers joined the lawsuit to overturn those laws. Furthermore, Syngenta is not using Hawaii for open-air experiments on pesticides. It is growing test plants, under federal and state permits. You can’t even get the EPA assessment of chlorpyrifos right. The EPA found it is NOT inclined to drift.

  2. Amused June 10, 2018 7:34 am Reply

    Also, Jeri, if you follow the money you will find the biggest users of pesticides in Hawaii — the termite treatment and pest control companies — have been exempt from all these rules and attacks by activists. If you’re truly worried about poisons, why haven’t you pushed for regulations on those who use the most poisons, right inside our homes, schools, hotels?

  3. More Anti Ag Slag June 10, 2018 8:42 am Reply

    More “protect our keiki” tripe from the anti ag group hell bent making sure that Ag will no longer be viable on Kaua’i . Fact is, The Department of AG did an “assessment of school evacuations in 2015, and found that NOT ONE of the 16 incidents reported between 2006 and 2014 were caused by seed company pesticides, and 10 were caused by homeowners. But , as usual, facts never stop the constant flow of BS regarding RUPs, which are NOT tested in Hawaii, but on the mainland in enclosed facilities. The National Pesticides Information Center, the EPA, and the American Academy of Pediatrics have found…many times over the past 5 years, that the most serious pesticide threat to children is found in and around their homes…but don’t facts stop you from spreading your fear and misinformation.

  4. Just Saying June 10, 2018 2:06 pm Reply

    Another beauty from the DiPietro/Walter Ritte family propaganda machine, Anti-GMO Hawaii Seed, which, after receiving a million dollars from an anti-GMO trust fund baby in Minnesota, started the entire recent divisive unpleasantness by flying in a fraud and con artist by the name of Vandana Shiva for a Jan. 17, 2013, $40,000 + expenses lecture. Thus began a trail, and a trial, of outright lies and misinformation that gave everyone on Kauai a preview of life under the trump regime!

  5. Wil Welsh June 10, 2018 9:29 pm Reply

    Right on, Jeri! Well-written, accurate response.

  6. LMat June 11, 2018 9:22 am Reply

    Jeri, the first paragraph of your letter makes no sense (should it read, it *wasn’t* struggling local farmers…?), whether that is your fault or TGI’s… idk. Either way, your letter does not address Mike’s question. He asks, why are farmers being targeted, when it was proven that in-home use of over-the-counter chemicals is the number one culprit of human exposure in Hawaii…?
    The “rights of our keiki to not be exposed to dangerous neurotoxins” did NOT prevail, because they can absolutely still be exposed! The new bill seeks to regulate FARMERS applying RUPs (restricted use pesticides) near and around schools. If it’s not an RUP, it can be applied BY ANYONE, with NO proximity restrictions. If it IS an RUP, and a fumigation company is applying it, it can be applied with NO proximity restrictions. How does that equate to less exposure risk?!!
    Also, how many schools in Hawaii are actually within 100′ of active agricultural fields…? On Kauai, I believe it’s only Waimea Canyon Middle School (and the ag company leasing those fields already does a self-imposed buffer zone of over 100′).
    PS – Syngenta no longer operates in Hawaii. Neither does Pioneer, BASF, and soon, Monsanto. So I guess you’ll have to axe the rhetoric about evil chemical corporations poisoning the aina and come up with a bunch of new hot air to spew…

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