Saturday, January 26, 2008

Musings: Blowin' in the Wind

Winds that were blustery, with a capital B, made themselves known all through the night and accompanied Koko and me on our walk this morning, as did a smattering of rain.

Ran into my neighbor Andy — btw, he is not, as my Mom inquired, the same Andy who so often comments on this blog — and from Koko’s perspective, the timing was exquisite, as he was passing out dog biscuits and graciously included her.

Andy was a little irked by a full-color supplement on the Lingle-Aiona 2008 initiatives that was included in The Garden Island the other day. He said it looked a lot like a campaign piece, and wondered if it was funded by taxpayers.

My hunch is it was, but I promised I’d check it out. Meanwhile, a state Department of Ag official is supposed to be on island today, checking out why — again — kids and faculty at Waimea Canyon School were sickened by a “noxious odor” coming from Syngenta’s nearby fields.

“At about 11:40 a.m., several piles of weeds in a field west of the school were discovered that authorities suspect might be the source of the noxious odor reported earlier," a county press release stated. "At a meeting held at the school at around noon, officials asked Syngenta representatives to take the piles of weeds away and dispose of them."

Apparently 10 students and a teacher went to KVMH complaining of nausea and dizziness after being exposed to the smell yesterday.

That sounds an awful lot like pesticide and/or herbicide exposure, although since it’s coming from Syngenta, which is growing experimental crops in the area, it could be anything.

This is not the first time that kids and faculty at that school have experienced such symptoms, and although Syngenta last year said it would shift its spraying to after-school hours, apparently that’s not enough.

Sen. Gary Hooser is taking steps to ensure it won’t happen again by introducing bill, SB 3170, "creating a pesticide-free buffer zone around elementary schools and requiring that all schools be given notice of pesticide use in the immediate area.”

The bill would prohibit pesticide spraying by backpack within 1,500 feet of an elementary school and by aircraft within a half-mile radius.

Additionally, commercial use of pesticides within a five-mile radius of any school or educational institution property would have to be reported to theDOE a minimum of one week before application.

It’s a great idea, one that is long overdue,and I appreciate that Gary has introduced it.

I’d like to see it expanded, however, to include all schools, parks and other public areas where people congregate. I also have to wonder about the DOE notification clause. Will school administrators send out a notice to parents and faculty advising them of such spraying? Will they allow kids and teachers to miss school without penalty on those days?

And finally, will the Legislature ever move to require the biotech companies in Hawaii to reveal what they’re growing, and where?

Surely, in the interest of public and environmental health, we all have the right to know what might be blowing in the Islands’ ever-present winds.

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

For more information on the grassroots community coming together to fight syngenta on this issue of spraying near the schools:

http://maluiawcms.blogspot.com/

-Katy

Andy said...

Nope “mom”, wrong Andy. Andy B. is one of the most brilliant people around, not just some rabid, rabble-rousing reprobate like me. He taught me more about the world than I had learned in 12 years of secondary school. He’s one of the main the reasons I was became a perennial KCC student after I got my nursing degree in the 80’s – so I could take all his classes.

Somehow my recent “registration” makes my name come up as just “andy” so I guess I’ll have to continue to sign them.

Andy Parx

Anonymous said...

Blowing in the wind, like NCL hosting Kauai Planning ActionAlliance's fundraiser on Valentine's Day. a sweetheart deal NCL has for KPAA-use our boat to raise your funds. wish NCL was as generous to the Niumalu community and burn cleaner fuels while in harbor.
the fact that DOH can not find the smoking gun in regards to pesticides or bunker fuel is telling-government corruption and incompetence go hand in hand. thanx joan for helping to clear the air.