As the big day nears, mainland environmental groups are drumming up support for Bill 2491 beyond Kauai. Food Democracy Now! is trying to pit the visitor industry against chemical ag with its campaign, which offers this sample verbiage for emails to be sent to the Council:
Hawaii is a beloved tourist destination for more 8 million annual visitors and I’m concerned about the health of local residents and visiting tourists.
As long as they poison paradise, I'm boycotting Hawaii!
Would they also boycott us if they knew about the illegal overthrow, the toxic military installations and live-fire war games, the dirty water, the TVRs with ground floor bedrooms in the flood zone, the racism, the cronyism, the corruption, the poverty, the domestic violence, Hawaiians homeless in their own homelands, the ice epidemic that shameless posturers like state narc Keith Kamita try to cover up by portraying marijuana as the bogeyman instead?
The Pesticide Action Network, meanwhile, has released a new report, Pesticides in Paradise: Kauai Test Fields, that expounds on the growing presence of chem companies in Hawaii, as well as the “dirty little secret” of genetic engineering:
Most GE seeds are intentionally designed to drive up pesticide use, boosting market share for pesticide industry products.
Yup. That's why the chem companies started with GE crops that can withstand direct applications of their pesticides, instead of the traits they always like to plug, such as drought-resistance and increased nutrient yield, that will supposedly “feed the world.”
But is there really any glory in trying to feed the world if you can't do it without simultaneously poisoning the environment and harming human health?
The report advises us that the U.S. Department of Ag has approved over 100 new permits for GE field tests in Hawaii in the last few years — more than any place else in the nation — and these test fields are regularly sprayed with restricted use pesticides, including atrazine, paraquat and chlorpyrifos.
As the report notes, the chem companies are occupying pretty much all the available ag land on the westside, where Earthjustice recently filed a petition challenging the century-old Waimea River diversions that deliver water to some of those fields. It was pretty disgusting to see the photos of water being dumped while the river itself is reduced to a trickle.
That alone undermines the claim that these guys are such great stewards of the land they farm.
The Stop Poisoning Paradise site also has a list of restricted use pesticides applied to the GMO seed crops, with links to the product labels. Curiously, the website and report make no reference to Kauai Coffee.
Speaking of labels, I got this from county spokeswoman Beth Tokioka, prompted by last Friday's “Limiting Exposure” post, in which I referenced county workers spraying herbicides at the triangle across from St. Catherine's and Kapaa High:
Joan, I copied your post on herbicide spraying to our Parks and Recreation Department and received the below reply from Parks Maintenance Operations Chief George Ahlgren:
1. This was the Parks Department making this application.
2. The material used was Roundup Pro. One of the reasons why we prefer to use Roundup is because of its safety to the applicator, the public and the environment. This product carries a “Caution” label, which is the lowest category of pesticide toxicity. The range goes from Caution, to Warning, to Danger. Whenever possible we choose to use pesticides that carry the lowest rating for overall toxicity, and Roundup Pro is one good example.
3. My men have all undergone pesticide training and are familiar with Roundup Pro as one of their ‘tools”.
4. All indications are that my staff followed the pesticide label to the letter, which is the law. Under personal Protective Equipment (PPE) the Roundup Pro label directs applicators to wear: “long sleeved shirt and long pants, shoes and socks.” Gloves and masks are not required by label or by law. Again, that’s why we prefer this material.
5. The final comment [asking why the site wasn't flagged to warn people of a pesticide application] appears to be directed at what we refer to as the re-entry period. This is defined as the amount of time following an application when the area should be “off limits”. Again for Roundup Pro, the label is the law and it simply says to “Keep people and pets off treated areas until the spray solution has dried to prevent transfer of this product onto desirable vegetation.” By the time my staff finished with the application, loaded up and left the site, the material was dry and safe for re-entry.
6. When we apply this herbicide (according to label directions) we dilute it to a 1 ½% mixture that is not likely to create odors.
It's great to hear the county is following the label, and thus the law. But what if you're like me, and many other people, who want to know whether herbicide was recently sprayed whether it's dried or not, who aren't convinced that federal pesticide regs are sufficiently stringent to protect environmental and human health?
Does that mean we're crazy, wacky, anti-science, anti-farming, anti-jobs? Or that we're concerned people who are justifiably suspicious because we have seen the government-industry team repeatedly lie about the safety of a product or practice?
Is it the purview, the responsibility — heck, the duty— of local governments to go beyond federal law to address citizen concerns and regional environmental issues?
That's the core issue under debate with Bill 2491, though it's buried beneath a lot of diversionary bullshit. Except we're not talking about one site in Kapaa, but thousands of acres on the westside. And the product isn't Roundup Pro — which I hear is safe enough to drink ;) — but dozens of restricted use pesticides sprayed on fields nearly every day of the week.
In the end, it all comes down to the same thing: We want and need to know.