A report by University of Hawaii researchers shows that Island golf courses use significantly more pesticides than the seed/chem companies. And though these golf courses are typically adjacent to homes and drain into streams, only the seed fields have been targeted for disclosure, buffer zones and other regulations.
The report, last updated in 1999, estimated that 119,867 pounds — nearly 60 tons — of pesticides are used annually on golf courses in Hawaii.
By comparison, approximately 2.5 tons and 5,884 gallons of restricted use pesticides were applied to Kauai's “ground zero” seed fields in 2012, according to the county's new GMO/pesticide regulatory law. Councilman Gary Hooser, who introduced the bill, initially claimed 18 tons were being used — a figure the state Department of Agriculture later determined to to be inaccurate. However, it is still widely cited.
The pesticides applied to links in Hawaii include Chlorpyrifos, Dicamba, 2,4-D and Roundup — the same herbicides, fungicides and insecticides used on seed fields. These chemicals are all linked to human and environmental health problems, yet only those used on the seed fields have been singled out for scrutiny and blamed for illness.
A study conducted on Long Island, New York, found that golf courses use seven times more pesticides than comparable land used for agricultural purposes. Other mainland studies found mercury concentrations from pesticides and fertilizer in bodies of water up to five miles away from a golf course.
Additionally, these pesticides are applied in various combinations, creating the same “toxic cocktails” that have generated fear of the seed fields. But no one has demanded any testing to determine whether pesticides applied to golf courses are also drifting into homes and entering streams and coastal waters.
Furthermore, according to a report from the anti-pesticide organization Beyond Pesticides:
78 million households in the U.S. use home and garden pesticides.(i)
Herbicides account for the highest usage of pesticides in the home and garden sector with over 90 million pounds applied on lawns and gardens per year. (ii)
Suburban lawns and gardens receive more pesticide applications per acre (3.2-9.8 lbs) than agriculture (2.7 lbs per acre on average). (iii)
Pesticide sales by the chemical industry average $9.3 billion. Annual sales of the landscape industry are over $35 billion. (iv)
Of 30 commonly used lawn pesticides 19 have studies pointing toward carcinogens, 13 are linked with birth defects, 21 with reproductive effects, 15 with neurotoxicity, 26 with liver or kidney damage, 27 are sensitizers and/or irritants, and 11 have the potential to disrupt the endocrine (hormonal) system. (vii)
Scientific studies find pesticide residues such as the weedkiller 2,4-D and the insecticide carbaryl inside homes, due to drift and track-in, where they contaminate air, dust, surfaces and carpets and expose children at levels ten times higher than preapplication levels. (ix)
Certainly Hawaii, with its year-round growing season, numerous golf courses, rapid vegetative growth and propensity for manicured resorts and yards, uses at least comparable amounts of pesticides for landscaping purposes, if not more.
But again, no effort has been made to even quantify, much less regulate, residential and landscaping uses of pesticides in the Islands. All the attention has been focused solely on seed crops, to the complete exclusion of any other uses.
Additionally, only the seed fields have been blamed for “stealing water,” though the average golf course in the United States uses 300,000 gallons of water per day.
Is it any wonder that some of us are questioning why the seed fields have been singled out? Especially when high-end Realtors, like Hawaii Life on Kauai and Mark Sheehan on Maui, are actively backing anti-GMO initiatives and candidates.
If their goal truly is to protect environmental and human health, wouldn't you think they'd be aggressively pursuing stricter controls of pesticides everywhere, especially among the biggest users, like golf courses? (Which, btw, is what some of us asked Gary to do, but he chose to focus solely on the GMO fields instead.)
That would seem to be the logical, safe and prudent course of action. Unless, of course, their true objective is to destroy agriculture in Hawaii in order to free up the land for more pesticide-using golf courses, resorts and luxury homes.