In their rush to cater to misguided constituents, the Senate is considering another poorly worded measure — SB 1037 — that requires pesticide disclosure by anyone cultivating more than 200 acres in crops.
Nobody wants to see kids, or anyone else, dosed with pesticides. So why does the Lege keep considering bills that don't actually address what is purportedly the underlying issue — public health?
This version — hawked vigorously by Councilman Gary Hooser, who has spent more time lobbying the Lege than serving the Kauai folks who pay his salary — would put the onus on the Department of Health to create a new pesticide disclosure program.
But it gives the financially strapped agency no new funds or expert staff to implement it. So what important DOH programs would be cut to satisfy fear-mongering fanatics like Hooser, or Kauai's own Fern “Anuenue” Rosenstiel, who sat in front of the House agriculture committee last week and flat-out lied:
For two and a half years we've been trying to find out what chemicals are being sprayed.
Really, Fern? Why don't you just navigate off Facebook and over to the very public Good Neighbor website, where that information is clearly spelled out and has been for over a year? But then, the poor misguided wahine also claimed she represents the 4,600 people — yes, that figure is still being wildly inflated —who marched in the streets of Lihue.
Since when did donning a red shirt and walking on Rice Street automatically make Fern your eternal shepherdess? Baaa...
Once again, the bill specifically targets agriculture and lets roadside-spraying government agencies, pest control companies and golf courses — even those right next to homes — completely off the hook. Yet it's presented as a public health measure.
Hooser, in a comment to The Garden Island, expresses the many deliberate distortions of his movement:
Full disclosure is an essential element for regulating restricted use pesticides. The public is not able to avoid the areas being treated and they do not know when to shut their windows.
First, the reporting is made a month after the pesticides are sprayed, so ain't nobody gonna be closing their windows or avoiding areas because of this law. And though the bill is very specific in its reporting requirements only “a summary” would be posted on the DOH website for public perusal. Second, restricted use pesticides are already highly regulated by the feds and state. Third, this bill includes general use pesticides, too.
It absolutely infuriates me to watch Gary boldly lie — and then whine on his blog about “blatant and shameless charades” and politicians “disrespecting community.” Yeah, Gary, we know all about it from watching you. Like how you brought in Mason Chock specifically to override the Bill 2491 veto. And how you continue to improperly use County Council staff and resources to carry out lobbying activities that support positions taken by the HAPA group you head.
Gary's bullshit aside, recent legislative testimony by state Agriculture Director Scott Enright and pesticides branch chief Tom Matsuda made several points very clear:
First, in the past eight years, not one school evacuation/illness incident has been linked to the seed companies — including the oft-cited Waimea Canyon School episodes. Check it out. The culprits primarily have been homeowners using crap they can buy over the counter.
Yet not a peep is said about controlling residential use of pesticides near schools, or even educating folks. Why?
Second, as part of the Good Neighbor disclosure and notification program, Kauai seed companies voluntarily contacted residents adjoining their fields and asked them what notification they might want. Just 10 households requested notification. So who are these scared citizens desiring disclosure that Hooser supposedly represents?
Third, in response to community concerns, the state conducted a number of studies and found no cancer clusters on Kauai — save for melanoma on the North Shore — and indeed, the island's cancer rate is declining. It tested for pesticides in waterways, and found levels way below standards in agricultural areas. Guess where they found the highest pesticide runoff in the state? The decidedly non-ag Manoa Valley on Oahu. A birth defects study is nearly completed, which should provide actual data on claims often made by Hooser and his ilk.
And as Tom noted, pesticide labels, which are the law, “take drift into account. So a good applicator would not allow drift to happen.”
Even Hawaii SEED's own pesticide drift tests found nothing. Yet Hooser and others repeatedly spread the fear that folks are being poisoned by drift from the seed companies.
In short, many claims have been made, but none have borne out. So why spend money to make and implement laws that address non-problems, like Hooser's chimney smoke bill?
In its testimony, the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, Hawaii (Guam & American Samoa) wrote that it:
[S]trongly supports the overall intent of bills SB793, SB1037 and SB797 to limit population exposure to toxic environmental agents. However, we are not experts in the fields of farming or the environment, and therefore cannot speak to what would be the best way to accomplish this goal.
Amen. Let's listen to the farm experts, not the fear-driven fanatics who are pushing bills that aren't about public health, common sense, good policy or fiscal responsibility, but political agendas, pure and simple.