With his most recent anti-agriculture complaint, Earthjustice attorney Paul Achitoff has proven he's not only despicable, he's downright desperate.
Unable to prevail in either the courts of law or public opinion, Achitoff has now resorted to playing the race card in his wild hair claim that the Hawaii Department of Agriculture (HDOA) and the state Agribusiness Development Corp. (ADC) are violating the civil rights of Native Hawaiians by allowing “toxic chemicals” to drift into their homes.
To help him along, three anti-GMO activists — Malia Chun, John Aana and Mercy Ritte — are prostituting their ethnicity and culture to advance a purely political agenda.
Chun, the Earthjustice poster child whose half-brother is County Councilman Mason Chock and whose mother is the racist Lorna Cummings Poe, and Aana, a retired firefighter who has endorsed Chock, are both Kauai residents. Ritte, whose father-in-law is Hawaii SEED board member Walter Ritte, lives on Molokai.
In his Sept. 14 complaint to the Environmental Protection Agency, U.S. Department of Justice and U.S. Department of Agriculture, Achitoff contends that the two state agencies have failed to properly regulate the seed fields, which has “an unjustified disproportionate and adverse effect on Native Hawaiians in West Kaua‘i and on Moloka‘i.”
In its press release, Earthjustice really ramps it up, exceeding even Councilman Gary Hooser's propensity for hyperbole (emphasis added to point out the lies):
ADC facilitates the constant drift of pesticides and pesticide-laden dust into Native Hawaiian communities by leasing thousands of acres near them to heavy pesticide users, primarily genetically engineered seed companies, that spray tens of thousands of pounds of toxic pesticides each year.
Chun chimes in:
“When you consider the danger of frequent, long-term exposure to industrial pesticides, some may consider this to be a form of genocide.”
Genocide? When no has died?
Aana also has no qualms about lying:
“Allowing large-scale pesticide use without adequate protective measures is in direct opposition to our basic Hawaiian values of Aloha ʻĀina and our tradition of caring for Hawaiʻi’s natural resources and building healthy, sustainable communities.”
Without adequate protective measures? Come on, John. What about following the label, offering residents pre-spraying disclosure and implementing buffer zones?
Achitoff offers no proof that any of his claims of exposure, much less harm, are legit. Indeed, as I reported on Tuesday, the federal Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) found it unlikely that people are being exposed to pesticides at harmful levels in either the dust, air, groundwater, rivers or streams on the westside, in part because “modern pesticides degrade fairly rapidly in the environment.”
Achitoff, of course, is aware of that determination. But his MO is to lie and throw all sorts of shit at the wall. That way, Earthjustice can use its sensationalized, bogus claims as a fundraising tool. It's all so disgusting.
So Achitoff regurgitates tired old tropes like how “there are likely an average of 30 or more spray operations most days of the year on Kauai,” even though the ATSDR noted that “pesticides are not coincidentally applied to the same locations.” Yeah, one day they may spray a 10-x10 plot, and another day a 12x12 plot somewhere else.
Achitoff brings in Waimea Canyon Middle School and the Kekaha ditch and claims pesticides were found in an air and water samples without noting the quantities were barely detectable, and well-below safety threshholds.
There's plenty of land and water on Molokai and west Kauai, and plenty of loi that are not in production because nobody wants to do the work. Why don't Malia, Mercy and John get busy producing the agricultural nirvana that they envision, instead of trying to destroy viable ag?
Because they aren't actually trying to promote aloha aina, sustainable farming, or anything positive. Like Earthjustice, they're using legal harassment to impose demands they could not secure in the Legislature or court: suspend pesticide licenses, implement mandatory buffer zones, change state pesticide laws, revise the ADC lease process.
To that end, Earthjustice is also suing the state Health Department and HDOA over the Waimea ditch and fighting ADC over water diverted from the Waimea River. As I've previously noted, Earthjustice likes to sue government entities. That way it can collect its $650/hour fee — even if it does not fully prevail in the legal action — from taxpayers.
In a perfect example of his false self-righteousness, Achitoff pompously pontificates:
“If anyone began spraying toxic chemicals so that they drifted into homes and schools in one of Hawaiʻi’s affluent neighborhoods, there would be outrage and it would be shut down. But not on Kauaʻi’s west side or on Molokaʻi, because the Native Hawaiians there don’t have the political clout. It’s shameful and it’s against the law.”
Actually, affluent neighborhoods – especially those in tony resort communities — use toxic chemicals all the time. It's how they keep their yards and homes free of insects and weeds.
As for what's shameful, that would be Paul's total disregard for truth and ethical behavior, and the way he's blatantly using Hawaiians to wage an anti-GMO war.
And Hawaiians wonder why people don't take their legitimate concerns seriously.