Today, there was good news: The House gave the antis a serious slap down in sending HB 790 — the anti-GMO bill masquerading as pesticide regulation — back to committee. And that means it's dead for the session — unless the antis resort to non-transparent dirty tricks, like the gut and replace tactic that led to the organic farming tax credit being passed last session.
Though Hawaii Center for Food Safety tried to shrug off the loss to “chem company influence,” the blame lies squarely on the antis' own shoulders. They pushed a poorly written, wildly overreaching bill that got small farmers legitimately riled up.
In future, Ashley Lukens and Gary Hooser might want to avoid gloating “we won” quite so early in the session. Because it ain't over until the governor signs it until law.
And there was also some WTF? news: The Environmental Protection Agency is actually going to investigate Earthjustice's totally bogus claim that the state Department of Agriculure and Agribusiness Development Corp. are discriminating against Native Hawaiians on Kauai and Molokai by leasing land to the seed companies, which are then supposedly poisoning them with pesticides.
Its decision has nothing to do with whether the claim has any merit, and was based solely on the fact that a written complaint was filed within 180 days of an alleged violation. But Earthjustice gets to use it to make big hay and headlines: EPA OPENS CIVIL RIGHTS INVESTIGATION OVER PESTICIDE USE IN HAWAI`I.
Though The Garden Island billed it as “breaking news,” it was actually just a regurgitation of the Earthjustice press release, replete with its poster child, Malia Chun, again using her poor kids to advance her deceptive agenda. Malia is still clinging to the claim that hair samples showed her kids had 32 pesticides. Except the pesticides found in the highest concentrations come from home use consumer products, not agriculture. And hair tests are dubious, anyway.
It's actually kind of amusing to see EJ claiming the seed industry's agricultural practices are discriminating against Hawaiians and violate their civil rights, considering how many kanaka gladly work for those companies
And I giggled a bit when I read Earthjustice
actor attorney Paul Achitoff self-righteously sputter:
“The spraying of toxic chemicals on and near Hawaii’s affluent
neighborhoods would not be tolerated.”
Who the hell does he think is engaging the services of the pest control companies, and buying expensive homes near golf courses? And let's not forget that streams in the toney Honolulu neighborhood of Manoa had the highest pesticide levels in the state. Heck, the affluent neighborhoods are spraying toxic chemicals on themselves.
Mostly, though, it's sad to see the EPA wasting federal dollars – and soon state money, as the DOA and ADC respond to the investigation — to indulge Earthjustice's anti-GMO agenda. This is exactly the sort of overreaching action — triggered, ironically, by self-serving, self-styled “progressives” — that feeds calls to gut the EPA.
Speaking of the EPA, I was a bit shocked to hear Dr. Timur Durrani — one of the speakers at the Saturday's Children's Environmental Health Symposium, sponsored by the EPA and state Department of Health — first say that he likes to refer people to the EPA and CDC websites for good information.
And then claim, in response to a radio interview question from HPR's Beth-Ann Kozlovich:
The U.S. has a different approach [than Europe] which says, we will use these products [pesticides] or chemicals and if it's deemed they're unsafe, we'll do some research, and then maybe we'll pull them from the market.
Uh, I guess Dr. Durrani has never himself actually visited the EPA website. Because if he had, he'd see there's a very clear and rigorous process for testing and registering pesticides — before they're allowed on the market. As the website states:
In evaluating a pesticide registration application, we assess a wide variety of potential human health and environmental effects associated with use of the product. The company that wants to produce the pesticide must provide data from studies that comply with our testing guidelines.
We develop risk assessments that evaluate the potential for:
• Harm to humans, wildlife, fish, and plants, including endangered species and non-target organisms.
• Contamination of surface water or ground water from leaching, runoff, and spray drift.
• Potential human risks range from short-term toxicity to long-term effects such as cancer and reproductive system disorders.
We also evaluate and approve the language that appears on each pesticide label to ensure the directions for use and safety measures are appropriate to any potential risk. Following label directions is required by law and is necessary to ensure safe use.
So is Dr. Durrani misinformed, ignorant or just talking shit? In any case, it doesn't bode well for his billing as an “expert” at a taxpayer-funded symposium. And it's unfortunate that Beth-Ann isn't sufficiently informed about her interview topic to call out that kind of falsehood, instead of allowing her listeners to be misled.
Of course, health care professionals have their own biases and agendas, as was uncomfortably evident at last Monday's pesticide poisoning educational meeting on Kauai. The nurses and hospital staff who attended were openly anti-ag — very vocal and not pleased to hear the speaker say, among other things, that nearly all pesticide exposure cases are due to home pesticide use.
Attendees were informed that suspected pesticide poisonings should be reported to Poison Control, which would then inform DOH. This prompted anti-GMO activist and nurse Marghee Maupin to announce that she had tried calling both DOH and the state DOA pesticide inspector, but they refused to take her calls, including one about a comatose patient.
Marghee continued to badmouth both agencies and their personnel until the affected parties — DOH toxicologist Barbara Brooks and DOA inspector Ann Kam — apparently couldn't take any more of her bullshit. They stood up and said Marghee was not telling the truth, and had never called them.
And that, folks, is how we get so much fake news. It all starts with fakes.