As is so often the case with Civil Beat, an article there irked — both its content and delivery.
And is so often the case, it was written by Anita Hofschneider, who, as is so often the case, inserts her own views into what is supposed to be a news story:
The issue of pesticides is highly debated at the Legislature, where most legislators have aligned themselves with the agricultural lobby rather than environmental advocates.
Uh, no, Anita. As is so often the case, you've got it wrong. First, the pesticide debate we've seen playing out at the Lege is not a pro- vs anti-environmental issue, nor is it farming vs environmentalism.
It is a thin facade for an anti-GMO movement that is using pesticides in a disingenuous, self-serving, manipulative attempt to, as Gary Hooser has clearly stated, drive the seed companies out of Hawaii vs mostly small, conventional farmers and average folks who are pissed off by the tactics of the antis.
And the legislators who have refused to play along did so because the last bill — HB 790 — was poorly written, not because they're aligning themselves with the "agricultural lobby."
Furthermore, please quit making like farmers are an “agricultural lobby” — read corporate, craven, big business — while the antis are “environmental advocates” — read humble, earnest, dedicated to the public good.
Come on. Ashley Lukens is a registered lobbyist for the Hawaii Center for Food Safety. She and others, as I've pointed in parts 1 and 2 of the follow-money posts, are pulling in serious money — and getting paid — to push their agenda. Which is fine. But let's not pretend they're doing this out of the goodness of their hearts and the best interest of the people.
Furthermore, these activists do not get grab the title of environmentalist, and neither they nor Anita get to define who qualifies for that role.
With that, let me focus on the content of the article: Big Island Rep. Richard Creagan's amendment to a pesticide bill that the seed industry, farm bureau and others previously supported. The original bill would have allowed the Department of Ag to use money from the pesticide fund to conduct some of the studies proposed by the Joint Fact Finding Group.
But Creagan amended it to mandate reporting of all pesticide use — general, restricted and experimental — within 60 days of the end of the calendar year. It would apply to any ag entity that bought or used 10 pounds or 10 gallons of RUPs.
A hearing is set for Wednesday morning. Needless to say, it's silly, since the companies have already agreed to voluntarily disclose this info on a monthly basis. So what good is this language?
Creagan also added a section that calls for an undisclosed amount of money to go to the UH medical school “to develop a study that will determine the exposure of chlorpyrifos to one hundred pregnant mothers on Hawaii island, Oahu, and Kauai by examining the meconium of newborn babies.”
Why does the state want to get into testing women for exposure to a pesticide that the EPA is currently considering banning, which could render the whole issue moot?
And if exposure is determined, then what?
Exactly what is the purpose of this, other than to further underscore Creagan's complete capitulation to the antis and cater to Lukens, who proclaimed:
If lawmakers are not toeing the corporate line then this kind of language should be something that they get behind,” she said.
Oh, yes, Ashley, it's so black and white. That may be a great "with us or against us" sound byte for the media, but the real world, and even the strange world of politics, are far more nuanced and based on compromise.
Ashley may be desperate to appease critics like Dustin Barca and his followers, who rightly question why she has been unable to secure one “victory,” despite blowing millions over the past three years. But as she should have learned from her last defeat at the Capitol, it's never akamai to back legislators into a corner.