Thursday, July 31, 2014

Musings: Toxic Links

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.


Anonymous said...

gotta start somewhere. and seed companies are a great place to start, considering all the other issues with genetic modification. golf courses next.

Anonymous said...

good points, again. The golf course in Princeville is adjacent to the walking path where Mom's stroll their babies, children run and play, old people walk thinking they are getting healthy when the reality is they are being exposed to numerous nasty pesticides. When you point out the higher levels of pesticide use in urban and golf courses, it does not make sense that the county singled out the seed corn, unless the issue is about getting that land out of agriculture and into development of luxury homes, golf courses and hotels. No one really believes the west side fields will ever be used to grown organic veggies, how could they? and what about all the vacant agriculture fields in Kealia and Kapaa. Isn't the kealia land owned by Cornerstone? Isn't Center for Food Safety funded by Cornerstone? Wasn't Leadership Kauai started by Cornerstone? Isn't Bynam, Furfaro, and Mason all from leadership um Cornerstone?

Anonymous said...

Gary Hooser lied about the amount of pesticides the seed companies use just as he cheated the government (us taxpayers) by collecting taxes from his customers and pocketing them instead of paying them to the State as the law requires. What else would you expect from a tax cheat but lies? And this person came to Hawaii from the mainland to "help" us? Only a person of similar character would vote for this person. It's not the end that justifies the means (as Hooser thinks) but the way we go about achieving our goals.

Anonymous said...

I wonder how the Hyatt at Poipu justifies criticizing the dairy when they're own golf course pollutes the land far worse with tons of pesticides? What hypocrites!

Anonymous said...

Where's the outrage from the anti dairy crowd? Too busy golfing?

Anonymous said...

Maybe the Dairy should counter-sue Hyatt for operating this disgusting golf course next to its cows:

Anonymous said...

all gets crumpled into one smoldering heap of whats killing our isle. everyones so damn self serving ...wait until the next development by the new chinese billionaire owner of the land overlooking Anini, or the ridge clowns. Endless sour seasoning of our aina renamed 'sustainable milk", "good green stewards", "feeding the world"...camo'd as good for us! jobs, food stuffs, entertainment....amazing what gets way here,then forgotten, then revisioned in comparison to the next guys to justify against or in harmony with whats best? you tell me...

KatieH said...

Ok, the 18 tons of restricted use pesticides referenced in 2491/Ordinance 960 refers to SALES in aggregate weight (ie you buy a gallon the weight is 8.34lb/gallon). The figure was later revised to more specific units of lbs and gallons with respect to sales. The active ingredients can be found on each label and the total volume/weight sales can be converted lb of active ingredient. (2010 - 14,721 lb, 2011 10,802 lb and 2012 17,474 lb) Golf courses use very little, restricted use pesticides, as in tens of lbs on Kauai. We do not have a record of general use pesticides that Kauai golf courses use or a list that the chemical companies use. Spray records revealed in the Pioneer lawsuit indicate that the chem companies use at least as much general use pesticides as restricted use. If Mark Phillipson of Syngenta is accurate in his estimate of 28% planted acreage you can see that the restricted use concentration is about 5 lb/acre, include general use and we are already at 10 lb per acre.

Anonymous said...

OK... please learn to write.. all is obscured in a flaming turgid tumble of text by your annoying stream of consciousness... too much trouble to read...sour taste in the mind... but I take it you don't care for milk...

Anonymous said...

Gary Hooser and Tim Bynum went after Big Ag because the Anti- MONSANTO movement has national/international steam. This will guarantee a homerun. It doesn't matter that Monsanto no stay Kauai. "A little island in the middle of the sea, if only Monsanto would stop a killin' me." Mansanto equals big Ag so that is where the headlines and money reside. Besides, Walter Ritte and the other highly paid activists will be elbow buddies in the mob marches.
The fistees can not go after the largest users of controlled chemicals. In 1st place- County of Kauai 2- termite control 3- golf courses and 4- Big Ag and the unknown hundreds of thousands of gallons that the Ultimate Consumers pluck off of Wallmart and Costco shelves. The first three do not have the trembling thrill that the fistees get trying to get on national TV. The "Ultimate Consumer" being us, would get nowhere.

I am sick of the whole mess. Sick of Hooser's fistee lies, sick of Bynum's hypocrisy, sick of JoAnn vascillating, sick of Jay bloviating, sick of Mason Chock trying to find his own self as he subtly tries to move from the deep nasal dive he has in Gary's keester.
It would be a fresh breath of air to be able to speak to one another constructively, As soon as anyone says "Oh I use Roundup" they are categorized as the mother of Atilla the Hun or worser.
But, together we can work it out.
As Ross and Mel are known to say "Kauai can not be beaten by people from the outside, let's not defeat ourselves from within. Let's work together".
I am glad tomorrow is the 1st of the month, I can get my food-stamps and I need an ice cold beer.

Anonymous said...

Wasn't Katie one of those who swore she would never read Joan's blog again?

Anonymous said...

You cited a 15 year old study. Don't you think there's a relevancy deficiency there?
Lake Tahoe, in an extinct volcano crater, is rimmed by communities that cash in on the lake's clarity, just as Kaua`i cashes in on its clear, clean beaches and water. They organized to create an authority that pumps the effluent from all the waste plants up over the crater rim to be treated elsewhere. That needs to happen with all the near shore residences and businesses here.

Anonymous said...

The golf courses and termite companies get a free pass. Wtf ??

Joan Conrow said...

6:32-- No, I don't think there's a "relevancy deficiency." If anything the usage is even higher now because more golf courses have been developed since then. Regardless of the date, my point remains intact: golf courses are applying a lot of poisons and have been for decades but all the supposed poison haters aren't saying a peep about it. Why?

Anonymous said...

6:29 Joan's blog AKA KE is read by everyone who says they don't read it. It is a must (but maybe secret) read for politicos, big shots, think they be big shots and regular old know-it-alls like me.
KE is very threatening, it is read by and touches too many people.
Joan deserves an award for being the most dangerous person on Kauai. She WAS loved by all the whackjobs, tree huggers, unicorn owners, Hooserites, Prius drivers, anti-development, anti-government, anti-war, anti-hotel, anti-tourist, bee keepers, organic goat herders, naturists, natural gardeners
and all around cool hipsters on the island. She was especially loved by the many slender ladies who have lost the flower of youth, but persist in a buoyant youthful lifestyle.
She exposed the corrupt, she writes gooder than the GI, she brought the news that the GI never even knew had happened, she has the research and the seas parted as she walked.
And then came the fateful day when Joan Conrow questioned motives, facts and intent of the big Jesus issue of them all...GMOs, Big Ag and poison.

In a flash Joan was reduced and reviled. From hero to Zero....Well Joan, I respect you for your truthfulness and ability to overcome our natural inclination to be loved. Don't feel lonely, some of us still love you.
-an Andy Parx aficionado-

Chuck Lasker said...

It isn't about pesticides. It's never been about pesticides. It's about anti-GMO. The antis realized they weren't getting any traction on the straight anti-GMO fear-mongering, since they have no facts to stand on, so they decided to say it's about pesticides. That's why it went from "seed companies" and "GMO farms" to "agrichemical companies."

The whole thing is a political game - a game that's costing Hawaii millions in taxpayer funds, and leading to starvation and malnutrition around the world.

Fortunately, as the antis keep coming up with more and more extreme lies about death and destruction, people are looking around for the sick people, the dead bodies, the mass death and cancer and birth defects everywhere, and they're seeing they don't exist. No campaign based on lies can last forever.

Unknown said...

Excellent post. Thought-provoking and very well written and researched.

Anonymous said...

From hero to zero/ I don't think so, she is still a hero and has shown her leadership by questioning authority no matter whose or where it comes from.
She has a good intellect that does not just agree, but questions all sides of the issues. Thanks for your excellent writing.

Joan Conrow said...

Thanks, 5:08 am, and Michael Shintaku.

And 7:12, as a journalist, it's irrelevant to me whether I am loved, liked or "reviled" for what I report and write. But thanks for reading!

Anonymous said...

This has been an issue for decades the golf courses and their run off.

Not just rich people and tourists play golf, the locals are into it also...its part of the "culture" on this island.....and you certainly don't want to mess with "da culture"

State, County and Golf Courses need to stop their excessive use...but this would be harder to do than herding cats or rats.

Most are "comfortable" with poison...wearing shorts and flip flops spraying Round Up and who knows what around their pastures along the fence lines, and at home where their grand-kids play.

Change for a healthier environment will not come from the people who have been destroying it for decades, but from politicians who can think out of the box for solutions to the pollutions.

Dr Shibai

Anonymous said...

Golf courses use treated sewer water for there irrigation. That's a good thing.

ken burch said...

Not one reader mentions the horrible effect dust drifting across the Waimea River into neighbors' homes has had upon that community- or the refusal of chemical companies to address and remedy the situation for more than 10 years. Instead of beginning with pesticide and gmo issues, why not begin with what it means to be a good neighbor. Good neighbors do not create dissension and misery within their communities. Just go to Waimea and speak with the unfortunate families that have had to deal with this horrible problem for such a long time. Listen to their stories of how the chemical companies have responded over time. It is very saddening and disheartening that such behavior by companies on our island is tolerated and justified by anyone. Auwe!

Anonymous said...

Eh, Dr. Shibai, do you drive a car, travel via jet plane, eat foods imported from overseas? If so, look in the mirror when you talk about people destroying the environment. You are a shibai.

Luke Kambic said...

"Of 30 commonly used lawn pesticides 19 have studies pointing toward carcinogens".

This statement is probably accurate. But vitamin E, beta-carotene, and the essential element selenium also "have studies pointing toward" carcinogenic properties (check out the links). Activist organizations often misrepresent the evidence by ignoring dose and by relying heavily on cherry-picked studies of variable quality. In contrast, regulatory decisions are usually made by using a "weight-of-evidence" approach. Toxicology is complicated.

Anonymous said...

The voices of the same people that blocked the super ferry from coming into the harbor. Real forward thinkers. You don't speak for everyone. There is NO real scientific proof to back up the anti GMO movement. There is NO real scientific proof to back up the anti pesticide people either. Shame on you "got my piece of paradise" people! Some people have lives and families that depend on the golf and GMO industries. Don't fight nature. Peace, love and good vibes sounds great, but the natural law of this planet is survival of the fittest and smartest. If you don't know that your doomed. Just don't take us down with you.