Two comments were left on the last post that deserve a bit of follow-up. The first:
On another topic..David Ige DLNR?
Yes, Gov. Ige has appointed two men from the development sector — Carleton Ching and Kekoa Kaluhiwa — to serve as director and deputy director, respectively, of the Department of Land and Natural Resources.
It's certainly troubling, though not surprising, to see Ige pick people who have far more experience developing land than protecting it to lead an agency that manages thousands of acres of public resources. This is yet another example of the continuing blow-back against progressive politics in the wake of the anti-GMO movement.
But what I find especially fascinating is that both men are currently serving as developer flacks. Ching is vice president of community and government relations for Castle & Cooke Hawaii, while Kaluhiwa, after a PR stint with First Wind, is now a principal of Kuanoo Communications, “where he helps clients understand the unique cultural and environmental challenges of doing business in Hawaii,” according to the governor's press release.
In other words, Ige has picked men who are excel at spin and sell — both to the public and to the Lege. Which raises the question: what does Ige have in mind for DLNR and its assets that will require this particular expertise?
The second comment was apparently left in response to this graphic:
Please use facts and don't be misleading as you accuse others of so often. While the agro-chem companies may lease 14,500 acres on Kauai they do not use anywhere near that many acres in their testing. I would be surprised if they even use 1/10 of that acreage from the looks of it while driving through the west side. Go take a look for yourself - they include large buffer zones between their test fields to eliminate the potential of cross contamination and drift from one field to another. Try find out how many acres are actually in testing or tilled at any one time - good luck because our "good neighbors" won't share that data with us.
The Kauai Agricultural Good Neighbor Program data base does provide information about how much land is being treated with restricted use pesticides. It references “total area applied to” and “field area applied to.” So we do know exactly how much land receives pesticide applications. But since the fields aren't identified by tax map key, we don't know how many fields are given repeated applications, and how many fields get nothing.
The seed companies themselves have said they don't use all the acreage they lease, and they do indeed have land in buffer zones — both between crops, and also now between their fields and schools and some houses.
It is clear from the data that not all the land is sprayed all the time. In December 2014, for example, restricted use pesticides were applied to 1,993 field acres, or less than one-tenth of the acreage the seed companies control.
Which means the companies aren't spraying everything 24/7, as some anti-GMO activists claim, nor is any one neighborhood subject to constant exposure.
It also means it's not really accurate to use the comparison floated by the seed companies, which likened their overall pesticide use to applying one soda of stuff evenly to a football field.
Still, I think it is important to recognize that the disclosure under the Good Neighbor Program, which was entirely volunteer, has provided us with meaningful data on the types and quantity of RUP being sprayed on Kauai fields.
And the total is not what was presented by Councilman Gary Hooser and former Councilman Tim Bynum when they were drumming up support for Bill 2491. If their claims about pesticide quantity were exaggerated three-fold, isn't it reasonable to think their other claims were similarly inflated?
Which is not to say I think it's OK to apply 5.15 tons of restricted use pesticides to Kauai soil. Only that we need to move this debate into the realm of facts and reality, and the data base is a good place to start.
Since the program was due to be assessed after one year, which is now, this is the time to discuss how that reporting could be more meaningful in terms of addressing community concerns. We also need to encourage the companies to keep participating. Because so long as the court ruling on Bill 2491/Ordinance 960 stands, voluntary compliance is all we've got.