Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Musings: Gross Ignorance

It's not unusual for the state Legislature to be clueless, seeing as how it's susceptible to pressure —financial and otherwise — from special interest groups. But when the Civil Beat editorial board weighs in, I expect them to have at least some idea what they're talking about.

Unfortunately, the Civil Beat editorial board shows its gross ignorance in calling today for the Senate to pass SB 1037, which requires all farmers to disclose all their use of pesticides.

It's not that I have a problem with pesticide disclosure. It's just that I wonder why Civil Beat and some lawmakers think it's OK to target only farmers.

Especially when a pesticide study by the state Department of Healthfound that urban Oahu streams had the highest number of pesticides present.

But even then, “None of these levels present a risk to human health or the environment,” according to DOH toxicologist Fenix Grange.

So what is the problem, exactly?

And then there's the report from the Department of Ag confirming that in the past eight years, not a single episode of school evacuations was caused by agricultural pesticides. Instead, homeowners misapplying pesticides, and a turf company, were the culprits.

From their comfy perch in downtown Honolulu, it's easy for urban legislators and the Civil Beat editorial board to issue a dictate to farmers, to sanctimoniously term the bill a “modest proposal” and the “neighborly thing to do.”

They have no idea what the true cost of this legislation is to farmers. And I'm talking economically, in terms of complying with disclosure, and socially, in having to deal with the nuts who are gentrifying agricultural land and trying to shut down the farms in their midst.

Because the bill requires the land to be identified by address and tax map key, making every farmer the potential target of a nuisance lawsuit.

Meanwhile, Civil Beat and clueless lawmakers turn a blind eye to the pesticides used by termite treatment companies, pest control operators, government agencies and homeowners, who often apply these substances improperly.

Though that pesticide use occurs in densely populated urban areas, residential neighborhoods, roadsides, parks, schools, hospitals, golf courses and resorts frequented by large numbers of people, including keiki and kupuna, it's somehow OK, while the pesticides applied by farmers in rural areas are not.

Tell us, Civil Beat, why is it neighborly for a farmer to disclose pesticide use, but not a pest control company or your own parks and recreation department?

If the goal is to prevent exposure among sensitive persons, or reduce the overall use of pesticides, this bill does neither, because the disclosure is after-the-fact.

So what, then, is the purpose? I mean, other than to punish farmers — or more specifically, the seed companies. 

Because Civil Beat, like many lawmakers, including Rep. Cynthia Thielen, have been suckered by the Center for Food Safety and other groups that are using the pesticide issue to advance their anti-GMO cause.

It's sad that Civil Beat hasn't used its money and reporting team to educate homeowners on pesticide use, or even explore that issue at all, seeing as how nearly all pesticide problems occur in the home. And even then, very few people are actually being "poisoned in paradise," despite what Rep. Thielen wrongly believes.

According to the Hawaii Poison Center:

Of the 4,800 human pesticide exposure calls, approximately 90% of the exposures occurred in a residence, 4.4% in the workplace and 1% in a school. The remaining 4% consisted of miscellaneous locations (i.e., other/unknown, public areas, health care facilities, and food service.) 

At least 90 percent of the exposures caused no or minimal health effects. There were three deaths. None of the pesticide complaints were linked to atrazine exposures.

And according to the Department of Ag in its report to the Legislature:

As far as statewide pesticide complaints, there were a total of 293 between 2010 and 2013. Oahu had 127, Big Island 73, Maui 51 and Kauai 42. Less than half of the complaints are due to agricultural activities. For complaints involving potential atrazine exposure, atrazine was not detected in any environmental samples collected during this time period.

To spell it out, agriculture is not the problem. So why are legislators and Civil Beat going after farmers?

But then, as I said in the beginning, they don't have any idea what they're talking about.


Anonymous said...

We all know why, it is to free the land of agriculture for development purposes.

Anonymous said...

Hmmmmm, wondering if Civil Beat's Omidyar and his Ulupono Initiative notified the community before or after spraying malathion over his future dairy lands.

Anonymous said...

"To spell it out, agriculture is not the problem. So why are legislators and Civil Beat going after farmers?"

Because they're pompous fools who pander to the loudest mouths.

Unknown said...

Joan, you have articulated the issue perfectly. If our legislators could just make the time to read this blog they would know exactly what is going on with this bill and others designed to bring agriculture in this State to its knees. Many small farmers would be negatively impacted by this bill and they would have done nothing to deserve such a legal cluster f and they are so busy running their own farms that they cannot show up to the hearings to testify in their defense.

Unknown said...

This is great. Are you going to post this to the Civil Beat site?

Joan Conrow said...


I did post a link in the comments section of the Civil Beat editorial, and also sent a link directly to editor Patti Epler via email.

Anonymous said...

Using pesticides involves trade offs. The anti-gmo camp may lack credibility but surely you don't buy Syngenta, Dow and Dupont's party line. Or do you?

Anonymous said...

Re: @11:18- "The SAS (Shill Accusation Syndrome) is strong with this one."

Anonymous said...

8:48 Do you have some proof before throwing out such weird accusations? Why is it you say this or what facts behind your post?

Anonymous said...

Don't forget golf courses.

Joan Conrow said...

Nope, we don't want to forget golf courses. Which is why I included a link in the post to a report on the many pesticides they use. Just click where you see golf courses highlighted in the text.

Dawson said...

8:38 AM wrote:
We all know why, it is to free the land of agriculture for development purposes.

Exactly. Agriculture is a threat to tourism and real estate development. No other industry on the island has the potential to develop 'way beyond its current limitations, to find viable models for sustainability and economic growth, and to compete with tourism and real estate development for acreage and viewshed. No other industry on the island has the potential to suck the cash flow from the sugar daddies of Kauai's political machine. Sure, agriculture is small now, but if genetic research has its way it may become a dangerous competitor in the future. Best to stomp it out now, while it's small. Best to pound into the minds of Kauai's residents the mantra of "tourism is clean, ag is dirty."

Kevin said...

I totally agree Dawson..

Anonymous said...

Agriculture has a history on Kauai.

Anonymous said...

@8:48AM - what ARE you talking about?

Anonymous said...

"Though that pesticide use occurs in densely populated urban areas, residential neighborhoods, roadsides, parks, schools, hospitals, golf courses and resorts frequented by large numbers of people, including keiki and kupuna, it's somehow OK, while the pesticides applied by farmers in rural areas are not."

I completely agree with this statement. However, getting the foot in the door, and then expanding the scope seems to be the only way to wrestle with this problem.

In a perfect world having a wide scope totally comprehensible and sensible law would be best but it seems that everything seems to get through the process piecemeal.

However i have one objection, stating that there were no evacuations. Well the Waimea incident certainly qualifies i believe, and was genuine. People on the west-side aren't newcomers, they are Hawaiians and rubbah slippah folk.

They aren't trying to make trouble, just get something in place to regulate what is going on above them from the upland slopes.

Voluntary compliance is good. If everyone did voluntary compliance for all what you listed would that be sufficient for everyone?

Also just my opinion.

Anonymous said...

JC @ 12:57 Divert and digress some?

Anonymous said...

1:50 , wrong agriculture is no threat to tourism, Hawaii has always had tourism along with agriculture, such as in Elvis' Blue Hawaii, they go to the pineapple fields...
It simply is THE LAND, the west side has plenty sun and land, ocean vistas and if you get rid of ag, bam, you too can develop a big water, energy garbage, pesticide sucking hotel too.

Joan Conrow said...

No, just providing relevant information.

Anonymous said...

3:19,try not insult us with your rubbah slippah folks, no logical thinking person in the world would think you could advance an agenda against pesticides by first singling out one industry, rather than pesticides in all public places .

Anonymous said...

3:45 given the resistance of the chemical companies to regulation regarding ag/gmo, imagine what they'd do if regulation was all encompassing.

Anonymous said...

I believe that the following quote taken from the Civil Beat editorial pretty much sums it all up: "While there are no peer-reviewed studies definitively linking agriculture pesticide use to human illness or death in Hawaii, there is no doubt that the pesticides themselves are toxic to people."

So in other words admitting absolutely zero evidence to justify the wild claims or need for this law.

Anonymous said...

5:40 like the real estate industry would have been fighting the regulation too instead of supporting it for the eventual land to sell and develop.

Anonymous said...

The same people who say that this is a ploy to rid the island of agriculture are also staunch supporters of Grove farm. Who do yo think wants to develop???? Why do you think they want water rights? You can't have it both ways folks.

Anonymous said...

@5:40 they don't want duplicative regulation that is derived from an activist agenda & which singles them out, with no scientific basis.

Anonymous said...

No wonder Hooser wasn't at the Council meeting today. He's testifying at the Carleton Ching appointment hearing.

Anonymous said...

3-10-15, 3:19 PM: You should read the links in the article. The one from the DOH states that in the two incidents from WCMS, the experts who were called in all agreed that the problem was stinkweed, not pesticide. This was later confirmed by an air-quality test conducted by UH that was paid for by the County of Kauai and the State DOA. These incidents have become so embedded in the narrative of the anti GMO activists, they recite them like they're quoting scripture. It helps to back and actually look at the facts occasionally.

Anonymous said...

If a Council Member misses s certain amount of meetings, like 5 or more a year, he/she should loose their seat because he/she obviously don't care enough to be present for the business of Kauai.

Maybe we can get rid of Hooser early then.

Anonymous said...

Stinkweed has an acrid compound, Methyl isothiocyanate, and the west side was covered with it at the time of the incidents at WCMS. The same compound was added to a list of chemicals to be looked at in one of the early, expensive and comprehensive economic justice studies done by the California Department of Pesticide Regulation since it is found in a soil fumigant. The Parlier study was a departure point for the WCMS ambient air study; however, it was a much more robust study costing 15+ times more. The most interesting thing in the study is that, within a 5 mile radius of Parlier which is a compact town of 1.6 sq miles, 2,000,000 pounds of pesticides are used, and yet the CA Department of Pesticide Regulation found the chemicals rising above EPA monitoring levels were acrolein and formaldehyde from non pesticide sources (probably area highways and industries). This compares to the Hooser and Bynum's scare number whether its 18 tons or more likely less. A five mile radius centered on Waimea would roughly include an area from Kekaha to Hanapepe or the heartland of Kauai seed farming. For those of you interested in the study or for the inevitable conspiracy theorists, the study can be found here:
http://www.cdpr.ca.gov/docs/envjust/pilot_proj/parlier_final.pdf Those of you who merely want to look at the quantities of pesticides used (the slackers) can simply go to page 60 and the following pages.

Anonymous said...

Kauai meth dealer sentenced to 20 years in prison.

Good job those all of those who madr this possible.

Great Job PA Kollar and your DPA's, the last prosecutor protected criminals like this and created a criminal protecting program and also a get out of jail for $200.

Sad thing is that he was one of many still out there selling the most toxic chemicals that's killing and destroying many families on Kauai.

Get the guys who protect them too. Fuck the Drug Syndicates!!!!!!!!