The final report of the Joint Fact Finding group is asserting that extensive monitoring must be done before any claims can be made about the impact of agricultural pesticides on west Kauai.
It's a sharp departure from the draft, which maintained there was no evidence linking pesticide use with any health or environmental impacts. But though the final report makes a stronger call for monitoring and identifies pesticides as a priority for state funding, it offers no strong or new data to support that stance.
Instead, it tells us that pesticides can be harmful, and agriculture uses them. Therefore, the state and county must embark on extensive and expensive monitoring to ferret them out — even though the studies that have been conducted have found no indication that harmful levels of pesticides are migrating from the coffee and seed fields.
Other than changing its “no evidence of harm” stance — and adding some outtake quotes strategically selected to highlight alarming assertions — little has changed between the draft and the final, despite hundreds of public comments.
The final report takes the same bizarre approach to assessing health impacts: identify diseases linked to pesticide use, then look for incidences of those ailments. Problem is, the diseases have many other causes besides pesticides.
It continues to give unwritten (much less published) activist studies the same weight as those conducted by professionals and state agencies, and makes no apologies for including anti-GMO activists as consultants and panel members.
And it notes only that JFFG members Sarah Styan, Roy Yamakawa and Gerardo Rojas resigned, while making no mention of their detailed and extensive concerns. But then, that's the MO of the anti-GMO movement. Those who disagree are first denounced as shills, then shunned.
Because let's not forget that anti-GMO activists comprise a majority of JFFG members.
So it's no surprise that this report serves up all the anti-GMO demands, most notably, the call for real-time pesticide use disclosure:
The capability exists to determine how much pesticide application occurs at a specific location and at a given time; however it is not currently being done. This information is essential for performing future environment and health impact studies.
This is patently false. Even California, which the report holds up as the gold standard of health and environmental monitoring, does not require this specificity of disclosure. It's absurd to assert that no monitoring can be done unless it's known exactly where pesticides are being used.
There's only one reason for this kind of disclosure, and that's so the anti-GMO activists can tailor health claims and nuisance litigation to match pesticide application sites.
The also report tells us that some JFFG members are exploring the possibility of raising private funds, with a committee doling out grants to conduct studies. Oh, goodie. More activist science. Of course, these groups could have conducted studies already (and some did, but found nothing serious) because they've been given hundreds of thousands of dollars in grants. Instead, they used the dough on propaganda, like Vandana Shiva x3 and the “Aina” film, which features JFF member Kawika Winter.
But now they've got a report that shifts the financial burden for their agenda onto taxpayers and private businesses, while maintaining a climate of fear and uncertainty that fuels their fundraising and advocacy efforts.
Some might ask, why not do all these studies? Why not "err on the side of caution"? That's fine — if there's unlimited money and no self-serving groups involved, neither of which is true here. The report could have suggested a staged approach: if initial monitoring turns up evidence of pesticides, expand to x, y, z. Instead, it is already calling for wholescale revision of pesticide laws and policy, with no evidence that it's needed.
In short, it's agenda driven, not science-based.
In short, it's agenda driven, not science-based.
So a better question is, why act when there's no indication of any problem? An example was Councilman Gary Hooser's demand, which the JFFG echoed, that the Kauai Department of Water test for chlorpyrifos. It did, and found nothing, just as it expected, because DOW's decision not to test was based on science.
There's another reason why this report should be largely dismissed: it rewards demagogues like Hooser and Ashley Lukens of Hawaii Center for Food Safety by giving credence to their claims, so many of which have been proven false, and their fear-mongering tactics.
And that's no small consideration. If the state keeps caving in to nonsense, and acting like the concessions are nothing, when they aren't, where will it stop? Why give demagogues that kind of power?
It's clear from the report — and the entire dysfunctional process that created it — that the JFFG is merely trying to wave a flag rather than address the community fears and concerns stoked by the activists.