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Major Gaps in Hawai‘i’s Pesticide Regulations Revealed

March 10th, 2016
Center for Food Safety

Government-Sponsored Joint Fact-Finding Study on Pesticide Use by Agribusinesses on Kauaʻi Finds Pesticides Are not Sufficiently Regulated

Honolulu, HI—Community activists in Hawai‘i hailed the draft results of a joint fact finding study released today, which indicated that pesticides and the agrichemical industry are not sufficiently regulated in the State. In light of the findings, advocates reiterated their demands for the State to take immediate action to protect keiki and kūpuna health by implementing the study’s recommendations.  

The Hawai‘i Department of Agriculture, along with the Kauaʻi County Council and Peter Adler’s Accord3.0 Network, released the results after an extensive year-long investigation of the impacts and regulation of pesticide use by Hawaiʻi’s genetically engineered (GE) seed industry and Kauaʻi Coffee.  What they recommend: Governor David Ige, the state legislature and several state agencies “undertake a major update to Hawaiʻi’s pesticide laws and regulations,” including the establishment of consistent, no-spray buffer zones and mandatory public disclosure of pesticide use by all large users.

“This report has reinforced the need for better regulations, meaningful protections and a complete transformation of our agricultural sector. We have waited far too long for this fact finding report and we are still waiting for action,” says Kauaʻi resident Fern Ānuenue Rosenstiel. “I call on all officials on all levels of government to help protect our communities and homes. The time is now."

The $100,000 report was commissioned in response to growing public concern about the human and environmental health impacts of pesticide-promoting GE crop operations in the state. It recommends the State set new standards for chronic, low-level exposure to pesticides over time, rather than solely focusing on one-time acute exposure.  This recommendation is well-supported by Pesticides in Paradise, a report by Hawaiʻi Center for Food Safety (HCFS), which has made the same recommendation at over 40 statewide presentations.

"There is extensive medical literature establishing that pesticide exposure is dangerous to human health - particularly to our keiki and kūpuna. Its time for the state to close our regulatory gaps and ensure the safety of our communities,” HCFS Director Ashley Lukens remarks.

Accord3.0 Network, one of the leading conflict mediation organizations in the state, brought together a local working group of eight subject-matter experts with diverse viewpoints on the issue, who worked for over 2,000 hours with the Hawaiʻi Department of Agriculture and County of Kaua‘i to conduct the joint fact finding process underlying the report. The Kaua‘i-based team was selected based on their background expertise in agriculture, pesticides, public health, land use, and environmental science.

The over 100-page report emphasizes the need for regular pesticide monitoring of air, water, soil and dust, and increased coordination between the Hawai‘i Department of Agriculture, Department of Education, Department of Land and Natural Resources and the Office of Hawaii Affairs to implement the recommendations in a timely manner.  The group’s recommendations will provide direction for future study and act as a reference for legislative bills and other necessary regulatory action around pesticide and GE crop use in Hawai'i. The draft report is available for public comment until April 8, 2016.

For more information about pesticides and GE crops in Hawai'i, please visit HawaiiCFS.org.

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