FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Hawaiʻi Fails to Protect Children from Toxic Pesticides
Mandatory disclosure bill killed on the House floor
HONOLULU— Today a bill died on the Hawai‘i House floor, and with it, immediate hopes to protect children and other impacted community members from the poisonous effects of toxic pesticides. After passing through three committees, HB 790 – a bill that would have required chemical companies to give advanced notice before spraying pesticides around schools – was killed during a final House vote. The bill was re-referred, late into session, to the House Consumer Protection Committee where the committee Chair, Angus McKelvey from Maui, inserted language that made it too contentious to cross over to the Senate.
“By not passing this mandatory pesticide disclosure law, our state representatives have failed to protect our children and communities. Our keiki deserve better,” said Ashley Lukens, director of Hawai‘i Center for Food Safety (HCFS).
The vote saw major backlash from community members who, given broad public engagement and the demonstration of scientific data linking pesticide exposure to major health impacts, especially in children, were devastated to see state representatives fail to protect our keiki.
“This kind of backroom maneuvering to serve the anti-regulatory agenda of industrial agriculture tells us that the power of our community is growing. It is only a matter of time until we win. Publicly aligning with companies like Monsanto is political suicide, so their advocates inside government are using back channels to get this work done,” said community advocate and Lahaina resident Kai Nishiki. “Today we remind every elected official that we are watching. We understand this process and we will not allow it to continue.”
According to a 2012 report by the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) entitled “Pesticide Exposure in Children,” children exposed to chronic, low-level exposure to Restricted Use Pesticides, like chlorpyrifos are at a risk of neurodevelopmental disabilities like autism and ADHD, as well as leukemia and asthma. Currently there are at least 27 schools in Hawai‘i located within a mile of fields where agrichemical companies like Monsanto and Dow Chemical spray restricted-use pesticides. Requiring advanced notification disclosing pesticide use would have given the school officials a chance to close windows and even move class locations to avoid direct drift contact.
“The spin and misinformation put out there by the industry—and unfortunately some of our legislators—is not fooling the public. This is about giving Hawaiʻi residents the most basic ‘right to know’ what’s being sprayed near our homes, hospitals and schools,” said Gary Hooser, former State Senator, Kauaʻi Councilmember and volunteer President for the Hawaiʻi Alliance of Progressive Action (HAPA). “The public’s health concerns will not go away until the state takes the real action needed to protect Hawaiʻi’s people and environment.”
A 2016 Joint Fact Finding Study Group (JFFSG) report revealed major gaps in state regulations of pesticides and the agrichemical industry responsible for exposing residents and communities to known toxins, and recommended that state government set new standards for chronic, low-level exposure to pesticides over time, rather than solely focusing on one-time acute exposure. In particular the report called for the implementation of a consistent, no-spray buffer policy around sensitive areas like schools to protect children from pesticide drift, and mandatory public disclosure of pesticide use by large agribusinesses throughout the state.
The Protect our Keiki Coalition will continue to put the pressure on state lawmakers to enforce mandatory, comprehensive pesticide disclosure regulations, and to implement more safety measures like buffer zones. One bill still being considered (SB 778) would appropriate $3 million to implement recommendations from the findings of the Kauaʻi Joint Fact Finding report. These recommendations include Protect out Keiki’s core policy priorities: mandatory disclosure and notification of pesticides and no-spray buffer zones around sensitive areas.
More information about the need for these bills can be found at: protectourkeiki.org
The Protect our Keiki Coalition is a statewide coalition advocating for the protection of our keiki and kupuna from the dangers of toxic pesticide use. The coalition includes Hawaiʻi Center for Food Safety, Hawaiʻi SEED, Hawaiʻi Alliance for Progressive Action, Sierra Club of Hawaiʻi, SHAKA Movement, Babes Against Biotech, GMO Free Kauaʻi, AIKEA Movement, Young Progressives Demanding Action, and The Mom Hui, among other allies. www.protectourkeiki.org