If perhaps the tides are beginning to turn for communities suffering public health impacts from dangerous pesticides, Hawaiʻi is the fringe on the wave of change.
Honolulu, Hawai‘i: Hawai'i made history today when Governor David Ige, watched by representatives of the community from across the islands, signed into law Senate Bill 3095, banning all uses of chlorpyrifos, a neurotoxin that has been banned for home use for over 10 years because of its known impacts on the developing brains of children.
FIRST IN THE NATION CHLORPYRIFOS BAN!
Hawaii did what Pruitt’s EPA wouldn’t.
Hawaii did what the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) under Scott Pruitt had failed to do: it banned the neurotoxin chlorpyrifos that can trace its genealogy to nerve agents used in World War 1. It took several years of grassroots activism, ongoing court battles, and a high profile advocacy campaign by a determined coalition, as well as leadership from key legislative champions like Senator Russell Ruderman, Rep. Richard Creagan, Rep.Dee Morikawa, Senator Mike Gabbard, and Representative Chris Lee.
“There is much to celebrate,” said Gary Hooser, Founder President of the Hawaii Alliance for Progressive Action (H.A.P.A.). “This was a compromise in which everyone’s voice was heard, and most importantly, the community’s well-founded fears about their health were addressed. Our families have some much-needed protections against powerful neurotoxins that we know are harming our children, pregnant women and families living close to test fields.”
“In addition to banning chlorpyrifos, we fought hard for comprehensive reporting and no spray zones, and I am so pleased we got them,” said Lauryn Rego who serves on the advisory board of the Hawaii Center for Food Safety. “We have shown that toxic pesticides like chlorpyrifos can and should be phased out of our environment. And agrichemical companies that use Hawaii as their open laboratory now must report to the Department of Agriculture what is being sprayed, how much is being sprayed, and when and where those applications occur. This reporting will create a wealth of valuable data for decision-makers and researchers. What we have had so far has been woefully inadequate,” she said.
Molokai mother, lawyer, activist, Keani Rawlins-Fernandez, whose child goes to an immersion school on Molokai that is across from Monsanto fields, welcomed the news. “At last! This is the beginning of the end of our worries about what our children are being exposed to,” she said.
The ban will take effect in January 2019. Companies that need more time to respond to the chlorpyrifos ban may apply for extensions via temporary permits which will be available only until 12/31/2022. After this date there will be no exceptions and chlorpyrifos will be banned from all use in the state of Hawaii.
Legislators listened to scientists and doctors
In the lead up to this vote, the coalition had showcased the views of several scientists who have studied these pesticides, and doctors who have long advocated for a ban on chlorpyrifos. Doctors wrote and spoke of their first-hand encounters with various health conditions known to be linked to pesticide exposure in large studies. Several physicians last year co-signed an appeal to the governor urging a ban on chlorpyrifos based on their concerns. They cited the findings of the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) who noted that “the risk to infant and children’s health and development is unambiguous.” The Hawaii chapter of the Academy offered testimony in support of this measure.
Robust reporting requirements and public disclosure will enable better research and improved protections for public health and the environment.
The quantity and quality of the “individual entity reporting data” gathered annually has significant potential value for research, studies, and testing needs. The Public Report Summary itself will provide the average resident and visitor with data to make basic decisions such as where to live or where their children should attend school.
“We have moved a step closer to addressing the huge risk posed by the spraying of restricted use pesticides. This is real progress in safeguarding the health of the community,” said Hooser. “We thank the legislators for doing the right thing to protect public health and we count on their continuing vigilance in managing and reining in reckless corporate behavior,” he said.
“This was a law that was years in the making. Its time had come.” said Senator Ruderman, the bill's primary introducer, who along with co-introducers Senators Josh Green and Rep. Karl Rhoads, were among the earliest supporters of the bill. “We have been guided by the belief that we must always put our keiki first. On that we should all agree.”
SB 3095 represents a turning point for Hawaii, and marks a new chapter for its residents and advocates in the Protect Our Keiki coalition who have repeatedly demanded protection against pesticide harms. The world’s largest agrichemical companies, such as Monsanto, Dow, and Syngenta, experiment and develop their genetically engineered crops in Hawaii. Because the majority of these crops are engineered to resist herbicides and pesticides, testing and development of these crops result in repeated spraying of dangerous chemicals. Many of their operations are adjacent to schools and residential areas, putting children and public health at risk. Voluntarily reported pesticide use data shows that these companies apply thousands of gallons and pounds of RUPs in Hawaii each year.
I recently learned that the Atlantic, a publication which I read on a regular basis, is hosting a conversation on the future of food called, Harvest: Transforming the Food We Eat sponsored by DowDuPont. We at HAPA felt that it was important to express our frustrations to the Atlantic that a publication with such high journalistic integrity would choose to align itself with DowDupont, a company that has so recklessly endangered members of our community, by spraying large quantities of restricted use pesticides next to homes, schools and other sensitive areas. Below is our response in a letter to the editor:
February 11th, 2018
I’m writing to express my concern about an event this week, hosted by The Atlantic and underwritten by DowDuPont. The event is billed as a conversation about the future of food called Harvest: Transforming the Food We Eat.
I am the Executive Director of the Hawai`i Alliance for Progressive Action (HAPA). HAPA is a statewide organization HAPA that emerged out of the community-led movement on Kaua`i to enact greater regulations around pesticide use and disclosure.
You may not be aware that Hawai`i, and in particular the island of Kaua`i, where we are headquartered, is the world epicenter for the testing of pesticides and genetically engineered seeds. The largest chemical corporations in the world, including DowDuPont, are using lands across Hawai`i to test pesticides and genetically engineered seeds near residential communities, schools, streams and the ocean. In many cases fields dedicated to generating experimental pesticide-resistant crops sit directly adjacent to schoolyards. Native Hawaiian communities are disproportionately impacted.
At this time, our communities do not have the most basic right to know what pesticides we are being exposed to, and when. We do not have the right to protect our children from Dow manufactured chemicals known to cause developmental delays by enacting modest buffer zones around our schools. Our communities located adjacent to Dowʻs test fields suffer disproportionately higher level of health impacts associated with pesticide exposure.
There are at least 27 schools in Hawai`i within a mile of commercial agricultural operations that apply large volumes of restricted-use pesticides (RUP), including DowDuPont’s. The American Academy of Pediatrics has found there to be a significantly increased health risk for children exposed to pesticides, and additional precautions must be taken to protect them from unintended exposure.
Your event sponsor, DowDuPont, is the lead manufacturer of chlorpyrifos, a dangerous neurotoxin. This pesticide is particularly concerning because several peer reviewed epidemiological studies have found that chlorpyrifos causes neurodevelopmental delays in fetuses and children. There is no safe level of exposure for children. This pesticide and many dangerous pesticides linked to adverse health outcomes are sprayed in large quantities next to schools, residences, waterways and other sensitive areas. In fact, the EPA was poised to ban chlorpyrifos for agricultural use prior to the Trump administration.
On two separate occasions in 2006 and 2008 Waimea Canyon Middle School on the Westside of Kaua`i was evacuated, and approximately 60 students were hospitalized, demonstrating symptoms of acute chlorpyrifos exposure. On each of those days, the pesticide application was so close to the school that teachers were able to capture cellphone videos of spray trucks from their classroom windows. In 2015, farmworkers on Kaua`i were sent to the hospital for chlorpyrifos exposure, leading the EPA to levy fines of $4.8M for farmworker safety violations.
Our community has repeatedly attempted to enact common sense regulations at the county and state level, only to be thwarted by DowDuPont and the agrochemical industry. In 2014, thousands of residents rallied on Kaua`i, Maui and Hawai`i Island to pass county level ordinances to regulate the agrochemical industry.
These regulations were not radical. For example, on Kaua`i, Bill 2491 required the largest users of restricted use pesticides to simply disclose what pesticides they use, to provide pre-notification prior to application, to respect modest buffer zones around schools and other sensitive areas, and to conduct environmental impact and health studies.
Following the passage of these county ordinances, DowDuPont and other agrochemical companies sued to overturn these regulations. In 2016, the Ninth Circuit court determined that only our state has the ability to regulate pesticides.
Our communities, healthcare providers, scientists and public health organizations continue to advocate at our state legislature for the basic right to know what pesticides we are exposed to and to protect our children and precious natural resources. However, this industry wields powerful political influence in our state government. Industry lobbyists outspend our grassroots community advocacy efforts and run their own slate of candidates. Industry representatives hold powerful positions in local government and on important regulatory boards and commissions.
As a reader of your publication, it is unsettling to learn that The Atlantic would align its brand with an industry that has so recklessly endangered the health and safety of our communities. I hope you will reconsider DowDuPont’s sponsorship, and stand in solidarity with our communities who are living on the frontline of these environmental injustices.
Thank you for your consideration.
Anne Frederick, Executive Director
Hawai`i Alliance for Progressive Action (H.A.P.A)
We lost, we won, we will appeal – (Summary of yesterdays results in court) – Ke Kauhulu o Mana versus the State Board of Land and Natural Resources (BLNR) and Syngenta
Reflection's from HAPA Board President Gary Hooser on the November 9th ruling in Ke Kauhulu o Mana versus the State Board of Land and Natural Resources (BLNR) and Syngenta.
A Kaua`i-based community group, Ke Kauhulu o Manu, filed a lawsuit against the State and Syngenta Corp. to enforce a Hawai`i law requiring environmental review for any significant action or development proposed on publicly-owned, coastal and conservation-zoned lands. In this instance . . . READ MORE.
Federal Court Ruling Places Responsibility on State to Protect Communities from Pesticides: Yesterday, the Ninth Circuit US Court of Appeals invalidated county ordinances in Kaua‘i, Maui, and Hawai‘i Counties that sought to enforce public health protections associated with the high volumes of pesticides used by experimental genetically engineered seed operations in the Hawaiian islands. We expect immediate action from both the State legislature and the governor to enact protections. All of the energy that went into passing these laws on the neighbor islands will now be united and directed to the State. People aren't going to stop until our islands and the people are protected. READ MORE.
HAPA launches the 2017 Kuleana Academy leadership and candidate training program, in partnership with other leading progressive Hawai‘i organizations. The four-month Kūleana Academy is designed to educate and train emerging leaders who have a desire to serve in public office, organize in their communities, or serve on one of Hawaii's many boards and commissions. The program will give the participants a well-rounded introduction to the critical issues in Hawai‘i, leadership skills training and base knowledge of the ins-and-outs of campaigning. All travel and participation costs are covered.
State Funded Panel Issues Final Report on Impacts of Agrochemical Industry on Kauai's Health and Environment
The state-funded JFFG final report makes recommendations to the state and county for environmental testing and health monitoring to close important information gaps and modernize Hawaii`s pesticide regulations. Take action now to ask the state to immediately enact the recommendations of its own state-funded report! Read more . . .
Global Advocates from India to Africa Pledge Solidarity with Hawai‘i as the Pesticides/GMO "Ground Zero" of the World
Regional leaders of the international movement from around the world and Hawai‘i met in Honolulu share experiences in the battle against corporate land grabs, and strategies for winning protections for farm workers, communities, and local democracies.
The representatives were farmers, scientists and organizers from around the world, from as far as the India Pesticide Action Network to as close as the National Family Farm Coalition of the United States.
Their statement is one of solidarity with those struggling for public health protections and access for local food production in Hawai‘i . . . READ MORE . . .
HAPA is proud to be featured in the 2015 Pacific Business News Giving Guide, which was published last Friday, Nov. 27, 2015. We are excited to share about our mission, Board of Directors, and opportunities to get involved!
HAPA launches Kūleana Academy leadership and candidate training program, in partnership with other leading progressive Hawai‘i organizations. The five-month Kūleana Academy is designed to educate and train emerging leaders who have a desire to serve in public office. The program will give the participants a well-rounded introduction to the critical issues in Hawai‘i, leadership skills training and base knowledge of the ins-and-outs of campaigning. All travel and participation costs are covered.
Kūleana Academy Alliance Education Partners that presently include: Community Alliance on Prisons, Hawaiʻi Americans For Democratic Action, Hawaiʻi Appleseed, Hawai‘i Center for Food Safety, Hawaiʻi Peopleʻs Fund, Hawaiʻi SEED, Hawaiʻi's Thousand Friends, KAHEA, Life of the Land, Maui Tomorrow, and UNITE HERE! Local 5.