Kaua‘i Mayor and the state Dept. of Agriculture have hired a consultant to form a panel to review literature on GMO's and Pesticides. And other islands should take note, as this may be held out as an example around the state.
H.A.P.A. is cautiously optimistic about this “study group” being initiated on Kaua'i. It is very important to recognize, however, that what is being funded and pursued by the Kaua‘i Mayor’s Office and State Department of Agriculture is NOT the full EPHIS (Environmental and Public Health Impact Study) as it was mandated by Ordinance 960 / Bill 2491.
The mandated EPHIS included a two-part process of first convening a Joint Fact Finding Group (JFFG) to determine the scope and design of the EPHIS, which would be the second-phase (including an independent consultant group conducting original research of the Kaua‘i situation). In contrast, what has been funded in the $100,000 “study group” is only similar to the first part of this process, with the possibility of suggestions for future study. No original research will be conducted in this first phase. It will focus on reviewing already existing literature and data (much of which is already constantly being reviewed by citizens and scientists concerned with the situation). Ideally this 1-year study group will lead to the second-phase—the actual EPHIS—but there is no legal mandate, no funding allocated, no voiced commitment from the Mayor or Department of Agriculture, and no direction if consensus about what should be studied is not reached by the group.
While HAPA fully supports further study, this should NOT delay regulatory action to protect people and environment from heavy pesticide use by the chemical companies. There is a robust scientific literature on the dangers of the pesticides being used in very large amounts on Kaua‘i and other islands, and greater protections are common-sense. In environmental justice issues around the United States, “further study” is often used as an excuse to delay action. While we absolutely need local studies, including epidemiological analysis, we should pursue this information while also insuring protections from what we know are harmful chemicals being sprayed next to our homes, school and waterways.
Further, good scientific study will require more complete data about what is being sprayed, when and where. The chemical companies have been unwilling to provide full pesticide disclosure, and the monthly voluntary summaries in the Good Neighbor Program are insufficient for conducting a meaningful health and environmental impact study.
In the spirit of both cooperation and kūleana, we hope that the community, the State, and the County will use this opportunity to begin to honestly evaluate the types of study and regulatory protections that have been woefully lacking (including enforcement of existing laws). This is no reason to delay increased protections, which the scientific literature on pesticides already tells us we need. We hope to see meaningful regulatory steps taken by the State in the coming legislative session.
A few quick summary points on the Study Group project: (Click here for the full project description.)
There will be a "Joint Fact Finding Group" managed by Peter Adler (Project Director), that will include at least nine people "from Kaua‘i who have knowledge of Kaua‘i and good backgrounds in: agriculture, environmental health, epidemiology, toxicology, biostatistics, medicine, or land-based practices such as farming, fishing, hunting, or gathering."
Peter Adler will pick the members of this group "with the advice of three advisers who themselves will not be members of the JFF group. The three selection advisers are Dr. Helen Cox, Chancellor, Kaua‘i Community College; Dr. Mehana D. B. Blaich-Vaughn, Assistant Professor, University of Hawaii at Mānoa, Department of Natural Resources & Environmental Management, College of Tropical Agriculture & Human Resources; and Diane Zachary, President and CEO, Kaua`i Planning & Action Alliance."
The public can nominate people to be considered for the JFF, and can also submit references to studies and data for the JFF to consider.