State House Bill (HB1514) and its companion in the state Senate (SB793) would:
1) create pesticide buffer zones around schools and other high-risk areas and 2) require notice and disclosure by the largest users of "restricted use" pesticides. [fn1]

The testimony submitted on each Bill has been overwhemingly in favor:

Not surprisingly, those opposed included the large agrochemical research operations on the islands (Dow, Syngenta, BASF, DuPont Pioneer), their trade groups, such as the Hawaii Crop Improvment Association (HCIA), and other organizations they dominate such as the Farm Bureau and the Chamber of Commerce. [fn2]

One (sort of) surprising opponent of the bills was the State Dept. of Agriculture chair, Scott Enright -- surprising given his boss, Governor Ige, supports buffer zones.

In the opposition testimony, a few familiar themes emerged -- messages that those who worked for buffer zones and disclosure at the county level know are meant to confuse the issues and create a smokescreen to "divide and conquer" the broad coalition demanding public health protections:

1. Smokescreen: "This bill will hurt small farms and local food producers."

One example testimony on this point from the hearing on SB793:

Smallfarmers will not be able to shoulder the burden of buffer zones and will end up ultimately not farming. When we need to be enabling people to farm locally this bill will do the exact opposite. Let's base legislation on actual facts and findings and look carefully at what regulations and practices are currently in place before we create burdensome, unnecessary and emotionally based laws. Help our farmers, do not put them out of business!

Did this testimony come from a food farmer, or someone closely aligned with local food growers? No, this testimony came from the spouse of DowAgrosciences R&D head and President of the Hawaii Crop Improvement Association (biotechʻs trade representative).

The "danger" to small farmers is repeated by the HCIAʻs representatives at every chance, even though the only members of the HCIA appear to be a few multi-national agrochemical corporations. [fn3]

Reality: HB1514 and SB793 only affect commercial ag operations that use high amounts of "restricted use" pesticides (RUPs).

A reasonable threshold of RUP use, (like the 5 lbs/15 gallons threshold in Kauaʻi's Bill 2491/Ordinance 960), would separate out the large users of RUPs from small farmers.

According to testimony by longtime farmers in support of Bill 2491, 5 lbs or 15 gallons is a huge amount of RUPs for any small farmer to use. By contrast, just four agrochemical research operations on Kauaʻi purchased 5,477.2 Pounds and 4,324.5 Gallons of RUPs in 2012 alone. [fn4]

Thus, HB1514 and SB793 WILL NOT affect small farms and food producers.

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2. Smokescreen: "This law is not based on science."

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Reality:

The dangers of pesticides, especially to children and farmworkers, are overwhelmingly documented. According to the Center for Food Safety, Hawaiʻi is one of only 19 states that does not have regulations addressing the impacts of pesticide use on or near schools.

The American Academy of Pediatrics’ Report “Pesticide Exposure in Children” (2012) specifically recommends disclosure and buffer zones, and offers strong cautions about pesticides and children.

The American Cancer Society’s 2013 Report “Increased Cancer Burden Among Pesticide Applicators and Others Due to Pesticide Exposure” states definitively that people who live and work around agricultural areas that have high pesticide use suffer a greater incidence of certain cancers and other medical problems.

The University of California at Davis released a groundbreaking report known as the CHARGE Study (2014), linking the long term use of Glyphosate to the increased incidence of autism.

(Watch Oʻahu Pediatrician Ryan Leeʻs testimony in support of HB1514, in which he summarizes all three studies)

According to information from the Kauaʻi voluntary "Good Neighbor Program", 1,975lbs of the RUP Chlorpyrifos has been used on Kauaʻi. Chlorpyrifos has been linked to lung cancer, colorectal cancer, and non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma.

HB1514 will have a hearing before the House Agriculture Commitee this upcoming Thursday, Feb. 19th at 8:30am. You can learn more about the HB1514 and submit testimony here (click link).

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[fn1] “Restricted use pesticides” are pesticides that the EPA determined likely to cause “unreasonable adverse effects on the environment” if they are used “without additional regulatory restrictions.”

[fn2] Those in support of the Bill included the Hawaiʻi chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics, individual doctors, nurses and mental health professionals, as well as the Hawaiʻi Farmers Union United.

[fn3] The irony cannot be ignored here that these same chemical corporations expressing concern for small farms and farmers are one of the main roadblocks to both in Hawaiʻi and around the world.

[fn4] See Raw RUP purchase data for 2010-2012 on Kauaʻi here.

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