The recently released State/County Joint Fact Finding (JFF) report strongly validates Kauai resident concerns about the large scale use of Restricted Use Pesticides by the agrochemical industry.
The report makes specific recommendations to the State and County that include mandatory disclosure of pesticide use, water soil and air testing for pesticide drift and buffer zones around sensitive areas to protect against pesticide drift.
The report also strongly refutes the industry and government statements that the sickening of the students and teachers at Waimea Canyon Middle School was caused by “stinkweed”. The report says clearly that nearby pesticide spraying was a much more likely cause of this incident.
Below is a summary of some key points contained within the report that backs up the above statements of fact. Bold emphasis is added. All are encouraged to read the full report and appendix (link at bottom).
And please sign the petition and circulate to your friends and neighbors: https://actionnetwork.org/petitions/demand-our-leaders-take-action-to-protect-hawaii-from-pesticides-now
Report was independent and neutral: “Following hearings on Bill 2491 and Ordinance 960 in 2013, Kauaʻi Mayor Bernard Carvalho and State Department of Agriculture Director Scott Enright initiated an independent and neutral Joint Fact Finding Study Group…” page 7.
High volume of pesticide use by industry: “Based on GNP data, seed companies applied an estimated 36,240 lbs., or 18.1 tons of RUPs in total formulation over the 20-month period from December 2013 – July 2015. “Total formulation” refers to the entire pesticide mixture, including inert ingredients. Seed companies and Kauaʻi Coffee applied approximately 15,072 lbs. or 7.5 tons of active ingredients over the same period. These same companies used 23 different RUPs containing 16 different active ingredients, either alone or in combinations.” page 23.
Pesticide drift from crop usage occurred at Waimea Canyon School: “In addition, three “contemporary pesticides” were found in air samples taken at WCMS that were not found at samples taken from the other four school sites. These pesticides were chlorpyrifos, metolachlor, and bifenthrin; all of which are active ingredients currently applied by seed companies on Kauaʻi. The concentration of chlorpyrifos was 24 times lower and metolachlor was 650 times lower than California’s subchronic levels of concern for the two chemicals. There is no health screening level for bifenthrin. Bifenthrin is also an active ingredient in RUPs used by golf courses on Kauaʻi, and is found in many GUP insecticides. The sampling studies are evidence that these currently used pesticides had drifted in the air.” page 40
There were actually 3 situations of possible pesticide contamination at Waimea Canyon Middle School: “Waimea Canyon (Middle) School (WCMS) is situated on the western boundary of Waimea Town. There are seed company operations on both sides of Waimea Town. In 2006 and 2008, there were events at the school during which students and teachers were sickened by odors. Some went directly home. Others were evaluated by Kauaʻi Fire Department Emergency Medical Technician and taken for care at the neighboring hospital. There was also a complaint related to pesticide use investigated in 2007.” page 78
It is much more likely that pesticide drift caused students and teachers to get sick at Waimea Canyon Middle School and not stinkweed: “….while there is no definitive cause for the heath symptoms reported in Waimea, they were far more likely related to pesticide exposures than from exposure to stinkweed organics, other plants or their decomposition products.” page 80.
Small low doses of pesticide exposure over time matter: “There is a growing body of medical literature demonstrating associations between health problems from low-level chronic exposures that accumulate over time. Such exposures may be from legacy or currently used pesticides. While the EPA has issued guidelines regarding toxic levels of acute exposure, data is only now being published regarding chronic low dose exposure and the association with chronic disease. There are particular concerns with respect to those exposures for pregnant women and children.” page 54
Key Report Recommendations (in part, see report for full recommendations):
“the Governor should support legislative requests for additional funding to implement the recommendations of this report” page 93 And “the Kauaʻi County delegation to the Hawaiʻi State Legislature work cooperatively to appropriate $3 million in State funding to the HDOA to implement the recommendations of this report. page 94
“Establish New State Standards for “Chronicity” that Take Account of Low Level Continuous Exposures. Set more conservative margins of pesticide safety for RUPs and questionable GUPs that take into account the emerging chronic and compounding effects of pesticide exposure at levels lower than acute exposure thresholds.” page 95
Mandatory pesticide disclosure by large users: “the Good Neighbor Program should be revised and expanded statewide. Revisions should…; be made mandatory for all large RUP users; include selected GUPs…” GUP’s = General Use Pesticides such as glyphosate. page 96
“Establish a Consistent Buffer Zone Policy and Use “Green Screens.” page 96
“ensure drift-monitoring at selected property line sites, particularly downwind of high-volume application areas and around towns, schools, or public facilities near large agricultural areas.” page 97
“require that the Department of Water begin monitoring for chlorpyrifos…” page 100. “implement a systematic pilot program that tests Westside air, soils and dusts for pesticides in areas adjacent to seed company operations…” page 101
Will the Governor of the State of Hawaii and the Mayor of Kauai County now step forward to support these recommendations presented in a report and study they themselves sponsored? Or will industry pressure and condemnation of the reports recommendations carry the day?
The report states: “Because of the small populations involved and the lack of fully reliable and accurate health data, the information we assembled does not show that current pesticide use by seed companies and Kauaʻi Coffee plays a role in adverse health on Kauaʻi.” page 9
But the report also states: “The medical literature and limited local information we reviewed make a compelling case for the need to collect better data in the future and, most importantly, to systematically test the environment and population for possible causes, including possible harmful exposures.” page 9
The State Director of Agriculture and industry cheerleaders point to the lack of “statistically significant evidence” but fail to point out that this is essentially impossible to obtain given the small population of Kauai and of the west side in particular. The agrochemical companies know this very well and have historically used this to their advantage all over the world, poisoning one small town after another.
Read the Pulitzer award winning book: “Toms River: A Story of Science and Salvation” by Dan Fagin, or any number of “Erin Brockovich like stories”. The story is the same in community after community. The companies come in to town, pollute and poison the health and the environment but the ever elusive ““statistically significant evidence” linking one companies individual action to one persons particular illness is most often impossible to isolate.
Everyone knows that pesticides are poisons and that these companies are using them by the truckload. The evidence in this report proves without question that these poisons are drifting into the air of our schools and into stream waters and the water we drink.
But the big money, the big companies and the big lawyers, supported by government regulators suffering from “regulatory capture” and policy makers afraid to buck the industry, will hide behind the ever elusive “statistically significant evidence”.
And of course just like they are vehemently disputing the JFF report, whenever statistically significant evidence is presented these companies and their friends will dispute, diminish and criticize the data, and request still more studies until they eventually get a study/report that they agree with.
After-all this is what they do.
And of course what we do as a community is fight back until we win and these companies either comply with the will of our community or they leave.
I am hopeful the Governor and Mayor will exhibit the leadership necessary to move us forward and begin now implementing the recommendations put forth in their own report.
HELP SEND THE GOVERNOR A STRONG MESSAGE: SIGN THIS PETITION PLEASE!
The entire report is here: http://www.accord3.com/docs/GM-Pesticides/draft-report/JFF%20Full%20Report%20-%20DRAFT.pdf