*Excerpts from a recent email conversation with a freshman legislator on why he/she should support increased pesticide regulation. This person has been requesting additional data/research on this topic that might resolve the opposing arguments presented by industry (which I have provided). Clearly this person is struggling with the decision making process, and wants to do the right thing.
Aloha (fill in the blank),
Have been thinking about this a lot.
Whether or not to support this legislation, and any legislation really – is essentially a political decision. On almost all proposed legislation (regardless of the subject matter) there will be arguments on both sides and studies and research on both sides, and at the end of the day the decision will be based on which side of those arguments your core values are based, and whose interests you serve.
Policy-making is not mathematical or science based in the sense that one adds up the numbers and they come to a certain total/conclusion, and that determines the outcome.
Policy-making deals mostly in shades of grey.
In the case of pesticide regulation, many countries have voted to ban various pesticides used in the United States – atrazine, paraquat and chlorpyrifos to name only three that are used heavily in Hawaii. Why?
They have access to the same data, the same studies/research and the same impacts on farmers etc. They chose to err on the side of caution in order to maximize the protection of health and environment. They chose to vote in support of what their constituents wanted, and push back against the corporate forces that make, sell, promote and use these pesticides. To my knowledge, the agricultural industry in these countries did not collapse or suffer to any degree whatsoever.
There is a ton of data out there that will support any position you choose. Again, this is the nature of almost all issues and proposed legislation.
As someone much smarter than I is fond to point out, serving in public office is not about issues but about interests. And the fundamental question is, “Whose interests do you serve?”
Serving in the legislature is a tough job. I wish you all the best in reaching answers that you feel good about.