Note: On Monday February 12th the Hawaii State Senate Committees on Agriculture and Health and Consumer Protection held a hearing on SB3095 that proposes to regulate the use of Restricted Use Pesticides by requiring the largest users to disclose that use, and put into place buffer zones around schools (a pilot program involving only 5 schools). Yesterday, Wednesday February 14th they announced their decision.
The good news is that SB3095 remains alive and will continue to move through the process. The bad news is that the Senate Committee’s bowed to pressure from the industry and stripped out of the measure all references to disclosure and all other meaningful enforcement provisions, leaving only a one year pilot program for 10 schools and a reference to instructing the Department of Health to conduct some drift monitoring.
Why/How does this happen? Normally all bills of any significance are guided by “leadership” in the Senate and in the House. “Leadership” in this case is Senate President Ron Kouchi (from Kauai). The process would normally be one where “leadership” consults with the committee chairs and with the state departments and with “stake-holders” (chemical companies and big agriculture) – and then makes a recommendation which everyone follows (assuming they want to keep their chairmanships). In this case, clearly the voices that were heard, were the voices of the corporations.
I am hopeful that in the coming weeks, the voices of the community will grow louder and more insistent, and more persuasive, demanding the protection of health and the environment. If so, it is possible that the bill can be strengthened again in future committee hearings in the Senate and or in the House, so ultimately it passes into law putting into place meaningful and reasonable protections.
The original bill, SB3095 can be read here: https://www.capitol.hawaii.gov/session2018/bills/SB3095_.htm
In the next few days the amended bill, SB3095SD1 can be found here along with testimony of all both for and against, and a record of the votes and hearings etc: https://www.capitol.hawaii.gov/measure_indiv.aspx?billtype=SB&billnumber=3095&year=2018
My testimony on the original bill is below.
Testimony in strong support of SB3095 establishing mandatory disclosure and buffer zones for heavy users of Restricted Use Pesticides (RUP).
My testimony in strong support focuses on four inarguable facts.
1) The science and research is unequivocal: Pesticides in general and Restricted Use Pesticides in particular cause harm to the people and the environment, especially in areas where they are heavily used.
2) In Hawai’i, because of the existence of 3 growing seasons and the presence of large agrochemical and other industrial agricultural operations, there are areas where communities are exposed daily to the impacts of heavy pesticide use.
3) In order for individuals and for government agencies and organizations to make informed decisions that protect health and the environment, the disclosure of what types of pesticides are used, how much are used and when and where they are used is necessary. NO ONE KNOWS THIS INFORMATION NOW EXCEPT THE CORPORATIONS USING THESE CHEMICALS. THE DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE KNOWS SOME OF THE INFO BUT THE VAST MAJORITY IS KEPT HIDDEN BY THE CORPORATIONS.
4) Pregnant women, and children are especially vulnerable to the negative health impacts that result from long term chronic exposure to heavy pesticide use.
Therefore the strengthening and passage of SB3095 to ensure that there is mandatory disclosure for the largest users of RUPs, and that buffer zones are put into place around ALL schools and other sensitive areas is critically important.
Any legislators who question any of the above statements should review the below information.
The United States Environmental Protection Agency:“Exposure to a variety of pesticides have been linked to increased risk of birth defects.” http://bit.ly/2AdzXNK
American Pregnancy Association: “If you discover you are pregnant and you live near an agricultural area where pesticides are being used, it is advised you remove yourself to avoid exposure to these chemicals.” http://americanpregnancy.org/pregnancy-health/pesticides/
National Institute of Health: “A significant association was found between the season of elevated agrochemicals and birth defects.” https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2667895/
American Academy of Pediatrics: “Chronic toxicity end points identified in epidemiologic studies include adverse birth outcomes including preterm birth, low birth weight, and congenital anomalies, pediatric cancers, neuro- behavioral and cognitive deficits, and asthma.” http://pediatrics.aappublications.org/content/pediatrics/early/2012/11/21/peds.2012-2757.full.pdf
Families living near farming areas experience greatly increased rates of health disorders. This is the conclusion from the following report summarizing more than 25 peer reviewed scientific studies on this topic over the past 30 years. Illnesses found to occur at higher rates for people living close to agriculture include birth defects, brain cancer, autism, infertility, miscarriage, Parkinson’s Disease, immune system damage, leukemia, developmental brain damage in children, higher rates of child cancers, non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, autoimmune disorders, arthritis, lupus and diabetes. https://www.chem-tox.com/agriculture/index.htm (cites numerous studies and research)
American Cancer Institute agricultural workers health study. “…the rates for certain diseases, including some types of cancer, appear to be higher among agricultural workers, which may be related to exposures that are common in their work environments. For example, farming communities have higher rates of leukemia, non-Hodgkin lymphoma, multiple myeloma, and soft tissue sarcoma, as well as cancers of the skin, lip, stomach, brain, and prostate.” https://www.cancer.gov/about-cancer/causes-prevention/risk/ahs-fact-sheet
California implements STATEWIDE PESTICIDE BUFFER ZONES AROUND SCHOOLS!“Because of health safety concerns, the California Department of Pesticide Regulation (DPR) recently adopted rules that prohibit the application of pesticides on crops within a quarter-mile of K- through-12 schools or day care sites during working hours. The statewide regulations, which are similar to but more restrictive than Santa Barbara County’s already existing pesticide conditions, will go into effect on Jan. 1, 2018.” http://www.santamariasun.com/news/16799/growing-boundaries-state-further-restricts-pesticide-use-near-schools/
Chlorpyrifos-“Brain and Behavioral Effects of Prenatal Exposure to a Widely Used Pesticide” Virginia A. Rauh, ScD. COLUMBIA CENTER FOR CHILDREN’S ENVIRONMENTAL HEALTH COLUMBIA UNIVERSITY https://www.niehs.nih.gov/research/supported/translational/peph/webinars/neurodevelopment/brain_and_behavioral_effects_of_prenatal_exposure_to_a_widely_used_pesticide_508.pdf
Chlorpyrifos contaminates fisheries and whales: https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2018/jan/21/trump-administration-lawsuit-pesticide-orca-salmon
A good overview of pesticide impacts: http://www.cdpr.ca.gov/docs/dept/comguide/effects_excerpt.pdf
Multiple sources confirm a strong association between pesticide exposure and birth defects: https://garyhooser.wordpress.com/2017/11/29/pesticides-birth-defects-who-do-you-believe/
The May 25, 2016 State/County Joint Fact Finding Group concluded: “there is simply not enough information to definitively conclude if its [pesticides] use by the seed companies plays any adverse role in the health of Kauai’s residents or environment.” The report recommendsincreased testing, studies, buffer zones and other common-sense measures. Testing and proper studies cannot be conducted without disclosure as to what is being used. https://jffkauai.files.wordpress.com/2015/10/jff-kauai-final-report1.pdf
In Hawaii, those who apply Restricted Use Pesticides in fields near communities, parks, schools and roadways, are not required to disclose which pesticides they are applying, the location, date, or time in which they are applied, thus making it impossible for any individual to make a truly informed decision.