FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: TUESDAY, SEPTEMBER 24, 2013
GOVERNOR ATTEMPTS TO DERAIL BILL 2491
Governor’s Announcement Raises Concern,
Suspicion by Kaua'i Residents
“Voluntary Disclosure” of Pesticide Use called “Weak,”
“Not A Substitute” for Strong County Mandates of Bill 2491
LIHUE, HI -- Kaua’i residents reacted strongly to Governor Neil Abercrombie’s announcement of September 23, which requests famers to voluntarily disclose their “aggregated usage” of Restricted Use Pesticides until such time as rules and legislation are developed in the future. The Governor also stated that he would generally work with the State Legislature to seek funding for state agencies to address pesticide use compliance, without any specific commitment.
This announcement comes days before the Kaua’i County Council is set to deliberate on Bill 2491, which provides for mandatory disclosure of Restricted Use Pesticides by Kaua’i’s heaviest agricultural users, along with specific protections for Kaua’i children and families against the risks of pesticide exposure, including buffer zones, a health and environmental study on the specific impacts of seed/agrochemical industry practices on Kaua’i, temporary moratoria on expansion, and other provisions.
Entities regulated under Bill 2491 are the biotech companies Dow Agrosciences, Syngenta, BASF and Pioneer (DuPont), along with one food-producing entity, Kaua’i Coffee.
“It seems that the Governor has started to realize the seriousness of the pesticide issues on Kauai,” said Gary Hooser, Kaua’i County Council Member and co-sponsor of Kaua’i County Bill 2491 which is currently being deliberated by the Kaua’i County Council, “But the measures announced by the Governor are woefully inadequate to properly protect the people of Kaua’i. The Governor’s unspecific promises are certainly not a replacement for the strong set of mandates and protections that would be guaranteed under Bill 2491.”
While the Governor’s announcement states that his office collaborated with a “Kauai Legislative Delegation” and “farmers,” to date, none of the dozens of leaders active in promoting Bill 2491 were consulted or solicited for feedback on the announcement. Governor’s proposed “steps to address the concerns of the community.” Council Member Hooser expressed surprise and disappointment that neither he nor Bill 2491 co-sponsor, Council Member Tim Bynum were consulted by the Governor’s office regarding the September 23 announcement.
“There was no transparency by the Governor here,” said Fern Rosensteil of Ohana O Kauai, a community leader born and raised on Kaua’i, “There has been a continual lack of responsiveness from the state until now, when the people of Kaua’i are finally taking matters into their own hands. We can only conclude that the Governor’s announcement is a purposeful attempt to undermine the momentum of our people.,”
“The people of Kaua’i do not have to and cannot wait for the State’s wheels to turn on weak, undefined promises,” said Andrea Brower, an advocate and researcher on sustainability and food security issues on Kaua’i., “We have waited for years with no state action. Why, all of a sudden, would the state now want to derail the incredible progress we are making at the County level?” “There have been serious health and environmental concerns in regards to the pesticide-seed industry for years. When the County is finally making progress on beginning to address the issue, the sudden move by the Governor for ‘voluntary action’ is weak at best, and a derailment at worse.”
From 2010-2012, Dow, Syngenta, BASF and Pioneer have collectively applied over 98% of the total RUP’s used in the agricultural sector. Since the launch of Bill 2491, doctors and medical professionals have testified about elevated incidents of birth defects, respiratory and endocrine abnormalities and elevated rates of cancer, particularly in areas of heaviest RUP use in west Kaua’i. Citizen testing of waters near west Kaua’i agricultural fields have revealed levels of Atrazine in excess of regulatory limits.
“The time for state gesturing and political maneuvering are over,” said activist Dustin Barca, a leader in the efforts to educate communities on pesticide use on Kaua’i, “Real, firm mandates on pesticide disclosure are close at hand. We will press on for County Council approval for Bill 2491 because our children and the aina (land) cannot and will not wait.”
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