Thanks to Mary Lacques with Hawaii Seed, our family recently had the good fortune of attending Ashley Lukens, Ph.D. presentation titled Pesticides in Paradise: Our Keiki and Aina at Risk. Ashley works for Hawai’i Center for Food Safety. She is one of three authors of a May 2015 report titled Pesticides in Paradise: Hawai’i’s Health & Environment at Risk.
The presentation was held at Wailua Elementary School. The people of Wailua, like the people of many communities throughout Hawaii, share land, air, and water with agrochemical companies and many of these people are growing increasingly uneasy with the poisoning of the environment and their children.
GMO Free News recently covered this issue in the following interview:
Ashley gave the same presentation a few weeks before in Molokai. Over 100 Monsanto employees attended, most wearing the same colored T-shirt and carrying Monsanto packets to dispute the findings in the Hawai’i Center for Food Safety’s report. Ashley did a fine job presenting to a scared and hostile audience.
In contrast, the vast majority of the people who attended in Wailua were not there to protect their jobs; they were there to protect their children and the environment.
Following are a few of the points from the Pesticides in Paradise report and Ashley’s presentation:
SEED INDUSTRY FOOTPRINT IN HAWAI‘I
Since 1987 Hawai‘i has hosted more cumulative field trials (3,243) than any other state. In 2014 alone, 178 different GE field tests were conducted on over 1,381 sites in Hawai‘i (vs. only 175 sites in California).
Due to Hawai‘i’s small size, it has a much higher density of field tests than other states. As a result, more people in Hawai‘i live in closer proximity to field test sites than residents of any other state and run a higher risk of experiencing pesticide drift.
Herbicide-resistance was the most frequently tested trait in GE crop field tests in Hawai‘i over the past five years. This means that plants genetically engineered in Hawai‘i, by and large, are engineered to resist ever greater application of herbicides.
DuPont-Pioneer applied 90 different pesticide formulations containing 63 different active ingredients on Kaua‘i from 2007 to 2012.The company sprayed on two-thirds (65%) of the days over this period and made from 8.3 to 16 applications per application day on average.
The third-most frequently applied class of pesticides is also among the most toxic: the organophosphate insecticide chlorpyrifos was sprayed an average of 91 days each year.
Restricted Use Pesticides (RUP) sales data for Kaua‘i show that 22 RUPs containing 18 active ingredients were applied in agriculture from 2010 to 2012.
81% of RUP active ingredients by weight were applied to corn and 19% to coffee, with negligible amounts used on ornamentals, soybeans, sugarcane, tomatoes, and turf.
PESTICIDE EXPOSURE RAISES SERIOUS HEALTH CONCERNS
In general farmers, farmworkers, pregnant women, and children are at greatest risk: farmers are more highly exposed than the general population; and children are more susceptible to the harmful effects of pesticides than adults.
The American Academy of Pediatrics recently published a major report entitled “Pesticide Exposure in Children” that reviewed 195 medical studies; their chief concerns were that pesticides are linked to childhood cancers, neurobehavioral and cognitive deficits, adverse birth outcomes, and asthma.
In adult populations, pesticide exposure has been linked to Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, bladder and colon cancers, Parkinson’s disease, depression, and disrupting our hormonal or endocrine systems.
REGULATION NEEDED TO ADDRESS PUBLIC HEALTH RISKS
We would all like to believe that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) protects us from pesticide harms, but this is often not the case.
EPA requires safety testing only on the pesticide product’s active ingredient, even though “inert ingredients” in pesticide formulations can be toxic in their own right, or increase the active ingredient’s toxicity.
In a failed attempt to better protect human health and the environment from pesticide drift, EPA proposed improved pesticide labeling in 2001, but has yet to finalize and enact the policy.
EPA began to phase-out residential use of the toxic insecticide chlorpyrifos in 2000, specifically to protect children. Yet, rural children remain at risk, as ambient air levels of chlorpyrifos have been found to exceed health standards in agricultural areas.
As of 2014, at least nine states had established no-spray buffer zones around sensitive areas such as schools, hospitals, and public parks, and while eleven states have established notification requirements for pesticide applications near schools. These policy actions evince growing awareness of the serious health threats posed by pesticide drift.
Residents of three Hawai‘i counties have demanded that their local governments take action, under the counties’ authority to regulate agriculture, ensure the welfare of its residents, and fulfill its duty to protect public resources.
For most people who live in non-agricultural regions, their biggest concern with GMOs with in the labeling and content of their food. For people who live near agrochemical farming or research operations, their concerns extend to the air they’re breathing, the water they’re drinking (or surfing), their schools, their neighborhoods, and their environment. Thus, most of the people who attended Ashley’s presentation probably don’t consider themselves to be activists; they’re moms and dads. They’re scared and they’re angry. How is it possible that agrochemical companies can get away with spraying numerous formulations of unapproved biocides right next to their kids’ schools? What does it say about such companies when they take legal action to block buffer zones and public reporting of the poisons they’re spraying?
That’s easy. It says that they don’t give a damn about our kids. While poisoning the air our kids are breathing, they have their audacity to poison their minds and exploit their images.
Read more from the Center for Food Safety:
Hawai‘i parents and residents have had enough. Communities on Kaua‘i, Hawai‘i Island and Maui have spoken – and now it’s O‘ahu’s turn. We want Monsanto out of our schools.
At Waialua Elementary School on the North Shore of O‘ahu, the agrochemical giant is trying to buy community support by infiltrating schools’ activities and curriculum. Monsanto even issued photo permission forms at the school to students for advertising purposes. Meanwhile, the company conducts open-air tests of pesticides within a one mile radius of several schools on the North Shore. Does that sound like a good neighbor to you?
Monsanto’s latest advertising campaign puts a full spin on their public image, trying to convince consumers that community well-being is their number one priority. If this was true, then why would they refuse to tell the public about the pesticides they spray on their fields every week? Do you want to know the real threats this company’s pesticides pose to our children’s health? Get the hard facts and key findings from our newest report Pesticides in Paradise available for free on our website.
Click here to tell the Department of Education that you demand stronger protections of schools and our children from the predatory corporate initiatives by Monsanto or agrochemical companies!