A statewide ban on the pesticide chlorpyrifos will go into effect in Hawaii in January 2019. The state voted earlier this month in favor of SB 3095, making Hawaii the first U.S. state to ban the controversial chemical.
“There is much to celebrate,” Gary Hooser, Founder President of the Hawaii Alliance for Progressive Action (H.A.P.A.) told the Hawaii Reporter. “This was a compromise in which everyone’s voice was heard, and most importantly, the community’s well-founded fears about their health were addressed. Our families have some much-needed protections against powerful neurotoxins that we know are harming our children, pregnant women and families living close to test fields.”
A coalition of activists, attorneys, and scientists led the campaign, pointing to numerous studies linking exposure to the chemical to serious human health risks, including threats to child development.
“In addition to banning chlorpyrifos, we fought hard for comprehensive reporting and no spray zones, and I am so pleased we got them,” said Lauryn Rego who serves on the advisory board of the Hawaii Center for Food Safety. “We have shown that toxic pesticides like chlorpyrifos can and should be phased out of our environment. And agrichemical companies that use Hawaii as their open laboratory now must report to the Department of Agriculture what is being sprayed, how much is being sprayed, and when and where those applications occur. This reporting will create a wealth of valuable data for decision-makers and researchers. What we have had so far has been woefully inadequate,” she said.
Hawaii's Kauai island is known for its majestic hiking trails and beaches. But along the southwest side of the island are numerous test fields for major agrochemical companies including Bayer, Syngenta, and Monsanto. The chemical corporations grow test crops that rely on chemical pesticides and herbicides on Kauai because of the ideal year-round growing conditions. Often, the crops receive repeated spraying of the chemicals. Some of the test fields are close to neighborhoods and schools on the small island. According to voluntary reporting released by the companies, thousands of gallons of these chemicals are used annually.
“Today we moved a step closer to addressing the huge risk posed by the spraying of restricted use pesticides. This is real progress in safeguarding the health of the community,” said Hooser. “We thank the legislators for doing the right thing to protect public health and we count on their continuing vigilance in managing and reining in reckless corporate behavior."
Related on Organic Authority