Last week the Hawaiʻi House of Representatives unanimously passed the restricted use pesticide (RUP) regulation bill, SB3095hd1 during its third and final reading on April 6, 2018. The bill is a significant milestone in a decades-long effort to put in place regulations to protect public health and the environment. The Senate now has the opportunity to speed this measure into law by accepting the House bill without any further amendments.
More than 100 advocates representing multiple organizations who have campaigned for years for greater transparency from corporate agricultural companies rallied at the State Capitol at noon on Monday April 9, 2018 to make clear their hopes and expectations.
Keani Rawlins-Fernandez, a lawyer, activist and mother of a child who goes to an immersion school next to Monsanto fields on Molokai, said she hopes and prays the Senate will say YES to SB3095hd1.
Lauryn Rego, long-time activist and advisory board member of the Hawaiʻi Center for Food Safety, said: “The community has been very patient. Concerned parents have been urging the state and the governor to act to protect our keiki for years now. We are putting our faith in the Senate and asking them to make the very reasonable public health protections provided for in the bill a reality.”
The key features of SB3095hd1 provide for the regulation of Restricted Use Pesticides (RUP) through:1) The requirement for annual disclosure by the very largest users of RUP.
2) The restriction on spraying RUP no closer than 100 feet from schools, during instructional hours.
3) The implementation of a “phased” ban on the use of chlorpyrifos, a known neurotoxin.
Disclosure will aid informed decision-making
Companies that need more time to respond to the ban on chlorpyrifos can apply for “exemptions.” These exemptions will be a matter of public record. That, and the annual disclosure requirements mean that both citizens and regulatory agencies will have the data they need for informed decision-making.
The restrictions on spraying within 100 feet of schools and the phased ban on chlorpyrifos are steps the community welcomes as long overdue.
“These regulations give parents and school administrators a chance to take steps to protect our children from exposure to highly toxic pesticides. Chemicals that can trace their genealogy to nerve agents used in WW II have no business being anywhere near pregnant women, children and unsuspecting adults,” said Rawlins-Fernandez.
Columbia University researcher shares her findings
Visiting Columbia University researcher, Dr. Virginia Rauh, one of the world’s preeminent authorities on chlorpyrifos and its impact of children’s health, spoke at the rally, alongside many other community representatives.
Commenting on the unanimous House vote, Gary Hooser, Founder President of the Hawaiʻi Alliance for Progressive Action (H.A.P.A.), said, “While Kauai’s entire delegation in the House voted in support, I want to particularly recognize Representative Dee Morikawa’s initiative and contribution to the process. It resulted in a balanced measure that will add significantly to the health and environmental protection of our community. Representative Nakamura also went out of her way to help facilitate this very positive outcome,” added Hooser.
Entirely up to the Senate now
While advocates asked for stronger measures, all welcomed the unanimous House assent as good news. “This is a clean and straightforward bill,” said Hooser.
“I believe the House has actually “threaded the needle” and balanced the needs of the various stakeholders well. I am hopeful that Senator Kouchi will also offer his support and thus ensure passage of this historic bill through the Senate and into law.”
MEDIA ADVISORY: RELATED EVENTS
APRIL 9: SYMPOSIUM AT HAWAIʻI PACIFIC UNIVERSITY
5.30p.m.-7.30 p.m. Aloha Tower Marketplace MPR3. Flyer attached.
Dr. Virginia Rauh is keynote speaker. Panel of 4 will respond.
APRIL 11: BRIEFING for LEGISLATORS
10 a.m. State Capitol Auditorium
Dr. Virginia Rauh will provide a special briefing to legislators.