Shedding Light in the Darkness

Pesticides in Paradise


The chemical industry’s experiments in Hawaii with pesticide-promoting genetically engineered crops are increasingly threatening the island’s public health, biodiversity and food independence, and potentially, the lucrative tourism industry. In early May the Hawaii Center for Food Safety (HCFS) published an alarming, groundbreaking report Pesticides in Paradise: Hawaii’s Health and Environment at Risk.

The report reveals that since 1987, Hawaii has conducted more cumulative field trials (3,243) than any other state. The report also stated that last year there were 178 genetic engineering field tests at 1,381 sites, while California had only 175 sites for the same period.

On Oahu, Kauai, Maui, and Molokai, chemical and biotechnology companies like Monsanto, Syngenta, DuPont-Pioneer, Dow Chemical, and BASF have purchased or leased prime agricultural land, taking advantage of Hawaii’s isolation and year-round growing season, in order to field test crops that have been genetically engineered to withstand greater applications of pesticides.

Pesticide drift is a primary concern for communities living alongside GMO operations. HCFS reviewed over 150 published scientific and medical research examining the threats pesticides pose to public health, especially the risk to pregnant women and young children. The findings reveal that pesticide exposure in utero and early life has been linked to childhood cancers, neurobehavioral and cognitive deficits, adverse birth outcomes, and asthma.

DuPont, one of five companies conducting experiments on Kauai, applied 90 pesticide formulations containing 63 active ingredients; and they sprayed between 8 and 16 applications at a time for more than 238 days a year! The third most popular chemical used was chlorpyrifos, an organophosphate insecticide and known endocrine disrupter. In early May, a Kauai jury found DuPont Pioneer guilty of dust pollution and trespassing in Waimea.

This year HCFS led an effort to get a bill passed in the Hawaii legislature that would create buffer zones around schools, parks and hospitals, to limit pesticide exposure. Nine other states have these laws. The bill was defeated.


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