Hawaii Becomes First U.S. State to Ban the Toxic Pesticide Chlorpyrifos

Yesterday, Hawai’i’s legislature approved a state ban on chlorpyrifos, a highly dangerous restricted use pesticide (RUP) widely used in industrial farming. Besides phasing out all chlorpyrifos uses by 2023, this comprehensive bill puts in place robust pesticide reporting, prohibits the use of the most toxic pesticides within 100 feet of schools during normal school hours, requires a pesticide drift monitoring pilot study, and beefs up funding for the state’s pesticide enforcement. Governor David Ige could sign the bill into law in the coming days.

Chlorpyrifos has been linked to reduced IQ and attention deficit disorder in children, and is highly toxic to farmworkers, some of whom have been poisoned by it on multiple occasions on Hawai‘i farms in recent years.  Last year, the EPA refused to ban chlorpyrifos, claiming the science is “unresolved” and decided it would study the issue until 2022.

The following statement is from Paul Achitoff, Earthjustice managing attorney:

“We applaud the Hawai‘i legislature for passing this important bill and commend Senators Russell Ruderman and Mike Gabbard, as well as Representatives Richard Creagan and Chris Lee, for their leadership on this issue. Banning this nerve agent from our food and farms is critical to protecting children, workers, and countless communities that face the dangers of pesticide drift every day. We urge the governor to sign the first chlorpyrifos ban in the nation and rid Hawai‘i of this dangerous chemical once and for all.”

Sylvia Wu, attorney for the public interest group Center for Food Safety, which has consistently championed for regulation of pesticide use in the State of Hawaii, emphasizes that the passage of this bill is a stepping stone towards even stronger legislation:

“Today the Hawai’i State Legislature finally heard the voice of its people. By banning the toxic pesticide, chlorpyrifos, Hawaii is taking action that Pruitt’s EPA refused to take,” said Wu, “and by taking the first step towards pesticide policies that will provide for more protection for children as well as more transparency, the Hawai’i State Legislature is acknowledging that it must protect its residents from the harmful effects of agricultural pesticide use.” Earlier iterations of SB3095 had called for only a few pilot schools with no-spray zones, but the final bill put in place mandatory disclosure and no-spray zones around all schools, in response to the outpour of public testimony urging for better protection.

SB 3095 represents a turning point for Hawai’i, and marks a new chapter for its residents, who have repeatedly demanded protection against pesticide harms. The world’s largest agrichemical companies, such as Monsanto, Dow and Syngenta, experiment and develop their genetically engineered crops in Hawaii. Because the majority of these crops are engineered to resist herbicides and pesticides, testing and development of these crops result in repeated spraying of dangerous chemicals. Many of their operations are adjacent to schools and residential areas, putting children and public health at risk. Voluntarily reported pesticide use data shows that these companies apply thousands of gallons and pounds of RUPs in Hawaii each year.

“There is much to celebrate,” said Gary Hooser, president of the public interest group Hawaii Alliance for Progressive Action (HAPA). “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 chemicals that we know are harming their health.”

Center for Food Safety reports:

The bill, which goes into effect in July 2018, will ban chlorpyrifos by January 2019. Any user that wishes to continue using chlorpyrifos may do so only by applying for an exemption with the State. No exemption will be granted after 2022. The mandatory reporting and no-spray zone provisions are effectively immediately with no exemptions.

You can tell your senators to ban toxic chlorpyrifos HERE.

Sources: 

Earth Justice 

Center for Food Safety

This article (Hawaii Becomes First U.S. State to Ban the Toxic Pesticide Chlorpyrifos) appeared at Natural Blaze.

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