The Hawaii Legislature is in full session as of Jan. 20, and once again, various lobbying groups are poised for a food fight.
Hawai‘i Center for Food Safety released the three-minute video above about the future of agriculture in Hawaii, with music composed by Makana. The organization, which published Pesticides in Paradise in May 2015, is advocating for mandatory public pesticide disclosure near schools and child care centers as well as no-spray buffer zones near certain populations and measures to protect pollinating bees in Hawaii.
Here's a quick look at the bills relating to food and farming this session:
>> H.B. 2574: Also known as the pesticide disclosure bill. Requires reporting guidelines for large-scale, outdoor commercial agricultural operations across Hawaii. Makes the state's voluntary pesticide disclosure program mandatory by establishing disclosure and public notification requirements for outdoor application of pesticides in various environmentally sensitive areas, including school grounds and nursing homes. Status: Passed second reading in the house.
>> H.B. 2564: Buffer zone bill. Establishes a no-spray buffer zone around schools and establishes a pilot program of native and regenerative vegetative buffer zones at five schools in the state. The Center supports this bill because, it says, there are at least 27 schools in Hawaii located within a mile of fields where agri-chemical companies like Monsanto and Dow Chemical spray restricted-use pesticides. Hearing held yesterday, Feb. 9.
>> H.B.1594: Calls for following the steps set forth by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to eliminate the use of neonicotinoid insecticides on the statewide natural area reserves system to protect Hawaii's honeybees, native bees and other pollinators.
>> S.B. 2385: Seeks to ban sugar-sweetened beverages at child care facilities in Hawaii due to the fact that more than one in four kindergarteners in the state is overweight or obese and high rates of tooth decay. Research shows that healthy habits are formed in early childhood years. "It is in the best interest of Hawaii's children to set standards which ensure that healthy beverages are served in child care facilities."
>> S.B.2513: Appropriates funds to support three additional inspector positions within the Hawaii Department of Agriculture's pesticides branch on Oahu.
>> H.B.849: Called the Right to Farm bill, this bill seeks to block any local governments from passing laws, ordinances or resolutions that "abridges the right of farmers and ranchers to employ agricultural practices not prohibited by federal or state law, rules, or regulations." It's a direct response to a ballot initiative that Maui County residents voted for in November 2014, calling for a moratorium on genetically engineered crops until further study of its impacts on public health and environment. A federal judge invalidated the ordinance last year.
The bills can be tracked at protectourkeiki.org/bill-tracking.
Dr. Ryan Lee, pediatric neurologist at Shriner's Hospital for Children, testifying in support of a bill for a buffer zone last year