Governor signs bill banning chlorpyrifos

The Maui News

Hawaii became the first in the nation to ban pesticides containing chlorpyrifos when Gov. David Ige signed Senate Bill 3095 into law Wednesday.

Now known as Act 45, the measure prohibits the use of pesticides containing the potentially harmful chemical chlorpyrifos, which at high enough doses can overstimulate the nervous system causing nausea, dizziness and confusion, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. At very high exposures, such as in accidents or major spills, it can cause respiratory paralysis and death.

In 2000, the EPA began efforts to phase out certain uses of chlorpyrifos, and in 2015, the agency recommended that chlorpyrifos be banned from all food crops.

“We must protect our communities from potentially harmful chemicals,” Ige said Wednesday. “At the same time, Hawaii’s agriculture industry is extremely important to our state and economy. We will work with the Department of Agriculture, local farmers and the University of Hawaii as we seek safe, alternative pest management tools that will support and sustain our agriculture industry for generations to come.”

Hawaii’s new law will:

• Prohibit the use of pesticides within 100 feet of a school during instructional hours. This includes any public or private kindergarten, elementary or secondary school but not home-schools.

• Totally ban the pesticide chlorpyrifos effective Jan. 1. The state Department of Agriculture may issue exemptions through Dec. 31, 2022, to allow agricultural businesses time to adjust.

• Provide $300,000 from the Pesticides Revolving Fund for expenses that include staffing, education and outreach.

• Provide $300,000 from general revenues to develop a pesticide drift monitoring study to evaluate pesticide drift at three schools within the state.

• Require commercial agricultural entities to regularly report their pesticide use.

Advocates of the bill on Maui, including Autumn Ness of the Hawaii Center for Food Safety Advisory Board, said in May after the Legislature passed the bill that it was “a good start” but that more could be done. Mike Moran, president of the Kihei Community Association, added that South Maui residents had long been concerned about air quality and pesticide spray drift.

Monsanto has operations in Kihei and has used products containing chlorpyrifos on an as-needed basis, Dan Clegg, the Monsanto Hawaii business operations lead, said in May. He added that the company would better understand the bill’s impacts once the administrative rules for the bill are drawn up.

The Hawaii Crop Improvement Association said in a statement Wednesday that its member companies would “continue to comply” with all federal and state rules.

“It is HCIA’s goal to encourage and support ongoing dialogue on the key issues facing Hawaii’s farmers that are hindering the growth of local agriculture,” Executive Director Bennette Misalucha said, “We will continue to advocate for positive policies that encourage further development of new and existing farmers statewide and help meet the state’s goal to increase local food production.”

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