Cane is a safe and efficient way to produce sugar
Recent U.S. Department of Agriculture publications show the U.S. production of sugar from beets over the last 12 years averaging around 3-plus tons of sugar per acre. Sugar cane in Hawaii produces three to four times as much sugar on a per-acre basis.
The polyethylene drip tubing used in sugar cane irrigation was developed to be completely safe to burn in the fields, but the bulk of it goes into the sugar mill boilers with the bagasse, where it is safely burned and produces electricity.
Studies by the University of California at Berkeley, the Environmental Protection Agency and Life of the Land, among others, on the possible health effects of burning sugar cane have never found anything harmful.
Sugar cane is also naturally resistant to the diseases and insects found in Hawaii; pesticides are not required. Sugar beets would have to be sprayed with chemicals to control the insects and diseases that would attack them in Hawaii. Water use by both sugar cane and sugar beets is about the same but beets are grown in areas where they get a lot of summertime rainstorms, so very little additional irrigation is needed there.