Cane burning is out of touch with the times

Cane burning is not an integral part of Maui’s economy, as an Oct. 25 writer suggested. Sugar production may be.

Particulate matter from cane smoke, ash and soil tillage is recognized by the World Health Organization and the American Lung Association, among others, as having a negative effect on the health of people exposed to it.

Recognizing the effects of cane burning on health and the environment, progressive nations with significant sugar cane production have shifted to green harvesting methods. In so doing, their cane industries will be able to continue in a socially, environmentally and fiscally responsible manner.

In contrast, Hawaiian Commercial & Sugar Co.’s cane-burning practices are out of touch with the times, violate the company’s own values and mission statements, and impose an unnecessary health and environmental burden on the community, all of which could be avoided by adopting modern harvesting techniques.

In 2011, HC&S reported a $22 million net profit, so it has the financial ability to transition away from 18th-century practices to become a sustainable and responsible supplier of sugar. Instead of choosing a win/win outcome by adopting modern harvesting practices, the company persists in win/lose corporate behavior that is unnecessary, irresponsible, short-sighted, willful and actionable, which likely will result in its demise.

Mark Hyde