Evidence mounting that cane smoke causes harm

About six months ago, when the World Health Organization published a key report establishing a direct connection between air pollution and cancer, I visited Hawaiian Commercial & Sugar Co.’s website and read a statement to the effect that no direct connection had been established between HC&S’ cane burning practices and public health.

Today, that statement no longer appears, for good reason given another WHO report released March 25 that calculates 3.7 million deaths were caused globally by ambient air pollution in 2012: 40 percent of these deaths were from lower respiratory disease, 40 percent from stroke, 11 percent from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, 6 percent from lung cancer and 3 percent from ischemic heart disease.

It is not enough for a company to issue public notifications when it will burn crops to escape responsibility for damage and personal injury caused by its acts. To continue to engage in ancient crop management practices in the face of clear and convincing scientific evidence establishing the harm it causes is beyond irresponsible.

The board of directors has some hard decisions to make, and soon, because ground has shifted beneath it.

Mark Hyde