HC&S’ public meeting on cane burning was a sham

The recent Hawaiian Commercial & Sugar Co. open house (The Maui News, April 17) was a sham. Only a few members of the public got to speak as the moderator stacked the agenda to favor a lobbyist, and two sugar experts flown into to assure us that burning cane in the field was what they did in Louisiana and Australia.

The Aussie failed to mention that Queensland green harvests 85 percent.

The compelling issue of chemicals in the cane smoke and fugitive dust was briefly addressed by Maui county health officer Dr. Lorrin Pang, who reported on a two-year study of cane smoke that found chemicals in the smoke. That’s no surprise to Maui’s asthmatics and many others on this island who suffer from the chemical toxicity of cane smoke.

It’s a chemical hurricane attacking our lungs and eyes. Just consider what is in one tractor application used when the cane is young and growing. Atrazine, 2, 4-D, pendimethalin, dicamba and hexazinone – that’s a witches’ brew that should make everyone question why HC&S profits matter more than our health because each of those chemicals are toxic on their own. What happens when they are combined?

If company managers think the public has been pacified by this sham hearing, they are very mistaken.

The public is outraged by these shameful, disgraceful practices. HC&S can do better and must care more about public and employee health.

When will they wake up? Why don’t they care?

Mark Sheehan