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Hawaiians assaulted with harmful chemicals as state regulators refuse to enforce federal pesticide laws


Pesticides

(NaturalNews) A nonprofit environmental law firm has sent a letter to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) calling for the agency to revoke the authority of the Hawaii Department of Agriculture (HDOA) to "investigate and enforce" violations of the state's pesticide regulations.

The letter, sent on August 4 by Earthjustice attorney Paul Achitoff, requested the EPA to inform the HDOA of its failure to meet its responsibilities and demand that it clean up its act within 90 days, or else face the revocation of its primary enforcement authority.

According to the conditions of the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA), a state may be permitted to take primary responsibility for enforcing pesticide regulations if it has "adequate pesticide laws and adequate procedures" for doing so, or has entered into a cooperative partnership with the EPA.

Hawaii Department of Agriculture is 'asleep at the wheel'

Achitoff claims that the HDOA has not met the necessary criteria, and has allowed the accumulation of a huge backlog in cases involving pesticide violations. He accused the agency of putting the public "at risk" and being "asleep at the wheel," according to the Honolulu Civil Beat.

His accusations were based on annual EPA reports regarding the state's pesticide program.

From the Civil Beat:

"In the latest report, which covered Oct. 1, 2014, to Sept. 30, 2015, the EPA criticized the state Agriculture Department for providing 'short' inspection reports that 'lacked critical information' and noted that the agency had a backlog of 700 inspection files, some of which dated back to 2008."

The EPA has "repeatedly" warned the HDOA over the past few years that it has failed to adequately enforce the laws regarding pesticide use, and that it has allowed an unacceptable number of cases to become backlogged.

However, instead of adding to its workforce, the DPOA enforcement staff has actually shrunk, according to Achitoff, and as a result, the backlog problem has grown even worse.

Some of the cases in the backlog were so old that they can no longer be enforced due to expiration of the statute of limitations.

"At the same time, the number of complaints about pesticide misuse has been increasing, along with public frustration and loss of confidence," according to Earthjustice.

The frustration and lack of confidence on the part of the public is perfectly understandable, especially considering that pesticide use in Hawaii is much higher, on the average, than states on the mainland.

From The Guardian:

"In Kauai, chemical companies Dow, BASF, Syngenta and DuPont spray 17 times more restricted-use insecticides per acre than on ordinary cornfields in the US mainland, according to the most detailed study of the sector, by the Center for Food Safety.

"Just in Kauai, 18 tons – including atrazine, paraquat (both banned in Europe) and chlorpyrifos – were applied in 2012."

Glyphosate, the cancer-causing main ingredient of Monsanto's Roundup herbicide, is also widely used in Hawaii, where GMO corn is currently being cultivated on a large scale.

In August 2015, around 10,000 Hawaiian citizens marched on the state capital, Honolulu, to protest GMO agriculture and the use of pesticides.

Hawaii birth defects are 10 times the national rate

The public outrage was at least partly sparked in response to abnormally high rates of birth defects in some parts of the state. In Waimea, for example, the number of children born with severe heart malformations in the past five years was 10 times the national rate.

Achitoff fears that many pesticide users may now feel free to apply these dangerous chemicals carelessly or completely ignore the regulations as a result of the HDOA's failure to enforce the law.

This situation poses a grave danger to the populace of the state – hopefully the FDA will now intervene and act to protect Hawaiian families and their unborn children – as well as the environment.

Sources:

CivilBeat.org

EarthJustice.org[PDF]

EarthJustice.org

TheGuardian.com

Science.NaturalNews.com

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