Rep. Richard Creagan wants to take another shot at passing a bill that would require agribusinesses that use large amounts of pesticides to disclose what pesticides they apply, where and in what amounts.

The House Agriculture Committee chairman has scheduled a hearing for Senate Bill 804 on Wednesday morning. The Senate approved the measure earlier this month which sought to raise the amount of money that the Department of Agriculture can keep from the pesticide use revolving fund.

Representative Richard Creagan. 17 feb 2015. photograph Cory Lum/Civil Beat
Rep. Richard Creagan says that the scientific consensus is that chlorpyrifos is harmful and it makes sense for the state to act instead of waiting for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Cory Lum/Civil Beat

Creagan, a physician from the Big Island, has published a proposed House draft of the bill that would change the wording to require farms that use more than 10 pounds of restricted-use pesticides in any year to submit annual reports detailing their applications of all pesticides.

The draft proposal would also set aside an unspecified amount of money to the pesticide use revolving fund, and give money to the University of Hawaii’s medical school to study the exposure of pregnant women to chlorpyrifos.

Creagan didn’t reply to a request for comment about his proposed draft Monday but earlier this year he introduced a bill to ban chlorpyrifos, which is associated with neurological diseases. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has proposed banning the insecticide’s use in agriculture.

The issue of pesticides is highly debated at the Legislature, where most legislators have aligned themselves with the agricultural lobby rather than environmental advocates.

Earlier this month, the House killed a bill that sought to require mandatory pesticide reporting and allow county regulation of farming in an unusual procedural move that masked which legislators opposed the bill.

Creagan’s proposed draft is simpler than the bill that died and wouldn’t require advanced notification of pesticide applications.

Bennette Misalucha, who leads the Hawaii Crop Improvement Association, the local trade group for the seed industry which includes Monsanto, said through a spokesman that the organization is evaluating the amendments to the pesticide bill and will comment after reviewing them. Misalucha has previously said that existing oversight of pesticides in Hawaii is adequate and additional regulation would burden farmers.

Ashley Lukens, who leads the Hawaii Center for Food Safety and has been a leading advocate for pesticide disclosure, said the proposed draft reflects public pressure on the Legislature to address concerns about agricultural chemical use.

“If lawmakers are not toeing the corporate line then this kind of language should be something that they get behind,” she said. “I feel confident that this legislation is going to continue moving forward because lawmakers understand that the time for action is now.”

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