The Hawaii Legislature will not be passing a pesticide disclosure bill this session.

Last month a lawmaker revived a bill to require agri-businesses that use large amounts of pesticides to disclose what they use, where and how much. It came several weeks after the House of Representatives killed similar legislation during a floor session.

But the revived measure, Senate Bill 804, was not heard by the House Finance Committee, missing a procedural deadline that effectively killed the bill.

 

There was too much opposition that couldn’t be easily sorted out at this late date in the session,” said Rep. Richard Creagan.

Creagan, a medical doctor who represents a rural Big Island district, amended SB 804, which was initially drafted to increase the amount of money in the Pesticide Use Revolving Fund used by the state Department of Agriculture.

That language remained in the bill, but new language sought to protect Hawaii’s environment and residents “from the unintended impacts of large-scale pesticide use,” as a committee report explained.

The bill would have implemented recommendations from a study group’s report regarding pesticide use. (Hawaii’s seed industry and the DOA director panned the report.)

It also called for funding a study by the University of Hawaii John A. Burns School of Medicine on the exposure effects of cholorpyrifos on 100 pregnant mothers on the islands of Hawaii, Oahu and Kauai by examining the first feces of newborns.

Creagan said UH is still interested in doing the study, and new sources of funding will be sought.

The amended SB 804 had drawn praise from the usual groups such as the Hawaii Center for Food Safety and Hawaii Alliance for Progressive Action, and opposition from other groups such as the Hawaii Crop Improvement Association and Monsanto Hawaii.

While the Hawaii Crop Improvement Association supported increasing the revolving fund, it said it could not support legislation targeting “the most careful applicators of pesticide” in the state and adversely affecting other agricultural enterprises.

“If disclosure for the sake of notification is the intent of this measure, then all pesticide applicators should be included, not just agriculture,” the group’s executive director, Bennette Misalucha, said in her testimony.

On Thursday, after it was clear that SB 804 was dead, Ashley Lukens, director of the Hawaii Center for Food Safety, issued a statement.

“The continued failure of our lawmakers to pass such a simple, yet necessary piece of legislation is downright shameful,” she wrote. “We have a right to know when we are being exposed to toxic pesticides. Period. There is no debate.”

Lukens added that she hoped the state’s Good Neighbor Program involving voluntary disclosure of pesticide use would be made mandatory.

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