House committee passes pesticide buffer bill

House committee passes pesticide buffer bill
Updated: Feb. 5, 2015 at 5:49 PM HST
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Kaulana Poe held up large photographs of his sons as he told House lawmakers the schools they attend on Kauai are close to areas where chemical corporations spray pesticides.

"This is why I'm here, these keiki, because it is my responsibility as a parent," he said.

Clayton Kubo showed photographs of pesticide spraying above his neighborhood in Waimea.

"Right next to the cliff this one is spraying. Where do you think the dust is drifting and the over spray? Coming right on us, my son, my neighbor's kids," he said.

House Bill 1514 calls for disclosure requirements for outdoor applications of pesticides and reasonable pesticide buffer zones.

"I live in Waimea. My home fills with pesticide laden dust regularly," another testifier said.

On behalf of companies Dow, BASF, Syngenta, Monsanto and Pioneer, the Hawaii Crop Improvement Association submitted written testimony, calling pesticide a tool in a farmer's toolbox.

"To add additional, and maybe not necessary, regulations like buffer zones and disclosures will really be adding additional cost to farming," HCIA executive director Bennette Misalucha said.

Most of the testifiers supporting the measure traveled to Oahu from Kauai, with a few from Maui and Molokai. Some of them said they believe the pesticides are making them sick.

"It's like my lungs are just liked stripped, like I don't have any skin on my lungs," one man said.

Misalucha said more pesticide regulations could spell the end for smaller farms.

"To have this additional regulation that would require all farmers to put in the paperwork would really be onerous and very difficult and challenging," she said.

The House Energy and Environmental Protection committee passed the pesticide bill with amendments, including calling for a 3/4 mile buffer zone around schools and hospitals.

"Are you guys willing to help us. I really hope so. I really hope so," Kubo said.

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