Into the Belly of the Beast: Bringing Kauai’s Story to Syngenta World Headquarters Annual Shareholders Meeting April 28th.

Yes, myself and two other Kauai residents are heading this coming week to share our Kauai story with the people and government of Switzerland, home to the world headquarters of Syngenta.   See Press Release here:

Syngenta, you will remember, is the primary plaintiff presently suing the people and County of Kauai for the right to spray poisons next to our schools, hospitals and homes.

We are attending an international conference in Basel, Switzerland sponsored by organizations who share our concern with regards to the environmental and health harm caused from the actions of large transnational chemical companies.

Our hosts in Switzerland have also arranged for me to attend and speak briefly inside the actual Syngenta shareholders meeting.  

I will have only a few minutes on the microphone and intend to tell Kauai’s story and ask the Board and shareholders of Syngenta to withdraw from their lawsuit against Kauai County, honor the laws passed by our community, and provide Kauai County with the same respect and protections afforded to the people of Switzerland.

Syngenta is a Swiss corporation and many of the restricted use pesticides they apply regularly on Kauai are banned in Switzerland.  Atrazine, paraquat and 4 other highly toxic pesticides that Syngenta uses on Kauai are forbidden from use in their own country.

Please help me carry a strong message to Syngenta from Kauai, from all Hawaii and from all over the world by signing this petition ( and sharing it with your friends and contacts.  

I intend to present this petition and copies of all signatures, along with my formal statement directly to the Syngenta Board of Directors and shareholders.

Syngenta must know and understand that our movement and our commitment to protect the health and environment of our community is not going away, but rather only grows stronger every day.

Please sign and share this Petition!

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State House Agricultural Committee – Disappointment Is Too Mild A Description

Words cannot express how disappointed I am with the conduct of the State House Agricultural Committee.  They continue to ignore the science, the medical literature and the community calling out for meaningful regulation.

Instead members of this committee simply follow the lead of Monsanto, Syngenta, BASF, Dupont, and Dow Chemical who repeat their company mantras that pesticides are safe and that they are already “highly regulated” – neither of which are true.

While the tendency is to “blame the Chair”, the Hawaii State House of Representatives as a body is responsible.

The evidence is incontrovertible.  The intense application of Restricted Use Pesticides by industrial agricultural operations in areas near where residents live, work and go to school causes increased health problems, especially children and pregnant women.

The community is only requesting basic disclosure (tell us what chemicals you are using) and modest buffer zones around schools, hospitals and homes.

But the majority of our legislators are not listening to the community nor even to the increasing calls for caution from the medical and science community.  Most listen only to the industry who is extremely proficient at obfuscation.

After all that is what industry does – they lie, they mislead, they obfuscate and they manipulate the data for as long as they can before government, the medical community and the outrage of the people finally catch up with them.

This is what they did with tobacco, with asbestos, with lead, with ddt, with agent orange and with so many other things.

The story every where is the same, “It was safe until it wasn’t”.

It seems that nearly every day a new article and a new study is published pointing to increasing health and environmental concerns.

A very recent Wall Street Journal article about the World Health Organization declaring Monsanto’s Round Up as a likely carcinogen.

A recent New York Times article detailing the lies told by Syngenta denying that atrazine (which they spray by the ton in Hawaii) is banned in their home country of Switzerland.  This article points to 82 pesticides banned in the European Union but allowed to be sprayed in Hawaii.

An American Academy of Pediatrics report that points to the dangers of exposure to pesticides especially in children and pregnant women.  It further warns of high levels of health problems among populations that live and work around pesticides in agricultural areas.  It specifically calls out “buffers zones and disclosure” as two positive things that can be done to mitigate the danger. Read the source documents for this plus the 9 most egregious misstatements made by these chemical companies and parroted by their supporters in House Committee on Agriculture.

Do any of these reports matter to the House Agricultural Committee?

Apparently not.

And yes, I would be more than pleased to present the case for increased regulation in any public forum and challenge any member of the House of Representatives to debate the facts.

But of course none will take me up on this because their position is indefensible. They rely on industry and not their own research to make their case.  Industry also will not publicly debate this issue because their arguments are based on strawmen, falsehoods and vague statements about “feeding the world”.

Will someone in the House of Representatives who believes in their position be willing to step up to this challenge?  We can have PBS or another impartial party be an independent organizer.


Surely at least one of you on the House Agricultural Committee feels strongly enough and knows the facts of the matter well enough to articulate your position to the public?

I am over it.

Please don’t waste your time calling members of the House Agricultural Committee to ask if they care.

Because they don’t.

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Read Now Please – Senate vote on pending confirmation of real estate development lobbyist as DLNR Director is imminent.

Tomorrow, Wednesday March 18th is the day in which the Hawaii State Senate votes on whether or not to confirm the appointment of real estate development lobbyist Carleton Ching to be Director of the Department of Land and Natural Resources.

If you live on Oahu, please join those in opposition at the Capitol Senate Chambers at 11am.   Wear red if you can. It is important that the people in the gallery are strong in numbers in order to send a silent but strong message to those with the power who sit on the floor. Please take the time to come down to the Capitol, your physical presence is needed and valuable.

If you cannot attend, please continue to reach out to Senators asking that they vote No.

Tomorrow, on the floor of the Senate, there will be numerous and likely very passionate speeches by those for and against. And there will be the inevitable and predictable posturing by many I suspect who will attempt to plant one foot on each side of the issue and hide behind the “WR” or “with reservations” vote.

A “WR” is a Yes vote that says “I don’t really like this but am going to hold my nose and vote for it anyway”. In early votes on issues yet resolved that are still meandering through the legislative process, a “WR” is a legitimate vote often intended to send a message that “I might vote No later if this Bill is not amended properly”.

During the final voting process such as is occurring tomorrow, a “WR” is better characterized as “weasel route” or a vote cast by someone desperately trying to find a pathway out of a political dilemma and not take responsibility and hoping the public does not see or care that he/she is really voting Yes.

The overwhelming public sentiment against the appointment, the numerous conservation and environmental organizations who are publicly opposing the appointment, the fact that both the Honolulu Star Advertiser (twice) and the Civil Beat both have also taken positions in strong opposition, combined with the blatantly obvious and extremely poor performance of the nominee – translate into the fact that there is no justifiable public policy reason to vote Yes.

I challenge anyone to review the committee hearing transcripts/tapes, the questionnaires, the resume and all of the testimony both for and against and tell me with a straight face that Mr. Ching is qualified for this job.

I am hopeful and cautiously optimistic that the No votes will prevail tomorrow and the public will be reassured that the public interest is in fact the Senate’s number one priority.

As a voting resident of Hawaii, I ask that you please get involved now.

Please call your Senator now, tonight or early in the morning. Ask your Senator, the Senator that represents you in your district, to vote No.  Let your Senator know you live in their district and that you will be asking later for them to explain their votes – and that a WR “weasel route” vote is not acceptable. (a complete list of Senators, phone numbers is at the bottom of this email)

As always telephone with courtesy and professionalism. Anger and threats are counter-productive and serve to only harm our cause.

If there is any doubt about whether you believe Mr. Ching should be confirmed or not, please read the Senate Water Land Committee report:

The Honolulu Star Advertiser reports the Senate is split 50/50. (there is a paywall)

And Civil Beat has a fascinating inside story of the “palace intrigue” and explores the political pressures placed on the various Senators and their factions.

Members of the Hawaii State Senate

Baker , Rosalyn H. 808-586-6070
Chun Oakland , Suzanne 808-586-6130
Dela Cruz , Donovan M. 808-586-6090
English , J. Kalani 808-587-7225
Espero , Will 808-586-6360
Gabbard , Mike 808-586-6830
Galuteria , Brickwood 808-586-6740
Green , Josh 808-586-9385
Harimoto , Breene 808-586-6230
Ihara , Les Jr. 808-586-6250
Inouye , Lorraine R. 808-586-7335
Kahele , Gilbert 808-586-6760
Keith-Agaran , Gilbert S.C. 808-586-7344
Kidani , Michelle N. 808-586-7100
Kim , Donna Mercado 808-587-7200
Kouchi , Ronald D. 808-586-6030
Nishihara , Clarence K. 808-586-6970
Riviere , Gil 808-586-7330
Ruderman , Russell E. 808-586-6890
Shimabukuro , Maile S.L. 808-586-7793
Slom , Sam (R) 808-586-8420
Taniguchi , Brian T. 808-586-6460
Thielen , Laura H. 808-587-8388
Tokuda , Jill N. 808-587-7215
Wakai , Glenn 808-586-8585

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Pulling Back The Curtain: The Carleton Ching Vote – Time To Hero-Up

After watching the entire Senate committee hearing covering the appointment of real estate development lobbyist Carleton Ching to be Director of the Department of Land and Natural Resources, it seems embarrassingly obvious that Mr. Ching is not even remotely qualified for the position.

In question after question he shows his lack of even the most basic knowledge of the core functions of the DLNR.  He is a very nice man with many positive attributes, and it is difficult and very awkward for all involved to pull back the curtain on his lack of basic qualifications, but this issue is too important to look the other way.

What is most disturbing to me is the lens in which he looks at our natural resources and the fact that he was not familiar with even our basic public trust doctrine.

He spoke consistently during the hearing about finding the “sweet spot” and repeated talked of how compromise and balance was the answer to everything.   I agree that compromise and balance are important concepts but I don’t think he truly understands how much compromise has already been made with regards to existing natural resources already under extreme stress and degradation. Our drinking water, stream flows, shorelines, endangered species and everything else that is under the purview of the DLNR has already been greatly diminished through past compromise and attempts at so-called balance.

Mr. Chings repeated assertions that he was not familiar with nor responsible for the decisions, actions and testimony of the Land Use Research Foundation (LURF), I find impossible to believe.  How could he serve on its Board of Directors for years (serving as President and VP), and not be aware and not take ownership of the Boards actions? LURF’s stated mission is to “promote and advance the interests of the development community, particularly in the areas of land use laws and regulations.”

At the end of the day I believe deeply that the choice of Carleton Ching for this important position represents both very bad policy in terms of tangible harm that will come from this decision and extremely bad politics in terms of the message it sends to the public.

Appointing a paid lobbyist for the real estate industry to be the person in charge of protecting our states natural resources sends an extremely negative public trust message out to already cynical voters and reinforces their increasingly diminished view of politics and government.

On Thursday March 12, 2015 the Senate Committee on Water and Land voted 5 to 2 to NOT CONFIRM his appointment (see selected quotes below from that hearing).

The final vote by the full Senate will be very close and will take place possibly on Monday but most likely on Tuesday March 17.

Your email and or telephone call TODAY and before Tuesday March 17 to your District Senator can make the difference. Trust me, I have been in this arena for over 16 years and your testimony and opinion, combined with many, many others, can make a difference.

If you care about the stewardship of our natural resources please send YOUR DISTRICT SENATOR a strong but polite email requesting he/she vote NO on the appointment of Carleton Ching to be our States DLNR Director.

Read and make up your own mind, then please email both your District Senator (most important) and all Senators.

For my friends and neighbors on Kauai that would be first to Senator Ron Kouchi and then to ALL at

For those of you who live in other parts of our State you can find your Senator and their contact information here:

Be nice, introduce yourself and let them know your thoughts on this critical issue:

My 4 minute video testimony is here::

Other reference info on the Ching appointment is here:–+for+newsletter+sends&utm_campaign=89ecbb751f-Save_DLNR2_20_2015&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_fb5d1e87f2-89ecbb751f-239105569&ct=t(Save_DLNR2_20_2015)

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On The Creation Of Cynics – Disrespecting Community And The Democratic Process

On Thursday February 19th numerous residents from all parts of our State got out of bed much earlier than normal, took off from work or school, arranged child-care and headed to the State Capitol. For many, the trip meant flying from the neighbor-islands and then taking a taxi cab or renting a car in order to attend an 8:30am hearing. They were going to offer personal testimony before the House Committee on Agriculture on an issue which directly impacts their lives. As participants in the democratic process, they sought to offer two minutes of testimony on HB1514 a measure that would establish pesticide disclosure and protective buffer zones around schools, hospitals, and homes.

The committee’s treatment of this public was contemptible. While the Hearing Notice clearly said, in bold letters that testifiers would have at least to two minutes to testify, many were not even offered that pittance of an opportunity to participate.

Watch the video,

It is all on camera. Watch and you will see the House Agricultural Committee engaged in a shameless charade of a public hearing. While the Chair begins the meeting with the appearance of fairness and purpose, by the end it is painfully obvious that he had no intention to afford testifiers the public process of which they are entitled. About midway through, even the pretense of fairness and purpose evaporates as the Chair displays increasing impatience with the large number of community members in attendance. The two minute rule is thrown on the wayside and he rushes residents through their testimony, repeatedly cutting them off after less than one minute and in some cases less than 30 seconds, clearly not listening to what the people were actually saying.

Later, you will also see Committee members taking their time and tossing softball questions liberally to representatives of industry. Never do the Representatives seriously challenge the statements made by industry and never ever do they engage in dialogue or question regular citizens whose health is actually being impacted by the use of Restricted Use Pesticides by these same industry interests.

After over 3 hours of testimony, the Chair recessed the Committee took 2 minutes and 56 seconds to “confer with the committee and vice chair” and then announced his decision to defer and kill this measure.

The conclusion and decision to effectively kill HB1514 by this particular committee was, in retrospect, predictable. Those familiar with the historical conduct of the state House Agriculture Committee, and its flouting of the legislative process in general, would say the outcome was to be expected.

What is particularly deplorable in this incident is the Committee’s blatant charade – disregarding testimony provisions in the hearing notice and shamefully disrespecting a community that had sacrificed so much to be there.

Cynics at the legislature may not understand or care – but the fact remains that the residents who were disrespected and whose opinions were so rudely shunted aside actually came to that meeting believing their testimony could make a difference.

They, of course, have every reason to no longer believe that to be true.

By its actions, the House Agriculture Committee brings real harm upon their communities. Not only do they withhold and block protection for children and schools from harmful pesticide drift, they also greatly diminish public faith and confidence in the core democratic process.

Call or email your Representative today and let them know that the action of the House Agriculture Committee is unacceptable.

Ask them to support reopening the House Agriculture Committee hearing on HB1514. Ask that the public be allowed the courtesy to complete their testimony. Demand accountability and respect for the public process.

They will likely tell you, “House Rules” prevent that from happening. Remind them politely that “they make the Rules” and the rules can be waived or amended at any time should the majority want to do so.

Email the House Representative who represents your district first. Then contact all Representatives at

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9 Most Frequent Misstatements by Hawaii Chemical Companies

This tinyurl will take you to an active and linked version of the document.  Links to source documents are within the text.


1) CHEMICAL COMPANIES: “All of these chemicals and pesticides have been tested and found to be safe

when used according to the label.”


 No one has ever tested the combined impacts of these chemicals over time in the communities in

which they are being used.

 Many of the chemicals (including Atrazine; Paraquat, also known as Gramoxone; and

Chlorpyrifos, also known as Lorsban) that are regularly used near Hawai‘i homes, schools, and

hospitals are banned in other countries.

 Atrazine, manufactured by Syngenta, has been banned in the European Union since October 2003.

See also Paraquat bans and Chlorpyrifos bans.

 The American Academy of Pediatrics’ “Pesticide Exposure in Children” (2012) cites the

implementation of buffer zones and disclosure notification requirements by States and localities as

positive measures that help mitigate risks.

 The American Cancer Society’s “Increased Cancer Burden Among Pesticide Applicators and Others

Due to Pesticide Exposure” (2013) states definitively that people who live and work around

agricultural areas that have high pesticide use suffer a greater incidence of certain cancers and

other medical problems.

 The University of California at Davis recently released a report, “Neurodevelopmental Disorders

and Prenatal Residential Proximity to Agricultural Pesticides: The CHARGE Study” (2014), linking

the long term use of Glyphosate to the increased incidence of autism.

 Restricted Use Pesticide (RUP) labels forbid their use in conditions which allow the pesticides to

drift onto neighboring properties. Nevertheless, there are numerous incidents of drift occurring in

Hawai‘i, with no legal consequences for the companies. The attached links of two modest studies

on Kaua‘i indicate that while the quantities are small, Restricted Use Pesticides are drifting into

neighborhood schools and into adjacent streams:

o “Air sampling and analysis for pesticide residues and odorous chemicals in and around

Waimea, Kaua‘i” (March 15, 2013)

o “2013-14 State Wide Pesticide Sampling Pilot Project Water Quality Findings” (May 2014)

2) CHEMICAL COMPANIES: “We use less pesticides, not more.”


Despite the fact that no other farmer in Hawai‘i uses anything close to what these chemical companies

use, the chemical companies attempt to compare apples to oranges:

 The chemical companies compare themselves to conventional corn growers (who harvest one (1)

crop growing cycle per year). In Hawai‘i, the chemical companies are engaging in industrial and

experimental agriculture, and planting three (3) or more crop growing cycles per year.

See the non-confidential records obtained in the lawsuit by Waimea, Kaua‘i residents against

Pioneer Hi-Bred International, Inc..

Page 1 of 4



 The chemical companies are experimenting with “Roundup Ready” and other chemical-resistant

crops, encouraging greater pesticide use. “Roundup resistance has led to greater use of herbicides,

with troubling implications for biodiversity, sustainability, and human health.”

 The Cascadia Times reported: “Our investigation found that annualized pounds-per-acre usage of

the seven highly toxic pesticides on Kaua‘i was greater, on average, than in all but four states:

Florida, Louisiana, North Carolina and Indiana.”

 According to Kyle Smith, an attorney representing Waimea Residents in their lawsuit against

DuPont Pioneer, during the August 5, 2013 Kaua‘i Council Meeting regarding

Bill No. 2491 (Ordinance No. 960): “Sixty-five percent (65%) of the days of the year on average,

so about two hundred forty (240) days, they are applying pesticides. You can look at the

combinations that are applied. You could look at it by on the application days, the average is

between eight (8) and maybe sixteen (16) applications per day of pesticides on these research

fields. Most importantly though and I think what is most relevant for this discussion is the total

usage. Recently, the industry statistics I saw put out at the public comment was that Kaua‘i was

using about one (1) pound per acre, per season and that the mainland uses about two (2) pounds

per acre and I have these charts to show you. Again, I believe it is a seed company graph. The

reality is if you double that because we have multiple seasons, we have three (3) seasons.

Typically, two (2) seasons are planted, you are looking at closer to two (2) pounds per acre, that

puts us in the upper-level of the mainland usage. . . . 2010, 2009 you are looking at close to

twelve (12) pounds per acre and the average usage, and this is Restricted-Use Pesticides, over that

same time period would be eight (8) pounds per acre.”

3) CHEMICAL COMPANIES: “The information regarding the pesticides we use is already public



 The only State records kept are of Restricted Use Pesticides SOLD in the State of Hawai‘i—NOT the

Pesticides USED. Additionally, these records are for RUPs only, not all pesticides.

 The State does not keep records of, and the companies have refused to release any information

regarding, the amount of “General Use Pesticides” (such as Glyphosate) that they are using.

 The HDOA will no longer provide company-specific data but only aggregated data, which makes it

impossible to determine what chemicals are being used by whom at what geographical location.

 The HDOA has charged hundreds of dollars to provide the data.

 Hawai‘i Revised Statutes 149A-31.2 (Pesticide use; posting online) (2013), mandating that HDOA

“shall publish on its website the public information contained in all restricted use pesticide

records, reports, or forms submitted to the department” still has yet to be implemented by HDOA.

Page 2 of 4



4) CHEMICAL COMPANIES: “We are highly regulated.”


Not really.

 Federal agencies do not always have a Hawai‘i presence, rarely conduct on-site physical

inspections, and have delegated responsibilities to the States and localities. See also Wisconsin

Public Intervenor v. Mortier, 501 U. S. 597 (1991).

 Even though the chemical companies are by far the largest agricultural users of RUPs in the State

and operate on over 20,000 acres often adjacent to homes, schools, and sensitive environmental

areas, the HDOA infrequently inspects their operations.

o Approximately 43% of the HDOA inspection log incidents are redacted from public view

indicating inspection cases that remain “open” and/or otherwise contain information not

available to the public.

o It takes YEARS to investigate violations and complaints of pesticide drift. See the following:

 Honolulu Civil Beat, “Does Hawai‘i’s Failure to Enforce Pesticide Use Justify Action

 Video of HDOA responses to the Kaua‘i County Council during proceedings for

o Licensed physicians on Kaua‘i who practice in areas impacted by the chemical companies’

operations have expressed that they believe there is 10 times the national rate of certain

rare congenital heart defects in newborns.

o The State birth defects registry until very recently has not been updated since 2005.

by Kaua‘i?” (October 8, 2013)

Bill No. 2491 (Ordinance No. 960)

5) CHEMICAL COMPANIES: “We only use what every other farmer uses.”


Based on raw Kaua‘i data provided by HDOA showing three (3) years of RUPs purchased for use in


USED BY THE CHEMICAL COMPANIES. Just in 2012, and just on Kaua‘i, over 5,477 pounds and

4,324 gallons were purchased by the chemical companies. The chemical companies have used at least

22 different types of RUPs, while regular food farmers use one (1) to possibly three (3) different types

and use only a few gallons every few years. Summary data is here.

6) CHEMICAL COMPANIES: “We do not experiment with pesticides.”


 Bacillus thuringiensis corn (“Bt Corn”) is considered a pesticide by the United States

Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and experiments with Bt Corn require an “Experimental

Use Permit” (EUP) issued by the federal government. See for example here, and here (documents

were provided by HDOA with all redactions as shown).

Page 3 of 4



 The chemical companies have other federal Experimental Use Permits; however, the total number

of experiments conducted with pesticides is not known and public records contain redactions.

See for example here, and here (documents were provided by HDOA with all redactions as


7) CHEMICAL COMPANIES: “The State and County also use large quantities of pesticides.”


 The State and County primarily use general use pesticides such as Roundup for roadside spraying

and park maintenance. These products are considered non-RUPs by the EPA and HDOA.

 The State uses very small amounts of RUPs in targeted efforts to fight invasive species.

8) CHEMICAL COMPANIES: “The County of Kaua‘i uses more RUPs than anyone.”


 The only RUP the County uses is chlorine gas to eliminate bacteria in water. Chlorine gas is by

definition a RUP but it is not applied in the open air near homes, schools, hospitals, or other

sensitive areas. Its application is very controlled and the information pertaining to its use is public.

9) CHEMICAL COMPANIES: “What about golf courses? They use lots of pesticides, too.”


 Reporting of golf course RUP sales on Kaua‘i in 2012 shows only approximately 50 pounds and

20 gallons of RUPs are used annually by all of the golf courses on Kaua‘i combined—compared to

over 5,477 pounds and 4,324 gallons used by the 4 chemical companies each year. The raw data

is here and the summary data is here.

– Information provided by Kaua‘i County Councilmember Gary Hooser –

Page 4 of 4


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Kauai Property Tax Freeze – Council Public Hearing Feb. 11 at 1:30! Action Needed

Action Needed – Kauai Property Tax Freeze – Council Public Hearing Feb. 11 at 1:30!

Your testimony is needed today.  Please email your support to

Unless Bill #2574 is passed there will be an automatic tax increase to owner occupied Kauai properties equaling nearly $2,000,000.

Bill #2574  “The purpose of this Bill is to cap taxes with home use exemptions which received substantial increases in their Real Property Taxes (RPT) due to the removal of the Permanent Home Use tax cap, any changes in use, increases in various RPT rates, and recalculation of their property taxes based on current fair market values.”

Read public hearing notice and actual Bill here:

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