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pesticides Numbers don’t tell the story

Some say RUP amounts don’t capture details

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Posted: Thursday, January 16, 2014 2:00 am

LIHUE — Kauai’s largest agricultural companies have shared how much restricted use pesticides they applied in December.

Wednesday marked the deadline for the companies to comply with the first round of filings through the voluntary Kauai Agricultural Good Neighbor Program, and Syngenta, Dow AgroSciences, DuPont Pioneer, Kauai Coffee and BASF all hit the deadline.

Some of the companies used hundreds of gallons or pounds of pesticides over hundreds of acres.

Some didn’t use any RUPs at all.

Others applied amounts that barely broke single digits.

But what do the numbers mean? It depends on whom you ask.

“What you’re seeing is a snapshot in time,” said Thomas Matsuda, head of the state DOA pesticide division, on the RUP reports listed on the state website.

That snapshot, the director said, is more of a gauge of what’s being used, and not a document that will spell out when too much RUP is being used, or too often.

That’s because different RUPs have different use requirements, as spelled out on their labels.

Generally, Matsuda said, RUP maximum thresholds are not to exceed a certain per acre, per year standard. So just saying some acres were sprayed with a certain amount of pesticides, as the reports currently state, isn’t pinpointing whether the same acre is being sprayed with the RUP repeatedly.

That’s why the Good Neighbor documents don’t go far enough, said Andrea Brower, a concerned Kauai citizen who favors the county’s more stringent pesticide law over the voluntary program.

“That’s really the crux of it ... It’s just not adequate information,” she said. “The bottom line is, it’s not very, I mean, it’s interesting to see the numbers, but it’s not the information or data that we need for any useful analysis.”

But what the disclosures can do is allow the DOA’s pesticide division to monitor the RUPs and amounts, and if something triggers a red flag, the department can use its expertise to follow up, Matsuda said.

“If there’s a complaint or a concern, we can ask for a year’s worth of records on a certain product,” he said of the state department that certifies RUP applicators every five years to ensure the pesticides are being properly administered. “We’ve done it in the past.”

Two of the affected companies, Syngenta and Kauai Coffee, said Wednesday that the state’s new voluntary program will probably need some fine-tuning.

Paramount is making the information easily understandable for the community, they said, and just throwing numbers up without application regulations could be uninformative when it comes to the whole picture — or worse, misleading.

So what can be done moving forward to make the info easier to comprehend?

“After looking at the website and reading the TGI article, we were discussing exactly (that question),” Mark Phillipson, Syngenta spokesman, wrote in an email to The Garden Island. “What do a bunch of numbers mean? Without context it is difficult for anyone to determine. We plan to discuss (the) matter with HDOA to ensure community members understand the information and have context for it. As we continue to state that ‘the label is the law’ we do indeed follow all label instructions and directions regarding usage.”

Wayne Katayama, Kauai Coffee president, said his company submitted its report Jan. 10, which reported the company didn’t use any RUPs in December.

The voluminous application guidelines, amounts and techniques Kauai Company submits to the state for compliance inspectors could be too detailed for the public to wade through, so finding a happy medium to share with people on what the RUP numbers mean could be the next step in the new program.

“I think what you need to do is let the program percolate enough and see what kind of feedback it gets,” he said. “Again, we’re trying to (work with the community).”

• Tom Hasslinger, managing editor, can be reached at 245-0427 or thasslinger@thegardenisland.com.

© 2015 Thegardenisland.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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  • Maluhia Group posted at 5:08 pm on Fri, Jan 17, 2014.

    Maluhia Group Posts: 66

    "Bayanihan!" "Support Kauai Ag!" "Got My Ohana!" Follow the yellow brick road and it leads not to a conspiracy theorist, but the self-serving individuals and paid pundits writing vitriolic comments playing on cultural nuisance with intention. Crony corn capitalists with the ethics of a rootworm. It's time to look into Thomas Matsuda's finances an expenditures. When the W.C.M.S State Pesticide Study was presented at the school to teachers not only was Mr. Matsuda belligerent and antagonistic towards teachers, he was on a first name basis with the pesticide industry ghosts that literally surrounded him. The pesticide industry has no right to turn the State of Hawaii into their cooperate petri dish of the Pacific with the support of such nefarious individuals.

  • UncleAina posted at 11:18 am on Fri, Jan 17, 2014.

    UncleAina Posts: 621

    You got your law - you've got your data - but sadly many of the people who wanted this law so badly know nothing about agriculture. Growing some lilikoi does not make you a farmer. Aside from the seed co - NONE of the fruits and vegetables on Kauai are exported. NONE. Know where the people who could make Kauai sustainable are? They're out surfing. Ever seen big fields full of Kauai residents out harvesting food? No - the work is all done by migrant workers from Thailand and the Philippines. The people who ARE farmers constantly are scrutinized by the farmer wannabes. Unicornland is 100% right!

  • DaTruthHurts posted at 6:19 am on Fri, Jan 17, 2014.

    DaTruthHurts Posts: 77

    "Stop the crying" you all have no idea what you are talking about.

    So it is not ok for seed companies to spray (following label) in field several hundred feet from homes but it is ok for home fumigation companies to use harmful fumigants on my neighbors home 10 feet away?

    There is one of biggest flaws in the law.

  • MichaelMann posted at 12:33 am on Fri, Jan 17, 2014.

    MichaelMann Posts: 493

    Who couldn't see this coming? The anti-GMO crowd gets their reporting, and they cry foul when the reporting doesn't bolster their fantasy. Rather than accept the reporting, they insist on believing it is all made up. This conspiracy theory thinking has simply gone too far. To allow a segment of the population to cause such time and energy to be wasted on multiple fronts in this fashion is pure craziness.

  • littleman posted at 5:38 pm on Thu, Jan 16, 2014.

    littleman Posts: 25

    Hearing the ANTI-GMO people cry for justice. Make's me happy. I mean its right in front of you. But still not enough. Hahahhaa. Thanks for making my day.

  • ChumpChangeChuckie posted at 3:05 pm on Thu, Jan 16, 2014.

    ChumpChangeChuckie Posts: 105

    Kauai Coffee was handing out free samples to Eleele residents as part of their "good neighbor policy (which coincidentally followed a fire in one of their coffee driers two days before, probably resulting in a lot of unsellable coffee.) Still no news from them as to what and how much pesticide they're using. I'd like to find out, because my house gets covered with the dust that blows in from their operations.

  • islandwide posted at 2:44 pm on Thu, Jan 16, 2014.

    islandwide Posts: 187

    The pesticide "label is the law" we do indeed follow all label instructions and directions regarding usage. These pesticides are readily available to the consumers but are the labeled instructions and directions being followed? Will each user(County) have to file a report too?

    So now what do we do with those numbers? Have them use less? The Seed Companies did fulfill the state's request. To some people ...they truly believe they can grab air!!

  • BorninHawaii posted at 12:33 pm on Thu, Jan 16, 2014.

    BorninHawaii Posts: 394

    I am really disappointed in the article "Numbers don't tell the story." it just goes to show everyone that the anti GMO folks will never be satisfied. Hooser said all along just tell us what you are spraying and how much. Well here you go. Just becasue you don't know how to interpet it doesn't mean it is inadequate. What is inadequate is your knowledge base. It has been testified over and over again that this is scientific and the county would have to hire scientist in order to interpret the data. So I will say to the County, get on with it. Hooser got what he wanted, "We just want disclosure". It is the county's responsibility to analyze and interpret the information. Time to be educated.

  • realitychick posted at 10:13 am on Thu, Jan 16, 2014.

    realitychick Posts: 238

    These companies have not demonstrated what it takes to be a good neighbor. Does anyone seriously believe that the numbers they submit will be accurate. I don't.

  • tunataxi posted at 10:12 am on Thu, Jan 16, 2014.

    tunataxi Posts: 662

    It's the "Fine Tuning" that worries me... that usually mean's "Manipulation" of the figures to meet requirements in the Corporate World. I hope the figures are within guidelines for the Companies and the Citizens of Kauai. These companies should also disclose their receipts of accepted shipments of all these chemicals. Just so the agencies monitoring them can make sure all the figures add up. No different than any other company doing inventory to assure things aren't going unaccounted for.

  • sgoold posted at 6:57 am on Thu, Jan 16, 2014.

    sgoold Posts: 472

    “If there’s a complaint or a concern, we can ask for a year’s worth of records on a certain product."

    Well, I'm complaining right here and now. I'm asking others to join this complaint. Here's what I'm asking: all companies please post ALL their records about RUP (restricted use pesticides). Create a website and post the information there. I'll volunteer to build the website -- for free -- for the companies. We simply want to KNOW ... join us!


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