Mayor Alan Arakawa signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with Monsanto earlier this month, thereby obtaining assurances from the company that they will engage in safe practices involving restricted-use pesticides, according to a Maui County press release.
The MOU comes after bills were passed in Kaua'i and Hawai'i Counties involving restrictions on the use of pesticides. While watching what was happening in other counties, Maui County decided to approach Monsanto, which has farms on both Maui and Molokai, to require disclosure of the company's restricted-use pesticides and all information about related practices.
The company has readily complied, and signed an agreement being referred to as the "Maui County AG Oversight Agreement (AGOA)."
The AG Oversight Agreement states that Monsanto must:
Disclose details on the restricted-use pesticides that are being used here, including the types, amounts used and the number of acres treated;
Provide information about their stewardship measures related to pesticide technologies, fugitive dust and soil erosion;
Strictly adhere to all federal and state pesticide-use requirements;
Meet quarterly with Maui County regarding the use of pesticides and other issues the community may have.
Mayor Arakawa said the AGOA will help provide some much-needed information to the public without putting financial burdens on taxpayers or opening the county up to costly lawsuits.
"Responsible use of pesticides is a concern for us all, especially for those of us who grew up on these islands when sugar cane and pineapples were our main exports," said Mayor Arakawa. "There must be safeguards and a sharing of information, and I believe the AG Oversight Agreement is a proactive step we needed to take in providing both for our community."
The County of Maui is also working with Hawaiian Commercial & Sugar (HC&S) on a similar MOU agreement.
On Friday, Nov 22, Mark Sheehan, citizen representative of the Sustainable Hawaiian Agriculture for the Keiki and the 'Aina (SHAKA) Movement (SHAKAmovement.org), emailed the following statement regarding the MOU:
"We agree that in order to protect the health and safety of the citizens and visitors of Maui County, it is imperative to know what chemicals and poisons are being used by Monsanto.
"Yet, this MOU in no way addresses the potential damaging health effects to humans or animals caused by the various exposures to these chemicals or chemical combination cocktails.
"In addition, being given a list of chemicals doesn't address the very real issue of the probability of irreversible damage being caused to our ground water, aquifers, soils, microbiology, wildlife, environment and all the public trust resources and cultural heritage.
"When long-term human and animal studies have been completed, and an Environmental Impact Statement has been provided, then and only then will the citizens know what it means to have these chemicals in their lives and be able to make an informed decision as to whether or not they want these chemicals in Maui County anymore."