HDOA Statement on the Final Report of the Joint Fact Finding Group

Posted on May 25, 2016 in Main

NR 16-6
May 25, 2016

HDOA Statement on the Final Report of the Joint Fact Finding Group on GM Crops and Pesticide Use on Kauai

This statement is in response to the issuance today of the Joint Fact Finding Group’s final report on the impacts of genetically modified crops and pesticide use on Kauai.


The Hawaii Department of Agriculture takes seriously its responsibility to regulate the manufacture, sale, and use of pesticides in the state. HDOA is charged with this responsibility by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

In Ordinance 960 (formerly Bill 2491) about pesticides and genetically modified organisms passed by the Kauai County Council in 2013 and overturned in federal court in 2014 (now on appeal), there is a provision to create a Joint Fact Finding Group (JFFG) to help address key environmental and public health questions related to large-scale commercial agriculture entities using pesticides and genetically modified organisms on Kauai.

When the ordinance was struck down by the court, HDOA and the Kauai County Office of the Mayor contracted an independent public policy group, Accord Network 3.0, to facilitate the Joint Fact Finding Group project. The JFFG was charged with gathering accurate information on 1) the lands used by the seed companies and Kauai Coffee, 2) their pesticide usage, and 3) evidence of any possible adverse health and environmental impacts.

Joint Fact Finding Group Final Report

During their fact finding mission that took place between January 2015 and April 2016, the Joint Fact Finding Group, made up of citizens from Kauai, looked at every available source of information regarding pesticide usage on the west side of Kauai.

After careful scrutiny of the studies, data, and public input, the JFFG arrived at the following conclusions regarding health and environmental impacts on the west side of Kauai:

  • The Kauai health data examined does not show a causal relationship between the pesticides used by the seed companies and health problems found on the west side or any other part of Kauai.
  • There is no statistically significant evidence that shows causality between seed companies’ pesticide use and any harm to Kauai’s flora and fauna.
  • There needs to be additional data gathering going forward to continue to demonstrate the impacts of agricultural pesticide use.

Inaccurate claims

There have been inaccurate claims made by the public, most notably through social media, about pesticide exposure on Kauai. HDOA notes that the JFFG, with a majority of individuals who supported Bill 2491, has found no conclusive evidence that the seed companies are misusing pesticides or “drenching” west side communities with pesticides, a common rumor circulating on social media. Further, the claims of direct and obvious negative impacts from GM crops and pesticides made in testimony in support of Bill 2491 and on social media have not been substantiated in the JFFG’s final report.

Recommendations of the JFFG

In addition to finding no conclusive evidence of adverse health effects or environmental impacts due to pesticide use by the seed companies or Kauai Coffee in West Kaua‘i, the JFFG has made recommendations in its final report that HDOA and other state departments are currently reviewing.

“I would like to thank the volunteer citizens who gave their time and energy serving on the Joint Fact Finding Group,” said Scott Enright, chairperson of the Hawaii Board of Agriculture. “The Office of the Chairperson will move forward reviewing and implementing many of the recommendations to continue to ensure the citizens of the state of Hawaii that agricultural pesticide use is being done safely.”

Consistent with the reviewing process, the following is currently proceeding:

  • HDOA has already proceeded with a review and an updating of Hawaii’s pesticide laws and regulations including increasing the registration fees for Restricted Use Pesticides (RUP).
  • The Good Neighbor Program, launched in early 2014, continues on Kauai, and the HDOA is ready to expand the GNP statewide.
  • HDOA, the Department of Health, the Department of Land and Natural Resources, and county first responders will be coordinating rapid response protocols for pesticide exposure incidents.
  • At the encouragement of Kauai Senator Ron Kouchi, HDOA and the Hawaii Department of Health have been developing protocols for both surface water and air monitoring studies that will be implemented this year.

Link to report: Pesticide Use by Large Agribusinesses on Kaua‘i