On January 24, 2015, members of The Outdoor Circle met with Dr. Vandana Shiva, Dr. Andrew Kimbrell and Ashley Lukens of the Center for Food Safety a lunch hosted by the North Shore Outdoor Circle. The purpose of the event was to share and discuss sustainable farming practices and the impact of pesticides on land, food production, and human health.
At the meeting, Alexandra shared that India has an environmental court system similar to the statewide environmental court adopted in Hawaii last year. The Outdoor Circle, together with Keep the Hawaiian Islands Beautiful (a chapter of the national Keep America Beautiful foundation), worked together to pass the bill establishing the court by July 1, 2015.
Alexandra explained to the group of 30 community leaders that this law will have a similar historic effect as the signs law which The Outdoor Circle helped establish so many years ago. She explained how the Environmental Court will help ensure the protection of our environment through better enforcement of existing environmental laws. It will guarantee that all court staff involved with environmental cases are well-trained in the laws protecting our environment. The new court will also provide a mechanism for violators to remedy the harm of their actions through community service opportunities directly benefitting the environment. The Environmental Court would also provide a venue for raising significant environmental claims in the future. Dr. Shiva, as well as the local and national leaders of the US Center for Food Safety, were very happy to hear this and spoke about the ways in which this new law can be practiced to benefit public health and the health of the environment. They asked questions and gave ideas about how The Outdoor Circle can take the lead regarding pesticide use in Hawaii.
This year, bills dealing with pesticides and GMOs are being introduced separately in our legislature. These bills which are being introduced by Representative Chris Lee and Senator Josh Green, will require pesticide buffer zones around sensitive areas of our community such as hospitals and schools, as well as further disclosure regarding the current usage of these harmful toxins in Hawaii.
The topic of food security is a clean and green issue as cash crops are phasing out farmland that focuses on food production. Vandana went into detail on the topic of intensive chemical farming and how this sector has hidden costs which are, as of yet, not included in the financial analysis of current agricultural practices in Hawaii. Andrew Kimbrell finished the discussion by looking ahead to the future and stated that "fossil-fuel-based agriculture is a zombie technology that will not be around in 50 years”.
We look forward to learning more about these pressing issues. If you are interested in learning more and getting more involved, please drop us a note here.
The Greenleaf is the online newsletter and blog of The Outdoor Circle. Here you will find updates on the projects and accomplishments of our many branches throughout the state, as well as programs with statewide impact.