Pesticides in Paradise: How Hawaiian Communities Took on the Chemical Industry and Won

Thursday July 12

11:30am – 1pm

North Star Fund
520 8th Ave, suite 1800

Lunch will be served

Register Here by 7/10

Livestreaming is available

[UPDATE: You can now watch a recording of this briefing online]

Why is one tiny island in the middle of the Pacific Ocean ground zero for pesticide testing and the fate of genetically engineered seeds? How did communities in Hawaiʻi fight back against the chemical industry impacting communities there, particularly Native Hawaiians, farmworkers, and children?

In this lively lunchtime talk, national bestselling author and food justice advocate Anna Lappé will host a conversation about how Hawaiʻi is leading the way in both resisting the agrochemical industry and envisioning a food future rooted in indigenous wisdom and aloha ʻāina (love for the land). Our panel will examine how the nexus of scientific research, community organizing, and the revitalization of indigenous wisdom are creating transformative solutions towards a more just and sustainable food future. Sharing stories from the frontlines, our presenters will give you a ringside seat to the organizing that resulted in the exciting state-wide regulations just approved by the Hawaiʻi legislature that help protect children’s health and include the country’s first ban on chlorpyrifos. They will reflect on what this development means for the rest of the country—and the world—as the toxic toll of industrial agricultural chemicals is ever-more clear and their use ever-more ubiquitous.

Join us on July 12th when Anne Frederick, the executive director of the Hawaiʻi Alliance for Progressive Action (HAPA), will talk about the long struggle for common sense regulation of pesticides in Hawaii. Native Hawaiian mother, educator and cultural practitioner, Malia Chun will talk about living with her two daughters on the frontlines of the agrochemical test fields on the westside of Kauai and growing the next generation of culturally grounded leaders. And Dr. Virginia Rauh, the country’s foremost expert on the pesticide chlorpyrifos, will share her research on the public health impacts of this insecticide and what the ban in Hawaii means for the rest of the country.

A delicious lunch will be provided by Mary Cleaver of The Green Table / Cleaver Co.

This event is open to funders, media, and advocates
Co-sponsored by CFF, Panta Rhea Foundation, Small Planet Fund,
Ceres Trust, and Real Food Media

For those unable to attend our event, there is a similar event with most of the same speakers happening the night before. More info here.


For additional information on the topic, check out:

  • A recent article in The Nation about Hawaii’s successful campaign, and another in Civil Eats.
  • Dr. Rauh’s research on chlorpyrifos in the New England Journal of Medicine, and coverage using this research in The New York Times
  • The film Island Earth (password: islande) follows Malia and the struggle of Hawaiian communities to protect their families and traditional agricultural practices from the worlds largest chemical companies. Or view the trailer here.

More about the presenters

Virginia Rauh, ScDhas been a member of Columbia’s faculty since 1984 and is Deputy Director of the Columbia Center for Children’s Environmental Health. Dr. Rauh is one of the pre-eminent experts on chlorpyrifos and its impacts on children’s health. Her work focuses on the adverse impact of exposure to air pollutants, including second hand smoke and pesticides on pregnancy and child health, and the susceptibility of individuals and disadvantaged populations to environmental hazards. Dr. Rauh is a perinatal epidemiologist by training, whose expertise is in the area of low birth weight and preterm delivery, particularly with respect to socioeconomically disadvantaged and minority populations. She has been principal investigator on numerous major research projects, including studies of the impact of organophosphorus insecticides and secondhand smoke on child neurodevelopment and brain abnormalities. Dr. Rauh serves on numerous national committees, including advisory groups including the Scientific Advisory Board for the Environmental Protection Agency.

Anne Frederick is the Executive Director of the Hawaiʻi Alliance for Progressive Action (HAPA), a Hawaiʻi-wide organization whose mission is to catalyze community empowerment and systemic change towards valuing ʻāina (environment / that which feeds us) and people ahead of corporate profit. HAPA’s work grows out of the movement to regulate the agrochemical industry and pesticide impacts in Hawaiʻi. Anne also works in support of the transition towards just and regenerative food systems in Hawaiʻi, by regularly engaging in community-based mālama ʻāina work days, and helping to steward a nine acre family farm/homestead in Anahola, Kauaʻi. Prior to working at HAPA, Anne co-founded and ran the community planning and design non-profit organization, Hester Street in 2001 on the Lower East Side of Manhattan where she worked on a variety of land-use campaigns locally and citywide.

Malia Kahale’inia Chun is a mother, educator, cultural practitioner, and community activist. She has been the Community Program Coordinator for Nā Pua Noʻeau, Center for Gifted and Talented Native Hawaiian Children at the University or Hawai’i for 20 years. Malia has facilitated over 200 cultural education programs for youth and their families. Her life’s mission is to ground youth in ancestral knowledge, equipping them with tools of self-sustainability, through cultural enrichment opportunities, inspiring them to become stewards of their natural environment and leaders in their community.

Anna Lappé is a national bestselling author, a renowned advocate for sustainability and justice along the food chain, and an advisor to funders investing in food system transformation. A James Beard Foundation Leadership Award recipient, Anna is the co-author or author of three books on food, farming, and sustainability and the contributing author to more than a dozen others. Named one of TIME magazine’s “eco” Who’s-Who, Anna is the founder or co-founder of three national organizations, including Real Food Media, the Small Planet Institute, and Small Planet Fund, which has raised and re-granted more than $1 million since its founding. Alongside her work at Real Food Media, Anna developed and runs the Food & Democracy program of the Panta Rhea Foundation, which among other projects, supports HAPA and other organizing work in Hawai’i.
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