Recap: Pesticides in Paradise

A woman presenting in a small conference room

On July 12th, CFF hosted an event called Pesticides in Paradise: How Hawaiian Communities Took on the Chemical Industry and Won. Food justice advocate and funder Anna Lappé opened with an overview of how she learned about this story and why she was drawn to get involved, and then Dr. Virginia Rauh presented her research on the toxic pesticide chlorpyrifos and its public health impacts, including related chemical exposure from indoor spraying here in New York City. From there we heard from community activist Malia Chun about her community’s personal history with the pesticide industry, and how that narrative fits in to the larger history of Hawaii post-contact with Western colonialists. Anna Frederick, Executive Director of Hawaiʻi Alliance for Progressive Action (HAPA), then detailed the community organizing and statewide campaign that resulted in the country’s first ban on chlorpyrifos. Malia closed by discussing new nonprofits, especially on the most impacted island of Kaua’i, that have emerged as a result of this fight. A video recording is available below.

The slides presented are all visible in the video, but you can also download Virignia’s presentation and Malia and Anne’s presentation to follow along. Other relevant links and resources include:

  • The bill SB-3095 that passed in June, 2018
  • A recent article in The Nation (by Anna Lappé) 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 that Malia mentions toward the end, Island Earth, follows Malia and the struggle of Hawaiian communities to protect their families and traditional agricultural practices from the worlds largest chemical companies. It can be purchased for viewing here.​​​​
  • An article in EarthJustice from 2015 covering Malia and the her community’s struggles with the chemical industry.
The time markers below can be used to jump around to different sections of the video
  • Start – Introduction by Anna Lappé
  • 4:15ish – Virginia Rauh’s presentation
  • 18:10 – Malia Chun’s presentation
  • 28:45 – Anne Frederick’s presentation
  • 42:40 – Malia on the nonprofit scene
  • 48:30 – Open discussion and Q&A

[UPDATE: On August 9th, according to New Food Economy, “the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit on Thursday ordered the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to ban nearly all use of the pesticide chlorpyrifos in a 2-to-1 ruling.”]

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