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Maui County Implements Strict Pesticide and Fertilizer Law

Flickr - PatrickMcNally

The Maui County Council last week passed a bill prohibiting the use of synthetic pesticides and fertilizers on county property. This includes county-owned parks, sidewalks, and golf courses.

Under Bill 72, agricultural lands on county property are not included so farmers can continue their method of business. Only pesticides and fertilizers that are permitted under the USDA National Organic Program can be used.

Different county departments have been working with Beyond Pesticides, a nonprofit organization, to learn about how to manage their lands without the use of pesticides — such as frequent weed hacking.

Autumn Ness is the Director of the Hawaiʻi Organic Land Management Program for Beyond Pesticides. She has been working on Bill 72 for over six years.

"There’s two issues. One is environmental and one is human health," Ness said. "We’re on an island where everything that happens on land also affects the ocean, and petroleum-based fertilizers are really bad for our reefs and near-shore water qualities. If we were just going to get rid of pesticides to protect our kids, that’s a half-baked solution."

According to a 2012 article from the Journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics, children who experience low levels but chronic exposures to pesticides can be negatively impacted by its toxicity.

Ness says she hopes this new law will encourage state and federal governments to do the same for their large plots of land.

Zoe Dym is a news producer at Hawaiʻi Public Radio.
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