A national panel criticizes the USDA’s scientific research on the light brown apple moth but affirms the agency’s power to start another round of aerial spraying.
As expected, a panel from the National Academy of Sciences said on Monday that the government has the legal authority to embark on a massive new eradication effort against the light brown apple moth, thereby opening the door for another round of aerial pesticide spraying. But the panel also criticized the United States Department of Agriculture for engaging in shoddy science to substantiate its war on the moth.
The 21-page report came in response to petitions submitted by opponents of the government’s extermination plans. They had asked the USDA to reclassify the light brown apple moth from being a major pest to one that could be easily controlled by farmers. Such a move would have prohibited aerial spraying or other major eradication efforts that the government is now planning.
Opponents believe the USDA and state officials have severely overstated the threats posed by the moth, and have noted that it has lived for more than one hundred years in Australia, New Zealand, and Hawaii without causing serious, sustained damage to crops or native plants and trees. The USDA, nonetheless, believes the moth will destroy large swaths of cropland throughout California and much of the southern United States. The agency also considers it a serious threat to native redwood and pine forests.
Agricultural groups fear state layoffs will backlog shipments
POSTED: 01:30 a.m. HST, Sep 08, 2009
Agricultural industry executives worry that Hawaii businesses will wither on the vine and incoming food will rot on the docks if the state goes through with massive layoffs of agriculture inspectors.
Plans call for laying off 50 of the state’s 78 agriculture inspectors, 64 percent of that specialized work force.
Diminished inspection capacity could also cost hundreds of millions of dollars each year if additional invasive species get established, industry officials say.
State inspectors both certify products to be exported out of Hawaii and inspect food and plants being imported into the state.
By EDWIN TANJI, For The Maui News
POSTED: August 28, 2009
There may be plenty of water on Maui.
There is not enough cheap water – not when an extended period of abnormal rainfall places much of the island in drought and not when Hawaii law and court decisions require reallocation of access to the cheap water.
That’s not how state water commission hearings officer Dr. Lawrence Miike put it in his proposed findings and recommendations on setting stream flow standards for Na Wai Eha, the four major streams at Waihee, Waiehu, Wailuku and Waikapu (hawaii.gov/dlnr/cwrm/currentissues/cchma0601/CCHMA0601-01.pdf).
But his analysis, including a synopsis on the evolution of Hawaii law on water rights, helps to explain the issue. His history doesn’t go into detail but that was not its purpose.
The Miike findings note that sugar planters in the mid-1800s were granted rights to divert water from streams by the Hawaiian monarchy, but say nothing about whether the monarchy tempered effects on downstream users.
In the post-overthrow era, Miike notes the territorial Supreme Court turned out rulings that treated water as property of landowners. But after World War II, the legal standing of water was modified by other court decisions until the 1978 Hawaii Constitutional Convention added a section that established water as a public trust.
The constitutional amendment led to a State Water Code – Hawaii Revised Statutes 174C – and sets up the Commission on Water Resource Management to create and enforce standards on use of the islands’ water resources.
As Hawaii’s agricultural industry continues to decline, a sub-industry is growing in size and work force.
The state’s seed crop industry hit $146 million in value for the 2007-2008 season, surpassing pineapple and sugar, crops that were once Hawaii’s agricultural staples.
The seed crop industry’s value has grown at an average annual rate of 33 percent over the past five years. It makes up about 30 percent of the total value of all crops produced in Hawaii, according to the Hawaii Crop Improvement Association.
The trade group commissioned a study earlier this month to gauge the economic impact of Hawaii’s seed crop industry. The Hawaii Farm Bureau Federation performed the study using data from the U.S. Department of Agriculture.