Rachel's Precaution Reporter #27, February 22, 2006

From: New York Times, Aug. 8, 2005

THE CANARIES HAD THEIR COAL MINES

[Rachel's introduction: Precautionary action can take many forms. An early warning system is an important kind of precautionary action, monitoring local conditions to keep good things going or stop bad things from happening. This story describes an early warning system that's testing for mercury in wildlife in the Catskill Mountains of New York.]

By Anthony Depalma

Hunter Mountain Wild Forest, N.Y., Aug. 3 -- So far this summer, Wing Goodale and his boss, David C. Evers, have used decoys and recorded bird calls to lure about 150 thrushes, warblers and other wild songbirds into nets here and in several others parts of New York City's Catskill Mountain Watershed to determine what is happening to the drinking water.

From each tiny bird, no bigger than a cellphone, Mr. Goodale, a research biologist, gently takes blood samples with toothpick-size pipettes. Then Mr. Evers, also a biologist, stretches out a bird's wing and counts down to its 11th flight feather, which he deftly plucks and puts into a plastic storage bag for sampling.

Mr. Evers, who is executive director of the BioDiversity Research Institute, a nonprofit research and education group in Gorham, Me., is looking for signs of mercury in the songbirds. He has a pretty good hunch that he will find it, as he has already found mercury in songbirds in the Adirondacks and in New England.

If substantial amounts of mercury show up in the blood and feathers he has collected, it could spell trouble for the watershed and, potentially, for the nine million people who rely on the New York drinking water that comes from here because it would mean that the toxin is present in ways that were previously unknown.

"It's far more extensive than was ever put forth to the public," Mr. Evers said.

Mercury contamination has long been present in lakes, rivers and the city's reservoirs.

Mercury, a liquid metal, does not get into water because of broken thermometers, as some believe. Rather, mercury occurs naturally in the earth, including in coal. It is released into the air by coal- burning power plants and other sources.

Emissions from power plants in the Midwest drift toward New York. The real problem comes when the airborne mercury comes into contact with water and is transformed into its toxic form, methylmercury. Although the water in New York City's Catskill reservoirs is considered safe to drink, state health officials have posted advisories warning that pregnant women and children ought to limit their consumption of bass, trout and other fish caught in the reservoirs because the fish have absorbed some of the toxic material.

Until recently, the mercury problem was thought to be limited to water. The discovery of mercury in songbirds that never go into the water may represent a serious new threat.

Mr. Evers was invited to the watershed by the New York chapter of the Nature Conservancy, a national environmental group that has helped protect open spaces throughout the state.

In recent years, New York City has spent about $175 million to buy about 60,000 acres of Catskill woodlands to protect the reservoirs. But what good is buying forest land, asked Alan White, director of the conservancy's Catskill Mountain Program, if the health of the forest itself is at risk?

It is still early in the investigation, but Mr. Evers, who spent more than a decade studying the impact of mercury on water birds like loons, believes that the harmful form of mercury gets caught in the fallen leaves and other litter on the forest floor, where it is consumed by sow bugs, centipedes and other small insects.

As those bugs are eaten by larger bugs, the mercury content is passed on. The buildup of mercury continues as those insects are eaten by songbirds.

Mr. Evers and Mr. White say that it makes sense to think of forest songbirds as early warning systems, like the canaries that used to be carried into coal mine shafts. If the canaries died, miners hurried out of the mines because they knew that dangerous methane or carbon monoxide was present.

In the same way, unnatural levels of mercury in songbirds could be interpreted as a sign of pending danger in the forests. In loons and other water birds, excessive levels of mercury cause erratic behavior and lower birthrates.

The scientists in the Catskills are focusing their attention on the wood thrush, a gutsy little frequent flier with a flutelike voice that can combine two notes at once. The wood thrush can migrate as far south as Panama, more than 2,500 miles from the Catskills.

In recent decades, the number of wood thrushes has declined 45 percent, and the reason is unclear. Mr. Evers says biologists initially suspected that destruction of the bird's winter habitat was responsible. But now he thinks elevated levels of mercury could be to blame.

The connection between mercury in the birds and the purity of the city's drinking water is indirect, but real. As Mr. White explained, if the songbird population declines, the natural check on insects will be disturbed.

Without the birds preying on them, caterpillars and other destructive insects can defoliate forests, killing trees that filter runoff that eventually winds up in the reservoirs.

Before dawn, Mr. Evers and Mr. Goodale set up nearly invisible traps, called mist nets, along a trail on the western slope of Hunter Mountain, in between the city's Schoharie and Ashokan Reservoirs.

On the forest floor near the nets they placed plastic decoys and CD players that reproduced the thrush's beautiful ee-oh-lay song.

By 8 a.m. they had trapped about 10 birds, including several wood thrushes. Because the wood thrush is somewhat larger than other forest songbirds, it is believed that it will show a higher level of mercury when the tests are completed in about six weeks.

If these initial studies of songbirds indicate, as expected, that there is a serious problem with mercury, Mr. White said the long- range concern would be that "these forest systems will start to unravel," endangering the water supply.

Mr. White said that there was no immediate health danger, and the New York City Department of Environmental Protection, which runs the city's water system and continuously tests for mercury, has not detected the element in the water.

New York is one of only a handful of cities in the country that do not filter their drinking water. What goes into the upstate reservoirs comes out in New York taps 120 miles later unfiltered, although chlorine and fluoride are added.

Mr. Evers says it is much too early to determine what the impact of mercury on the songbirds might be, or how long before the reservoirs are affected in any way.

But he said that, when it comes to drinking water, it is important to anticipate a potential problem.

"The wood thrush is a good indicator species," Mr. Evers said. "If this small-scale, pilot project shows that there is a danger in these parts, it will be time to go to the policy makers and say this is what we've found, and we should do something about it."

Copyright 2005 The New York Times Company

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Rachel's Precaution Reporter #27, February 22, 2006

From: Statesman Journal (Salem, Or.), Feb. 15, 2006

FARMERS HELP DETECT PESTICIDES IN WATER

[Rachel's introduction: Oregon farmers have joined an early warning network to discover pesticide contamination as early as possible, aiming to minimize harm to the Pudding River and its tributaries.]

More are joining a Marion County prevention program

By Beth Casper, Statesman Journal

Erika Toler's horses and sheep quench their thirst at a small, unnamed creek on her property east of Salem.

Naturally, she wants the water as clean as possible.

But when it rains, brown water pours from nearby fields, down the road and through a clay pipe to the small waterways' headwaters.

"I am worried about pesticides flowing over," said the Marion County resident. "We want to capture the water and filter it before it gets down to the livestock."

Her concerns are shared by Scott Eden, a resource conservationist with the Marion Soil and Water Conservation District.

Eden is part of a new pilot project to reduce the number and concentrations of pesticides in the Pudding River basin. Toler's creek runs into Beaver Creek, which eventually leads to the Pudding River.

Through the Pudding River Pesticide Stewardship Network, Eden works with farmers and ranchers to explain which pesticides are detected in the area's waterways, where they might be coming from and what can be done about them.

"Basically, the detections are higher than we would want," Eden said. "We are trying to investigate where they might have been coming from. With help from growers, we can find out if it is in the application of pesticides or in some other process."

Eden said the program will go nowhere without help from the farmers, who own the land and are personally invested in the area.

"The farmers would like to reduce any effects they may be having, but they are busy," he said.

For farmers and ranchers, getting involved with the network provides another benefit: keeping precious soils on their property.

"The science says if you can keep the soil from leaving the property, you keep pesticides out of the water," said Dennis Roth of Wilco Farms, a farmers cooperative.

Farmers and ranchers are beginning to apply for grants and technical assistance to identify places to reduce soil erosion.

One of the ways is by planting grasses, which creates root systems that hold soil in place.

"We like to save our soil because it's so costly," said Jeff Butsch, a farmer in the area. "We planted perennial grass last fall, and it is just getting established right now. But the idea is to make the rainwater go into the soil and not run off."

The program in the Pudding basin is based on similar voluntary activities in Hood River and The Dalles.

In 1999, Hood River residents asked state officials whether pesticides used in area orchards were affecting nearby waterways. Tests showed an association between the times pesticides were sprayed and detections of the same pesticides in the creeks, said Fenix Grange, a toxics coordinator for the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality.

Growers changed some of their practices, including some things as seemingly benign as changing the size of pesticide droplets sprayed on fruit trees.

"We've had consistent and remarkable improvements in water quality up there," Grange said.

The frequency of detection of a toxic insecticide in area creeks fell by two-thirds between 2001 and 2004, partly because of the work done by farmers in the program, Grange said.

The Pudding River Pesticide Stewardship Network started as a pilot project last year to see whether what worked in orchard country would work in mixed-use agricultural areas.

The Pudding River area has a mix of orchards, row crops and cane berries. It also has high concentrations of many pesticides.

Water sampling done between 1991 and 1995 by the U.S. Geological Survey showed 43 pesticides in Zollner Creek, one of the creeks that flows into the Pudding River.

"That is quite high compared to even other agricultural sites around the country," said Hank Johnson, a hydrologist with the U.S. Geological Survey in Portland.

Results won't be detectable for a few years, experts say, but related projects already are making a dent in pesticide reductions.

Last week, farmers in the Pudding River watershed were asked to drop off banned and obsolete pesticides at a free collection in Mount Angel.

Stored pesticides can leak and find their way into streams.

More than 16,000 pounds of obsolete and banned pesticides was collected, including 100 pounds of DDT, which the U.S. government banned in the 1970s.

"Keeping pesticides out of streams is the ultimate goal," said Dennis Roth, a plant manager for Wilco Farms. "Farmers who have some of the old stuff -- because they bought a farm and it's not labeled -- this gave them an avenue to get rid of it."

And in the end, Eden said, everyone benefits from the reduction of pesticides in waterways -- from water users and landowners downstream to fish.

bcasper@StatesmanJournal.com or (503) 589-6994

Copyright 2006 StatesmanJournal.com

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Rachel's Precaution Reporter #27, February 22, 2006

From: EurActiv, Feb. 16, 2006

NEW STUDY EVALUATES ENVIRONMENT AND HEALTH BENEFITS OF REACH

[Rachel's introduction: The European Union's precautionary REACH legislation on chemicals (coming up for a final vote any day now) could save Europeans billions of dollars (euros, actually) in water treatment and other environmental costs such as sewage treatment, according to new research for the European Commission.]

RELATED: Chemicals Policy review (REACH){1}

Background:

Most studies on the draft REACH regulation (Registration, Evaluation and Authorisation of Chemicals) have focused on the costs to the economy of imposing stricter controls on chemical manufacturers, including on downstream users of chemicals in other industrial sectors. But few have explored the possible long-term benefits of REACH in reducing potential chemical threats to the environment as these are less easily quantifiable.

The aim of this latest study, prepared by independent researchers and published on 15 February 2006, is to assess the benefits of REACH on the environment and to humans who are exposed to chemicals via the environment. It therefore excludes direct exposure of consumers as well as worker exposure, which has already been analysed in a separate study (EurActiv, 20 Oct. 2005{2}).

The bitter row over the expected costs of REACH was officially ended in April last year with the publication of a further impact assessment (EurActiv, 27 Apr. 2005{3}). The report had seemingly brought an end to the dispute after some 36 other impact studies were evaluated by EU and national experts under the Dutch Presidency (EurActiv, 2 Nov. 2004{4}).

Issues:

The long-standing dispute over the potential costs and benefits of the REACH proposal was given fresh momentum with the publication on 15 February of an impact study by independent researchers.

The study _ carried out at the request of the Commission's environment directorate by research and consultancy firm DHI Water & Environment -concludes that REACH would save a minimum of 150-500 million by the year 2017, at the expected close of its 11-year roll- out period. By the year 2041, the savings would add up to 8.9 billion, mostly in areas such as "purification of drinking water, disposal of dredged sediment and incineration of sewage instead of disposal on farmlands".

The estimates were calculated using what the researchers say is the most robust available data and "well-documented cases of costs" in combination with an assumption that "the potential benefit of REACH would be only at 10%" of total costs".

Less reliable scenarios were considered as well, one based on consumers willingness to pay for cleaner drinking water or for avoiding the health effects of chemical pollution, in particular cancer. Another extrapolated findings from past experience with well- known substances which are now restricted (trichlorobenzene, nonylphenol and tetrachloroethylene), to avoid similar mistakes. But the results obtained were judged too uncertain.

Positions:

"We are pleased that another study confirms the enormous benefit that REACH would carry," the Commission environment spokesperson, Barbara Helfferich, told EurActiv. "It confirms the extended impact assessment we did back in 2003," she added. However, she cautions that no single study can give a full picture. "The baseline, she added, is still the [Commission's] extended impact assessment{5}."

The European Chemical Industry Council (CEFIC) said it welcomes the study's aim to assess the benefits of REACH "as it is important to establish as complete a picture as possible of the potential impacts of REACH [...] before legislative decisions are made."

However, CEFIC draws attention to uncertainties in the study. "Calculations are based on historical data, which cannot be directly applied to estimate the future impact," it points out. For example, it says the study fails to take into account "the constant progress of environmental technology" or the impact of legislation currently being enforced at national or regional level.

"Even the results of what is claimed as the most robust approach therefore remain highly questionable," CEFIC claims. "The present debate on REACH has advanced well beyond comparison of costs and benefits; what is needed now are practical solutions to problems that have been identified," it says.

Environmental campaigners at Greenpeace claim that the combined cost savings in the study shows REACH "could bring extra environmental benefits worth up to 95 billion over 25 years". This sum, says Greenpeace, would "come on top of the expected 50 billion in health cost savings over 30 years identified by the Commission in 2003, when it launched the REACH proposal."

Nadia Haiama of Greenpeace European Unit said "much greater benefits would follow if the proposal were extended to include mandatory substitution of hazardous chemicals and if it obliged producers to supply full safety information on their substances."

In a briefing paper, the WWF stresses that 50 billion euros in environmental benefits over 25 years identified in the DHI study come "in addition to the 50 billion health benefits over 30 years already identified by the Commission when its proposal was published".

Since the first version of the REACH proposal was submitted in October 2003, a row has pitted industry experts against environmentalists and trade unions over the potential costs and benefits of REACH. The row was officially ended in April last year with the publication of an additional impact study done by KPMG for the European chemical industry council (CEFIC) and business organisation UNICE (EurActiv, 27 Apr. 2005{6}).

To the surprise of NGOs, who had criticised the methodology as being biased in favour of industry, the KPMG study confirmed the Commission's own extended impact assessment, published along with the initial REACH proposal in 2003.

At the time, Enterprise Commissioner Verheugen and Environment Commissioner Dimas, said that the new study did not add much to the debate as it confirmed most of the Commission's own assessment. The first Commission estimates evaluated the costs of REACH at around 2.3 bn over 11 years or 0.05% of the annual turnover of the sector.

Links

European Union

Commission (DG Environment): Study on the assessment of the impact of REACH on the environment and human health Executive summary{7} Full report{8} (15 Feb. 2006)

Commission (DG Environment): Fact sheet on REACH{9}

Commission (DG Enterprise): Extended impact assessment of REACH{10} SEC (2003) 1171/3 (29 Oct. 2003)

Commission (DG Enterprise): Extended impact assessment of the new chemicals policy{11}

EU Actors positions

WWF: Commission says REACH could bring further environmental benefits of up 50 billion euros over 25 years{12} (16 Feb. 2006)

WWF: Briefing on DG ENV study, Benefits of REACH{13} (Feb. 2006)

European Chemical Industry Council (CEFIC): New study on benefits of REACH lacks certainty and concrete proposals{14} (16 Feb. 2006)

Greenpeace: New REACH benefits study shows potential extra 95 billion in savings{15} (15 Feb. 2006)

Related Documents

UN agrees global strategy for safer chemicals{16} (09 February 2006)

Ministers soft on substitution rules for dangerous chemicals{17} (14 December 2005)

EU unsure about replacing dangerous chemicals{18} (01 December 2005)

Chemical sector defines future research agenda{19} (28 November 2005)

Concerns over chemical contamination of baby milk{20} (25 November 2005)

Copyright EurActiv 2000-2005

{1} http://www.euractiv.com/Article?tcmuri=tcm:29-117452-16&type=LinksDossier

{2} http://www.euractiv.com/Article?tcmuri=tcm:29-146089-16&type=ShortNews

{3} http://www.euractiv.com/Article?tcmuri=tcm:29-138689-16&type=PolicyNews

{4} http://www.euractiv.com/Article?tcmuri=tcm:29-131725-16&type=PolicyNews

{5} http://www.europa.eu.int/comm/enterprise/reach/docs/reach/eia-sec-2003_1171.pdf

{6} http://www.euractiv.com/Article?tcmuri=tcm:29-138689-16&type=PolicyNews

{7} http://www.europa.eu.int/comm/environment/chemicals/pdf/exec_summary_en.pdf

{8} http://www.europa.eu.int/comm/environment/chemicals/pdf/impact_on_environment_report.pdf

{9} http://www.europa.eu.int/comm/environment/chemicals/pdf/fact_sheet_reach.pdf

{10} http://www.europa.eu.int/comm/enterprise/reach/docs/reach/eia-sec-2003_1171.pdf

{11} http://www.europa.eu.int/comm/enterprise/reach/eia_en.htm

{12} http://www.panda.org/about_wwf/where_we_work/europe/what_we_do/epo/index.cfm?uNewsID=60400

{13} http://assets.panda.org/downloads/wwf_summary_of_ec_benefit_study_feb_06.pdf

{14} http://www.euractiv.com/29/images/1856%20Statement%20-%20DHI%20REACH%20health%20benefit%20study%2016%2002%2006_tcm29-152689.doc

{15} http://eu.greenpeace.org/downloads/chem/REACH95billion.pdf

{16} http://www.euractiv.com/Article?tcmuri=tcm:29-152348-16&type=News

{17} http://www.euractiv.com/Article?tcmuri=tcm:29-150858-16&type=News

{18} http://www.euractiv.com/Article?tcmuri=tcm:29-150149-16&type=News

{19} http://www.euractiv.com/Article?tcmuri=tcm:29-149958-16&type=News

{20} http://www.euractiv.com/Article?tcmuri=tcm:29-149579-16&type=News

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Rachel's Precaution Reporter #27, February 22, 2006

From: The Washington Times, Feb. 21, 2006

SCAREDY-CAT SOCIETY

[Rachel's introduction: In recent weeks, the Reverend Sun Myung Moon's{1} ultra-right-wing newspaper, the Washington Times{2}, has stepped up its attacks on the precautionary principle. Here the Reverend Mr. Moon opens his columns to the American Enterprise Institute{3}, which claims that precaution has paralyzed business leaders, frightened judges out of their wits, falsely labeled children as "vulnerable," and stifled needed innovation. Notice that zero evidence is offered to support these claims.]

By Shelley Widhalm

Risk was too risky and fear was too common even before September 11, and the growing obsession with avoiding danger may threaten our society's future, scholars said at a recent Washington conference. "Most human experiences come with a health warning, continually reminding us that we cannot be expected to manage the risks we face," said Frank Furedi{4}, a professor at the University of Kent in England. "A powerful culture of precaution works to estrange the public from the ideals of risk taking, innovation and experimentation." Policy-making has become more arbitrary, driven by "what if?" questions, said Mr. Furedi, author of "Politics of Fear: Beyond Left and Right," speaking last week at the American Enterprise Institute (AEI){5}.

A disaster occurs, some kind of meaning is attributed to it, someone is blamed and policy is implemented or changed with safety as the ultimate goal, he said. Social policy, as a result, is focused on reassuring people that they are safe, but what they get instead is the illusion of safety while losing autonomy and control over their own lives, he said.

"Nobody gets criticized for being safe," Mr. Furedi said. "What is irresponsible is taking risks."

Last week's conference, "Panic Attack: The Precautionary Culture, the Politics of Fear and the Risks to Innovation," was co-sponsored by AEI in cooperation with the Institute of Ideas, a British think tank. The conference focused on exploring the impact risk aversion has on many aspects of life, ranging from education to business. It also focused on the power that the precautionary principle -- a loose term that calls for precaution to the point of risk avoidance in innovation, human relationships and anything humans do -- has on Western culture.

Such is the politics of fear, Mr. Furedi said, that children, women and the elderly are labeled as "vulnerable" -- about 80 percent to 90 percent of the population.

The corporate "social responsibility" movement, initiated by some advocacy groups, pressures businesses to avoid risk, said Jon Entine{6}, an adjunct fellow at AEI and scholar in residence at Miami University in Oxford, Ohio.

"Business leaders are increasingly paralyzed by caution... reacting rather than leading," Mr. Entine said.

The benefits of most innovations are unseen, while the risks are made public, said James K. Glassman{7}, a resident fellow at AEI. If one person is harmed from the side effects of a medication that helped many others, the media tell the story of harm, he said. "Bad news gets attention," Mr. Glassman said. "In other words, forget the science; just ban it."

The media generate an exaggerated sense of danger, said Ronald Bailey of Reason magazine{8}.

"The media regularly fan the flames of fear of new technologies," he said, citing fear-mongering accounts of the dangers of cell phones, chemicals, in-vitro fertilization, population growth and genetically enhanced crops.

In the legal world, risk focuses on the lowest common denominator -- the few people who may be displeased by a product, said Philip Howard,vice chairman of the law firm of Covington & Burling{9} in New York. For fear of lawsuits, he said, some playgrounds have been stripped of climbing ropes or jungle gyms, businesses do not give employment references, and products have warning labels that nobody reads. "Our leaders lost authority in themselves," Mr. Howard said. Judges, he said, no longer believe they have the authority to dismiss fraudulent cases. As a result, people can sue for almost any reason, he said.

"There needs to be a major revolution in the way judges perceive their jobs," Mr. Howard said.

Excessive fears extend down to the cradle. Though American children, with few exceptions, are mentally and emotionally sound, many adults regard them as fragile and vulnerable, Christina Hoff Sommers{10} said.

Adults try to insulate children from the remote possibility of getting hurt or injured or enduring a slight to their self-esteem, including from any kind of competition, even in sports, said Ms. Sommers, a resident scholar at AEI.

Psychologists state that, though the message has not reached the public, children need self-control, not bolsters to their self- esteem, she said.

"Today's children are the most overprotected in history. They're also the most overpraised," Ms. Sommers said, adding that some adversity is necessary. "We shortchange them," she said.

Copyright 2006 News World Communications, Inc.

{1} http://www.sourcewatch.org/index.php?title=Sun_Myung_Moon

{2} http://www.sourcewatch.org/index.php?title=Washington_Times

{3} http://www.sourcewatch.org/index.php?title=American_Enterprise_Institute

{4} http://www.sourcewatch.org/index.php?title=Frank_Furedi

{5} http://www.sourcewatch.org/index.php?title=American_Enterprise_Institute

{6} http://www.sourcewatch.org/index.php?title=Jon_Entine

{7} http://www.sourcewatch.org/index.php?title=James_K._Glassman

{8} http://www.sourcewatch.org/index.php?title=Reason_Foundation

{9} http://www.sourcewatch.org/index.php?title=Covington_%26_Burling

{10} http://www.powells.com/s?author=Christina%20Hoff%

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Rachel's Precaution Reporter #27, February 22, 2006

From: Hawaii Reporter, Feb. 21, 2006

SOVIET HAMAKUA?

[Rachel's introduction: Andrew Walden, a newspaper editor in Hawaii, has grown alarmed because 9000 residents of rural Hamakua, Hawaii (on the big island) propose to adopt the "precautionary principle" and reduce the use of pesticides and genetically modified seeds in agriculture. They also propose to "be mindful of the 7th generation" - -perhaps indicating an unAmerican concern for the future. As Mr. Walden sees it, this all adds up to a communist plot to establish a new Soviet outpost in the Pacific.]

By Andrew Walden

About 30 Hamakua and rural Hilo residents gathered in late January at the Kalanianaole School for the first of a series of meetings of the Hamakua Coast's Community Development Corporation (HCDC). HCDC, mandated by the County General Plan adopted in 2005, is intended to garner community input to draw up a community development plan which will be submitted to the County Council for a vote. The Community Development Corporation process is beginning in Kona under the chairmanship of former County Councilman Curtis Tyler and will beginning in the Puna District with a meeting at the Nanawale Community Center, Feb. 23.

In the case of the Hamakua District, Big Island leftists have been working -- outside the CDC process -- with Representative Dwight Takamine (D-Hamakua, Kohala) since August, 2004 to draw up a 132- point plan which clearly spells out their goals. As Rory Flynn a former employee of the Hawaii County Legislative Auditor's office describes it, the so-called "Hamakua Agricultural Plan" is a blueprint for, "...construction of a New Age socialist republic in Hamakua." Asked about this for a Hawaii Island Journal article Bill Beach, who along with his wife Lori leads the drafting of the Plan, does not deny the characterization. He tells the Journal, "I've talked to some people who call it a 'New-Age Socialist Plan On Golden Pond." But my response to that is, 'Well, where do you start? Don't you start with ideals and then work the details out?'"

The community plan drafting process will likely be completed in all three districts after a newly elected County Council is seated in January, 2007. The progress and direction of the CDCs is likely to closely mirror the Council races. Beach's socialist "ideals" are similar to what leftists will be pushing for in the CDC meetings islandwide.

As described in the November 2005 issue of Hawaii Business{1}, "... the Ag Plan began as modest discussions to decide how to distribute 1,050 acres of county-owned agricultural land in Paauilo. County, state and federal officials drafted a three-page document, which addressed the needs and concerns of the new farmers. Takamine took the document to the community in a series of meetings, where the Ag Plan caught on like a sugar-cane wildfire. "'It [the Ag Plan] mushroomed into a much bigger project, larger than anyone expected," says Lori Beach... the unofficial Ag Plan coordinator." That could be the understatement of the year.

Takamine's Ag Plan calls for no less than four tax increases. It foresees the establishment of five "community action committees" and "community boards." All in a rural area with a population of about 9000 residents.

While claiming to promote agriculture the "Ag Plan" attacks agriculture as it is practiced in the real world. It calls for a program to "... monitor the selection and application of chemical pesticides, herbicides, and fertilizer; and... develop incentives to reduce dependency on such chemicals." Insect and weed control are necessary to any export-oriented agricultural production. The Hilo- Hamakua Coast includes commercial farms which grow much of Hawaii's locally produced bananas.

Takamine's plan also calls for, "... educational meetings to inform farmers regarding the potential legal liability they may face if they plant GMO crops." The threat to sue farmers growing papaya, corn or other of the GM crops which make up a sizeable percentage of American (and Hawaii) agriculture is odd given the fact that no individual farmer in the US has ever been successfully sued for planting legally- obtained GM seeds.

This threat is one of five anti-GM proposals which should be alarming to every papaya farmer on this island. GM foods have been in the daily diet of Americans for several years now and not one single person anywhere on Earth has ever been shown to have been harmed due to the genetic modification of plants. Such common foods as corn and soybeans -- as well as papaya -- are genetically modified. Diabetics now can use human insulin -- instead of bovine insulin -- only because organisms have been genetically modified to produce it. Hawaii's year-round growing season makes GM plant trials one of the most important high-value agricultural businesses in these isles. Moreover, Hawaii-based research contributes mightily to the world's ability to increase agricultural production and reduce the use of pesticides with GM plant varieties.

The Hamakua Ag Plan calls for the County to adopt the so-called "precautionary principle" in an ordinance modeled after one adopted by the City of San Francisco, CA. The San Francisco ordinance reads, "...precautionary measures should be taken even if some cause and effect relationships are not fully established scientifically." This would help activists greatly by relieving them of the need to actually prove anything. To assert their power under the ordinance, they merely need to claim there is a threat. The opportunities for graft and blackmail abound.

The Plan also contains the odd phrase, "Be mindful of the seventh generation." As is typical of leftists, the most radical proposals of all are introduced on the sly in the hope that nobody will know exactly what they mean. This is no different.

There are several possible meanings, but the one which enters into political discourse is the "Seventh Generation Amendment" to the U.S. Constitution proposed by the Green Party starting in the mid 1990s. It reads:

"The rights of the people to use and enjoy air, water, sunlight, and other renewable resources determined by Congress to be common property, shall not be impaired, nor shall such use impair their availability for the future generations."

Renewable resources including: soil, trees, crops and livestock could be made common (i.e. state) property. Anyone familiar with the disastrous environmental record of the former socialist bloc countries knows where this leads. In essence, your property from the grassroots down would be no longer yours, nor the air you breathe, nor the water you drink. That which is not owned is not cared for.

Fortunately, even in Hawaii, this is beyond the power of governments operating under the US Constitution. But Takamine and Beach's Ag Plan contains proposals to buy up "important Ag lands" for "preservation" by "County land bank(s)... and... non-profit land trusts ...." These lands would then be leased out to "bona fide" farmers.

The Ag Plan also calls for "... enforce(ment of) Ag Use on Ag zoned lands." Penalties for homeowners judged insufficiently agricultural by the "community action board" are not specified. This follows the pattern set by Judge Ronald Ibarra's Hokulia decision, which threatens the property of all landowners on ag lands subdivided since 1976. They also call for a "moratorium" on further subdivision of ag lands.

In addition to calling for the confiscation with compensation of "Important Ag Lands" the Ag Plan also calls for the State and Kamehameha Schools to, "... approve requests by farmers leasing agricultural land... to construct on the leased land dwellings for the farmer's family and farm workers and other agriculture-related structures and improvements."

In short, private property would be eliminated to the greatest degree possible. Land would be transferred to the government and the large trusts. Agricultural estates with large houses built on land bought from the sugar plantations would be replaced by "bona-fide" sharecroppers with tiny shacks on leased land. After driving the entire population into poverty, the "Plan" has a solution for that as well: "... an affordable housing 'village' that resembles the existing sugar worker camps in Paauhau and Paauilo."

In essence, the Hamakua Ag Plan is a one way trip back -- not to the sugar plantation with its' union rules and regular paydays -- but to something more akin to the Jim Crow South with most of us taking the role of black sharecroppers while the elected officials and their politically correct cronies take the place of the privileged white elites. While most of us live in poverty in the "village," or tend to leasehold farms, the elites would prosper in the "pristine, quiet environment" they created by driving us out. They would make millions as proprietors of New Age retreat centers for mainland yuppies that pay $1000 a night to rediscover their 7th chakra.

The Hamakua Ag Plan is a blueprint for an entire region where the majority are dependent on the whims of government officials and land trustees. Forced back under this kind of domination, people would be ready-made for control by "the old-boy network" or "the machine." No wonder Dwight is happy.

Big Island residents should not be deceived. This is a plan leftists have for all of us. It may take different forms in different areas, but the intent is the same.

Knowledge is power. This plan can be defeated if Hawaii County residents step forward and make their voices heard in the Community Planning meetings being held across this island. The solutions for Hawaii will come from diversified economic opportunity, individual liberty, and free enterprise -- not big government, big trusts, and the confiscation of private property.

Links:

http://www.webspawner.com/users/hamakuacommunity/index.html{2}

http://www.hawaiibusiness.com/1105/1105_bigisland_coast.aspx{3}

http://www.hawaiiislandjournal.com/2005/03b05a.html{4}

Andrew Walden is the publisher and editor of Hawaii Free Press, a Big Island-based newspaper. He can be reached via email at andrewwalden@email.com

HawaiiReporter.com reports the real news, and prints all editorials submitted, even if they do not represent the viewpoint of the editors, as long as they are written clearly. Send editorials to Malia@HawaiiReporter.com

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Copyright 2006 Hawaii Reporter, Inc.

{1} http://www.hawaiibusiness.com/archivearticle.aspx?id=2878&qr=

{2} http://www.webspawner.com/users/hamakuacommunity/index.html

{3} http://www.hawaiibusiness.com/1105/1105_bigisland_coast.aspx

{4} http://www.hawaiiislandjournal.com/2005/03b05a.html

{5} http://www.HawaiiReporter.com

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