On Wednesday, June 13, Governor David Ige signed Senate Bill 3095, signaling the passage of landmark legislation for residents and activists throughout Hawaii. "10 years ago we could not even get a hearing for our concerns, so we took to the streets…” says Moloka’i resident and activist, Walter Ritte. “Thousands of us marched on each of the islands, a march each weekend for the month of March.” For almost a decade, this passionate group of residents and activists have fought for transparency on the chemicals being sprayed in fields by agrochemical companies like Monsanto. At a state legislative hearing in Honolulu back in 2013, Moloka’i resident, mother, and activist Mercy Ritte spoke out. “I’m really pushing for laws so that this information will become public,” she said. “I feel that residents and schools that are in the area need to know what it is that’s going into the air and being released into our atmosphere.”
Mercy’s efforts alongside the Mom’s Hui Group she founded and other Moloka’i residents like Walter Ritte emerged with a larger grassroots effort that began growing throughout Hawaii in 2013. These mounting pressures led the board to pass bills on GMO crops and pesticide use and achieved increased transparency from Monsanto. Monsanto began releasing an annual report of the restricted-use pesticides used in its fields but did not disclose when and where the pesticides were being used.
Of course, this information is critical. As professor and crop specialist, Hector Valenzuela said in Abundant Land, “Say you are living on Moloka’i and then there is a spray drift that is coming up… you want to know what is being sprayed at that specific time and that’s, of course, a big question mark, if the companies are willing to release that information.”
The passage of Senate Bill 3095 marks an important moment in Hawaii’s fight against the practices of large agrochemical GMO seed companies. The bill:
Prohibits the use of the pesticide Chlorpyrifos, which has been found to be dangerous to the developing brains of children. The ban will go into effect in January 2019.
Restricts pesticide use near schools by prohibiting the use of pesticides within 100 feet of schools during their instructional hours (7am-4pm).
Requires agricultural companies to disclose when, where, and in what quantities they will be spraying restricted use pesticides in regular reports. This will allow the community to access the information so they can make more educated decisions about their health and safety.
This bill shows how a community of passionate people moved to protect their families, their health and the land they live on can affect major change. “Finally, we get a crack in the dike with this bill, now we need to full court press and get even more meaningful protection from these Chemical Corporations now on our farmlands,” Walter Ritte concludes. There is still more work to do, but for the activists who have been tirelessly pushing for better legislation can finally take a breath and feel hopeful about the future of Hawaii.
By Sophia Daniels, Abundant Land: Soil, Seeds, and Sovereignty
Listen to one of Abundant Land's main character's as she explains the deeper meaning of the word land from a Hawaiian perspective.
Malia Akutagawa was born and raised on Molokai, Hawaii. She was the original founder of Sustainable Molokai. She is now an assistant professor of law at the Kamakakūokalani Center for Hawaiian Studies & William S. Richardson School of Law.
The Abundant Land team is looking for an intern to join us this spring 2017 as we begin mapping out our distribution campaign.
About this Internship
Impact producing is a growing field within documentary film distribution. This internship will focus on research, outreach, community engagement, scheduling and promoting. You do not need filmmaking experience for this. I am looking for someone with strong verbal and written communication skills who is passionate and motivated about the film’s themes and message. Please take a look at the film's website, www.abundantland.com to get a sense of the film's content. If you wish to apply please provide me with your resume and one paragraph cover letter. I will send you a survey to fill out. You can send your into to natasha(at)abundantland.com
The intern will help with the following:
- Research and contact, permaculture schools, CSA’s, food coop’s, university associations and film festivals
- Keep track of conversations and follow up on leads
- Post to twitter and facebook daily
- Schedule screenings
- Be the liaison between community groups and director
- Assist in the launch of a crowdsourced funding campaign
Here is the film's synopsis.
ABUNDANT LAND is a documentary about a Hawaiian community on Moloka’i resisting the biotech industry’s use of the island to test genetically engineered seeds. Biotech corporations including Monsanto and Mycogen are depleting Moloka’i’s topsoil and fresh water while contributing to dust storms that spread pesticides into the surrounding communities and ocean. ABUNDANT LAND also offers a historical look into the political underpinnings of chemical-intensive farming in Hawaii while portraying the rich legacy of traditional Hawaiian land management. The documentary follows a group of dedicated residents as they seek transparency about the testing being done on their island and promote permaculture—an ecological design system rooted in ancient Hawaiian farming practices—as an alternative to chemically dependent agriculture.
About Florentino Films, LLC
Florentino Films is a documentary film production company focusing on social issue documentary film and videos designed to motive and inspire social change.