Tuesday, December 06, 2011

 

Must read: Hawaii Reporter investigation of worker health and working conditions on Oahu farms


by Larry Geller

An article just posted by Hawaii Reporter should ring alarm bells across Oahu.

Can Hawaii’s agricultural sector be sustainable without immigrants working under slave-labor conditions? Are our local crops safe to eat?

The latest report, part of a series by Malia Zimmerman at Hawaii Reporter, further tarnishes hopes for expanding Hawaii ag. Not only are the conditions that Zimmerman revealed shocking, it is also shocking that the commercial media have not taken up this issue on their own. First it was Thai laborers allegedly trafficked by those involved in the Aloun Farms and Global Horizons cases. Now it appears from the investigation that Laotian workers may have faced similar conditions after having been granted visitor visas instead of work visas by the American Embassy in Laos.

How many workers and how many farms will be implicated? What did embassy personnel know, and why and how many visas were issued to persons unlikely to be visitors or tourists?

Instead of reproducing the article here, I urge you to click over and read Special Investigation: Laotian Workers Suffer Health and Financial Problems on Oahu Farms (Hawaii Reporter, 12/6/2011). The article includes supporting images.

One image is of a bag of chemicals labeled as DuPont Lannate LV insecticide. The manufacturer’s instructions include information on usage, protective clothing and equipment, and proper disposal of containers. The allegations raised in the Hawaii Reporter article should lead to a state investigation of whether workers were adequately protected in the use of agricultural chemicals, and also whether the crops grown and sold on these farms are safe to eat. If workers are “handling hazardous chemicals without training or protection” then we also cannot be assured that the crops are safe to eat.

Don’t slice another local onion until you read the Hawaii Reporter article.

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