Law hamstrings Hawaii’s
fight against harmful species


A U.S. Senate panel has conducted a hearing in Hawaii about invasive species.

THOUGH Hawaii is part of the United States, its geographic differences often put it at odds with laws and regulations designed for the rest of the country.

In the battle against invasive species, the Plant Protection Act -- meant to control organisms that present threats to U.S. agricultural industries and the environment -- actually works against the state's efforts.

While Hawaii's congressional delegation has proposed funding measures to control and eradicate harmful species once they are here, what the state needs is the ability to impose more stringent restrictions, something the law does not allow.

Rep. Ed Case has submitted legislation to establish better, faster safeguards, but Hawaii also needs to educate federal officials to recognize that what may not be a risk to agricultural interests on the continent could prove devastating to the islands' businesses as well as its 10,000 endemic species.

In testimony during a U.S. Senate subcommittee hearing on the Big Island earlier this week, Neil Reimer of the state agriculture department faulted the law because it evaluates foreign plants and pests primarily with a view of risks to the mainland and often does not consider Hawaii's unique conditions.

Threats to crops Hawaii considers important, such as bananas, aren't regarded in the same way on the mainland. So when mealy bugs arrived in California on Central American-grown bananas, the fruit wasn't restricted and the bugs eventually made their way to the islands. Adding insult to injury, when the bugs were found on local flowers to be exported to California, the flowers were rejected because of the pest's presence.

The law allows for stricter limits, but on a case-by-case basis, a time-consuming task, and exemptions Hawaii has sought have been denied based on a national rather than a localized threat.


Keep nuke capability
from Iran, N. Korea


Both countries are insisting that they be allowed to operate peaceful nuclear programs.

SETBACKS in negotiations aimed at keeping Iran and North Korea from building nuclear weapons have not resulted in a total breakdown. U.S. negotiators remain upbeat about talks with North Korea, while Britain, France and Germany exercise patience with the new, hawkish Iranian leadership. Cool diplomacy should continue in hopes of averting drastic confrontation.

Envoys to six-party talks about North Korea met for 13 days after a suspension initiated by Pyongyang, and the discussions are to resume the week of Aug. 29. "There's a real desire to make some progress," said Assistant Secretary of State Christopher R. Hill, the U.S. envoy -- in stark contrast to the hostile rhetoric of the past.

The top South Korean negotiator agreed with the U.S. position that the North abandon its nuclear program in exchange for assistance such as humanitarian aid from the West and electricity from Seoul. However, soon after talks were recessed, a senior South Korean official with a short memory said the North should be allowed to operate a peaceful nuclear program.

Meanwhile, Iran removed United Nations seals on uranium processing equipment, making the plant operational. The 35 countries governing the United Nations' International Atomic Energy Agency agreed on a resolution that "urges Iran to re-establish full suspension of all enrichment activities." Iran's contention that it needs nuclear energy is ludicrous given its abundance of oil and natural gas.

The problem with both countries is that they have been caught cheating in the past. Iran has practiced deception for nearly two decades while supporting terrorist activity. North Korea signed an agreement with the Clinton administration in 1994 until confronted with evidence of its uranium program eight years later.

The United States and the U.N. should continue to press for keeping Iran and North Korea from attaining nuclear capability, in return for economic aid and other assistance.

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