As a conservationist and writer, Maggie Sergio has been researching and reporting about a variety of environmental issues, including the impact of rodenticides (rat poisons) on wildlife, the open air testing of experimental pesticides and GMOs in Hawaii, and the little known industry behind the practice of island eradications.
After years of asking questions and writing, specifically regarding the issue of pesticide use on islands, Maggie began to notice a consistent theme and message—Islands around the world are at risk for exploitation.
While ecological abuses to fragile island ecosystems can come from a number of sources, including the US military and over-development, the focus of Island Watch Conservation Science is the use of highly controversial, restricted-use pesticides in the watershed.
Issues Impacting Hawaii
In the spring of 2013, a friend living on Kauai invited Maggie to the island to see how the biotech/GMO industry has occupied much of the west side of the island. Chemical giants such as DuPont Pioneer, Syngenta, Dow, and BASF have taken the place of the sugarcane industry, having moved in and leased agricultural land from the state of Hawaii or private landholders soon after the sugarcane industry collapsed on Kauai in the 1990s.
Maggie investigated and listened to stories from locals living near biotech research fields on the west side of Kauai. She heard stories of the pesticide drift and dust they were exposed to on an almost daily basis. She researched events such as children and teachers taken ill at school in Waimea, and the unexplained deaths of over 55, 000 sea urchins off the southwestern shores of Kauai.
Maggie’s feature article, published by the Huffington Post, “GMO & Pesticide Experiments in Hawaii: the Poisoning of Paradise”, first broke the story to the international community that Hawaii has become “Ground Zero” for the open air testing of experimental pesticides and GMOs. Two follow up reports chronicling the events of public hearings on Kauai, peaceful marches, and the grass roots movement that has emerged in Hawaii demanding transparency regarding pesticide disclosure and pesticide buffer zones around hospitals and schools, have been published.
The Farallon Islands and the industry of “island eradications”
The Farallon Islands’ Mouse Eradiation Project has been on the docket for US Fish & Wildlife for years, and is currently in the midst of an environmental review process. In August of 2013, US Fish & Wildlife released a revised draft environmental impact statement (RDEIS) that has attracted letters of opposition from the EPA, American Bird Conservancy, and the City of San Francisco.
Maggie first wrote about this issue in the spring of 2011, after attending a public scoping meeting held by US Fish & Wildlife in San Francisco. This Orwellian assembly denied members of the public the usual and customary practice of public comment. Maggie’s interest in this project is a continuation of her deep involvement with wildlife conservation issues; including over ten years working in wildlife rehabilitation in the San Francisco Bay Area and South Africa. She has witnessed firsthand the impacts that rodenticides have on wildlife. When rodenticides are used, a critical food source for wildlife is poisoned. Hawks, owls, bobcats, mountain lions, coyotes, gulls and other animals eating the poisoned rodents also succumb to these cruel poisons.
Maggie monitored the environmental review process for the Farallon Islands project closely for several years and attended the second public scoping meeting in September 2013, soon after the 741-page draft environmental impact statement (DEIS) was released. After studying and fact checking the DEIS, Maggie’s analysis, The Farallon Islands Mouse Eradication Project: The “Con” in Conservation, was published by the Huffington Post in January of 2014.
Maggie’s background includes an appointment to Marin County’s Integrated Pest Management (IPM) in 2009, where she spearheaded an effort to discontinue the use of all rodenticides on county land, parks and open space. Marin County listened and took a leadership position which included banning the use of all rodenticides. Marin County’s groundbreaking IPM work led to recognition from California’s Department of Pesticide Regulation as Innovators in IPM. (It needs to be noted that Marin County, or Marin County’s IPM Commission is not affiliated in any way with Island Watch Conservation Science.)
Island Watch Conservation Science is a coalition of toxicologists, conservationists and global citizens around the world who have deep concerns about the exploitation of island ecosystems. Island Watch monitors, reports on, and provides scientific feedback on island eradication projects, biotech research and development, and other human activities that call for the use of pesticides on island ecosystems. Our intention is to draw awareness to the importance of environmental ethics, sound science and long-term ecosystem monitoring when pesticides are used in a watershed environment.
Island Watch – Science, Environmental Advocacy and Ethics.
Island Watch Conservation Science is a fiscally sponsored project of MarinLink. Your financial support is deeply appreciated and will help us to continue to monitor, investigate and report on island ecosystems currently at risk. All deductions are fully tax deductible and checks should be made out to MarinLink, with a notation in the memo portion of your check specifying, “Island Watch”. Tax ID # is 20-0879422.