Pierce and Keely Brosnan have collaborated professionally for the first time
PierceBrosnan, KeelyShayeBrosnan, Josh Green Lieutenant Governor of Hawaii
Credit: Courtesy of the Brosnan family

Pierce and Keely Brosnan have spent years making a documentary together about the pesticides poisoning their beloved Hawaii. Speaking exclusively to PEOPLE, she explains why they care – and why you should too.

“I moved to Hawaii in the early ‘60s with my family, my mother and father,” she explains. “I grew up there as a little girl. I remember when we moved away, I vowed that I would come back to Hawaii one day to live with my own family.”

She was able to keep that promise in 2002, when she and husband Pierce bought a house in Kauai, raising their children on the island.

She still lives there part-time, and speaks of the place fondly: “It’s been a joy to be a part of the community in Hawaii, to raise my children in Hawaii, to vacation in Hawaii, to make new friends in Hawaii. It’s a very special place. I wanted my children to experience aloha. I wanted them to understand the beauty, the natural beauty of the islands, and to have the kind of childhood that I had.”

In 2013 she began to realize this wasn’t a guarantee: “We started to hear rumblings in the community about the genetic engineering, the research, development, and outdoor experimentation that was taking place on our island.”

Sure enough, Hawaii – home to hundreds of wildlife and plant species found nowhere else on Earth – was becoming a testing ground for chemical companies to experiment with new kinds of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) and then see how many pesticides they could withstand, as they sprayed chemicals on them 250-300 days a year, near schools, hospitals, and shorelines.

Poster art courtesy Lauren Rego
Credit: Poster art courtesy Lauren Rego

“We have,” she says, “become ground zero for genetic research, development, experimentation, and outdoor field trials. And the federal government hardly regulates GMOs in any meaningful way.”

As she and her husband learned more about the issue from local residents and activists, they became increasingly concerned.

“So, a neighbor friend (producing partner Teresa Tico) of mine and I were out for a swim, and she said, ‘I’d really like to make a film about the bill, Bill 2491.’ That was a bill that was being proposed at the time that would require buffer zones around schools, homes, hospitals, and environmentally sensitive shoreline. It would ask for mandatory disclosure of the chemicals they were using. And it would also require an environmental impact study so that everyone interested would know what chemicals they were being exposed to,” says Brosnan. ”

She continues, “I started talking to people, and my friend and I agreed to make the film together. And it became a four-year labor of love. The reason I made this movie is because I love Hawaii. I made this film about a place that I love, and about people that I love, and I really wanted to help. It’s a love letter to Hawaii.”

Vandana Shiva, Keely Shaye Brosnan, Pierce Brosnan Courtesy of the Brosnan family
Vandana Shiva, Keely Shaye Brosnan, Pierce Brosnan Courtesy of the Brosnan family
| Credit: Courtesy of the Brosnan family

Brosnan wants the film to inspire change by spreading awareness. After all, this is not a unique instance – Hawaii is one case amongst many.

“The debate about pesticides is raging around the world. Country after country, state after state, city after city, county after county are concerned.”

“It’s time,” she says, “that we put public safety over corporate profit.”

Poisoning Paradise is available now on Gravitas and iTunes.