Ag companies sue to block GMO disclosure bill in Hawaii
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WASHINGTON, Nov. 12, 2014 -- Three of the world's largest agricultural companies filed a lawsuit to block a bill passed by the Hawaii County of Kaua'i regulating the use of pesticides and genetically modified crops on an island where Dow, Syngenta, BASF and DuPont Pioneer test seed varieties on about 15,000 acres.
On Jan. 10, Agrigenetics, Inc., a company affiliated with Dow AgroSciences, as well as DuPont Pioneer and Syngenta jointly filed a complaint in the U.S. District Court of Honolulu against the County of Kaua`i over the enactment of Bill 2491.
Under the bill's provisions, agricultural entities must disclose their use of pesticides, as well as their growing of any GMO crops in annual public reports to the State Department of Agriculture. The bill also requires a 500-foot buffer zone near schools and homes and several other locations.
The County of Kaua‘i must also complete an Environmental and Public Health Impact Study (EPHIS) intended to address environmental and health questions related pesticide and genetically modified crop use by commercial agricultural entities.
Late last year, Mayor Bernard Carvalho, Jr. vetoed the bill, “Relating to Pesticides and Genetically Modified Organisms,” which the council passed on Oct. 16 with a 6-1 vote. The mayor said the bill is preempted by state and federal law. However, the Kaua'i County Council overturned the veto in a 5-2 vote in November.
Dow, DuPont and Syngenta claim the county's GMO law is invalid, because it violates the U.S. and Hawaii Constitutions, multiple federal and state laws, and the Kaua'i County Charter.
“It arbitrarily targets our industry with burdensome and baseless restrictions on farming operations by attempting to regulate activities over which counties in Hawaii have no jurisdiction,” according to a joint statement from the companies. “These activities are already regulated by governmental agencies under state and federal laws.”
Their statement also noted that each company voluntarily participates in the Kaua'i Agricultural Good Neighbor Program.
According to the Bill 2491, “There are increasing concerns about the direct and long-term impacts of the large-scale use of pesticides, and the impacts that the intense agricultural cultivation is having on the land, on the natural environment, and on human health.”
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