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Opponents, supporters pack hearing on pesticide use, GMOs

By Rosemarie Bernardo

LAST UPDATED: 01:26 a.m. HST, Aug 01, 2013

LIHUE » The Kauai Veterans Center filled to its  625-seat capacity this afternoon as Garden Isle residents sound off on both sides of a controversial proposed county ordinance regulating pesticide use and farming genetically engineered crops.

More people gathered outside the center after the 1:30 p.m. public hearing got started. Those in support of agribusinesses wore light-blue T-shirts while supporters of Bill 2491 were in red T-shirts.

If passed into law, the ordinance would require mandatory disclosures about pesticide use and the presence of GMOs (genetically modified organisms). Among other regulations: the ordinance would ban open-air testing of experimental pesticides and GMOs, and create of a pesticide-free 500-foot buffer zone around schools, hospitals and other sensitive areas, such as public roads, streams and shorelines.

The proposed Kauai County ordinance applies only to large users of restricted-use pesticides — agricultural operations purchasing or using more than five pounds or 15 gallons of restricted-use pesticides, or any amount of experimental pesticides, annually.

Consequently, its scope almost entirely limits the potentially affected group to five companies: Syngenta, Pioneer Hi-Bred International Inc., BASF Corp. and Dow AgroSciences as well as Kauai Coffee, the largest coffee grower in Hawaii.

The bill's author, Kauai County Council member Gary Hooser, maintains that at its center is the community’s right to know what pesticides are being used in large quantities and what experimental pesticides and genetically modified crops are present on Kauai. 

The regulations are needed, Hooser said, because the intensity of restricted-use pesticides spraying on Kauai exceeds that of any other county in the state.

While supporters say the proposed county ordinance is needed to safeguard public health and the island’s environment, opponents point to existing federal laws and contend that regulations tied to the bill would significantly hamstring agribusiness and farming industries.

Before the doors opened at 12:30 p.m., both supporters and opponents gathered on the center's grounds to display signs and banners. Opponents also displayed banners in support farms. Those first in the wait line for a seat in the center started arriving at about 7 a.m. 

Among those waiting for hearing at midday was Poipu resident Janet Flippert, who was wearing a red T-shirt with a black “X” painted over the letters “GMO.” Flippert said, “The big five biotech groups are ... poisoning our land.” She added, “They have to stop.”

Laurie Yoshida, spokeswoman of Pioneer Hi-Bred International, countered such sentiment by asserting that the Iowa-based company follows federal regulations pertaining to pesticide use.

There is no law in place on Kauai that requires agriculture-centric companies to disclose to the public amounts of chemicals used daily. However, large agribusiness operations are monitored by three federal agencies: the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Environmental Protection Agency, and the Food and Drug Administration.

The USDA decides whether companies get permits for field tests, the EPA oversees pesticide use, and the FDA is in charge of the safety of genetically modified crops.

Syngenta's spokesman, Mark Phillipson, has said that the seed-production company, which leases about 3,500 acres of state and private land on Kauai, only uses EPA-approved products, and that the company does not conduct experimental pesticide product testing.  

Even so, some supporters of the bill contend that seed companies operating on Kauai lack adequate oversight and there's too much secrecy tied to growing genetically engineered crops. 

In days leading up to the hearing, sign-waving demonstrations were held by opponents who say the public has been misinformed about modern agriculture. The bill's backers created an online petition that has so far generated some 30,000 signatures. 

Wednesday's public testimony is being heard before the county’s Agricultural and Environmental Services Committee chaired by Hooser who co-introduced the proposed ordinance with council member Tim Bynum. 

The bill calls for the following:

>>  Mandatory disclosures detailing pesticide use and the presence of GMOs.

>>  A 500-foot buffer zone around schools, hospitals and other sensitive areas, such as public roads, streams and shorelines.

>> A ban on open-air testing of experimental pesticides and experimental GMOs. Experimental testing must be conducted in an enclosed environment, such as a laboratory or contained greenhouse.

>> A moratorium on new GMO operations pending results of an environmental impact statement — prepared by Kauai County — and development of a permitting system. This does not apply to existing operations, but it does pertain to expansion during the moratorium period.

>> Implementation of a county permitting process for commercial farms that grow GMOs. Permits will require measures to prevent cross-pollination with non-genetically modified crops, limit pesticide-laden dust, and require periodic testing of soil, dust, water, air and area residents. The county will set penalties for violators.

>> Costs tied to the law will be paid for via permitting fees assessed on those companies being regulated and by way or property tax directly connected to their operations.

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mahinadahui wrote:
Imua Kaua'i! A'OLE GMO's!!!
on July 31,2013 | 12:09PM
kennysmith wrote:
by the way agent orange you are useing.
on July 31,2013 | 12:28PM
OldDiver wrote:
Organic farmers are under the same federal regulation when they spray pesticides on their crops. They must wear the same protective suits when spraying crops. Drinking a cup of organic pesticide will result in death just like inorganic pesticides.
on July 31,2013 | 05:24PM
mikethenovice wrote:
Just another venting session that will be turned by a blind eye.
on July 31,2013 | 05:31PM
aomohoa wrote:
It is save to spray these pesticides on our food yet we need a ' pesticide-free 500-foot buffer zone around schools, hospitals and other sensitive areas, such as public roads, streams and shorelines." How are these really safe if this is necessary?
on July 31,2013 | 12:16PM
Shh wrote:
Sounds dangerous if you ask me. I won't buy any from Kauai if the don't put a stop to it.
on July 31,2013 | 12:57PM
My goodness, they've only been doing GMO's for decades. Just like everything else in life-too many people worried about the wrong things. If you'd really like to influence the world-go spread the idea of world peace, and truely save some live.
on July 31,2013 | 02:02PM
OldDiver wrote:
Why not create the same rules for all farms since even organic farms spray pesticides.
on July 31,2013 | 05:17PM
jess wrote:
It's not just Kauai. Monsanto is everywhere.
on July 31,2013 | 03:50PM
izdatso wrote:
Exactly da point sistah amnotutoaho. Stuff is safe-regs are in place-applicators licensed. Itz Hoosier and Bynum and his hui data rae cauding panic and mayhem. Jus like organics (specially organics) wash your food before you eat! savy?
on July 31,2013 | 01:15PM
kennysmith wrote:
on July 31,2013 | 12:27PM
izdatso wrote:
Braddah Kenny. Wear one helmet when u ride your moped, (may be too late brah). But certainly wear one helmet if you intend to come aftah me brah. I no like spend 50% of my disposable on "organic" foods dat eat-taste-make me faht da same as conventional or GMO'S. AUWE!
on July 31,2013 | 01:20PM
Manawai wrote:
on July 31,2013 | 01:22PM
Skyler wrote:
You really should get a hobby, like tightrope walking or something that doesn't have a keyboard on it that's hooked to the internet.
on July 31,2013 | 10:06PM
izdatso wrote:
on August 1,2013 | 05:22AM
Honulove wrote:
Mahalo Kaua'i, Gary Hooser, Tim Bynum and others who have been working around the clock for months leading up to this day. Protect our children, protect our 'aina, protect the future!!
on July 31,2013 | 12:45PM
Dont forget-GO HUNGRY!
on July 31,2013 | 02:04PM
jomama wrote:
and the 30,000 mainlanders who signed the petition to meddle in Hawaii's affairs.
on July 31,2013 | 11:10PM
noforget wrote:
The sea of blue t-shirts (Pro God, GMO, agriculture, coexistence) will swallow up the red t-shirts (Anti Christ, GMO, agriculture, co- existence) like the sea swallowed up Pharaoh’s evil army. Kauai should be passing laws that prevent people like Hooser and Bynum to introduce laws that are evil and would literally kill agriculture on Kauai. Shame on you Gary and Tim!
on July 31,2013 | 12:47PM
Leinanij wrote:
Congratulations noforget! You've made the top of the GMO zealot smear class! Demonizing your neighbors because they want wealthy conglomerates to stop the poisoning of our land, water, ocean and families by comparing them to the anti-Christ is a new low, even for you.
on July 31,2013 | 01:53PM
izdatso wrote:
u one POT callin da kettle BLACK. AUWE!
on July 31,2013 | 02:02PM
ddudas wrote:
Our land in Hawaii is truly a Paradise. The chemicals and products used to produce GMO foods are harmful to our land, our animals, our children and all residents of Hawaii. I implore our lawmakers and those of influence on the use of GMOs throughout the State to get educated and do what is ethically right instead of $$profitable$$ for them. If you haven't watched or read Genetic Roulette please do (available to watch on Youtube.com). Some want to turn our land/state into a testing ground for GMOs. Please don't let this happen. I support the Kauai ordinance for labeling. Consumers have a right to know what they're buying.
on July 31,2013 | 12:47PM
Shh wrote:
I agree. The people have the right to know!
on July 31,2013 | 12:56PM
izdatso wrote:
Brahdah duduh. You can sing dis song all da doodah day but can not change da fact dat der is no facts to support your hypothesis. Plus dis is not dat ordinance-wrong island, wrong day. Best hum dis one to yerself till u get up to speed.
on July 31,2013 | 01:27PM
Maneki_Neko wrote:
Your attempt at pidgin is dreadful. It offends.
on July 31,2013 | 05:10PM
izdatso wrote:
wat...u one professah? "I say, wat, pip pip, this chaps accent is simply dreadful." You one Hawaii Kai Kanaka? YAWN! FAHT.
on July 31,2013 | 08:10PM
bumba wrote:
Bunch of nuts on Kauai. Tree huggers.
on July 31,2013 | 01:14PM
Leinanij wrote:
Tree huggers will save the world, with or without nuts.
on July 31,2013 | 01:56PM
aomohoa wrote:
Don't worry, if we keep clear cuts the rainforest there won't be any world left.
on July 31,2013 | 04:50PM
Eradication wrote:
GM "NO"!!!!
on July 31,2013 | 01:29PM
izdatso wrote:
GM "KNOW"- den u be fine.
on July 31,2013 | 01:55PM
Eradication wrote:
on July 31,2013 | 02:38PM
izdatso wrote:
on July 31,2013 | 02:53PM
Leinanij wrote:
The GMO chemical company employees camped over night so they will be the first 200 people to testify Rosemarie.
on July 31,2013 | 01:44PM
izdatso wrote:
Fahmahs are naturally early risers Leinamandidinijan. FARMAHS are smaht too. Udderwise not sure what your point is? BTW I personally wasn't camped out on dis staradvertiser site all night. Still yet I beat you into da blogassphere. Where you was? Home late last night? Pedicab break down?
on July 31,2013 | 02:01PM
Eradication wrote:
Wanna be pidgin. Phoney...
on July 31,2013 | 02:40PM
izdatso wrote:
how i phoney u wen I no got da numbah
on July 31,2013 | 02:54PM
Maneki_Neko wrote:
That wasn't even a very good try.
on July 31,2013 | 05:07PM
izdatso wrote:
say it like u mean it brah. otherwise...yawn
on July 31,2013 | 08:03PM
Publicbraddah wrote:
Remember Rachel Carson's Silent Spring written decades ago? We didn't comprehend the effects of DDT until its effect had gone thru the food chain. It was at least 20 years before it was finally banned.
on July 31,2013 | 01:58PM
BluesBreaker wrote:
Excellent article this morning that references Silent Spring:http://www.staradvertiser.com/editorialspremium/guesteditorialspremium/20130731_Kauai_considers_future_of_farming.html?id=217697121
on July 31,2013 | 04:36PM
Bully wrote:
Monsanto will win, they own the government.
on July 31,2013 | 02:12PM
Eradication wrote:
Not without a fight.
on July 31,2013 | 02:41PM
aomohoa wrote:
Sad but true!
on July 31,2013 | 09:06PM
Truth wrote:
GMO foods have been used for over 40 years. It is unfair for a minority of people to eliminate an option for food that allows other to eat. If this is eliminated, are the people who supported the elimination of GMO going to feed those that relied on GMO.
on July 31,2013 | 02:55PM
eleu808 wrote:
I try not to eat a plant that drinks herbicides and does not die but weeds die. I try not to eat the a plant that kills bugs that eat it. There are no test data that shows that this food is safe.
on July 31,2013 | 03:20PM
BluesBreaker wrote:
On the contrary, there are thousands tests conducted by independent laboratories, academic institutions, government agencies, scientific organizations in the U.S. and around the world that have shown crops grown using biotech ag cause no problems and are just as nutritious, if not more nutrioutious, as conventional or organic crops.Then there is the track record. After nearly two decades on grocery shelves not a single incidence of a health problem associated with biotech foods.
on July 31,2013 | 04:41PM
eleu808 wrote:
On the contrary, there is no human test data to show that it is safe. None. Show the data that it is safe.
on July 31,2013 | 04:50PM
OldDiver wrote:
The human data is no one has been harmed in the twenty years GMO have been on the market. During the same period hundreds if not thousands have died eating contaminated organic foods.
on July 31,2013 | 05:29PM
eleu808 wrote:
Where is the scientific data on paper. No more.
on July 31,2013 | 06:16PM
OldDiver wrote:
Where is the scientific paper on the safety of apples?
on July 31,2013 | 06:18PM
jomama wrote:
how would you presume to prove it is safe? you cannot. but every test has failed to show it is not safe.
on July 31,2013 | 11:14PM
Incadove wrote:
GMO's are evil! Should be a protest.
on July 31,2013 | 03:47PM
Maneki_Neko wrote:
How can we ignore that sixty countries - 60 - around the world have imposed restrictions on GMOs? Do we really think we know more than these other places? What arrogance.

You notice how the pro-GMO crowd never address why more than 60 countries disagree with the US position.

on July 31,2013 | 05:09PM
Kuokoa wrote:
First the Superferry, now GMO! These transplants to Hawaii sure interrupt life here in Hawaii! When and IF they learn the benefits of GMO maybe they will shut up!
on July 31,2013 | 06:55PM
LKK56 wrote:
Kuakoa, I could not have said it better. These "transplants" are the reason why Kauai is not the "Kauai" we grew up in. These "transplants" are the same thing our grandparents went through two generations ago. These "transplants" are the leprosy of our time.
on July 31,2013 | 09:25PM
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