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Kauai council delays decision on bill regulating GMOs, pesticides

By Associated Press

LAST UPDATED: 09:56 a.m. HST, Aug 06, 2013

LIHUE » The Kauai County Council will wait for legal opinions before deciding whether to approve a measure that would require agricultural operations to disclose if they are growing genetically modified crops and their use of pesticides.

The council Monday unanimously deferred a decision until Sept. 9 for the proposal that also would create buffer zones for large farm operations.

The Garden Island reports that testimony before the unanimous vote underscored the divisiveness of the measure. 

"Bill 2491 in its approach is devastating and fracturing our island — it's unraveling the fabric of our community," said resident Susan Tai Kaneko, a former educator who works for Syngenta, an agribusiness.

"People are insulting and verbally attacking one another, even threatening bodily harm and death," she said.

The council had already conducted a lengthy public hearing on the measure. Attorneys on both sides Monday debated its legality.

Attorney Paul Alston, representing Syngenta, said it was "a given" that the proposal would be challenged in court if it's approved it its present form.

Alston and attorney John Hoshibata, representing Pioneer, said existing state law would invalidate a county law approved to regulate genetically modified crops or pesticides.

Earthjustice attorney Paul Achitoff disagreed. State law, he said, does not have explicit or implied prohibitions on counties passing such measures and, with certain safeguards, the county could successfully defend it in court.

The county has the authority to declare a "GMO-free zone," Achitoff said, but the measure before the council does not go that far.

Councilwoman Nadine Nakamura said she would make up her mind after seeing legal opinions from the county attorney and the state attorney general. That could take two months, she said.

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kainalu wrote:
Too simple: label the product and let the consumer decide. Too much politics and way to much fear-mongering drama related to this issue.
on August 6,2013 | 10:34AM
Maneki_Neko wrote:
Exactly. The big boys have gotten all lawyered up with really high priced talent to fight what is a basically reasonable proposition - let the consumer know what he/she is buying and consuming. Let the residents know what they are being exposed to. Provide some transparency to the people.
on August 6,2013 | 11:37AM
Anonymous wrote:
This issue is much more than labeling. It's about people involuntarily being exposed to experimental, highly toxic pesticides in their homes, schools, etc. - where they don't even have a choice.
on August 6,2013 | 02:24PM
tiki886 wrote:
I say we nuke Kauai. That way they don't have to battle one another and the issue is settled. Kauai doesn't contribute any benefit to the State anyway. They are "takers".
on August 6,2013 | 11:25AM
LizKauai wrote:
Wow... That's looking at the forest...
on August 6,2013 | 11:56AM
Leinanij wrote:
Hupo nui, even for you tiki.
on August 6,2013 | 12:31PM
Leinanij wrote:
Ms Kaneko thinks that a bill is "devastating and fracturing our island" with people verbally threatening bodily harm and death. But her employer's poisoning of our land, groundwater, ocean and families is OK. Spoken like a true brown nose. Bet she'll have a nice big bonus in her fat paycheck.
on August 6,2013 | 12:40PM
Anonymous wrote:
What would you say if that same statement came from someone on the other side of the issue? It's a true statement ~ the bill has caused hurt amongst neighbors and families on both sides. People poison our hearts and minds with the verbal and emotional sticks and stones being traded over this issue. Not only our aina is being hurt ~ its our people as well.
on August 6,2013 | 01:01PM
Kauai_Boy wrote:
OK, I'll be glad to say it: GMO corporate agribusiness in its approach is devastating and fracturing our island — it's unraveling the fabric of our community. The rest of us who do NOT work for the seed/chemical companies are distraught with how these offshore corporations have lied and deceived, and how these are performing open field scientific experiments very close to schools, homes, roads and streams. They tell a good "farmer" story with tales of erosion-preventing cover cropping, but we never see any cover crops, just 3 seed crops a year. Plant, poison, harvest, plant, poison, harvest, plant poison harvest, for maximum profit. They are destroying the aina and endangering the residents of Kauai. They threaten to leave, even though they most likely won't...there's too much kala to be made. And if they go, I for one say good riddance to bad rubbish.
on August 6,2013 | 04:04PM
kuroiwaj wrote:
Leinanij, Ms Kaneko is spot on and because it's my home island, I support her position. The Kauai Council legislation 2491 would over-rule State and Federal law, a legislative no-no. The larger issue, in my mind, is the emotional positions taken by both sides where no one wins and everybody will lose. I certainly wish that such emotional loss is not experienced by all of Kauai residents.
on August 6,2013 | 05:48PM
Truth wrote:
This legislation will disappear. Gary Hooser didn't look before he lept. Wasn't he is state governement? Shouldn't he know how this works?
on August 12,2013 | 02:31PM
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