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3 companies sue to block Kauai's new law on GMOs, pesticides

By Star-Advertiser staff

LAST UPDATED: 12:38 a.m. HST, Jan 12, 2014

Syngenta, Pioneer Hi-Bred and Agrigenetics -- an affiliate of Dow -- have sued to block Kauai County from implementing its new genetically modified organism and pesticide regulation law.

The law, which takes effect in August, imposes greater disclosure requirements on restricted use pesticides and creates buffer zones for crops near schools, homes, and hospitals.

The lawsuit, filed Friday in U.S. District Court, contends that the law irrationally prohibits the biotechnology companies from growing any crops — GMO or not — in arbitrarily drawn buffer zones, and restricts the companies' pesticide use within the buffer zones.

The disclosure requirements, the lawsuit argues, expose the companies to risks of "corporate espionage, vandalism and environmental terrorism."

Proponents of the new law decried the lawsuit as "shameful."

"Kauai's ordinance is a sound and well-crafted law. The industry's challenge is without merit, and we will vigorously defend it," said George Kimbrell, senior attorney with the Center for Food Safety.

Earthjustice attorney Paul Achitoff said, "The chemical industry has been using bullying and misinformation all along to try to derail this law. They consider their impacts on the health of Kauai's residents as collateral damage."

But the biotech companies argue that the county law improperly intrudes into state and federal regulatory territory. The law, the companies allege, also violates federal and state constitutional rights to equal protection and due process by arbitrarily targeting the companies while exempting other pesticide users, including the county, and by imposing burdensome operational restrictions and penalties.

The Kauai County Council approved the law in November after voting to override Kauai Mayor Bernard Carvalho Jr.'s veto. The mayor had vetoed the bill after citing legal flaws raised by the county counsel.

Anti-GMO activists have celebrated the Kauai law — and a new law in Hawaii County that bans new GMO crops — as victories in a campaign against GMOs and pesticide use in the islands.

The biotech companies are represented by top Hawaii attorneys. Paul Alston is representing Syngenta; Margery Bronster, a former state attorney general, is representing Pioneer Hi-Bred and Agrigenetics.

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Duncan wrote:
Another example by know nothing politicians that listen to the biggest noise in the room by stupid self appointed idiots who already have screwed honest progressive companies from producing and promoting good benefits for everyone in the world.
on January 11,2014 | 12:09PM
kuroiwaj wrote:
Mahalo Duncan, for your accurate comments.
on January 11,2014 | 01:26PM
HanabataDays wrote:
...purely incidentally to their desire to control the world market with their patented seeds that must be bought from them every growing season, and reap billions in the process.
on January 12,2014 | 01:46AM
nlromer wrote:
Kauai belongs to the people not to companies. Big business would have used strip mining all over America but it was stopped. Now we need to stop big business from ruining the land.
on January 11,2014 | 12:11PM
eoe wrote:
on January 11,2014 | 12:54PM
saywhatyouthink wrote:
Kauai is part of the state of Hawaii and USA and as such is subject to its laws. They should not involve themselves in matters beyond their authority. It's time they learned that lesson. I hope they end up paying for all the lawyers involved in this case. Even their own lawyer thinks the law will be overturned, time for them to realize they don't control everything on Kauai.
on January 11,2014 | 01:35PM
shee26 wrote:
Gotta love Atchitoff and his bullying bit. Who threatened the major when he vetoed it? Wouldn't you call those people the bullies Mr. Atchitoff? These antis keep stating that the land is being poisoned and so on but where's the evidence? Your mother's brother's uncle's friend to you?!
on January 11,2014 | 12:31PM
d1shima wrote:
Seems like the Mayor was right after all.
on January 11,2014 | 12:45PM
saywhatyouthink wrote:
Good for you Kauai folks, you killed the super ferry for your own selfish reasons, now you want to kill Ag companies for similarly selfish reasons. Go to court, lose and pay all the lawyers involved, it's going to cost you Kauai taxpayers millions. Serves you right for sticking your noses where it don't belong. Kauai can't take all of the good and none of what you consider bad in this state, it's time you learned that lesson, what's good for the many outweighs the deires of the few.
on January 11,2014 | 01:30PM
Kalaheo1 wrote:
saywhatyouthink wrote: "Serves you right for sticking your noses where it don't belong."

Yeah! How dare the people of Kauai object to mysterious and experimental pesticides being tested next to their homes and schools! Don't they understand our State Senators have taken donations from big agribusiness and their lobbyists and we should just trust them?

"Hawaii Ag Dept Heavily Redacts Public Documents at Syngenta's Request"


on January 11,2014 | 02:06PM
BluesBreaker wrote:
Those selfish companies are made up of hundreds of local people who are doing good work, helping farmers around the world and supporting their families, making good wages.
on January 11,2014 | 04:51PM
HonoluluHawaii wrote:
on January 11,2014 | 05:36PM
Kalaheo1 wrote:
BluesBreaker wrote: "Those selfish companies are made up of hundreds of local people who are doing good work..."

Not to mention highly paid executives and literal armies of lawyers and lobbyists.

Do you think it is these good, hard working local people who are suing to avoid buffer zones and to keep the names and amounts of their experimental pesticides secret? Because I think it's the highly paid executives and their armies of lawyers and lobbyists.

on January 11,2014 | 07:03PM
BluesBreaker wrote:
You make a lot of claims about armies of lobbyists. Would you care to name them? If they are so plentiful, that shouldn't be difficult. Most companies of any size that have business at the legislature or county councils have lobbyists and more often than not, it's the general manager of the company, who shows up to testify.Maybe the bigger seed companies have hired specialists, like the insurance companies, auto dealers and other businesses of comparable size.

Why don't we look at the big organizations from the mainland that' have been putting money into the state, like the Pesticide Action Network? These mainland groups have brought in celebrities, political activists and pseudo scientists at great expense and purchased advertising. The Star-Advertiser covered this briefly in September:


on January 11,2014 | 08:36PM
Kalaheo1 wrote:
Ah, that's nothin'.... Those giant GMO corporations are dumping money into legislatures like they're made of money and lobbyists. Here's just ONE bill to label GMO foods in California.

"But, $5.5 million pales in comparison with the major food businesses that have opposed the proposition. Here's a list of food companies against Prop 37 and how much money they've contributed to oppose it"

Monsanto - $7,100,500
DuPont - $4,900,000
Pepsi - $2,145,400
Bayer - $2,000,000
Dow - $2,000,000
BASF - $2,000,000
Syngenta - $2,000,000
Kraft Foods - $1,950,000
Coca-Cola - $1,455,500
Nestle - $1,315,600
General Mills - $1,135,000
ConAgra - $1,077,000
Kellogg’s - $790,000
Smithfield - $684,000


on January 11,2014 | 09:21PM
Anonymous wrote:
Selfish? It's selfish to do what you can to preserve your way of life? We are grateful that the Super-Foolish is dead; it's less likely that your ilk will find their way to our island home. I hope I live to see the day that the chemical corporations leave Kauai in their entirety. That's right...they are NOT ag companies, not seed companies (they sell or ship no seed grown on Kauai)...they are CHEMICAL companies.
on January 12,2014 | 11:25AM
aomohoa wrote:
I don't understand why these companies are so afraid of transparency? That's like saying we shouldn't have product labels to tell us what's in our food and the nutritional value or lack of it. Nothing wrong with a choice. I also choose to not eat meat with hormones and antibiotic .
on January 11,2014 | 02:02PM
Kalaheo1 wrote:
How dare the people of Kauai object to mysterious and experimental pesticides being tested next to their homes and schools! Don't they understand our State Senators have taken donations from big agribusiness and their lobbyists and we should just trust them?

"Hawaii Ag Dept Heavily Redacts Public Documents at Syngenta's Request"


on January 11,2014 | 02:06PM
47scooter wrote:
Hasn’t there been a law on the Hawai‘i State books, which the biotech companies helped engineer, that gives them the opportunity to voluntarily disclose what, how much, when and where they’re applying herbicides and pesticides? My understanding is that Kaua‘i Councilmember Hooser introduced Bill 2491 after the biotech companies balked at that very disclosure. The Star-Advertiser’s editorial from last November 19th finishes with this: “The biotech companies have voiced a willingness, even eagerness, to be good neighbors and to allay community fears. Now is their golden opportunity to step up to the accountability plate. To all parties and stakeholders: Take a deep breath and step away from the legal threats and obstacle-hurling. Keep in sight the goals of community health and safety, and transparency. Recognize there are reasonable ways to communicate and to ease valid concerns, concerns that have been fostered by lack of disclosure and information.” In December in response to a FoIA request for access to public records, Syngenta pressured the State to black out material which it claimed contains “confidential business information that, if publicly disclosed, could undermine the company's ability to compete in the marketplace.” According to the State’s pesticides program manager however, the redacted material includes the location of fields where pesticides were sprayed, the rate of pesticide application and the chemicals' dilution rates, photographs of fields that could indicate the distance from the school and any information related to pesticides that were mixed together. The information that was redacted is of clear public interest. The biotech companies are leasing 13,000-plus acres on Kaua‘i, of which over 6,000 acres are PUBLIC LANDS. Syngenta is a multi-billion dollar biotech company with headquarters in Switzerland. Their good-neighbor practices should include assuring and proving to the residents of the Garden Isle that theirs is not a scorched-earth policy.
on January 11,2014 | 04:18PM
brusselsprouts wrote:
I personally support this law and the communities and families concerned with the use of pesticide. They're asking for a buffer zone not a non use. I also prefer GMO free foods. http://www.theecologist.org/News/news_round_up/625294/revealed_how_seed_market_is_controlled_by_monsanto_syngenta_bayer_dow_dupont.html http://naturalrevolution.org/list-of-countries-that-ban-gmo-crops-and-require-ge-food-labels/
on January 11,2014 | 04:50PM
izdatso wrote:
awesome name brah! Go google % of US brussell sprout crop that is GMO!? Classic.
on January 11,2014 | 05:07PM
HonoluluHawaii wrote:
Betcha the name was made especially for this comment lol.
on January 11,2014 | 05:37PM
Maneki_Neko wrote:
Hey! There's that one trick pony with the fake pidgin - izdatso - he's back again! How about some more fake pidgin posts "brah"?
on January 11,2014 | 05:56PM
hokulia wrote:
I agree. I also like government dictating these actions to these phony entrepreneurs.
on January 11,2014 | 09:33PM
Maneki_Neko wrote:
Syngenta, Pioneer Hi-Bred and Agrigenetics bring in the big money and big lawyers to fight to preserve their market positions at the expense of the people of Kauai. No wonder the giant agri-corps are among the world's most hated companies.
on January 11,2014 | 05:55PM
BluesBreaker wrote:
Read the article, MN, the company attorneys are all local. The big money is on the other side. Center for Food Safety is a big mainland NGO that's poured a lot of money and other resources into the anti-GMO campaign in Hawaii.
on January 11,2014 | 07:36PM
HanabataDays wrote:
"The big money is on the other side"... *snort*
on January 12,2014 | 01:56AM
Anonymous wrote:
Oahu lawyers are not "locals" on Kauai. And please compare CFS finances (manini) compared to the agri-business giants (monstous).
on January 12,2014 | 11:19AM
Charliegrunt wrote:
Perhaps the best way to address this is to hold the companies and the politicians who support them fully responsible for any adverse results without any indemnification. If they believe so strongly in what they are doing, then they shouldn't have any problem accepting full responsibility. If they're right, nothing will happen to them and they will reap the profits. If they're wrong, then they should accept the jail time, fines and law suits.
on January 11,2014 | 07:43PM
BluesBreaker wrote:
The companies already have full responsibility for any adverse effects resulting from farm operations. They can be sued if anyone has sustained an injury because of anything they do on their farms. However, they've been here for decades and no one has ever filed a claim, because no one has gotten ill from pesticides or GMOs related to the seed farms. There are plenty of plaintiff attorneys who would love to take on a suit on a contingency basis, but it just isn't happening.
on January 11,2014 | 08:18PM
Anonymous wrote:
They are NOT "seed farms". They sell no seed and they ship no seed. They simply raise corn or other crops on thousands upon thousands of acres on Kauai in order to open-air test concoctions of restricted-use pesticides.
on January 12,2014 | 11:17AM
Anonymous wrote:
It's "Marjorie" Bronster. Seriously, you guys kind of make me sad, that's not even any known spelling of the name.
on January 11,2014 | 08:01PM
47scooter wrote:
After serving as Hawaii's Attorney General from 1995 to 1999, Margery S. Bronster became a founding partner of Bronster Hoshibata: http://bronsterhoshibata.com/Attorney/Margery-S-Bronster
on January 11,2014 | 08:25PM
BlueDolphin53 wrote:
Do the other islands have similar county laws like this in place? If not, why not? Kauai politicians care more about their constituents health than other island's politicians? Are they smarter, more caring, or just more anti-business?
on January 11,2014 | 08:18PM
Anonymous wrote:
Smarter and more caring, although similar bills are either passed or in process on other islands...
on January 12,2014 | 11:14AM
HanabataDays wrote:
Look how swiftly these agricorps -- cutthroat competitors in every other arena -- have banded together to go after the county. If you've never seen wolves pulling together in harness like huskies, take a good look! Their overriding motive is the profit motive, and "thick as thieves" explains this move. Perhaps they're too clueless to recognize just how clearly their actions demonstrate their untrustworthiness.
on January 12,2014 | 01:53AM
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