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Organizations allowed to intervene in suit by biotech companies

By Rosemarie Bernardo

LAST UPDATED: 5:24 p.m. HST, Apr 14, 2014

U.S. Magistrate Barry Kurren granted a motion to allow four organizations to intervene in a lawsuit against Kauai County filed by biotechnology companies claiming a new law that regulates GMO and pesticide use is invalid. 

Ka Makani Ho'opono, Center for Food Safety, Pesticide Action Network North America and Surfrider Foundation are now parties in the lawsuit on behalf of residents who allege they are directly impacted by pesticides sprayed in fields on the west side of Kauai. The organizations are being represented in court by the Center for Food Safety and Earthjustice.

The law imposes greater disclosure requirements on restricted use pesticides and creates buffer zones for crops near schools, homes, and hospitals. The lawsuit contends it prohibits the companies from growing any crops -- GMO or not -- in arbitrarily drawn buffer zones, and restricts the companies' pesticide use within the buffer zones.

During Monday's hearing, attorneys representing the seed companies said intervention by the organizations in the lawsuit wasn't necessary because attorneys representing the county were doing so on behalf of all residents. 

After the hearing, Earthjustice attorney Paul Achitoff said, "I'm glad my clients will have their day in court. They deserve it."

The groups filed the motion in March in response to a complaint filed two months earlier by Syngeta, DuPont Pioneer and Agrigenetics Inc., doing business as Dow AgroSciences. BASF later joined the lawsuit. 

Barring a court injunction, the law is due to take effect in mid-August 

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