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Kauai Council committee works on bill regulating pesticides, GMOs

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A Kauai County Council committee spent much of today discussing proposed amendments to provisions of a bill that calls for new regulations on pesticides and the farming of genetically modified crops.

The Council’s Economic Development (Sustainability/Agriculture/Food/Energy) and Intergovernmental Relations Committee considered changing sections of Bill 2491 pertaining to a call for mandatory disclosures about pesticide use and for reporting the presence of genetically modified organisms. The committee also debated the bill’s proposal for a 500-foot buffer zone around schools, hospitals and other sensitive areas, such as public roads, streams and shorelines.

Co-introduced by Councilmen Gary Hooser and Tim Bynum, the proposed Kauai County ordinance applies only to large consumers 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.

Those directly affected are biotech companies Syngenta Hawaii, DuPont Pioneer, Dow AgroSciences and BASF as well as Kauai Coffee, the largest coffee grower in the state.

The bill’s supporters are concerned about the health and environmental impacts of pesticides while opponents say the language in the proposed ordinance is arbitrary and targets biotech companies.

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