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Kauai County Council to reconvene on pesticide bill next week

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The Kauai County Council will reconvene next Tuesday to address a proposed bill to regulate pesticide use and genetically modified crops by biotech companies on the island. 

Councilmembers listened this morning to public testimony as well as testimony from Mayor Bernard Carvalho Jr., county Managing Director Gary Heu and Deputy County Attorney Mauna Kea Trask on Bill 2491.

Council Chairman Jay Furfaro announced they will recess until 9 a.m. Tuesday at the council chambers because of a scheduled concerning the county auditor this afternoon. 

During the meeting, Carvalho requested to defer the bill for two months so they can work with the state and county government on the issue. He received the amended proposed bill a week ago and has since met with Gov. Neil Abercrombie’s administration.

“There’s more work that needs to be done,” said Carvalho. 

When Councilman Gary Hooser, who co-introduced the bill with councilman Tim Bynum, said there is a lack of urgency from the county administration, Carvalho stressed it is an urgent matter for him yet more time is needed. “This is a major issue for the island,” he said adding everyone needs to work collectively on the issue.

Less than two weeks ago, the Economic Development and Intergovernmental Relations Committee voted 4-1 to pass Bill 2491 with amendments.

The bill calls for mandatory disclosure of pesticide use and GMOs by large agricultural operations that use more than five pounds or 15 gallons of restricted use pesticides annually. The proposed ordinance also calls for buffer zones near schools, medical facilities, public roadways and waterways.

Businesses affected by the bill are seed companies Syngeta Hawaii, BASF, Dow AgroSciences and DuPont Pioneer as well as Kauai Coffee, the largest coffee grower in the state. 

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