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Hawaii bill challenges counties’ rights to regulate farming

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    In the Oct. 8, 2013 file photo, Kauai County Councilman Gary Hooser addresses a bill to regulate pesticide use and genetically modified crops by large agricultural companies.

A bill to stop counties from enacting their own regulations on the farming industry advanced out of the House Agriculture Committee.

Several Hawaii counties have either banned or restricted the use of pesticides and genetically modified organisms.

But supporters of the bill say counties shouldn’t have that authority. They say farmers on the islands are facing challenges to their right to farm and their long-term sustainability.

Kauai County Councilman Gary Hooser opposes the bill and says people are getting sick from chemicals used by farmers. He says people have the right to know what chemicals are being sprayed.

Another bill to create pesticide buffer zones around schools, hospitals and child care facilities passed out of a House energy and environment committee Thursday.

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