comscore Federal judge rules Hawaii counties can’t enact GMO bans | Honolulu Star-Advertiser
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Federal judge rules Hawaii counties can’t enact GMO bans

  • DENNIS ODA / JAN. 21, 2015

    Protesters Debra Mader (with her daughter, Milani), Paul Fenelon, Beth Savitt and Dr. Joe Ritter traveled from Maui to protest against genetically modified organisms at the state Capitol during the 2015 opening session of the Legislature.

A federal judge has ruled that three Hawaii counties can’t enact their own bans or regulations on genetically modified crops and pesticides, handing a victory to the major agriculture companies that fought the regulations.

Circuit Judge Consuelo M. Callahan today upheld a lower court’s decision that said Hawaii law prohibits counties from regulating agricultural matters.

The cases stemmed from a decision by Maui voters to ban the cultivation and testing of genetically modified crops in 2014 and related movements on other Hawaiian islands.

Kauai County had imposed pesticide notification requirements and mandated pesticide buffer zones, and Hawaii Island had enacted an ordinance banning open air testing of genetically engineered organisms, among other things.

But the court held that the county laws are pre-empted by state laws that regulate potentially harmful plants.

“We will continue to stand and fight with the people of Hawaii against these chemical companies, and part of that is going to be demanding action at the state level to protect the people and the environment,” said George Kimbrell, senior attorney for the Center For Food Safety, which pushed for the bans. “We’re considering all legal options, including appeal.”

Monsanto, which farms genetically engineered seeds to be used by farmers around the world, was part of a group that fought the Maui GMO ban. Monsanto Hawaii employs about 1,000 people on Maui, Molokai and Oahu, Dan Clegg, Hawaii business operations lead for Monsanto, said in an emailed statement.

“We’re listening and we’ve heard the concerns some people have about GMOs and today’s farming practices,” Clegg said. “Our commitment to ongoing dialogue with our neighbors doesn’t stop today. We understand the responsibility we have to farm sustainably and to work collaboratively, and we welcome the opportunity to continue having conversations with members of the community.”

Those who pushed for increased regulation of pesticides and GMOs in Hawaii vowed to introduce new legislation in the state’s upcoming session.

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  • Finally those counties can move on to important matters like pushing to end the crystal meth epidemic, looking to support all farmers, creating affordable homes and supporting much needed public infrastructure and services to name a few. These anti GMO Pesticide activist should put their energy into growing food and helping all farmers succeed instead of pretending to know what is best for our island communities. And Good luck in trying to pass anti GMO/Pesticide legislation at the state level. State Legislators are fed up with the anti GMO/Pesticide movement their antics, tantrums and disrespect for civility and order. As newly elected Maui Council member Alika Atay would say “nuff already”

    • Ya, let the Counties burn up even more hundreds of thousands of dollars appealing the ruling yet again to the Supreme Court. What the heck! It’s free money!!

      • IRT Manawai, if the Counties appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court, the President-Elect Donald J. Trump nominee would probably be serving and for certain make the Court a Conservative Court. Make America Great Again.

  • Not sure what all the fuss is in the farming community. All I know is if the GMO crops cross contaminate an organic farm, the organic farmer can easily sue the GMO farm out of business as this has been the recent practice on the mainland. Easiest way to the anti-GMO crowd to win is to set up pollen stations everywhere and anywhere they grow organic food, even a backyard and then they can get the DNA test to sue the GMO farm and win very handsomely! No need to fight them at this level, just sue the hell out of them once their seeds end up on your organic soil and profit!

    • Growing up before GMO farming there was a young man attending Kalani High who died from pesticide exposure at the family farm. Way before the GMO days, circa 1960.

  • GMOs must be bad. They have definitely affected the brains of the dumb protestors. The protestors keep taking about pesticides, but blaming GMOs. They are not the same thing.

  • I’m anti gmo and will always prefer non gmo produce. I also invest in protecting the environment and its natural resources when it comes to agriculture and protecting natural crops from gmo crops. I also look at different ways and methods of growing vegitables and fruits etc. naturaly. Keep your nasty corn and ugly tomatoe to yourself. The FED stuck his nose where it don’t belong. A natural seed is worth a billion times more than a patened modified seed. I’m human I don’t want to be modified. My babies drank their mom’s milk eho also only eats naturally grown produce. I guess next we’ll mate bees from two different continents. NO TO GMO and their stocks.

  • I do not understand what the GMO fuss is all about. I have been eating GMO foods for many years and it has done wonders for me. My previously bald head is not full of hair, my memory is a lot sharper, my blood pressure is back to normal levels, my sciatica has disappeared and my erectile dysfunction is a distant memory. Life could not be better and it is all thanks to GMO foods.

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