(NaturalNews) Last Nov., Kauai County, which consists of three Hawaiian islands, passed Kauai County Ordinance 960, which required large-scale agricultural operations to disclose the presence of pesticides and genetically modified (GM) crops, as reported by Hawaii's KHON 2News.
Despite Mayor Bernard Carvalho Jr. vetoing the measure, the ordinance passed, offering Kauai County residents new hope in protecting themselves and their environment from the year-round spraying of large quantities of restricted-use pesticides by multinational chemical companies.
The passing of Ordinance 960 was a huge victory for the people. It even established buffer zones near sensitive areas like schools, medical facilities, parks, homes, roadways, shorelines and waterways, according to KHON 2.
Ordinance 960 was intended to go into effect Aug. 16 of this year, but it was delayed by a lawsuit, and, unfortunately, on Aug. 25 a federal judge ruled to overturn the county ordinance, claiming that the community had no right to regulate pesticides and GM seeds, because state and federal laws already do so.
Once again, the powerful Biotech Industry trumps public safety
Biotech giants DuPont, Syngenta Seeds, Agrigenetics, Inc., and BASF Plant Sciences LP filed a lawsuit against Kauai County and won, with the help of U.S. Magistrate Judge Barry Kurren.
Kurren concluded that only state governments have the right to regulate pesticide matters; yet another example of corporate interests trumping public safety with the help of state and federal officials who are bought and paid for by the industry.
According to the Hawaii Pesticide Law, the Kauai ordinance does not conflict with existing legislation.
Kurren's ruling immediately declared Ordinance 960 to be invalid, but Councilman Gary Hooser, who co-authored the bill, vows that the fight isn't over.
"These companies have fought compliance for over a year now. They have much more money than the county... they're billion-dollar corporations determined not to follow the rules of Kauai County," said Hooser. "This is a long way from over."
Mayor Carvalho Jr. says he agreed with the intent of Ordinance 960 but had concerns over its legality. "The county's special counsel is reviewing the court's decision," said Carvalho.
Carvalho issued the following statement:
Aside from all else, we are committed to continue working closely with the state on matters relating to agricultural pesticide use. We also hope that the ruling won't preclude us from following through on the joint fact finding process as well as the Environmental Public Health Impact Study that were called for in Ordinance 960 and a subsequent resolution passed by the County Council. Having good solid information will help us all better address concerns about the health impacts of pesticides as we move forward.
Four non-profit organizations including Ka Makani Ho'opono, Center for Food Safety, Pesticide Action Network North America and Surfrider Foundation are analyzing potential legal options in hopes of filing an appeal.
"It's a sad day for the people of Kauai," said Paul Achitoff, an Earthjustice attorney who helped defend the law on behalf of the community. "But, as I said, this is the beginning. This is round one and there are a number of rounds to go."
Hawaii fights to protect "unmodified crops"
Hawaii is a hotbed for the growing controversy over GMOs. In Aug., three organic farmers and the Center for Food Safety on the Big Island of Oahu filed a motion to intervene in a case that would ban "open-air use and testing of modified crops, with exceptions for farmers who are already growing them," according to the Honolulu Star-Advertiser.
Farmers want to be able to grow "unmodified crops without the risk of cross-pollination," stated the report.
"In Hawaii, we believe that our seeds, crops and foods should remain free of contamination from genetically engineered plants," said Nancy Redfeather, one of the three farmers involved in the matter.