Energy & Environment

Federal Judge Invalidates Kauai’s Anti-GMO Law

UPDATE: Officials on the Big Island and in Maui County are analyzing the implications of Monday's court decision striking down Kauai's regulations on GMO farming and pesticides.

·By Anita Hofschneider

A federal judge has struck down Kauai County’s ordinance requiring more disclosure from biotechnology companies about pesticide use and genetically engineered farming practices. The court ruling is a setback for the growing movement against biotechnology companies in Hawaii, where seed corn is the biggest export crop.

U.S. District Court Judge Barry M. Kurren ruled Monday that the Kauai County ordinance known as Bill 2491 or Ordinance 960 unlawfully preempts state law governing pesticide use.

“This decision in no way diminishes the health and environmental concerns of the people of Kauai,” Kurren wrote. “The Court’s ruling simply recognizes that the State of Hawaii has established a comprehensive framework for addressing the application of restricted use pesticides and the planting of GMO crops, which presently precludes local regulation by the County.”

Kauai Mayor Bernard Carvalho speaks at news conference Monday along with Hawaii County Mayor Billy Kenoi, center, and Maui Mayor Alan Arakawa in front of Honolulu Hale after a federal judge struck down a Kauai ordinance that requires biotechnology companies to disclose their cultivation of genetically modified crops and use of restricted pesticides.

PF Bentley/Civil Beat

The bill, which required that companies disclose their use of restricted pesticides above certain levels and imposed buffer zones for pesticide spraying around areas such as roadways and schools, was passed 6-1 after an emotional 19-hour hearing last fall. Kauai Mayor Bernard Carvalho vetoed it, but the Kauai Council overrode him.

Carvalho held a press conference Monday at Honolulu Hale along with the three other Hawaii mayors,

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Anita Hofschneider

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