Kauai's Pesticide and GMO Bill Could Cost Millions

Sophie Cocke/ Civil Beat

LIHUE — The state of Hawaii has effectively foresaken its responsibility to ensure that biotech companies are not risking public and environmental health, several members of the Kauai County Council said Monday, so it was up to the county to pick up the slack.

Basically, the state has done a bad job of enforcing landmark federal environmental laws, according to the councilmembers who spoke at a hearing on a bill before the council’s Economic Development and Intergovernmental Relations Committee that would increase regulation of genetically altered crops and pesticides.

“We are here today because the state has failed,” Councilman Mel Rapozo said.

Failure may explain the origins of the far-reaching Bill 2491, which would require the four large biotech companies on Kauai to disclose what pesticides they spray, where and in what amounts. It also mandates that the county conduct an extensive environmental study of the potential health and environment risks of local pesticide and GMO use. Other elements in the bill include tests on water, air, soil and potentially even the residents.

What remains unclear, though, is who would pay the millions of dollars that it might cost the small island government for the monitoring described in the legislation.

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