Groups sue to defend Hawaii's pesticide disclosure law

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The Center for Food Safety (CFS) and Earthjustice, filed papers in federal district court in Honolulu, Hawaii, moving to intervene as defendants. The nonprofits seek to defend their interests by defending the County of Kaua‘i’s 2013 pesticide disclosure law from a legal challenge by multinational chemical companies.   

Ordinance 960 (formerly known as Bill 2491) was enacted into law to protect Kaua‘i residents and the environment from exposure to pesticides applied to genetically engineered (GE) crops in the wake of repeated incidents of schoolchildren and other residents suffering symptoms of pesticide exposure, and inaction by State of Hawai‘i authorities, the Center for Food Safety claims. GE crops are grown on thousands of acres on the small island. The law requires the disclosure of pesticide and GE crops used on the island, and establishes buffer zones around sensitive locations like schools and hospitals.

The Kaua‘i County Council voted to enact the law in November 2013, overriding Kaua‘i Mayor Bernard Carvalho’s veto. In January 2014, Syngenta, Pioneer Hi-Bred International, Inc. (owned by DuPont), Agrigenetics, Inc. (owned by Dow Chemical), and BASF Plant Science LP, which collectively farm some 12,000 acres on the island, sued the County, claiming the law is not legally valid. Given the deep rifts in County government between the Mayor, the County Attorney, and the County Council over the law’s advisability—six weeks later, the County has yet to even retain counsel to defend itself.

The coalition of intervening groups is Center for Food Safety, Pesticide Action Network North America (PANNA), and Surfrider Foundation, and a citizen group of directly affected residents, Ka Makani Ho‘opono, “The Wind That Makes Right.”


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