New GMO bill introduced in Hawaii county

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A new bill in Kauai County, Hawaii was introduced to allow the county to govern the use of pesticides and genetically modified organisms on the island. The Kauai County Council voted to move the bill forward and it will now be sent to a public hearing on July 31.

Bill 2491 calls for agricultural corporations—DuPont Pioneer, Syngenta, Dow AgroSciences, BASF and Kauai Coffee—to disclose the use of pesticides and the presence of GMO crops, according to The bill would also establish pesticide-free buffer zones around public areas and waterways, ban open-air testing of experimental crops and place a temporary moratorium on the commercial production of GMOs, until the county can conduct an environmental impact statement of the industry’s effects on Kauai.

Previously this year, the state legislature considered a bill that would require food produced with GMO ingredients be labeled, but the measure failed.

The controversial bill garnered a large turnout before the Kauai County Council meeting. It was reported that 1,000 attended the meeting and councilmen received more than 1,000 e-mails about the measure.

At the recent hearing, employees from four of the seed companies that would be impacted attended the meeting and several testified against the bill.

Chief complaints included that the bill would limit these company’s right to operate.

Cindy Goldstein, spokeswoman for DuPont Pioneer was reported as testifying that the 500-foot bugger zone would significantly reduce the amount of land Pioneer would be able to farm.

“This bill would create confusion and inconsistencies, where a few, but not all, farming operations would be expected to follow another set of rules and guidelines that conflict with requirements that are actually specified now on the labels of those products,” Goldstein was reported as saying.

“We could lose 90 percent of our lands,” Mark Phillipson of Syngenta, testified on behalf of the Hawaii Crop Improvement Association. “So it is restrictive. It is inhibiting business. It drives the business right out.”

People in favor of the bill claimed that the new bill was more of a “right-to-know” bill and that the public had a right to know what pesticides were being sprayed, when and where. Others complained about the experimental testing of pesticides and GMO crops, claiming they were harming people and the environment.

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Robert Wager    
Canada  |  July, 02, 2013 at 12:03 PM

If it were a right to know then why are organic pesticides not also called to be labeled. Yes organic ag uses pesticides just naturally derived one. if one looks at the Environmental Impact Quotient (EIQ) it becomes very clear how much worse some "organic pesticides" are for the environment compared to modern options.

July, 02, 2013 at 01:00 PM

Rober Wager is directly funded by Bio-tech and the large chemical companies. His financial future is at stake, which explains his prescence on a majority of internet sites which choose to discuss the negative impacts of GMOs. Completely Biased and is to be taken with a grain of salt. In the post above, Robert tries to decievingly conflate industrial organic food production as just as damaging as conventional food production. Industrial food production is chemical dependant and environmentally degrading, whether organic or conventional. Small Scale food production does not require pesticides as routine maintenance. Rober knows this, but chooses to be decietful in attempting to sway opinions.

July, 02, 2013 at 01:02 PM

P.S. - GO HAWAII! Unique and beautiful ecosystems are always worth more than the monitary value assigned to them by corporations looking to expand their profits and market share.

Robert Wager    
cANADA  |  July, 02, 2013 at 04:02 PM

A bold faced lie. I have never personally received a dime from the biotechnology industry. What I have seen is every time the debate swings in the favour of the science I present, presto out pops the same false accusation.

Kauai, Hawaii  |  July, 02, 2013 at 08:47 PM

I am a born and raised Kauai Resident, I live next to fields and don’t know why people are soo concerned on the companies who are highly regulated versus the rest. If we are so concerned about the "right-to-know" then we should have the "right-to-know" what everyone sprays all the way down to my neighbor who I HOPE read and followed the label. Agriculture is not the only industry that uses chemicals.... a great testimony on Bill 2491 and how poorly it is written you can find here:

July, 03, 2013 at 07:36 AM

Biofortified is a blog run by those whose financial career is based upon the sucess of Biotechnology and transgenic crops. Much like Robert here, they are heavily invested in swaying public opinion in their favor, because their financial future is at stake. They are now making a concerted effort to attempt to minimize the wave of awareness sweeping the globe with respect to transgenic food and the food supply in general. Downplaying the real concerns of consumers and residents is not going to work.

Kauai, Hawaii  |  July, 03, 2013 at 12:13 PM

JB - you do have the right to say whatever you want....but my family and myself LIVE here and the seed companies who do no harm sustain the Westside of our Island. To history, agriculture is the only successful and stable industry on Kauai...With Sugar, we have lived and breathed pesticides for years and now since the Ag scene changed to the seed industry - our community is much safer and I finally feel safe and secure with them in my backyard as they CARE. When Sugar left the island we lost a town called "mana" if the seed companies leave we may lose much more towns as there is no other development here on the Westside. We live here and WE SHALL decide what we want in our backyard... majority of the voices who are for Bill 2491 does not even live on the Westside of the island or even in Hawaii. This is our Kuleana not YOURS!!!

Robert Wager    
Canada  |  July, 03, 2013 at 12:20 PM

Once again JB is spreading false information about me. My financial future has zip to do with the biotech industry. i am an academic and plan to retire out of the institute I have been at for 18 years.

July, 03, 2013 at 01:00 PM

3.5 tons of restricted pesticides applied annually can be considered 'Do no harm'? I ask because chatting with your neighbors, not everyone agrees with that premise. I promise you TD, a loss of the Bio-tech industry will not result in a collapse of the island's economy. In fact, you could begin a new agricultural boom by growing organically produced foods, which will begin to (rightfully so) earn a premium price in a market dominated by cheap, nutritionally inferior industrial transgenics. Or you can continue siding with multi-national chemical companies, who are only on the island becuase the unique climate conditions and geographical isolation make for prime 'experimental' training grounds for new transgenics and their mandatory applications of Synthetic Petrochemicals. To date, the only proponents of this system I've seen have a financial stake in continuing the status quo.

Robert Wager    
Canada  |  July, 04, 2013 at 09:42 AM

JB please tell this forum what "stake" these organizations have in the technology. "Moreover, the AAAS Board said, the World Health Organization, the American Medical Association, the U.S. National Academy of Sciences, the British Royal Society, and “every other respected organization that has examined the evidence has come to the same conclusion: consuming foods containing ingredients derived from GM crops is no riskier than consuming the same foods containing ingredients from crop plants modified by conventional plant improvement techniques.”

Kauai, Hawaii  |  July, 08, 2013 at 01:35 PM

3.5 tons is another "scare tactic" that wouldn’t fool me....I know for a fact that GOLF COURSES uses way more Restricted Use Pesticides and I don't see the RICH who can only afford to live next to a course complaining that they are should stop scaring our neighbors!!! Remember this is our KULEANA not yours!!!

Kauai, HI  |  July, 08, 2013 at 08:05 PM

3.5 tons sounds like a lot, but spread over 15,000 acres is less than 1/2 a pound per acre per year. That is less than I use in my yard. It is so easy to use large number out of context as a scare tactic. How much pesticide is sold out of the retails stores like Home Depot, WalMart, etc.? Who regulates those uses?

kauai  |  July, 13, 2013 at 04:38 PM

Pesticides arent the only thing we should be worrying about with this gmos. Its the fact of what they are, what they create it for and what it does to your body. It is not natural. Forced bacteria in to the plants, changing the DNA makeup to produce pesticides within the plant itself. So guess who eats them when the seeds from here gets ordered and grown elsewhere used for our food supply. ........

Kauai  |  August, 01, 2013 at 12:35 AM

Regular pool salt kills weeds just as good as pesticides , this is what i use on my properties. Try it ! Support Bill 2491... we have the right too know what these companies are spraying.... And yes i live in ground zero, west Kauai. Malama Aina !

Kekaha Kauai  |  August, 02, 2013 at 11:37 AM

TD, same goes for your right to say what you want. I disagree about westside support of this bill. It is both both our kuleana to educate so why not widen the discussion as to why this issue has lit up Kauai? 60 kids at the Waimea Canyon middle school were taken ill a few years ago, along with many teachers. Pesticide spraying is done daily right next to the school. No buffer zone. There is a class action suite against Pioneer by Waimea residents over harmful spraying. Depositions are discovering illegal application practices. "Bubble gum" masking scents are being added to sprays (deposition admission from Pioneer) to mask actual spraying ingredients (my, and only logical conclusion.) Coral and urchin disease and die offs are occurring. So yes, many LOCAL people are being hurt, and are rightfully concerned. Cancer, skin and lung diseases are elevated in our communities. The buffer zones, EIS, and right to know are logical steps to understanding the potential harm from these significant quantities of poison applications, and necessary to prevent further harm to people, animals, the land, and the ocean. The health of our communities should not be put at risk by a small percentage of employees and associated businesses - no matter how convinced they may be to the contrary. Safety and information - that is what this bill is about. The mantra of jobs jobs jobs going away if passed is just not true. There will be even MORE jobs with inspections and compliance when this is implemented, and everyone, including BigAg employees, will be safer because of it. The actual costs for compliance is insignificant to the revenue these companies take in. This is the cost of doing business on Kauai. Mahalo for reading and being open minded.

Kekaha Kauai  |  August, 02, 2013 at 03:08 PM

Aloha Robert Wagner, It may be true that you have never been under direct payroll of any of the large ag/chemical companies, as you have spent much of your career at university. Would you care to illuminate those of us you write about and to just what % of the funding the colleges and universities you are associated with have gotten during the past 20 years from industrialized ag and chemical companies? A total dollar amount would be appreciated as well. Rough guesstimates are fine. Would it be fair to say that w/o such funding, support for your position as an academic would be much different, if available at all? And, as an academic, would you care to comment on peer reviewed papers (Failure to Yield Gurian)discussing how yields are not better with GMO+chemical ag techniques? You see, my take on the GMO thing is that its a way to sell more chemicals - all that altruistic stuff about feeding the world just doesn't ring true. Yields are not significantly better, and total costs are improved only be decreasing labor costs. Seed, fertilizer, and pesticide costs are actually more, not less. And there are material amounts of GMO related health issues being documented by a wide spectrum of health officials. Time will tell - the last 15 years of ag/chem business vetted data are not enough. Yes, its well documented that the peer review process has been severely hampered by the legal restrictions these companies have wrangled via their 'intellectual property' claims, and from attacks from like minded zealots (do you consider yourself to be one?) who claim only their research is 'fact'. I am curious about your responses to my assertions. One fact I hope we can all agree upon, knowledge and transparency are always good.

westside, Kauai  |  September, 13, 2013 at 05:15 PM

TD- You are right!!! I am also against this bill because i feel that Pioneer is doing no harm what so ever.... I was born and raised where my back yard was next to cane field an as I was growing up we watched helicopters fly by and spray over the cane fields. 20yrs later im still healthy nothing went wrong with me, Im currently working for a corn company and this is where i learned to use chemicals the right/safe way. i thank these companies for educating us.......I just want to let the people know that "LIFE IS A GAMBLE!!!" Most of u anti are not from hawaii and you guys seem to be affected the most. stop being so drama and if your not happy here you can go back where u came from. Im pretty sure u were damaging our ozone layer when u flew brillant..buahahahaha!

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