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 TheGardenIsland.com. 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.