As expected, targeted companies on Kauai have filed a lawsuit in Hawaii to block a recently enacted law on the island of Kauai to limit planting of biotech crops and the use of pesticides.

As I wrote last September, Kauai County Ordinance 960 demands the local regulation of genetically engineered organisms (GMOs) and pesticides even though these products are already heavily regulated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, as well as the Hawaii Department of Agriculture.

The suit claims the action in Kauai is unconstitutional and seeks an injunction permanently barring enforcement of provisions of the law.


For more from Richard Cornett, see What happens if US loses California food production?


“The ordinance is invalid,” Paul Minehart, spokesman for Syngenta, said in subsequent press interviews. “It arbitrarily targets our industry with burdensome and baseless restrictions on farming operations by attempting to regulate activities over which counties in Hawaii have no jurisdiction. These activities are already regulated by governmental agencies under state and federal laws.”

The lawsuit was firmly defended by the Western Plant Health Association (WPHA), a trade group in Sacramento whose members will be directly impacted by the new ordinance when it is implemented in August.

“WPHA supports the decision of its members on Kauai to challenge the legality of Ordinance 960,” said CEO/President Renee Pinel.  “We believe the ordinance is discriminatory, establishing arbitrary standards that are without scientific or legal justification.  The ordinance targets selected farms and their use of crop protection products that are legally registered with both the state and federal government.”

The Kauai law requires large agricultural companies to disclose pesticide use and GMO crop plantings while establishing buffer zones around schools, homes and hospitals.

The use of pesticides and the research and growing of GMO test crops in Kauai has sparked considerable consternation among activists on the island who believe their health and environment is being damaged in the process.  Even though GMOs have been deemed safe by the world’s largest scientific and medical establishments, unfounded fear spread mainly by activists and special interest groups pursuing their own private agendas, has blanketed some of the islands.

A similar measure has been introduced on the island of Maui.  And in December, Hawaii Island (a.k.a. the Big Island) Mayor Billy Kenoi signed into law a measure that prohibits farmers from growing any new genetically modified crops on that island. (The Hawaiian island chain allows for valuable research on biotech crops due to a favorable year-round climate.)