September 23, 2023

Judge Strikes Down Hawaii Law Limiting GMO Crops

U.S. District Court Judge Barry M. Kurren has struck down the Kaua’i county law against genetically modified (GM) crops, saying it is preempted by Hawaiian state law. The order forbids county officials from implementing and enforcing Ordinance 960, which required more disclosure from huge biotech companies about pesticide use and GMO farming. The Ordinance also required buffer zones for pesticide spraying around schools, medical facilities, waterways, shorelines, and roadways and mandated County Environmental and Public Health Impact Studies.

Farm FieldThe plaintiffs in this case include Syngenta Seeds Inc. DuPont’s Pioneer Hi-Bred International, Dow Chemical’s Agrigenetics Inc., and BASF Plant Science LPs. The defendants include Kaua’i County, Center for Food Safety, Pesticide Action Network North America, Surfrider Foundation, and Ka Makani Ho’opono.

Kurren wrote, “This decision in no way diminishes the health and environmental concerns of the people of Kauai. The Court’s ruling simply recognizes that the State of Hawaii has established a comprehensive framework for addressing the application of restricted use pesticides and the planting of GMO crops, which presently precludes local regulation by the County.”

George Kimbrell from the Center for Food Safety said in a statement, “Center for Food Safety stands with the people of Kauai and we are extremely disappointed in this ruling. This is certainly not the end of this fight; we will continue to do everything we can. Until these companies act like good neighbors and take steps to honor and respect the community, there’s going to continue to be this ongoing battle.”

The huge biotech companies have many testing grounds for their GMO crops on Hawaii, since they can be grown year-round. Syngenta, DuPont, and Dow lease many acres of farmland on the islands for crop testing.

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