Kauai’s GMO bill progresses toward enactment

In preparation for Ordinance 960's August effective date, Kauai county officials are posting draft rules for public comment.

Will Caron

From The Garden Island newspaper:

On Kauai, genetically modified varieties of corn and hybrids are carefully monitored to chart their characteristics and growth.

Draft administrative rules pertaining to a new law regulating pesticide use and the growth of genetically modified organisms by large-scale commercial agricultural operations on Kauai are posted on the county’s website for review and public comment.

Draft rules for Ordinance 960 (formerly Bill 2491) must be approved by the state Small Business Regulatory Review Board. The board is slated to consider the matter at its June meeting, according to a Kauai County news release. If approved, a public hearing will be held about 30 days later.

The county requests that public comments about the draft rules be submitted no later than May 12. Comments may be emailed to Deputy County Attorney Mona Clark at [email protected].

Set to take effect on Aug. 16, the new county law requires some agricultural operations to disclose the type of pesticides they spray on their fields and to establish buffer zones near dwellings, schools, medical facilities, parks, public roadways, shorelines and waterways.

The ordinance directly affects seed companies Syngenta, DuPont Pioneer, BASF and Dow AgroSciences. They have filed a lawsuit at U.S. District Court against the county, contending that the new law is flawed and invalid.

Four organizations — Ka Makani Ho‘opono, Center for Food Safety, Pesticide Action Network North America and Surfrider Foundation — have joined the lawsuit on behalf of residents who say they are directly affected by pesticides sprayed in fields on the west side of the island. The organizations are being represented by the Center for Food Safety and Earthjustice.

The proposed administrative rules for the ordinance are available at www.kauai.gov. Print copies are available at the county Office of Economic Development in Lihue at 4444 Rice St., Suite 200