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Courtesy Michael Miranda / flickr

State develops new pesticide regulations for Kauaʻi; compliance voluntary, for now

Until Kauaʻi council's Bill 2491 is passed or state legislation is passed, Governor Abercrombie has called on farmers and seed companies on the Garden Isle to voluntarily comply with new pesticide regulations developed by the state.

Will Caron

After the September 8 march on Kauaʻi in which thousands of residents turned up in support of a Kauaʻi County bill (Bill 2491) that would regulate GMO production and pesticide use from the large seed corporations on Kauaʻi, Governor Abercrombie announced today that the state would put forth “standards and guidelines for seed/diversified agriculture companies to voluntarily comply with certain health and safety requests of the community.” The guidelines will include disclosure of aggregated usage of restricted use pesticides and implementation of a setback from schools and hospitals.

“Kauaʻi legislators and members of my administration have been discussing current issues regarding agriculture on the island of Kauaʻi, including residents being informed about activities in their immediate area,” said Abercrombie. “We collaborated with the Kauaʻi [Legislative] Delegation and farmers about taking steps to address the concerns of the community, including providing disclosure of use of pesticides and creating buffer zones around schools and hospitals. Farmers will comply on a voluntary basis with temporary standards until such time as department heads and stakeholders can develop necessary rules or legislation for next session.”

The Kauaʻi bill, if passed, might work as a more solid stand-in until state legislation is passed (read: if it’s passed). Here’s an excerpt from the bill, which was introduced by Gary Hooser and Tim Bynum, explaining it’s purpose:

The purpose of this Article is to establish provisions to inform the public, and protect the public from any direct, indirect, or cumulative negative impacts on the health and the natural environment of the people and place of the County of Kaua‘i, by governing the use of pesticides and genetically modified organisms, and the penalties associated with any violation of this Article, or the laws, rules, or any other requirement that may be authorized by this Article.

These voluntary regulations may lack the same muscle, but at least the governor and the state legislators that represent this community are acknowledging that a sizable portion of Kauaʻi’s community has serious concerns about pesticide use on their island.

Calling on the companies to voluntarily comply with regulations might actually make for a good opportunity to see which companies and farmers have the mindset and ability to work together with the Kauaʻi community in the future and which ought to simply leave.