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Pacific Northwest
Hawai'i CFS

Center for Food Safety Vows to Defend Kaua'i Law Protecting Residents from Pesticide Exposure

November 14, 2013
Center for Food Safety

Today the Kaua’i County Council postponed a vote to overturn a mayoral veto of a law to protect the public from pesticide exposure. The Council is expected to vote on the veto override on Saturday after appointing a new council member tomorrow. Testifying before the Council, Center for Food Safety vowed to defend the law in court if necessary.

The Council is considering overturning a mayoral veto on Bill 2491, which requires an assessment of the risks stemming from the use of pesticides and the cultivation of genetically engineered (GE) crops. The Mayor had vetoed Bill 2491, citing erroneous arguments from the industry that the legislation was not legally valid.

“The people of Kaua’i have demanded that their elected representatives serve the people, not chemical corporations. We are disappointed that the Council didn’t act immediately to protect the people and hope they will reach a different outcome this Saturday. We remain committed to defending this bill and the people of Kaua’i,” said Sylvia Wu, staff attorney with Center for Food Safety who testified before the County Council.

Bill 2491 requires the largest biotech companies to report and publicly disclose the pesticides and GE crops used on the island.  Through the imposition of buffer zone where no crops may be grown, the bill prevents all pesticide use near schools, medical facilities, parks, and waterways that flow into the ocean, and calls for the County to prepare a detailed analysis of the numerous environmental and health impacts of pesticides and GE crops. 

When County Mayor Bernard Carvalho vetoed the legislation, he released a confidential legal memo that suggested that the bill would not be upheld because it was preempted by state and possibly federal law. In prepared testimony, Attorney Sylvia Wu testified to the County Council that the legislation was in fact legally valid because nothing in the federal pesticide laws or the Hawai’i Pesticide Laws expressly or implicitly preempts the Kaua’i County's authority to enact local laws for the health and safety of its people.

Center for Food Safety vowed to defend the law in court on behalf of local residents and groups if necessary.

Center for Food Safety has led the battle to curtail the dangers resulting from GE crops and pesticides since 1997.  CFS vigorously supported Kaua’i’s landmark legislation, utilizing its legal and scientific expertise through public meetings, testimony, and written comments.


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