Aug 25 A group of global biotech crop companies
won a court victory on Monday that blocks enactment of a law
passed last year limiting the planting of biotech crops and use
of pesticides on the Hawaiian island of Kauai.
U.S. Magistrate Judge Barry Kurren of the U.S. District
Court in Hawaii ruled that the law passed in November by local
leaders on the island was invalid because it was pre-empted by
Hawaii state law.
The Kauai law required large agricultural companies to
disclose pesticide use and genetically modified (GMO) crop
plantings while establishing buffer zones around schools, homes
and hospitals to protect people from exposure to pesticides used
on the crops.
The measure had broad support on the island and the U.S.
mainland from organizations and individuals who say heavy
pesticide use by the agrochemical companies is poisoning people
and the environment.
But in his ruling, Judge Kurren said county leaders on Kauai
could not attempt local regulation, agreeing with arguments made
by DuPont, Syngenta, Agrigenetics Inc, a
company affiliated with the Dow AgroSciences unit of Dow
Chemical Co, and BASF.
"This decision in no way diminishes the health and
environmental concerns of the people of Kauai," the judge wrote
in his ruling. "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."
The law was to take effect Aug. 16, but enactment was
delayed pending a court decision after the seed and chemical
companies filed suit in January. It is one of a growing number
of local and state efforts across the United States to limit the
expansion of GMO crops and the chemicals used on them.
Gary Hooser, the Kauai County councilman who introduced the
law, said he and others would appeal Monday's ruling. There was
no immediate comment from Syngenta, Dow, DuPont or BASF.
"This issue is far from over. Just another round," said
Hooser. "One ruling by one federal magistrate does not resolve
The Hawaiian islands are a popular testing ground for
biotech crops for many companies because of their favorable
year-round climate. Syngenta, DuPont and Agrigenetics lease
thousands of acres on the island for GMO crop testing and other
work on genetically altered corn, soybeans, canola and rice.
The companies assert that biotech crops are essential to
boost global food production and improve environmental
sustainability. And they say the crops and the pesticides used
on them are safe and already well regulated by state and federal
But critics say the crops and chemicals used on them are
harmful to people, animals and the environment.
(Reporting by Carey Gillam in Kansas City; Editing by Tom