Kauai Rejects Being GMO Testing Ground … Again!

We’ve got good news to share out of Kauai, Hawaii, where the county council has voted again to reign in uncontrolled planting of genetically modified crops (GMOs).

Last week, the Kauai County Council overrode the mayor’s veto of their ground-breaking law, which they passed 6-1 in mid-October. Stating that he agrees with the intent of the bill, the mayor says he vetoed it because it deserves more studies. The council overrode his veto, 5-2.

"Kauai residents are exposed to pesticides at every turn – their homes, their schools, their gardens, their hospitals," says Paul Achitoff, an attorney with Earthjustice told Reuters. "It’s outrageous the mayor has chosen to disregard their health and instead pander to industry."

Here’s the Background

GMO companies have been using Kauai as a testing ground for experimental GMO crops, planting and spraying some 15,000 acres. Kauai’s balmy climate allows them to test these unproven crops year-round.

Kauai’s Council initial bill was very strong: it outlawed open-air testing of experimental pesticides and GMO crops; required companies to get permits for testing crops; and placed a moratorium on further expansion of test fields. 

The final bill is quite diluted, but still protects the public in important ways:

  • Corporations must disclose the fact that they are planting GMO crops and testing pesticides, as well as the specific kinds of crops being tested;
  • Corporations must disclose which pesticides/ herbicides are used, where they are being used and in what quantities;
  • It establishes 500-foot buffer zones around schools, hospitals, homes and other areas;
  • It directs the county to conduct research on the impacts of these plantings and pesticides on peoples’ health and the environment. 

Fines are up to $25000 per day or up to one year in jail.

After fighting hard to prevent passage of the law (and succeeding in diluting it), Monsanto, DuPont, Syngenta, BASF, and Dow AgroSciences are threatening lawsuits to repeal it. 

"We believe it to be bad policy – and the kind of regulation that should remain at the state and federal level, where policy makers and agencies are already empowered with oversight of our industry. We believe the bill is not legally defensible and we continue to evaluate all of our business and legal options," DuPont spokesperson Josh St. Peters told Reuters.

"This victory is an amazing credit to the people of Kauai who stood up to massive pressure from the GMO companies and won their right to know about pesticides and GMOs in their community," Charles Margulis from California-based Center for Environmental Health told Reuters.

"It’s remarkable how hard we’ve had to fight simply for our right to know what pesticides are being sprayed in massive amounts right next to homes and schools," says Fern Rosenstiel of GMO Free Kaua’i. "We’ve met every possible obstacle, but we’ve been persistent and stayed grounded in our values of protecting our people and land."

Health Impacts of GMO Pesticides

New research concludes that glyphosate – the active ingredient in Roundup could be "the most biologically disruptive chemical in our environment" – responsible for a litany of health disorders and diseases: heart disease, obesity, Parkinson’s, Multiple Sclerosis, cancer and autism.

This "most popular herbicide on the planet," is sprayed heavily on Roundup-ready corn and soy crops, as well as on lawns across the US to control weeds. Most people have been convinced by marketing that it is safe and quickly dissipates in the soil, but that is not the case.


Scientists at MIT find that glyphosate "enhances the damaging effects of other food borne chemical residues and environmental toxins." It is a "textbook example," they say, of "the disruption of homeostasis by environmental toxins."

Health issues manifest over time as inflammation damages cellular systems throughout the body, the researchers say. And far from quickly degrading in the soil, glyphosate is likely to be pervasive in our food supply.

Glyphosate kills weeds by turning off key enzymes that produce defense mechanisms for plants. It essentially targets and destroys their immune systems by chelating, stripping, micronutrients like magnesium, copper and zinc from the plant. As a result, there are fewer of these key micronutrients in the plants and in our food supply.

Several months ago, Monsanto convinced the EPA to raise the residue limits of glyphosate in the soil where food crops are grown (for people and animals) … because it is so safe.

In Canada, acceptable levels are 58 times lower than in the US, and Europe sets even more stringent standards.

The "Monsanto Protection Act" was deleted from the budget, but beware of the Farm Bill, where it plans to insert language that prohibits states from requiring labels on food that contains GMOs. So far, it’s been called the King Amendment.

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