Councilwoman pushes for environmental, public health study of struck-down Kauai GMO law


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LIHUE, Hawaii — A Kauai County councilwoman wants to move forward with a study of an ordinance that would restrict the use of pesticides and genetically modified crops, even though a federal judge recently struck down the law.

Last month's ruling prevents the county from enacting the ordinance. But Councilwoman JoAnn Yukimura said the county should press forward with an environmental and public health study anyway.

"Implementing a consensus-building process based on sound, objective research, Kauai County could still lead the way on this issue of great community concern," she said in a statement.

County spokeswoman Beth Tokioka said the administration's understanding of the ruling is that it prevents the county from moving forward with any aspect of the ordinance, including the study and a fact-finding group that would guide the study.

No money has been spent on the study or the group, she said, adding that Mayor Bernard Carvalho Jr. is looking at ways the study could be accomplished that "would be legal in the eyes of the court."

Magistrate Judge Barry Kurren ruled the county's ordinance is pre-empted by state law and is invalid.

The ruling stems from a lawsuit by four biotech seed companies seeking to block the ordinance from going into effect. The ordinance would have required large agricultural companies to disclose pesticide use and GMO crops. It would have also established buffer zones around sensitive areas such as schools and hospitals.

County council is expected to be briefed in executive session Wednesday to determine whether to appeal Kurren's decision, the Garden Island reported ( ).

Information from: The Garden Island,

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