Aloha GMO Free Kaua'i Ohana,
Yes we did it! We the people of Kaua'i stood up to 4 of the worlds largest chemical companies doing GMO seed experiments on our island, and passed bill 2491 yesterday! The final vote was 5-2, with Gary Hooser, Tim Bynum, JoAnn Yukimura, Jay Furfaro, and Mason Chock voting for the veto override, while Mel Rapozo and Ross Kagawa voted against it. The bill is now law, and will take effect in 9 months. We can expect a lawsuit filed by the chemical companies soon.
This was a huge historic victory for our movement on Kaua'i, and is the first law in Hawai'i state history curtailing the use of chemicals in any way, in order to protect the health and well being of the people. We should be very proud for what we have accomplished together, this was truly a people's movement, and would not have happened without the strong consistent support from everyone in our Ohana. Hopefully this will inspire other communities across Hawai'i, the USA, and the world to stand up for their rights to protect the health and well being of their people and the environment in which they live.
So thank you to everyone who has been involved. I am truly humbled by all the outpouring of support from our community, and how hard so many of us worked to make this happen. We are uniting the island across racial, cultural, and class divides, and that is a great direction we are headed, uniting the people in common cause for our shared health and well being. This is also historic, in my humble opinion.
Of course we also want to thank Gary Hooser for introducing the bill, Tim Bynum for co-introducing it, and Jay Furfaro and JoAnn Yukimura for sheparding it through the political process. Also many thanks to the councils newest member Mason Chock, who cast the deciding vote on the override on his first day in office. In his time to explain his vote, he spoke very eloquently about the need to protect the health of children, and coming from his heart. It was really a great talk, he brought many to tears in the room, and we look forward to seeing what he does next on the county council as he finishes the rest of his one year term.
Here are some links to first stories on the bill, and below I append the full press release from the pass the bill coalition, which is very well written and worth reading.
Today, our island won! More news coming soon.
Bill 2491 Passes into Law
Bill Marks a "Turning Point" in Dealing with the Impacts of the Chemical Industry on Kauai
On November 16, Kauai County Council voted to override a Mayoral veto of Bill 2491.
The bill, which is now law, mandates pesticide disclosure by the agrochemical companies on Kauai, and establishes moderate buffer-zones between their operations and schools, hospitals and residential areas. It also requires a health and environmental impact study.
The rulemaking process will begin immediately, with strong commitment from the Council and community to work collaboratively with the administration in order to ensure that enforcement and implementation are effective. The Mayor is also being encouraged to continue his efforts with the State towards voluntary disclosure in the immediate term, until more comprehensive and mandatory disclosure takes effect.
The final passage of Bill 2491 into law is being called a victory for people, health and the environment in the face of incredible pressure from the world's largest chemical corporations.
The chemical companies have fought strongly against Bill 2491, threatening to sue Kauai, and using divisive and misleading tactics.
As bill supporter Fern Rosenstiel commented: "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. We've met every possible obstacle, but we've been persistent and stayed grounded in our values of protecting our people and land."
Dustin Barca, pro-surfer and pro-fighter who has been working to raise awareness about the chemical industry in Hawaii, stated: "Through conscious actions and dedication from the people of Kauai, Bill 2491 has moved us towards a healthier future. We have asserted our right to self-determination, especially when it comes to health and life."
Randi-Li Dickinson, whose family is being impacted by the chemical companies' pesticide use, expressed encouragement and gratitude for the progress made: "Now we will be able to get the information we need to move forward. This is the first step to understanding the impacts of these dangerous pesticides on the health and safety of our keiki and the land."
Despite differences in opinion, all Council Members and the Mayor reiterated their commitment to taking action to address concerns around the chemical industry.
While the bill itself has been controversial on Kauai, the island's people have continued to express a marked amount of unity in the values of prioritizing protection of health and environment. There has also been a strong desire and steady call to maintain the aloha spirit, and to insure that differences in opinion do not create divisiveness.
As Council Chair Jay Furfaro commented prior to the override vote, about a yellow police barricade tape that had been placed across the council lawn to divide bill supporters from opponents: "... I went down ... with the police and I removed the tape and the divider that was downstairs.[applause] That is something that Kauai is known for."
West side resident Kaulana Poe testified at the final vote, "Aloha and respect are why I am for this bill... People have gotten sick, and we would like to make sure that it's not because of them [the companies]. And that is just real simple. [It's about] showing aloha and respect for us."