Saturday, October 12, 2013


See you on Tuesday 10-15-13, for the vote of Bill 2491 at the Council Chambers beginning at 9am. Please bring your aloha. Mahalo to all the GMO Free Kaua`i ohana!


LIHUE -  A diverse cross-section of the Kaua’i community is preparing to convince the Kaua’i County Council to vote on Tuesday, October 15, 2013 on Bill 2491, the “Right to Know” bill. 

Increased efforts and island-wide community actions will be launched by citizen groups in response to remarks made on Tuesday, October 8, by Mayor Bernard Carvalho.  In his remarks, the Mayor showed lack of knowledge of basic tenets of Bill 2491.  He asked the Council to defer a vote on the Bill, to give him more time to learn about the bill and work with the state Department of Agriculture for solutions.

Kaua’i families greeted the Mayor’s request with outrage and skepticism, pointing to previous testimonies by the state Department of Agriculture and other state employees that described the agency’s inability to enforce existing state pesticide regulations.  “Our Council is considering Bill 2491 on Kaua’i precisely because the state has failed us time and time again on the issue of pesticides,” said Bryce Boeder from west Kaua'i.  A recent article in Hawaii’sCivil Beat reported: 

The state Department of Agriculture has only one employee assigned to review pesticide inspection reports and follow up on possible violations. And she says she hasn't gotten around to reviewing most reports in several years so there's been little if any action against pesticide misuse.  Since 2009, the department has suffered budget cuts that have stretched its pesticide oversight to the limit, its director says. 
. . . 
[T]he environmental health specialist in the agriculture department's pesticides branch . . . told Civil Beat last week she's been able to review only a handful of reports in the past few years.  She finished just seven of 72 investigations into possible violations on Kauai alone for 2011 and 2012.

The Mayor's reliance on enhanced state action grew even more implausible following Lieutenant Governor Shan Tsutsui's announcement on Friday of a hiring freeze on state departments.

Any Council Deferral “will be seen as ‘back-pedaling.’” 

Many Council Members themselves have pointed to the State’s failure to protect Kauai residents in prior Council meetings re: Bill 2491.  After the Committee meeting on September 8, 2013, Civil Beat reported:

The state of Hawaii has effectively foresaken its responsibility to ensure that biotech companies are not risking public and environmental health, several members of the Kauai County Council said Monday, so it was up to the county to pick up the slack.

Basically, the state has done a bad job of enforcing landmark federal environmental laws, according to the councilmembers who spoke at a hearing on a bill before the council’s Economic Development and Intergovernmental Relations Committee that would increase regulation of genetically altered crops and pesticides.

This has many Kaua’i residents asking, “Why are we now talking AGAIN about the state stepping in to save us?”  Some believe it is another stall tactic encouraged by the lobbying organization Hawaii Crop Improvement Association (HCIA), whose members are the biotech companies which would be regulated under the Bill.  

Elijah Frank, a local firefighter, for example, stated, “It’s important that the public knows about the attempts by the Hawaii Crop Improvement Association, and supported by the Department of Agriculture, to take away the rights of counties to protect the health and safety of their people.  Senate Bill 727, introduced last session, would have done just that. If passed, that law would have eliminated county authority to pass an ordinance like 2491. It was only stopped because the public caught on after it had already passed out of several committees.”

Frank, and the Kaua’i based group Ohana O’Kauai, has been working on raising public awareness about Bill 2491 and was instrumental in defeating SB727.  But they expect the fight to continue. “The overall agenda by the HCIA is to influence state decision-making, and cut out local government.  And both the Department of Agriculture and the its Director, Russell Kokubun, have consistently supported HCIA and this type of legislation."

Frank believes it is highly questionable for the Council to set back the discussion to where it was months ago.  "The Council has already had in-depth correspondence with the departments of ag and health, and it was clear that these state agencies are not going to help Kauai's residents in any immediate or meaningful way."

West Kauai Residents Outraged.

Other public response to a deferral has been strong and negative, especially from the people who would most benefit from the Bill’s provisions for disclosure and buffer zones.

Klayton Kubo, a long time Waimea resident who has been calling attention to the effects of pesticide and dust pollution on his neighborhood since at least 2000, stated “It’s like coming full circle around.  After getting no help from the state, we finally thought the County would step up. Now, they are pointing to the state again?  For me, the question is, ‘WHO IS GOING TO PROTECT US?’  This is about my family, my neighbors, my neighbors’ kids, and all of Kaua’i.  Our elected officials should really think hard about this. Come the election next year, the people are going to remember.”

Nate Dickinson of Waimea said, "My neighbors and I have been living with this for years. After being ignored by the seed companies, we are so close to finally getting some protections from our County government.  And now the Mayor and Council wants more time?  We need action NOW. This is urgent for those of us whose families live with the pesticide and dust drift every day."

Before the Mayor’s presentation, Hanapepe resident Lorna Cummings Poe testified to the Council that:

The health of many in our community is being compromised by pesticide spraying on thousands of acres on our tiny island. . . We cannot continue to ignore the fact these pesticides have harmed our reefs, salt beds and sealife that sustain our people. The protection, safety and health of people you are elected to serve is being compromised. 2491 has been watered down to favor the seed companies and not the health and welfare of Kaua’i’s people. . . . Most of your so-called red shirts from the west side respect the close relationships we share with those who work for seed companies. They are our friends and family, too. There are hundreds of west siders that are supporters of 2491.



March Against Monsanto Kicks Off Second Round Worldwide

- Jacob Chamberlain, staff writer

March against Monsanto in Denver, Colorado, October 12, 2013 (Photo via Twitter /astro yogini \o/ @NautilusCarly) Mass demonstrations against the biotech industry kicked off worldwide Saturday in the second  
"March Against Monsanto" in 6 months.

Marches are scheduled in 52 countries and over 500 cities to call for a boycott of genetically modified organisms (GMOs), harmful agro-chemicals, and a return to food sovereignty for small scale and independent food producers and consumers.

Photos, live-streams and tweets are pouring in across the social media sphere from rallies across the world.
The first "March Against Monsanto" took place last May and drew up to two million people.
See below for live twitter updates as they happen throughout the day.

Food justice expert and activist Vandana Shiva, who is marching with protesters today in London in correlation with her "Food Freedom Fornight" series of food justice actions, published a video message for March Against Monsanto marchers:
March Against Monsanto outside Parliament in London, October 12, 2013 (Photo via Twitter / astro yogini \o/ @NautilusCarly)


Friday, October 11, 2013


Bread without GMOs is shown. | AP PhotoThe battle lines on food labeling

Washington state voters look ready to deliver the country’s first mandatory GMO labeling law with no strings attached early next month.
But the food and biotechnology industries are far from giving up in their battle against labeling requirements for food containing genetically modified organisms and, in fact, have several more arrows in their quill — including a bill to preempt all state laws.

The call for a law that requires foods to be labeled when they contain genetically engineered ingredients has been growing louder in recent years as the public has been subjected to a handful of controversial studies and worrisome reports about how bad health might be associated with the consumption of GMOs and the repeated message that the food industry has something to hide. Twenty-six states considered GMO labeling legislation last year, and many of those that didn’t pass laws are expected to revive the issue in 2014.
(Also on POLITICO: Why the agriculture industry hates Chipotle)
When one state requires GMO labeling, many believe the industry will stop resisting and concede to a federal mandatory standard rather than deal with potentially different standards for each state.
Washington looks to be the state that will set this in motion. Nearly two-thirds of Washingtonians are prepared to vote for ballot initiative 522 and make the Evergreen State the first in the nation to require GMO labeling, according to a poll released Sept. 10. Votes are being accepted from Oct. 18 to Nov. 5 on the initiative, which would require labeling by July 1, 2015, on all food sold in the state that contains genetically engineered components with exceptions for such things as animal feed, alcohol and cheese.
“This is really a matter of when, not if,” said Scott Faber, a former lobbyist for the food industry who now leads one of the largest GMO labeling advocacy groups, Just Label It, as executive director. “It’s part of a larger trend, which is that consumers want to know more about their food than ever before.”
(Also on POLITICO: Government shutdown spawns vacuum in farm market information)
But the food and biotech industries aren’t ready to give up the fight just yet. In fact, they appear to be ready for a long, drawn-out series of battles in which they have several strategies at their disposal:
Plan A: Campaign like crazy to win in Washington state
The GMO labeling vote in Washington isn’t decided yet. Note that polls in California showed a slightly larger number of voters in favor of Proposition 37, that state’s 2012 GMO labeling ballot initiative, in early October 2012 — less than a month before a $46 million marketing campaign helped defeat the measure with a 3-percentage-point voting margin.
Just like in California, the opponents to I-522 are lining up late in the game in Washington with campaign donations. As of the latest disclosure reports filed with the state Sept. 30, the opposition campaign had raised almost $17.2 million — roughly four times the size of the labeling advocates’ war chest. As they did in California, the labeling opponents are running multiple advertisements on YouTube and television stations that attack the way the law is written. They note, for example, that it would require labels for pet food while exempting beer and meat sold for human consumption.
(Also on POLITICO: Government shutdown stresses food inspections)
The cost borne by hard-working Washington farmers will be passed on to consumers, they say. In a Sept. 16 study prepared for the No on I-522 campaign, Northbridge Environmental Management Consultants found, if passed, the law would increase food expenditures for a family of four by at least $360 per year. A study by consumer groups, released Oct. 7, suggests instead that the added cost would only amount to $2.20 per year per person.
Also like in California, multiple newspaper editors have taken stands against the labeling initiative.
“All in all, the initiative holds the potential to create more problems than it solves — for farmers, manufacturers, retailers and consumers,” the editorial board of the Yakima Herald says in a column published Sept. 29. “Food makers and retailers already can use labels to inform consumers if they offer foods free of GMO; if advocates wish to further their cause, they can do so in a market-driven manner, by building demand through publicizing what they offer.”
(Also on POLITICO: Farm Bill advances in House)
Similar editorials and columns have been published in the The Wenatchee World, Tri-City Herald, The Spokesman-Review and .
Plan B: File a lawsuit
It’s long been speculated that the food and biotech industries stand ready to file a suit against any state that passes a mandatory GMO labeling law, arguing both the violation of First Amendment rights and federal pre-emption.
For a seminar held a year ago in relation to California’s GMO labeling initiative, attorney Sarah Roller, a partner at Kelley Drye & Warren, spelled out the arguments that could be made. She suggested the industry would most likely cite a 1996 decision by the 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals in the case International Dairy Foods Association v. Amestoy. In that case, the appeals court overturned a Vermont law that required dairy farmers to disclose the use of recombinant bovine somatotropin for milk products. The court found in that case that labels would be “the functional equivalent of a warning” and require dairy farmers to “speak against their will” on a matter that doesn’t involve “a reasonable concern for human health.”
It’s the fear of an expensive legal battle that has helped to keep some states from passing GMO labeling legislation and pushed both Connecticut and Maine to pass labeling laws in such a way that they don’t go into effect unless similar laws are passed by a certain number of other states representing a combined population of 20 million. Maine’s governor has yet to sign the state law.
Washington’s Initiative 522 has no such provisions.
When one state requires GMO labeling, many believe the industry will stop resisting. 

Plan C: Lobby for a federal law
The food and biotech industries apparently aren’t waiting for the vote in Washington to start working on this.

On Sept. 17, pro-labeling group Food Democracy Now sent an alert to its supporters warning that House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Fred Upton (R-Mich.), after being lobbied by the food industry, “is working behind the scenes to introduce a bill that would kill state GMO labeling efforts by pre-empting it with a bill that would place GMO labeling under federal authority, circumventing successful citizen-led efforts in Maine and Connecticut and trying to invalidate the ballot initiative in Washington state before it even passes.”
A committee spokeswoman declines to confirm the advocacy group’s report but said, “Committee staff are hearing from a lot of different stakeholders on the issue. … We intend to do our due diligence and hear from all sides before determining a legislative future.”
The bill most likely would vest authority to regulate GMO labeling entirely with the Food and Drug Administration. The agency has long held that it lacks the authority to regulate genetically engineered foods. The industry is simultaneously encouraging FDA to finalize a 12-year-old draft guidance that would set voluntary standards.

“We support the FDA policy, and the FDA policy has held to a risk-based scientific approach on labeling,” said Cathleen Enright, executive vice president of food and agriculture for the Biotechnology Industry Organization. “In the U.S., for the most part, decisions for a mandatory label are reserved to communicate to consumers a safety issue.”

The Grocery Manufacturers Association, the food industry’s most influential group, wouldn’t confirm that it has been talking specifically to Upton, but it acknowledged a lobbying effort is taking place.
“A 50-state patchwork of laws governing the use of this important and safe technology would confuse consumers, raise food prices and do nothing to ensure product safety,” GMA said in an emailed statement. “We have been in communication with members of Congress because we believe this is an issue best addressed at the federal level. We will continue to explore a federal solution that protects consumers and ensures that decisions about the use of genetically modified food ingredients are based on sound science, not fear and misunderstanding.”
The Empire State waits in the wings
Meanwhile, advocates for mandatory GMO labeling have their own reasons to be confident.
For starters, Just Label It’s Faber thinks a GMO labeling law will be passed in Washington state. Many of the crops grown in the state are exported to Pacific Rim countries that already have restrictions on GMOs, he notes. Also, Washingtonians are leery that a proposed strain of GMO salmon — the approval for which has long been pending at the FDA — that could threaten the state’s fisheries.
A win for food labeling advocates in Washington could translate into momentum for efforts to gain requirements in other states, Faber adds.
Waiting in the wings most immediately behind Washington is New York, where state Assemblywoman Linda Rosenthal introduced A3525A last summer just before the chamber went on its six-month break. New York has considered GMO labeling laws every year since 2001, but Rosenthal’s bill has gone the furthest, coming just one vote short of getting passed by a committee. It now has 46 bipartisan co-sponsors in the 150-member chamber. A parallel bill reportedly has eight bipartisan co-sponsors in the 63-member state Senate.
A GMO labeling law in New York gives Connecticut the number of votes it needs to activate its GMO law.
“People are more and more concerned about what they put in their bodies” said Rosenthal, whose district includes the Upper West Side of Manhattan. “The food industry says, ‘Oh, go buy organic.’ But organic is expensive; it’s not a good option; and it’s insulting. Not everyone can afford that. If there is nothing wrong with GMOs, then what’s wrong with saying there are GMOs [in food products]? This is a common-sense labeling effort.”

Read more:


Stop the sale from being made. 

Its time  to take down US foreign trade practices which fill the pockets of the biotech corporation execs with marketing money payed for with US taxpayer dollars.

WHO in the US State Department orchestrated this fiasco with the Colombian government to get the law passed there prohibiting farmers from saving their seed ?  We need find out who in the USA orchestrated this strategy and go after these individuals and expose them for the criminals that they are.
If GMOs are feeding the world then why did the biotech industry and their cohorts in Columbia destroy thousands of pounds of rice?  Why didn't they use THAT to feed the world?  Answer:  to make way for GM rice crops....coming to a table near you.
Have you been following the agrarian strike in Colombia?
Have you seen this documentary (in Spanish)?
Here's the documentary with English subtitles!!

Wednesday, October 9, 2013


The stakes couldn't be higher!
Last week, the Grocery Manufacturers Association (GMA) dumped in $5 million against the Yes on 522 ballot initiative in Washington state. That means the GMA, who represents companies like Pepsi, Coke, Kraft, Kellogg's, Starbucks and General Mills, is now the lead funder in an effort to silence GMO labeling in America, with a total of $7.2 million. But the real story behind the continued efforts to kill GMO labeling in the U.S. is even more alarming.

Already Monsanto has dumped in $4.8 million and DuPont has pledged $3.4 million to bring the opposition war chest to a total of $17.1 million against the citizen-led ballot initiative Yes on 522 to label genetically engineered foods.

As political experts have predicted, Washington state is a 'do or die' battle for both Monsanto and the GMO labeling movement – and we need your help today!

Chip in $5.22, $52.20 or whatever you can to help win GMO labeling and defeat Monsanto and the GMA’s lies once and for all! Together we win. Every dollar counts!
Even more alarming than the giant pile of cash piling up from the opposition is the fact that the Grocery Manufacturers Association is currently hiding the names of the companies donating the millions of dollars they’re plowing into the race in what could be a direct violation of Washington state campaign disclosure laws.
$17 Million to Kill Labeling, Now They're Suing Moms!

Unlike California, where giant junk food companies like Pepsi, Coke, Kellogg’s, Kraft and General Mills made their donations public by donating outright to the opposition, in Washington, these “trusted” American brands are secretly bundling their donations in an effort to hide how much they’re willing to give to kill GMO labeling because they're afraid of consumer backlash!

In an effort to get to the bottom of this campaign deception, a group of local Washington moms has filed a suit against the GMA to find out who was paying big money to manipulate public opinion.

Rather than comply with Washington election law and reveal their donors, the Grocery Manufacturers Association and the NO on 522 campaign filed a countersuit against the Washington mom’s group, Moms for Labeling. Now Monsanto and the GMA are using a law designed to protect citizens from corporations to instead protect corporations from everyday people. Seriously?

Last Friday, in a perversion of justice, a Washington judge sided with Monsanto and the GMA and ruled against the moms, slapping them with a $10,000 fine.

This is outrageous and we need your help today to make sure that this perversion of our democracy can no longer stand! We can't let these corporations continue to keep us in the dark about what they're feeding us!

Chip in right now so we can stop Monsanto and the GMA’s propaganda machine cold in Washington State. Help us win the fight for GMO labeling! It’s time that Americans have the right to know what Monsanto is feeding us! Every dollar counts!

We're close to winning and need your help to cross the finish line! Two weeks ago, we defeated the Monsanto Protection Act in Washingon DC and earlier this year we passed GMO labeling laws in Connecticut and Maine, now help us win in Washington.

Remember, democracy is like a muscle, you either use it or you lose it!
Please donate what you can today!
Thanks for participating in food democracy,
Dave, Lisa and the Food Democracy Action! team

Tuesday, October 8, 2013


A Disease Cuts Corn Yields

Alison Robertson
Corn showed evidence of Goss's wilt, which is caused by a bacterium, in Iowa in 2011.
ALTON, Iowa — It has come on like a tidal wave, washing across the Corn Belt from Minnesota to the Texas panhandle, a disease that few farmers had seen until five years ago.

Known as Goss’s wilt, it has cut some farmers’ corn yields in half, and it is still spreading. This summer it reached Louisiana, farther south than it had ever been identified. Alison Robertson, a plant pathologist at Iowa State University, estimated that about 10 percent of this year’s corn crop would fall to Goss’s.
The disease, named for R. W. Goss, a longtime Nebraska plant pathologist, is caused by a bacterium with the formidable name Clavibacter michiganensis subsp. nebraskensis. When a plant is damaged by hail or other heavy weather, the microbe enters the wound and infects its vascular system, scarring the leaves with brownish-yellow lesions sprinkled with black freckles.
The infection may or may not kill the plant, depending on when it comes, but it almost always curtails yields. And for farmers who have never seen the infection before, it is deeply disconcerting.
“The farmer who called me had found a circle of corn about 50 feet in diameter or so that had strange symptoms, stalks broken over and twisting, discoloration, the whole nine yards,” said Clayton Hollier, a plant pathologist at Louisiana State University. “I hadn’t heard symptoms like that since I learned about Goss’s in college.”
Until 2008, Goss’s wilt had been confined to western Nebraska and a handful of counties in eastern Colorado. But that year it was found in Iowa, Illinois, Indiana and Wisconsin.
In 2011, a particularly virulent year, farms in much of Illinois lost as many as 60 bushels of corn per acre to the disease (the usual yield is 200 bushels per acre). So did many counties in Indiana.
While there are no official tallies, the last two years do not appear to have been as bad — thanks in part to dry, hot weather, which tends to keep the disease at bay. But its continuing spread is worrying farmers and plant pathologists throughout the Corn Belt.
No one is certain why Goss’s wilt has become so rampant in recent years. But many plant pathologists suspect that the biggest factor is the hybrids chosen for genetic modification by major seed companies like Monsanto, DuPont and Syngenta.
“My theory is that there were a couple of hybrids planted that were selected because they had extremely high yield potentials,” said Dr. Robertson, whose research is financed by Monsanto and the Agriculture Department. “They also may have been highly susceptible to Goss’s wilt.”
About 90 percent of the corn grown in the United States comes from seeds that have been engineered in a laboratory, their DNA modified with genetic material not naturally found in corn species. Almost all American corn, for instance, is now engineered to resist the powerful herbicide glyphosate (often sold as Roundup), so farmers can kill weeds without killing their corn.
Farmers often refer to such biotech plants, which require Agriculture Department approval, as “traited,” to distinguish them from traditional hybrids.
While some corn seeds are resistant to Goss’s wilt, especially those sold in western Nebraska and eastern Colorado, most are not. Dan Anderson, Monsanto’s lead project manager for corn, acknowledged that high-yield varieties from his and other companies might be susceptible to the disease, but added that changes in farm management might also be spreading the disease. As farmers grow more corn to satisfy the demand for ethanol, they are rotating it less frequently with other crops.
“One of the best management techniques for controlling Goss’s wilt is crop rotation — corn, then soy or another crop,” Mr. Anderson said.
Another possible factor is the growth of no-till farming, which leaves cornstalks, on which the bacteria can linger, to decay in the field after harvesting, rather than being plowed under.
No hybrids have been developed that can fully withstand Goss’s wilt, but the companies have increased the number of seeds with higher resistance.
Ryan Forth and his father farm about 4,500 acres of land north of Ames, Iowa, about two-thirds of it in corn and the rest in soybeans. Mr. Forth is also a seed dealer for Monsanto. Some seeds in the company’s DeKalb line have been identified as highly susceptible to Goss’s. 
After a windstorm in 2010, he said, “we started seeing these weird little circles on the foliage” in the field where the DeKalb seeds were planted.
At first they thought the marks were because of wind damage or the lack of rain — “you always suspect the weather,” he said — but now he’s certain it was the choice of hybrid that caused the problem.
The next year, they planted the same hybrids. “We were the poster child for Goss’s that year,” Mr. Forth said. “We had a complete disaster, a train-wreck kind of a yield for me.”
Last year, he planted a different Monsanto hybrid and has not had a problem with Goss’s wilt since. He no longer sells the DeKalb hybrids that contract the disease.


Photo: The Grocery Manufacturers Association, enemy of GMO labeling and consumer awareness, recently added $5 million to the $1.75 million they had already donated to fight against the Yes on 522 campaign. 

Here's a Who's Who list of anti-GMO labeling:

Donations to the Yes on 522 campaign can be made here:


Bee on flower

Thousands of Minneapolis bees killed by pesticides

Let’s hope that flower hasn’t been poisoned.
When thousands of Minneapolis bees died last month, “spilling out of the hive” like they were “drunk,” as one apiarist put it, the University of Minnesota and the state’s ag department were called in.
After weeks of lab tests, the scientists found the culprit: Fipronil, a widely used insecticide found in more than 50 pest-killing products. From Minnesota Daily:
The University Bee Lab, the Bee Squad and the Minnesota Department of Agriculture conducted tests to confirm that pesticide had caused the deaths.

The MDA tests reported that all three hives tested positive for the presence of fipronil, an insecticide used on building foundations, Bee Squad coordinator Becky Masterman said.
The MDA’s report said someone in the area likely used the pesticide within a foot of a building’s foundation and sprayed it on bee-friendly flowers. Bees from all three colonies interacted with the plants and brought the insecticide back to their hives, Masterman said.
It’s unknown who sprayed the pesticide, and the MDA won’t investigate the incident further, the report said.
Pesticides killing bees are a recurring story across the country. It’s like the sequel to Silent Spring, yet the EPA still won’t act.


John Upton is a science fan and green news boffin who tweets, posts articles to Facebook, and blogs about ecology. He welcomes reader questions, tips, and incoherent rants:


Unease in Hawaii’s Cornfields

Cory Lum for The New York Times
A research scientist at Pioneer in a Dupont Pioneer cornfield near Koloa, Kauai. The county is considering limits on growers.
WAIMEA, Hawaii — The balmy tropical isles here seem worlds apart from the expansive cornfields of the Midwest, but Hawaii has become the latest battleground in the fight over genetically modified crops.
Toby Hoogs for The New York Times
“Without G.M.O., there would be no papaya in Hawaii,” said Eric Weinert, general manager of Hawaii operations for Calavo Growers, a papaya packer.
The state has become a hub for the development of genetically engineered corn and other crops that are sold to farmers around the globe. Monsanto and other seed companies have moved here en masse, and corn now sprouts on thousands of acres where sugar cane or pineapples once grew.
But activists opposed to biotech crops have joined with residents who say the corn farms expose them to dust and pesticides, and they are trying to drive the companies away, or at least rein them in.
The companies counter that their operations are safe and that the industry is essential to Hawaii’s economy.
In the last two weeks, legislative committees on the islands of Kauai and Hawaii have approved proposed ordinances that would restrict the ability of the seed companies to operate. The Kauai bill will go before the full County Council on Tuesday.
“It’s a paradise over here that is being ruined by this,” said Michiyo Altomare, who lives in this small town on Kauai that is just across a narrow river from a bluff upon which the seed company Pioneer grows corn.
Ms. Altomare and her husband, Corrado, built their dream house here 30 years ago, hoping to enjoy the winds that waft down from the bluff. But when sugar cane gave way to corn, she said, those winds began carrying fine red soil that coated her counters, forcing the family to shut their windows and install central air-conditioning.
On some occasions, Ms. Altomare smelled pesticides and called the police. Mr. Altomare suffers from high platelet levels that his doctor said could have resulted from chemical exposure. The couple’s grown children, she said, “don’t want to live here.”
The seed companies say the pesticides and genetically engineered crops are already well regulated by the federal and state governments. They say curtailment of the Hawaii operations would disrupt agriculture for the nation.
“Almost any corn seed sold in the U.S. touches Hawaii somewhere” in its development, said Mark Phillipson, an executive of Syngenta, a Swiss seed and agrochemical company. Mr. Phillipson is also president of the Hawaii Crop Improvement Association, which represents the seed companies.
The companies are supported by those who say the seed business is vital to the economy. Seeds are Hawaii’s leading agricultural commodity, contributing $264 million to the economy and 1,400 jobs, according to a study commissioned by the companies.
Hearings on the bills have often lasted into the night and overflowed their locations.
Kauai seems to be in a summer camp color war, with supporters of the bill wearing red T-shirts and opponents blue ones. An estimated 1,500 to 4,000 people in red shirts marched in favor of the bill in early September. The seed companies are here because the warm climate allows for three corn crops to be harvested in a year, compared with one in the Midwest. That accelerates the several generations of crossbreeding needed to perfect a new variety.
“Instead of taking 13 years to develop a new variety, it takes seven years,” said Ryan K. Oyama, a research scientist at Pioneer, which is owned by DuPont.
There are as many biotech crop-field trials in Hawaii as in Iowa or Illinois, mostly for corn but also soybeans, wheat and rice. The output of Hawaii is not corn for food or feed, but seeds that are shipped to the mainland, where they are further multiplied and eventually sold to farmers.
Breeding is also needed for nonengineered crops, and some of the companies have had operations in Hawaii since the 1960s.
But the operations have expanded in the last two decades as the sugar and pineapple industries collapsed in the face of cheaper foreign competition and the state began seeking new uses for the abandoned land.
Monsanto, Pioneer, Syngenta, Dow and BASF occupy a combined 25,000 out of the state’s 280,000 acres of agricultural land, with operations on Kauai, Oahu, Maui and Molokai. 
The companies lease some land from the state and some from private owners, like the Robinson family, which also owns the island of Niihau, and Stephen M. Case, the Hawaii-born former chairman of AOL.
Toby Hoogs for The New York Times
Howard Hurst, a teacher at a middle school, described an episode in which pesticides caused an evacuation.
Mr. Case said that using abandoned sugar land for seed crops was better than watching it grow weeds. “Our tenants comply with all local laws and will comply with any new ordinances that pass,” he said in a statement.
The seed companies are not on the Big Island, Hawaii. The proposed bill there, which passed a committee of the county council by a 6-2 vote on Oct. 1, would keep it that way by prohibiting the cultivation of genetically modified crops.
A hearing on the bill on Sept. 23 featured a parade of witnesses citing dangers of genetically modified crops that many scientists would not support.
But most of the food eaten in Hawaii comes from outside the state anyway, and will remain largely the same whether the ordinances are enacted.
The Big Island does not have many large parcels suitable for corn in any case. But most of the island’s papayas are genetically engineered to resist a virus that almost wiped out the crop in the 1990s.
“Without G.M.O., there would be no papaya in Hawaii,” said Eric Weinert, general manager of Hawaii operations for Calavo Growers, a papaya packer, using the abbreviation for genetically modified organisms.
Under pressure, the bill was amended to exempt papaya. But papaya growers say the ordinance will still taint the image of their product and might lead to more incidents, such as one that occurred last month, in which vandals cut down their trees at night. More is at stake for the biotech industry on Kauai, which accounts for about half of the total seed company acreage in Hawaii. Even some people sympathetic to the companies said they perhaps did not pay enough attention to community concerns that had festered for years.
In 2000, about 100 residents of Waimea petitioned Pioneer and other growers to control the dust blowing off their farms. In 2011, saying Pioneer had not done enough, more than 150 residents, including the Altomares, sued the company. Pioneer declined to comment on issues under litigation.
Pesticides are an even bigger concern. From 2006 to 2008, students and teachers at Waimea Canyon Middle School, which is near a Syngenta field, complained of noxious odors on several occasions. In the worst incident, the buildings were evacuated and “some kids went to the hospital,” said Howard Hurst, a teacher there. Some doctors say the region seems to have unusually high rates of asthma, cancer and birth defects.
Such anecdotes and suspicions are hard to substantiate. Indeed, a report by the state found that the incidence of cancer on Kauai, including the region around Waimea, was generally the same or even lower than for the state as a whole. Another study, paid for the state and county, lent support to Syngenta’s contention that the middle school odors were from the aptly named stinkweed, not pesticides.
Still, demands have intensified for further studies and for disclosure of what pesticides are used.
The bill before the Kauai County Council, introduced by Gary Hooser and Tim Bynum, would require such disclosure and would establish no-spray zones around schools, hospitals, residences, public roads and waterways.
The bill also called for a moratorium on expansion of biotech cropland and a ban on open-air testing of experimental genetically modified crops, provisions that were later removed by the committee after one member argued that the issue was pesticides, not genetic modification..
The companies had argued that the original bill might force them off the island. They also said it would be impractical to disclose pesticide use in advance because spraying decisions were often made only after seeing what pests were present.
On Sept. 27, the day the committee was to consider the bill, supporters in red shirts arrived as early as 2:30 a.m. to ensure they would get seats for the 9 a.m. meeting.
The more numerous opponents in blue shirts, many of them seed company workers, began arriving at 4 a.m. Shortly before 9:30 p.m., more than 12 hours after the meeting began, the committee approved an amended bill 4 to 1. The supporters in red cheered.
If the bill is approved by the full seven-member council, the companies are expected to challenge it in court, arguing that local regulation is pre-empted by state and federal laws.