On the heels of the passage of two recent county bills regulating GE crops and pesticides in Kauai and Hawaii, state legislators have introduced a bill that would wipe out these important laws.
As a direct result of our victories in Kauai and Hawaii improving regulation of pesticides and GE crops, some Hawaii state lawmakers have now introduced a bill (HB 2506) which would take away the rights of all Hawaii counties to regulate their local agriculture. If HB 2506 becomes law, all local control of agricultural would be removed – replaced by a “one size fits all” policy dictated by the state. This bill, like similar bills introduced in several other states, is a thinly veiled attempt by the chemical companies to silence concerns over genetically engineered (GE) foods and pesticides, and gut all county efforts at addressing the growing of GE crops and their accompanying pesticides.
We’ve beaten similar bills before, and we can beat this one, too--but your state lawmakers need to hear from you!Local oversight such as county ordinances have been instrumental in restricting GE crops in Hawaii and other states. Numerous counties and cities in California, Hawaii, Washington, and Maine have already adopted ordinances to ban or limit the growing of GE crops in their counties. But HB 2506 would give exclusive power over agriculture to the state, preempting local authority. This would make it impossible to establish local restrictions or prohibitions on genetically engineered crops grown in Hawaii, or the spraying of pesticides. This bill would also affect local control of agriculture well beyond the scope of pesticides and GMOs. Counties also regulate grading and grubbing that impacts agriculture, storm run-off into streams, as well as property taxes and zoning that affect agriculture. HB 2506 is short-sighted and will have far-reaching consequences.
The bill was mainly prompted by a 2013 Kauai County law that regulates pesticide use, and a 2013 Hawaii County law that bans the cultivation of new GE crops on the Big Island. The bill would eliminate the Kauai and Hawaii Island laws, and would preclude other counties from ever taking any similar action to regulate pesticides or GE crops.
Hawaii has numerous county ordinances that would be eliminated if this bill passed, including:
In 2008, the Hawaii County Council banned the cultivation of genetically modified coffee and taro.
In October 2013, the Kauai County Council passed Bill 2491, which requires companies to report and publicly disclose the pesticides used on the island. Through the imposition of buffer zones, the bill prevents all pesticide use near schools, medical facilities, parks, and waterways that flow into the ocean, and calls for the County to prepare a detailed analysis of the numerous environmental and health impacts of pesticides and GE crops.
On the Big Island, Bill 113 was signed into law in December 2013, banning the growing of any new genetically altered crops.