WAILUKU, Maui — A member of the Maui County Council has introduced a bill that would mandate commercial agricultural entities disclose pesticides and use of genetically modified organisms.
Member Elle Cochran introduced the bill on Friday that also would establish pesticide buffer zones and require the county to complete an environmental and public health impact study about pesticides and GMOs.
Maui Mayor Alan Arakawa last month signed a pesticide disclosure agreement with agricultural giant Monsanto, which operates farms on Maui and Molokai.
Cochran said the mayor’s agreement doesn’t go far enough because it’s voluntary.
She said mandatory disclosure requirements would ensure the public gets more information about farm activities involving the use of pesticides.
“It’s hard to do something when you don’t know what’s in the air and in the food,” she said.
Kauai County already has similar regulations.
Monsanto opposes the bill. It’s asking the council to give the voluntary disclosure agreement a chance rather than adding more regulation that would use county resources.
Carol Reimann, community and government affairs manager for Monsanto, referred to her written testimony on the issue when questioned by a newspaper.
“Monsanto is committed to being a good neighbor and responsible business,” she said in her letter. “We have very strict policies and practices in place to ensure we meet all state and federal laws, operate in a responsible and safe manner.”
Maui County Farm Bureau Executive Director Warren Watanabe said the bill could threaten the viability of farming at a time when the population is growing and more improvements are needed to grow more food.
“They’re trying to put limitations on technology,” he said. “We need all the modern advances in science. How are we going to progress?”
Kauai County recently moved to require large farms to disclose their use of pesticides and genetically modified crops. Hawaii County adopted legislation restricting the planting of genetically modified crops.