Kauai council approves GMO, pesticide measure
HONOLULU — The Kauai County Council has voted to require large agribusinesses operating on the island to disclose pesticide use and the presence of genetically modified crops.
The measure was approved shortly after 3:30 a.m. Wednesday following a marathon meeting that began Tuesday.
The council rejected a request by Mayor Bernard Carvalho Jr. to delay the measure to allow discussions with the state on enforcement.
Council Chairman Jay Furfaro said he had spoken to officials from the federal Environmental Protection Agency and had met with state Agriculture Department Chairman Russell Kokubun.
He said the council has worked well on the bill since it was introduced in June.
“For me, there’s no logical reason to defer this bill anymore,” Furfaro said.
The vote was 6-1, with Councilman Mel Rapozo casting the dissenting vote, The Garden Island reported.
The measure will take effect in nine months.
The bill requires farms to disclose pesticide use and the presence of genetically modified crops if they use more than 5 pounds or 15 gallons of restricted use pesticides annually.
The measure is expected to affect the island’s largest agricultural businesses, which include Syngenta, DuPont Pioneer, Dow AgroSciences, BASF and Kauai Coffee.
The bill also requires buffer zones near schools, homes, medical facilities, public roadways and waterways.
Bill supporters dominated testimony at the meeting, which lasted more than 14 hours.
Opponents backed Carvalho’s request for a delay to hold discussions with the state on enforcement of disclosure and buffer zone provisions.
Carvalho said he was working with state officials to possibly direct some responsibilities to state oversight.
“We have a major issue that is of a concern to this whole community,” he said. “I’m not going to set ourselves up to fail.”
Councilwoman JoAnn Yukimura and Vice Chairwoman Nadine Nakamura, who will leave her seat at the end of the month to work as the county managing director, introduced amendments to the bill.
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