Posted by Christine, November 7, 2013

Legal flaws doom this effort to curb pesticide use on Kauai. Remember when one of the arguments in favor of GMOs was that they would reduce herbicide use?

From the NY Times:

The mayor of Kauai County, Hawaii, has vetoed a hotly contested bill that would have restricted the use of pesticides by companies developing genetically modified crops on the island.

The mayor, Bernard P. Carvalho Jr., said on Thursday that he agreed with the intent of the proposed ordinance but believed the bill was legally flawed. “That being the case,” he said in a statement, “I had no choice but to veto.”

Hawaii has become a hub for the development of genetically modified seeds, with corn now growing in fields once used for sugar or pineapples.

But some residents on Kauai had said the corn farming exposed them to dust and dangerous pesticides. Others opposed genetically modified crops in general.

The bill would have required the big biotechnology crop companies to disclose what pesticides they use and would have established no-spray zones around schools, residences, medical facilities, roads and waterways.

The original bill would also have restricted the growing of genetically modified crops, though those provisions were removed. Still, the seed companies that operate on Kauai — DuPont Pioneer, Syngenta, BASF and Dow AgroSciences — said the measure was unfair and would disrupt their operations.

The County Council passed the bill, 6 to 1, on Oct. 16, in a meeting that lasted until 3:30 a.m. It was not immediately clear if the council will try to override the veto, which would require five votes.

In a note to the council, Mayor Carvalho said that based on an analysis by the county attorney, he concluded that “Kauai does not currently have the legal authority to enact most of what is contained” in the bill. One reason, he said, was that county regulation of pesticides might be pre-empted by state and federal laws.

Mr. Carvalho said the seed companies were moving toward agreeing on voluntary disclosure of pesticide use and buffer zones. “It would be my preference to achieve the goal through cooperation and understanding, instead of through adversarial legal action,” he said.