U.S. Court Overturns Law Limiting Biotech Crops on Kauai

A group of global biotech crop companies won a court victory on Monday that blocks enactment of a law passed last year limiting the planting of biotech crops and use of pesticides on the Hawaiian island of Kauai.

U.S. Magistrate Judge Barry Kurren of the U.S. District Court in Hawaii ruled that the law passed in November by local leaders on the island was invalid because it was pre-empted by Hawaii state law.

The Kauai law required large agricultural companies to disclose pesticide use and genetically modified (GMO) crop plantings while establishing buffer zones around schools, homes and hospitals to protect people from exposure to pesticides used on the crops…

More Here: U.S. court overturns law limiting biotech crops on Hawaiian island

 

Cattlemen Sue Hawaii County Over GMO Ban

Hawaiian papaya and banana growers have joined cattlemen and floral producers to fight a ban on open-air growing and testing of genetically modified crops imposed by the Hawaii County Council.

The ban exempts existing papaya crops and growers. However, no new acres can be planted, according to the case filed June 9 in federal court. Hawaii County includes the entire Island of Hawaii. A scheduling hearing is set Sept. 8.

Growers say the ban — known as Bill 113 — conflicts with state and federal laws and is unconstitutional, according to the case filed by the Hawaii Papaya Industry Association (HPIA) and the Big Island Banana Growers Association. Other plaintiffs joining in the case include the Hawaii Cattlemen’s Council, the Pacific Floral Exchange and the Biotechnology Industry Organization.

The Hawaii County Council approved Bill 113 in December with a 6-3 vote. It requires existing GMO growers to annually register and pay a $100 fee. In another court action, a judge recently ruled the county cannot make public growers’ personal information and specific field locations collected in the registry.

Growers challenged publication of the registry saying it would encourage vandalism, which has previously resulted in crop destruction.

Hawaii’s papaya industry was nearly destroyed by ringspot virus in the early 1990s, and development of the Rainbow variety was the industry’s answer. The Rainbow variety passed federal review and was first planted in 1998. According to court documents, at least 85% of the papaya crop grown on Hawaii Island is Rainbow.

“Bill 113 has stigmatized HPIA members by conveying a false message that (GMO) crops and plants harm human health and the environment and has imposed other costs on HPIA,” according to the lawsuit.

Banana growers, including Richard Ha who is a plaintiff in the federal case, contend they need the option to test and possibly plant GMO bananas to mitigate threats from bunchy top virus and other diseases.

More here: Cattlemen Sue Hawaii County Over GMO Ban

Big Island Farmers File Federal Complaint About GMO Bill

We’re Standing United with Agriculture to Protect the Future of Farming in Hawaii

Papaya Trees Destroyed by Machete in Puna

Papaya Trees Destroyed by Machete in Puna

“Our organization is participating in this lawsuit because we have cause and want to stand with farmers, ranchers and growers when unfair and unnecessary laws and regulations threaten our livelihood.

“Bill 113 will make it illegal to grow some genetically modified (GM) plants, including valuable food and feed crops and flowers. By prohibiting the use of these crops that have been deemed by the government and scientific experts to be perfectly safe, Bill 113 is a direct assault on our ‘right to farm’ and essentially criminalizes those who rely on the tools of modern biotechnology to foster productivity.”

“United we stand, divided we fall”

Background:

Signed into law on December 5, 2013, Hawaii County enacted Bill 113, which imposes a county-wide ban on the development, propagation, cultivation, and open-air testing of most genetically engineered (GE) crops.

Plaintiffs represent a broad cross-section of Hawaii Island farmers and related businesses that rely on GE crops, including disease-resistant papaya, as well as technology companies that develop, test, and commercialize valuable, new GE agricultural products.

Farmers and Agriculture Associations are standing United; participating in this suit, which seeks to invalidate and enjoin the County of Hawaii from enforcing County Ordinance 13-121 (“Bill 113”).  The suit alleges that the bill:

  • is preempted under federal law
  • is preempted under state law
  • violates the Interstate Commerce Clause of the U.S. Constitution
  • presents a regulatory taking in violation of the HI Constitution

Plaintiffs include:

  • Hawaii Floriculture and Nursery Association
  • Hawaii Papaya Industry Association
  • Big Island Banana Growers Association
  • Hawaii Cattlemen’s Council
  • Biotechnology Industry Organization
  • Pacific Floral Exchange
  • Richard Ha
  • Jason Moniz
  • Gordon Inouye
  • Eric Tanouye

Key Points:

  • Bill 113 cripples farmers’ current and future ability to farm GE crops, imposes extreme burdens on local agriculture and violates Federal and Hawaii law.
  • Despite the central role of GE crops in modern commercial agriculture and their long history of safe use in Hawaii and around the world, Bill 113 imposes a near-blanket ban on new cultivation, propagation, development, and open-air testing of such crops in the County.

Bill 113 is backed by no findings or evidence that GE crops are in any way harmful, or in any way endanger the local environment.

Using the “precautionary principle,” Bill 113 is in direct conflict with determinations made by expert federal agencies, and seeks to outlaw agricultural activities that the federal government has specifically authorized following thorough scientific reviews.

  • Farming GE crops has also long been a generally accepted agricultural practice locally and GE crops have been vitally important to the County of Hawaii.

In the 1990s, Hawaii’s papaya industry was devastated by the ringspot virus. The development of a GE variety of papaya that is resistant to the virus is widely credited with saving the industry.

The resulting Rainbow GE variety of papaya now accounts for approximately 85 percent of papaya grown in the County and is widely sold throughout the United States and in other nations.

County farmers support federally-approved testing to develop new disease-resistant papaya and banana plants and floral varieties that resist harmful insect pests and bacteria.

  • GE crops not only help farmers, but contribute to food security for the island. By banning any use of new GE crops, Hawaii consumers can expect increases in food costs, business costs, and pesticide use.
  • If farmers in Hawaii are unable to farm efficiently and productively, more costly foods will need to be imported.
  • The State of Hawaii has deemed the promotion of “diversified agriculture” a vital public interest. This principle is enshrined in the Constitution of Hawaii, which expressly directs the State – not the counties – to conserve and protect agricultural and farming resources.

COEXISTENCE:

Individual farmers routinely incorporate multiple production practices within a single operation.  Coexistence is not about health or safety; it is about finding ways to improve working relationships when different production systems are used in close proximity.

SAFETY:

Every GE crop on the market today was thoroughly evaluated by government scientific experts, often at as many as three different federal regulatory agencies, through a complex multiyear scientific review process.

Not only have GE crops been deemed safe by expert federal agencies, but multiple other governmental and non-governmental agencies have reached the same conclusions, including the U.S. National Academy of Sciences, the World Health Organization, the American Medical Association, the European Commission, and the British Medical Association.

More than 600 peer-reviewed scientific reports document the safety of GE foods.

GENERA a project by BIOFORTIFIDE to create a searchable database to more than 2000 studies on biotechnology in Food and agriculture.

TRANSPARENCY:

We understand people have questions about how their food is grown. We need to have the discussion before we prematurely make laws that cripple the Future of Farmers and unfairly target growers using technology. While industry will stand with growers and challenge unfair and unlawful ordinances like Bill 113, we urge people to visit the GMO Answers website (http://gmoanswers.com) to get more information about the products of biotechnology.

The Rainbow Papaya that saved Hawaii’s papaya industry was genetically engineered to resist the ringspot virus. See how it was done by viewing this video on gmoanswers.com.

Mayor Kenoi on the GMO Issue

Big Island Mayor Kenoi is quoted as saying the following about the Genetically Modified Organism (GMO) lawsuits that are currently floating around the state in Hawaii Business Magazine:

Mayor Kenoi at the APEC Conference

Mayor Kenoi at the APEC Conference

“GMO has been very important and beneficial to our cut-flower, orchid, anthurium and nursery industry. The science research has been cutting-edge and we’ve seen a lot of innovation and creativity, and certainly in our papaya industry, the importance of research is well-known for maintaining, growing and protecting its viability.

I still don’t believe GMO is the issue facing agriculture – it’s water and access to land and how we can grow our next generation of farmers. GMO has taken a lot of energy and emphasis away from more important issues like these. Another important issue is access to markets, making it easier for farmers to overcome regulatory hurdles, reducing our dependence on imported food and providing real food security.

My message to the Council and the community is…”

You can read the rest of his message and other mayor’s thoughts on the issue here: “Talk Story with Neighbor Island Mayors”

Hawaii Farmers and Ranchers United Response to John Doe vs. County of Hawaii GMO Lawsuit

Hawaii Farmers and Ranchers United is aware of the legal action  “John Doe vs. County of Hawaii” filed in State Superior Court against the County of Hawaii…

Farmers and Ranchers UnitedWe “STRONGLY SUPPORT and Stand United with our fellow Farmers in this suit. Brought by Farmers who are frightened by the potential implications of complying with these unjustified and intrusive requirements – specifically, harassment of their family and employees and vandalism of their operations by anti-technology activists.

In John Doe vs. County of Hawaii, the complaint seeks declaratory and injunctive relief from implementing the registration and disclosure provisions of “Hawaii Bill 113.”

Due to the immediacy of the registration deadline, this complaint seeks relief only in connection with the registration and disclosure requirements of Bill 113, even though the entirety of Bill 113 is legally invalid because it stands in direct conflict with numerous federal and state laws.

Signed into law on December 5, 2013, the County enacted Bill 113, which imposes a county-wide ban on the development, propagation, cultivation, and open-air testing of most GE crops.

The registration and disclosure requirements of Bill 113 unfairly target growers of genetically engineered crops, primarily papaya growers, by forcing them to disclose personal and commercially confidential information about themselves and their operations without any scientific or factual justification:

Without any assurances that the County can or will protect the registration information from public disclosure as allowed under Bill 113, these farmers and growers have good reason to believe that providing this information could result in real harm – including the vandalizing of their crops or intimidation or harassment of their family and/or employees.  Unfortunately, in recent years, anti-genetically engineered or anti-GMO agriculture political activism in Hawaiʻi (and throughout the United States) has crossed the line from a spirited debate to extremism, vandalism, and violence.

The lawsuit alleges that the disclosure provision of Bill 113 is in direct conflict with two State laws – the Uniform Information Practices Act and the Uniform Trade Secrets Act – and violates Plaintiff’s rights to privacy and due process under the Constitution of Hawaii.

Accordingly, it asks the court to enjoin or suspend the registration process until the court ultimately determines the lawfulness of the disclosure provision and how this information will be treated under state law.

Councilman Ilagan to Introduce Bill 185 – Certified Organic Bill

On Tuesday, February 4, Councilman Ilagan will be introducing Bill 185, which further defines agricultural tax incentives to include an organic produce provision. This bill will be heard in the Finance Committee scheduled to begin at 3:45 p.m.

Click to read the proposed bill

Click to read the proposed bill

Encouraging the growing certified organic industry is a positive step forward in helping Hawaii County move towards the goal of food self-sufficiency. In conjunction with conventional farming operations, we need to explore and promote all means possible for reducing the amount of food and agricultural products imported into the state.

Bill 185 is a step along this path. Supporting local agricultural activity is not only an economic benefit but can also significantly reduce the threat of importing pests, and lower the possibility of introducing diseases that can threaten native plants and locally produced foods. A thriving agricultural industry is an important part of our island lifestyle, and helping farmers from different agriculture fields will bring us closer to realizing food self-sufficiency on the Big Island.

Highlights of Bill 185:

  1. Certified organic farmers are assessed at the same value as pasture and slow rotation forestry, which is the lowest assessed value per acre for agricultural use.
  2. A certified organic tax relief is based on more intensive agricultural use with limited County agency oversight due to third party enforcement and site inspections.
  3. A tax incentive for certified organic operations will help to enable new farmers to start, and established small farms to continue farming.
  4. Annual recertification process for certified organic operations encourages farmers to continue farming land for intensive agriculture use.
  5. Tax breaks will lessen the burden of certification costs which ranges from a few hundred to several thousand dollars, and relatively high production costs due to the increased labor requirements.
  6. Approximately 200 growers are certified organic farmers in Hawai’i, and the median size is 5 acres on the Big Island, according to the 2007 Agriculture Census.
  7. Encourages the establishment of high value niche market products.

For more information call (808) 961-8825, or visit http://puna4.com

Lawsuits Begin… GMO Companies Sue County of Kauai

The Honolulu Advertiser has announced that 3 companies have now filed lawsuits against Kauai Counties legislation against GMO and the restricted use of pesticides.

Syngenta, Pioneer Hi-Bred and Agrigenetics — an affiliate of Dow — have sued to block Kauai County from implementing its new genetically modified organism and pesticide regulation law.

The law, which takes effect in August, imposes greater disclosure requirements on restricted use pesticides and creates buffer zones for crops near schools, homes, and hospitals.

The lawsuit, filed Friday in U.S. District Court, contends that the law irrationally prohibits the biotechnology companies from growing any crops — GMO or not — in arbitrarily drawn buffer zones, and restricts the companies’ pesticide use within the buffer zones.

More Here:  http://www.staradvertiser.com/news/breaking/20140111_3_companies_sue_to_block_Kauais_new_law_on_GMOs_pesticides.html?id=239768391

Mayor Kenoi Signs Bill 113 – Relating to Genetically Engineered Crops and Plants

Kenoi Apec

Aloha, Chair Yoshimoto and Members:

On Nov. 19, 2013 the Hawai‘i County Council adopted Bill 113 Draft 3 adding a new article relating to Genetically Engineered Crops and Plants, and on Nov. 21, 2013 delivered the bill to me for my consideration. After careful deliberation and discussions with members of my administration and the public, I am signing Bill 113.

Our community has a deep connection and respect for our land, and we all understand we must protect our island and preserve our precious natural resources. We are determined to do what is right for the land because this place is unlike any other in the world. With this new ordinance we are conveying that instead of global agribusiness corporations, we want to encourage and support community-based farming and ranching.

The debate over this bill has at times been divisive and hurtful, and some of our hard-working farmers who produce food for our community have been treated disrespectfully. We are determined to protect every farmer and rancher. Agriculture on Hawai‘i Island will continue to grow with county assistance, investment and support. That commitment includes initiatives such as the public-private partnership to improve and expand the Pa‘auilo Slaughterhouse to support our grass-fed beef industry, and the launch of the Kapulena Agricultural Park, the largest agricultural park in the state on 1,739 acres of county-owned land. It also includes support for innovative training programs to grow the farmers of the future, and to train veterans to engage in agriculture on Hawaiian Home Lands, and the introduction and advancement of Korean Natural Farming as a sustainable method of producing healthier crops and livestock. It includes completion of the first-in-the-state Food Self-Sufficiency Baseline Study of Hawai‘i Island to measure the island’s progress toward food self-sufficiency.

We are determined to reunite our farming community to create a stronger and more vibrant agricultural sector. It is time to end the angry rhetoric and reach out to our neighbors. Our farmers are essential to creating a wholesome and sustainable food supply on this island, and they deserve to be treated with respect and aloha. We must turn now to a meaningful, factual dialogue with one another.

With my approval of this bill, our administration will launch a year of research and data collection to investigate factual claims and to seek out new directions that farming in our community should take. This work will include an expanded database detailing the locations of both organic and conventional farms, the crops that are grown, more accurate estimates of the revenue earned from these enterprises, and the challenges our farmers face in meeting food safety and organic certification requirements. We will work with our farmers and our ranchers to carefully monitor the impacts of this bill over the next year to separate speculation and guesswork from the facts.

Today our communities expect that government will be as cautious as possible in protecting our food and water supplies. We all want to minimize impacts to the environment while also producing abundant, affordable food for local consumption. This ordinance expresses the desires and demands of our community for a safe, sustainable agricultural sector that can help feed our people while keeping our precious island productive and healthy.

Aloha,

William P. Kenoi
MAYOR

State Develops Voluntary Guidelines for Pesticides Use on Kauai

The Pesticides Branch of the Hawaii Department of Agriculture (HDOA) has completed voluntary pesticide-use guidelines and established the “Kauai Agricultural Good Neighbor Program” to provide more information and education on pesticide use on the island.

Good Neighbor Program

Click to view the report

The voluntary pesticide-use guideline will go into effect on Dec. 1, 2013. It will apply to the five agricultural companies mentioned in Kauai County Bill 2491 (Dow AgroSciences, Pioneer, Syngenta, BASF, and Kauai Coffee Company) and assures that adequate buffer zones are in place when restricted-use pesticides (RUP) are applied.

The voluntary guidelines are in addition to federal guidelines established by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

“The department used existing federal worker protection standards and increased buffer zones to provide extra protection for residents in areas surrounding these farming operations,” said HDOA Deputy Scott Enright. “We will also be requesting that the Legislature establish 10 additional inspector and pesticide education positions statewide in this upcoming legislative session.”

Under the Kauai Agricultural Good Neighbor Program, neighbors who are located nearest to the farm operations will be the primary focus of continuing outreach efforts to provide information on pesticide use and to discuss any concerns.

Under the Voluntary RUP Notice section of the program, the guidelines will register schools, hospitals and medical clinics that are within 1,000 feet of the farming operations so they may receive a weekly schedule of any planned RUP application near their property. Registered entities will also be notified at least 24 hours in advance should there be any change in the weekly RUP application schedule.

The guidelines also require a 100-foot buffer zone between application areas and schools, medical facilities and residential properties, unless the EPA regulations are stricter. By law, all requirements found on the pesticide label must be followed.

The companies are also required to file a monthly report on RUP use with HDOA’s Pesticides Branch. The report will be available for public viewing at the state’s Open Data portal: https://data.hawaii.gov

The program will be assessed after one year.

Department of Agriculture Developing New Pesticides Use Guidelines

Following Kauai Mayor Bernard P. Carvalho, Jr.’s veto Thursday (Oct. 31) of county Bill 2491 (Relating to Pesticides and Genetically Modified Organisms), the state Department of Agriculture reaffirmed the Mayor’s assessment that complicated legal issues and practical enforcement and implementation details must be taken into consideration to effectively address community’s concerns.

“The Department of Agriculture is in the process of implementing guidelines for companies regarding pesticide disclosure and buffer zones and will be submitting a budget request to the Legislature for additional pesticide inspectors,” said Chairperson Russell S. Kokubun.
HB673
Earlier this year, the Legislature passed House Bill 673, which the Governor in June signed into law as Act 105, requiring the state Department of Agriculture to post certain information regarding restricted use pesticides on its website. The act also requires the Hawaii Legislative Reference Bureau to conduct a study on other states’ reporting requirements for non-restricted use pesticides.

Gov. Neil Abercrombie said: “This administration looks forward to working with the Mayor to determine a reasonable, thoughtful, and balanced course of action to address these issues and to provide the assurances of public health, safety, and protection.”

The state will work with the Legislature to restore positions within and seek additional funding for the Department of Agriculture and the Department of Health’s Environmental Health Administration, particularly for the neighbor islands, to address pesticide compliance and conduct inspections regarding pesticide contamination, and ensure that inspections are conducted in a timely manner.

Kauai Mayor Vetoes GMO Ban on Kauai – Statement From Hawaii Crop Improvement Association

HCIA

We commend Mayor Carvalho for his decision to veto Bill 2491 and for recognizing that the measure was severely flawed and would do more harm than good for Kauai County.

We thank the Mayor for his leadership in giving thoughtful consideration to balancing the issues raised in Bill 2491. This measure, although intended to be good for the community, would have had long-term negative effects on all agriculture in Kauai and our state, not just the seed industry or big agriculture.

These past several months have been difficult for Kauai. Bill 2491 has divided us – families, friends and neighbors – for far too long. It is time that we come together and do what the people of Hawaii have done for so long – ho’oponono, work together for a better Kauai.

Since this measure was introduced, the public debate has been loud, emotional and often filled with fear, rather than fact. As responsible stewards of the land, we take pride in growing the seeds that help farmers all over the world grow safe, healthy and affordable food for all people. We care for the land and the people of Kauai and are committed to transparency, being good neighbors and working with the community.

We look forward to continuing to work collaboratively with the Mayor and the Council on how to address the concerns of the community and continue to support a voluntary program to address these concerns.

Alicia Maluafiti, Executive Director Hawaii Crop Improvement Association

 

“Chronology of GMO Ban Legislation in County of Hawaii” By Councilwoman Margaret Wille

Councilwoman Margaret Wille

Councilwoman Margaret Wille

Councilwoman Margaret Wille posted the following chronology of the GMO Ban Legislation in the County of Hawaii on her Facebook site tonight:

Bill 79
May 14, 2013 Public Safety & Mass Transit Committee: Meeting recessed with no action taken to May 29, 2013.

May 29, 2013 Public Safety & Mass Transit Committee: Postponed Bill 79, and motion to amend with the contents of comm. 271.146, to a Special meeting to be held on July 2, 2013 in Kona.

July 2 & 3, 2013 Public Safety & Mass Transit Committee: 2 full days of testimony. Meeting recessed to July 30, 2013; no action taken on Bill 79 (Comm. 271.146 was withdrawn).

July 30, 2013 Public Safety & Mass Transit Committee: Cancelled due to tropical storm Flossie

August 6, 2013 Public Safety & Mass Transit Committee: Bill 79 withdrawn by Council Member Margaret Wille to reintroduce the bill in a cleaner format.

Bill 113
Sept. 4, 2013 Public Safety & Mass Transit Committee: Meeting recessed to Sept 6, 2013; no action taken on Bill 113

Sept. 6, 2013 Public Safety & Mass Transit Committee: Meeting recessed to Sept 23, 2013; no action taken on Bill 113

Sept. 23, 2013 Public Safety & Mass Transit Committee: Experts on subject matter were called to share their expert opinions. Meeting recessed to Oct 1, 2013; no action taken on Bill 113.

Oct 1, 2013 Public Safety & Mass Transit Committee: Motion to amend with the contents of Comm. 393.51. Motion passed. Committee recommends passage of Bill 113, as amended to Draft 2, on first reading. 6 ayes, 2 noes, 1 absent and excused. Moves to Oct 16 Special Council meeting. Councilmembers voting no were Gregor Ilegan and Chairman J Yoshimoto. Councilmember Dennis “Fresh” Onishi was absent..

Oct 15, 2013 Special Council meeting: 4pm – 10 pm public testimony. 10 pm -10:30 pm Council discussion on Bill 113, Draft 2. Meeting recessed until Oct 16, 2013 at 1PM

Oct 16, 2013 Special Council meeting reconvened. Motion to amend Bill 113, Draft 2 with the contents of Comm. 393.68. Motion passed. Council discussed Bill 113, Draft 2 as amended. Bill 113, Draft 2 as amended passed first Council reading with vote of 6 ayes, 2 noes and 1 absent and excused. Motion passed. Committee recommends passage of Bill 113, as amended to Draft 2, on first reading: 6 ayes, 2 noes, 1 absent and excused. Moves to Oct 16 Special Council meeting. Councilmembers voting no were Gregor Ilegan and Dennis “Fresh” Onishi. Councilmember Zendo Kern was absent due to illness. Moves to November 6, 2013 Council meeting for second and final reading.

Communication 394
Discussion and formation of an Ad Hoc Committee relating to Genetically Engineered Crops and Plants. This has been postponed to Call of the Chair because an Ad-Hoc Committee cannot be formed at the same time that Bill 113 is being discussed.

Councilwoman Wille Continued in her next post:

Here is Bill 113 Draft 3, that passed the Council on October 16th. One more reading – on November 6th. I know it is not perfect — but solid enough to survive Kenoi administration’s scrutiny and hold up under anticipated legal and state level assaults.

AN ORDINANCE AMENDING CHAPTER 14 OF THE HAWAI‘I COUNTY CODE 1983 (2005 EDITION, AS AMENDED), BY ADDING A NEW ARTICLE RELATING TO GENETICALLY ENGINEERED CROPS AND PLANTS.

BE IT ORDAINED BY THE COUNCIL OF THE COUNTY OF HAWAI‘I:

SECTION 1. Findings.
(1) The public trust doctrine is memorialized in the Hawai‘i State Constitution, Article XI, Section 1 “Conservation and Development of Resources,” and in the Charter of the County of Hawai‘i, Article XIII, Section 13-29 “Conservation of Natural and Cultural Resources.” Pursuant to the public trust doctrine, our natural resources, including land and water, are entrusted to our care for the benefit of both current and future generations. The county government in its trustee capacity is subject to the precautionary principle and therefore must exercise a higher level of scrutiny in establishing reasonable measures and making appropriate assessments in order to avoid harmful impacts to our public trust resources. The Council therefore recognizes the right of the people and their government to guard against the intrusion of potential contaminants and prevent the contamination of non-genetically engineered crops, plants and lands by genetically engineered crops and plants without having to first wait for definitive science. As the United States Supreme Court made clear in Maine vs. Taylor (1986), the government is not required “to sit idly by and wait until potentially irreversible environmental damage has occurred or until the scientific community agrees on what disease organisms are or are not dangerous before it acts to avoid such consequences.” In this context the precautionary principle requires that if a new technology poses threats of harm to human or environmental health, the burden of proof is on the promoter of the technology to demonstrate that the technology is safe, not on the public or governments to demonstrate that the technology is unsafe;
(2) The Council finds that policies relating to agricultural practices are most appropriate to be determined by each county of the State of Hawai‘i given the island-by-island variation in customary and generally accepted agricultural practices and opportunities, the variation in topography and land ownership patterns, and in light of the natural geographic ocean barriers that allow for these distinctions.
(3) The Council finds that optimizing a local agricultural policy that promotes non- genetically engineered crops and seeds along with eco-friendly agricultural practices affords the County of Hawai‘i a unique economic opportunity to capture a niche market for non-genetically engineered produce, seeds, and meats. Optimizing this opportunity is consistent with the Hawai‘i County General Plan (Economic policies 2.2(h)): “Promote and develop the island of Hawai‘i into a unique scientific and cultural model, where economic gains are in balance with social and physical amenities. Development should be reviewed on the basis of total impact on the residents of the County, not only in terms of immediate short run economic benefits.”
(4) The Council finds it is important to protect the rights of farmers engaged in non- genetically engineered crop cultivation from the uncontrolled spread of genetically engineered organisms and associated pesticides.
(5) The Council finds that an expanded exemption for genetically engineered papaya is reasonable and appropriate because the genetic modification of papaya over the past decade has become so pervasive across this island that restricting cultivation of genetically engineered papaya would be near impossible at this time, the likelihood of genetically engineered cross pollination of papaya is reduced given the customary controlled manner of propagation, and in light of the substantial investment in controlled testing of this one crop over the past decade as the means of choice to address certain papaya diseases.

SECTION 2. Authority. The Council finds that its authority to impose restrictions on the cultivation, propagation, development, and testing of genetically engineered crops and plants to protect public and private property as well as surface waters, vulnerable watersheds, and our Island’s coastal waters, is granted to it by:

(1) The Hawai‘i Revised Statutes, Section 46-1.5(13), which states: “Each county shall have the power to enact ordinances deemed necessary to protect health, life, and property, and to preserve the order and security of the county and its inhabitants on any subject or matter not inconsistent with, or tending to defeat, the intent of any state statute where the statute does not disclose an express or implied intent that the statute shall be exclusive or uniform throughout the State.”;
(2) The Hawai‘i State Constitution, Article XI, Section 9 “Environmental Rights,” which states: “Each person has the right to a clean and healthful environment, as defined by laws relating to environmental quality, including control of pollution and conservation, protection and enhancement of natural resources. Any person may enforce this right against any party, public or private, through appropriate legal proceedings, subject to reasonable limitations and regulation as provided by law.”
SECTION 3. Chapter 14 of the Hawai‘i County Code 1983 (2005 Edition, as amended) is amended by adding a new article to be appropriately designated and to read as follows:

“Article __. Restriction of Genetically Engineered Crops and Plants.

Section 14-__. Purpose.
The purpose of this article is to protect Hawai‘i Island’s non-genetically modified agricultural crops and plants from genetically modified organism cross pollination and to preserve Hawai‘i Island’s unique and vulnerable ecosystem while promoting the cultural heritage of indigenous agricultural practices. The prohibition of open air cultivation, propagation, development, or testing of genetically engineered crops and plants is intended to prevent the transfer and uncontrolled spread of genetically engineered organisms on to private property, public lands, and waterways.

Section 14-__. Definitions.
As used in this article, unless otherwise specified:
“Genetically engineered” means an organism that has been modified at the molecular or cellular level by means that are not possible under natural conditions or processes. Such means include recombinant DNA and RNA techniques, cell fusion, microencapsulation, macroencapsulation gene deletion and doubling, introducing a foreign gene, and changing the position of genes. Such organisms are sometimes referred to as “genetically modified organisms” or “transgenic organisms.” Genetically engineered or genetically modified crops and plants include crops and plants for human consumption or for any other purpose. Genetic engineering does not include modification that consists exclusively of breeding, conjugation, fermentation, hybridization, in vitro fertilization, or tissue culture.
“Open air” means a location or facility that is not enclosed in a greenhouse or in another completely enclosed structure so as to prevent the uncontrolled spread of genetically engineered organisms.
“Person” includes natural persons, partnerships, joint ventures, societies, associations, clubs, trustees, trusts, or corporations or any officer, agent, employee, or any other personal representative thereof, in any capacity, acting either for himself, his heirs, or for any other person under personal appointment pursuant to law.
“Plant pestilence” means a virulent plant disease or infestation that is causing substantial harm to one or more crops or plants.
“Register” or “Registration” means registration by persons engaged in the cultivation, propagation, development, or indoor testing of genetically engineered crops or plants. Registration shall include: the tax map key and the council district of the property or properties; a detailed description of the location on the property where genetically engineered crops or plants are being cultivated, propagated, developed, or tested, which description shall include the size of the location and scope of usage; the name of the owner of the property or properties; the lessee or any other party in control of the genetically engineered plant or crop operation or usage; the type of genetically modified organism or transgenic manipulation used; the produce or products involved; the type, frequency, and customary amount of pesticides, inclusive of herbicides and insecticides, used; a description of any containment procedures employed; and relevant contact information.

Section 14-__. Prohibition.
No person shall knowingly engage in the open air cultivation, propagation, development, or testing of genetically engineered crops or plants.

Section 14-__. Exemptions.
The following persons shall be exempt from the provisions of this article:
(1) Persons engaged in the open air cultivation, propagation, or development of genetically engineered crops or plants, other than genetically engineered papaya, but only in those specific locations where genetically engineered crops or plants have been customarily open air cultivated, propagated, or developed by that person prior to the effective date of this article, provided that those specific locations or facilities are registered within ninety days of the effective date of this article; and
(2) Any person engaged in the open air cultivation, propagation, or development of genetically engineered papaya, whether prior or subsequent to the effective date of this article, provided that each location or facility wherein open air cultivation, propagation, or development of genetically engineered papaya occurs or will occur is registered as provided in this article.
Notwithstanding any other provision of law, these exemptions shall not allow for open air testing of genetically engineered organisms of any kind.

Section 14-___. Emergency exemption.
(a) A person who is engaged in the cultivation, propagation, or development of a non-genetically engineered crop or plant that is being harmed by a plant pestilence as defined in this article may apply to the council for an emergency exemption from the provisions of this article to use a genetically engineered remedy. The council may grant an emergency exemption by way of resolution, provided the council makes an affirmative finding that:
1) The cited plant pestilence is causing substantial harm to that person’s crop or plant;
2) There is no other available alternative solution; and
3) All available measures will be undertaken to insure that non-genetically engineered crops and plants, as well as neighboring properties and any water sources, will be protected from contamination or any other potentially adverse effects that may be caused by the genetically engineered organism or associated pesticides.
(b) Any exemption granted pursuant to subsection (a) shall include reasonable restrictions and conditions, including, but not limited to, full compliance with the registration requirements of this article and that the exemption shall expire on a certain day occurring within five years from the date of its issuance. Prior to expiration of the exemption, the council may adopt a resolution to extend the exemption for a specified period of time.

Section 14-__. Registration.
(a) All persons engaged in any form of cultivation, propagation, development, or indoor testing of genetically engineered crops or plants of any kind shall register annually beginning within ninety days of the effective date of this article, and shall pay an annual registration fee of $100 per location, payable to the director of finance. All contiguous land shall be treated as a single location. The director of the department of research and development, or the director’s authorized representative(s), shall administer the registration provision of this section.
(b) All persons engaged in non-commercial cultivation or propagation of genetically engineered papaya, in any stage or form, shall be exempt from this section. This registration exemption does not exempt persons engaged in research, development, or testing of genetically engineered papaya.

(c) Pursuant to section 92F-13 of the Hawai‘i Revised Statutes, information such as the name of the registrant and the exact location of the genetically engineered crops or plants may be withheld from the public to the extent that disclosure of that detailed information would otherwise frustrate the ability of the County to obtain accurate information.

Section 14-__. Penalties.
Any person who violates any provision of this article shall be guilty of a violation, and upon conviction thereof, shall be sentenced to a fine of up to $1,000 for each separate violation. The person shall be deemed to be guilty of a separate offense for each and every day a violation of this article is committed, continued, or permitted for each location. To the extent permitted by law, the person found in violation of this article shall also be responsible for all costs of investigation and testing, as well as for court costs, including but not limited to witness fees and witness expenses.

Section 14__ . Declaratory and injunctive relief.
A court of competent jurisdiction may hear proceedings for declaratory relief or injunctive relief, or both, for violations or potential violations of this article. To the extent permitted by law, the person found in violation of this article shall be responsible for all costs of investigation and testing, as well as for court costs, including, but not limited to, attorney’s fees, witness fees, and witness expenses.
.
Section 14__. Cumulative remedies.
The provisions of this article are cumulative. Nothing in this article shall affect any other remedy or relief that may be available to any adversely affected person or to the County or other governmental entity.
SECTION 4. If any provision of this ordinance, or the application thereof to any person or circumstance is held invalid, such invalidity shall not affect other provisions or applications of the ordinance which can be given effect without the invalid provision or application, and to this end, the provisions of this ordinance are declared to be severable.

SECTION 5. This ordinance shall take effect upon approval.

INTRODUCED BY:

_____________________________________¬¬¬___
COUNCIL MEMBER, COUNTY OF HAWAI‘I

_______________, Hawai‘i

Official Count – 100 Papaya Trees Cut Down in Puna

Hawaiʻi Island police have initiated a criminal property damage case in connection with the destruction of papaya trees at a farm in Puna.

Papaya Trees cut down at  Bernardos Farm.

Papaya Trees cut down at Bernardos Farm.

Sometime between 5:30 p.m. Thursday (September 26) and 6:30 a.m. Friday (September 27), 100 papaya trees were cut down in Kapoho off Highway 132 near the 4-mile marker. The trees were 3- to 4-feet tall and valued at $3,000.
Papaya Trees
Police ask anyone with information about this case to call Officer Cala Arnold at 965-2716 or the Police Department’s non-emergency line at 935-3311.

Tipsters who prefer to remain anonymous may call Crime Stoppers at 961-8300 in Hilo or 329-8181 in Kona and may be eligible for a reward of up to $1,000. Crime Stoppers is a volunteer program run by ordinary citizens who want to keep their community safe. Crime Stoppers doesn’t record calls or subscribe to caller ID. All Crime Stoppers information is kept confidential.

 

Another Puna Papaya Farm Attacked by Machetes

Another Puna Papaya farm has been attacked by one or more folks wielding machetes last night.  It’s at “Bernardos Farm” according to @Farmers4Choice.

Here is a picture of some of the damage:

Papaya Trees cut down at  Bernardos Farm.

Papaya Trees cut down at Bernardos Farm.

Farmers 4 Choice writes:

Really how dare you attack another small papaya grower? Who bought the machetes who destroyed over 100 trees this morning?

While the Hawaii Papaya Industry Association was gathering for their annual meeting and Mayor Billy Kenoi was speaking one farmer was absent; he was at his field with police overlooking destruction of his trees. A sad discovery awaited his trees had been chopped down!This is not okay, activism has gone to far now you have turned into eco terrorists! This is wrong!

We’re farmers not sex offenders, We will not register like a criminal…..
The criminals are the activists who have turned into ecoterrorists. Register the activists not farmers.
..

More here: We’re Farmers Not Sex Offenders

Study Proves Cancer Cases NOT HIGHER on Kauai Then the Rest of the State of Hawaii

The Hawaii State Department of Health (DOH) jointly with the Hawaii Tumor Registry and University of Hawaii Cancer Center is releasing an evaluation of the incidence of cancer on Kauai and each of its census tracts. The evaluation found that there is not a higher incidence of cancer on Kauai compared to the rest of the state; except for melanoma of the skin, a cancer related to ultraviolet exposure.

The evaluation was conducted at the request of Kauai legislators and community members in response to concerns about the health impact of pesticides used by agricultural chemical companies.

Kauai Cancer Report

Click to view the full report

The analysis found that cancers of the breast, endometrium, Hodgkin lymphoma, liver, ovary, prostate and thyroid were lower on Kauai compared to the entire state of Hawaii. Higher rates of melanoma on Kauai were found and may be explained by a larger proportion of older adults of Caucasian ancestry with high levels of lifetime sun exposure residing in the northern region of Kauai.

“Cancer clusters are rare, especially those that are linked to environmental exposures. Doctors and scientists often cannot explain why one person develops cancer and another does not,” said Dr. Barbara Brooks, DOH Toxicologist.

Cancer may be caused by a variety of factors acting alone or together, usually over a period of many years. These risk factors include age, family history and exposures to viruses and bacteria, lifestyle choices, sunlight exposure and on the job exposure to chemicals.

Of the more than 12,000 cancer deaths in Hawaii between 2000 and 2005, it is estimated that nearly 30 percent could have been prevented by avoiding tobacco use and up to 35 percent could have been averted by improving nutrition and maintaining a normal body weight. Geographic, economic, and educational barriers and other social inequities influence lifestyle factors that increase a person’s chance of developing cancer.

Health Director Loretta Fuddy said, “DOH through its Foundations for Healthy Generations Initiative is committed to addressing the social conditions and physical environments where people live, work and play in order to improve the health of all groups in Hawaii.”

The Hawaii Tumor Registry conducts cancer surveillance and maintains a confidential database of information on all reportable cases of cancer, benign brain tumors and many blood disorders diagnosed in Hawaii. The Registry is jointly operated by the University of Hawaii Cancer Center and DOH.

The DOH Hazard Evaluation and Emergency Response Office provides leadership, support, and partnership in preventing, planning for, responding to, and enforcing environmental laws relating to releases or threats of releases of hazardous substances.

The full evaluation report is available on the DOH website at www.health.hawaii.gov.

 

Monsanto Protection Act Removed From Senate CR

Today, U.S. Senator Brian Schatz released the following statement on the elimination of what is known as the “Monsanto Protection Act” from the Senate version of the short-term appropriations bill, the Continuing Resolution.

Brian Schatz
“The Monsanto Protection Act is bad policy for the country and the State of Hawai‘i,” said U.S. Senator Brian Schatz. “The Senate version of the Continuing Resolution does not include this provision, effectively repealing the Monsanto Protection Act. This provision took the ability of the Secretary of Agriculture to fully exercise his regulatory power over GMOs, and compromised the role of our courts as a check on the legislative and executive systems, making it significantly more difficult for concerned citizens to present their case.

“I strongly urge the House not to sneak the Monsanto Protection Act back into the final version of the appropriations bill. However, if it is slipped back in, rather than letting the issue be deliberated with full transparency and public input, I will immediately introduce legislation to repeal it.”

U.S. Senator Jon Tester from Montana led the charge in getting the Senate to remove the Monsanto Protection Act from the Continuing Resolution.

“Stripping the Monsanto Protection Act is a victory for American consumers and family farm agriculture,” said U.S. Senator Jon Tester.  “Corporate giveaways have no business in a bill to fund the government, and I’m pleased that the Senate stood up for accountability and transparency and against special interests.  I look forward to continuing to work with Senator Schatz to make sure that this damaging provision never again makes it into law.”

 

Councilwoman Wille on Killed GMO Bill

The council members generally recognized there is a need to restrict any further introduction of the GMOs here on our island offering suggestions to address those concerns. Given the current presence of some genetically modified crops here, the challenge is to move forward in a manner that is pono and  minimize the impact on those adversely affected by any restrictions.

Councilwoman Margaret Wille

Councilwoman Margaret Wille

Bill 79 was cumbersome with layers of amendments.  For this reason, I withdrew the bill in order to submit a clean, simpler version.  This “withdrawal” was simply a good procedural move, and should not be interpreted as any less resolve on my part to meaningful legislation.

One suggestion being considered is whether to set up a council ad hoc committee (comprised of up to 4 members of the council) to address related issues and how best to implement and enforce legislation. I submitted this possible format for this ad hoc committee at the August 6th council meeting in Communication.

Home rule issue:  If Hawaii County residents want to limit the spread of GMO crops and plants on this island, we need to have an ordinance in place before the end of the year.  Otherwise, we can expect the biotech companies to seek and easily lobby for passage of legislation prohibiting any county level laws that may interfere with the biotech corporate agendas (During this last legislative session, Monsanto and associates sought to pass SB727 which would have gutted county government).  For this reason any effort to postpone passage of a bill restricting GMOs beyond December 2013 is tantamount to killing the bill.

Thank you.  I do want to thank all who have submitted written or oral testimony. Just this past week I finally received all written testimony to the council for the July 2nd hearing and I have read through almost all of the 1000+ letters in support of Bill 79, and the approximate 100 opposition letters.  Prior to the August 6th hearing we again heard from many, both in support and in opposition and I have also read through this wave of emails as well.

The next GMO hearing on my successor version to Bill 79 is expected to be scheduled in Hilo for September 6th at 9:00 a.m.

Councilwoman Margaret Wille

Councilwoman Margarette Wille: GMO Meeting Rescheduled, But No Public Testimony Permitted

“The GMO Bill # 79 Council Committee hearing has been rescheduled for August 6th, at 1:30 pm in Hilo at the Council’s Chambers at Aupuni Center.

Councilwoman Margaret Wille

Councilwoman Margaret Wille

At this time council members will discuss and presumably vote on Bill 79, with any amendments.  The public is encouraged to attend but no public testimony will be permitted.

FYI – We had over 700 written testimonies submitted on Bill 79″

Councilwoman Margarette Wille

 

Commentary – Richard Ha on Bill 79, the Anti-GMO Bill

Click to read Richard's Blog on this

Click to read Richard’s Blog on this

Dear Editor,

Bill 79, the anti-GMO bill, has brought out a lot of concern and a lot of anxiety.

I say that we need to slow down. It would be premature to rush into a decision on this bill without taking the time to hear everybody’s input and address all the issues on the table.

Before we make big decisions – any of which could have unintended consequences – we should set up some sort of task force to look at the bigger picture of Hawai‘i’s self-sufficiency, and how we are going to achieve that.

How are we going to get there, all of us together? We need to end up at a place where we aloha each other, and take care of everybody.

Let’s not rush to pass this bill without fully understanding the bigger picture.

Richard Ha

Owner, Hamakua Springs Country Farms

 

‘Ōlelo Hosts ‘GMO Week’ of One-Hour Shows on Genetically Modified Organisms – Big Island to Simulcast on Nā Leo ʻO Hawaiʻi

‘Ōlelo Community Media has gathered people from both sides of the GMO (genetically modified organisms) debate for four nights of signature programming that aims to delve more deeply into this often divisive issue.

‘ŌLELO HOSTS ‘GMO WEEK’ OF ONE-HOUR SHOWS ON GENETICALLY MODIFIED ORGANISMS

‘ŌLELO HOSTS ‘GMO WEEK’ OF ONE-HOUR SHOWS ON GENETICALLY MODIFIED ORGANISMS

“The subject of GMOs is clearly one that many people in our community feel passionately about,” says Roy Amemiya, president & CEO of ‘Ōlelo. “We hope that GMO Week will help all of us gain a better understanding of both the pros and cons of GMO so that our community can create solutions that are in the best interest of Hawai‘i.”

Nā Leo ʻO Hawaiʻi will be simulcasting ‘Ōlelo’s pre-recorded and live shows debating the topic of GMO (Genetically Modified Organisms) June 24-27 at 6:30 to 7:30 p.m. on Channel 54.

Shows regularly scheduled on Channel 54 on Nā Leo ʻO Hawaiʻi, such as Astrology with Rollin Frost and Aloha Chapel will air on Channel 53. Program listings can be found at www.naleo.tv

GMO Week launches on Monday, June 24 and continues through Thursday, June 27, running from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m. each night. The ‘Ōlelo signature productions will air on Oahu on ‘Ōlelo Channel O‘AHU 55.

Because Neighbor Island interest in GMOs is so great, the shows will be also available during the same times on all of the Neighbor Islands through Channel 54, thanks to the local community access providers Akakū in Maui County, Nā Leo ʻO Hawaiʻi on the Big Island and Hō‘ike Kauai.

The shows will also available for online viewing through ‘ŌleloNet On Demand by visiting www.olelo.org.

Monday, June 24 and Tuesday, June 25

GMO Week starts with two pre-recorded shows from panels that convened earlier this month. The June 25 show will present a continuation of what airs on June 24. On the first night, 30 minutes of programming from the pro-GMO panel will be presented first, followed by 30 minutes from the anti-GMO panel. On the second night, the order will switch, with 30 minutes from the anti-GMO panel to air first, followed by the pro-GMO panel.

Chad Blair of Honolulu Civil Beat served as the moderator for a pro-GMO panel that featured Dr. Dennis Gonsalves, director of the USDA Pacific Basin Agricultural Research Center in Hilo; Dean Okimoto, owner of Nalo Farms and president of the Hawai‘i Farm Bureau; and Adolph Helm, project manager for Dow AgriSciences’ Moloka‘i, Hawai‘i Mycogen Seeds, and the Seeds and Traits Research and Development Project, as well as a board member of the Hawai‘i Crop Improvement Association.

Beth-Ann Kozlovich of Hawai‘i Public Radio served as the moderator for the anti-GMO panel. That panel featured Walter Ritte, manager and teacher at Keawenui Fishpond and Learning Center of Moloka‘i; Gary Hooser, Kaua‘i County councilmember and chair of the Agriculture and Intergovernmental Affairs Committee; and Scott Cooney, an adjunct professor of sustainability at the Shidler College of Business at UH Manoa.

Wednesday, June 26 and Thursday, June 27

In an ‘Ōlelo first, the public statewide is encouraged to participate in two live discussions on GMOs through live tweets or pre-submitted comments by phone. Questions or comments by phone should be submitted by calling 834.5303 no later than 4 p.m. on June 27. To submit questions via Twitter, the community is asked to use the hashtag #olelogmo. The ‘Ōlelo web page on this topic is www.olelo.org/gmo.

Questions submitted by the community will be among those discussed by the gathered experts.

The pro-GMO position in both live shows will be represented by the individuals who participated in the pre-recorded panel earlier this month: Dr. Dennis Gonsalves, Dean Okimoto and Adolph Helm.

The anti-GMO position in the June 26 and June 27 live ‘Olelo shows will be represented by the following:

Wednesday, June 26: Dr. William Steiner, dean of the UH Hilo College of Agriculture, Forestry and Natural Resource Management; Dr. Hector Valenzuela, professor and crop extension specialist at the UH Manoa College of Tropical Agriculture; and Councilmember Gary Hooser of Kaua‘i.

Thursday, June 27: Dr. Steiner and Councilmember Hooser will be joined by Bill Freese, science policy analyst with the non-profit Center for Food Safety in Washington, D.C.

‘Ōlelo hopes to air similar week-long signature productions three to four times each year to explore other important community issues in depth.

For more information, visit www.olelo.org.