The battle for healthy communities in Kaua'i is once again ramping up. Last week, a federal judge issued a ruling overturning a popular pesticide reform law passed by the Kaua'i County Council last year.
Four global pesticide and GE seed corporations — BASF, Syngenta, Dow, and DuPont Pioneer — were all parties to the legal challenge. In the face of this latest round of industry pressure, PAN has vowed to work with community partners and lawyers to "explore all available options" to help defend the County of Kauai and support a fair and green food system in Hawai'i.
PAN and its members in Hawai’i, including parents, farmers and teachers, had intervened in the case to help defend the County’s law with attorneys at Earthjustice. Other community, food and farming groups are also involved in the suit, including a group of residents who have been directly affected by pesticide drift called Ka Makani Hoopono (“The Wind That Makes Right”).
The law, Ordinance 960, created modest no-spray protection zones and a county-held database for reporting pesticide use and plantings of GE crops.
Paul Towers, PAN's media and organizing director, decried the aggressive and well-financed industry efforts to undermine the law, and called the ruling a "direct challenge" to Kaua'i's right to protect the health of families and children in their community:
"Unfortunately, the judge's ruling appears to ignore the rights of counties in favor of global pesticide and genetically engineered seed corporations. By denying Kauai's law, the judge is undermining efforts to create more transparency and stronger protections for farmers, workers and families from hazardous pesticides."
One important silver lining: the court also specifically ruled that federal laws do not preempt the ordinance. This leaves open the possibility that the State could amend its laws to protect its residents without running afoul of federal law. Stay tuned.