| LIHUE, Hawaii
LIHUE, Hawaii Nov 16 The governing body on the
Hawaiian island of Kauai voted on Saturday to override their
mayor's veto of a bill that seeks to reign in widespread
pesticide use and the testing of new genetically modified crops.
The Kauai County Council's 5-2 vote means agricultural
companies will be unable to plant crops inside buffer zones
created around schools, homes and hospitals. New limits will be
placed on pesticide use and companies must disclose where they
will plant test crops.
The vote to override Kauai County Mayor Bernard Carvalho
Jr.'s veto caps months of protests by islanders and mainland
U.S. groups opposed to extensive testing of crops on Kauai, a
largely rural island that has a tropical climate considered
ideal for trying out new biotech crops. The council needed five
votes to cancel the veto.
The spread of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) in food
and feed has triggered a global dispute with critics claiming
GMOs require more use of pesticides and cause environmental
damage and health issues for people and animals.
Companies opposed to the measure have said biotech crops are
essential in boosting global food production and in improving
environmental sustainability. They said pesticides already are
well regulated by state and federal agencies.
Among the firms that have tested biotech crops on Hawaii's
"Garden Isle," as Kauai is known, are DuPont, Syngenta AG, and
Dow AgroSciences, a division of Dow Chemical Co.
Passage of the measure in Kauai was hailed by
California-based Pesticide Action Network North America.
"The victory not only creates critical new laws but also
serves as a signal to other communities across the United States
that they can prevail over powerful corporations," Paul Towers,
the group's organizing and media director, said in a statement.
Concerns about pesticide use on the island have been
mounting in recent years and some people contend health
problems, including cases of cancer, are tied to the farm
chemicals on the experimental crop fields.
Carvalho said the bill is vulnerable to legal challenge and
he proposed ordering a study on health and environmental impacts
of pesticides on the island.
"Of course we will honor the council's decision and I will
continue to work with my departments to determine how we will
implement this new law," the mayor said after the vote. He said
the law would take effect in nine months.