FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
October 2, 2013
TOP ATTORNEYS CONFIRM COUNTY AUTHORITY
ON BILL 2491
Statement is "Significant Step" Toward Approval:
Signatories Include Retired Hawaii Supreme Court Justice Steven Levinson
Nine lawyers published their collective statement in The Garden Island newspaper on October 2, 2013, stating in part, "No law expressly prohibits the county from taking this action, and no court cases clearly block the county from passing and implementing this bill. Moreover, ordinances with similar provisions have been passed elsewhere and have not been successfully challenged."
This statement comes after several of the agro-chemical/GMO companies stated their intention to challenge an earlier version of the Bill in court. In their joint statement, the attorneys note that the County of Kauai is empowered by the State of Hawaii with the "authority to protect the health, life and property of its people," and write, "We feel it would be unfortunate if the Council were to allow any well-financed opponent to determine public policy merely by threatening to sue. But if a vote is being based on the belief that the Bill will be struck down, we see no meaningful basis for that concern.
Lawyers joining this statement are: Paul Achitoff, Managing Attorney, EarthJustice; George Kimbrell, Senior Attorney, Center For Food Safety; Peter Schey, President/attorney, Center for Human Rights and Constitutional Law; Justice Steven Levinson, retired, Hawaii Supreme Court; Alan Murakami, attorney in his personal capacity; Teresa Tico, attorney and President of the Kauai Bar Association; Kapua Sproat, attorney and Law Professor, Richardson School of Law; Harold Bronstein, attorney on Kauai; and Elif Beall, attorney on Kauai.
Kauai Council member Gary Hooser commented, "This is a significant step toward passage of Bill 2491. Knowing that the County is not only within its powers but is legally mandated to protect health and safety, I hope the Council Members work together to bring about swift passage of Bill 2491."
Bill 2491 began as a grass roots movement that has gained tremendous momentum as more information about the GMO operations on Kauai has surfaced. Recent research revealed that one agro-chemical company, Pioneer Hi-Bred (DuPont), applied highly toxic Restricted Use Pesticides an average of 65% of days, or approximately 240 days each year from 2007 to 2012. There are four agro-chemical companies concentrated in west Kauai.
New public understanding that Kauai is an open air test center for agro-chemical companies, where large amounts of pesticide are applied to develop the most herbicide and pesticide resistant "parent" seeds for commercial replication, has helped Kauai residents understand that agro-chemical activities on Kauai are not "farming."
As currently amended, Bill 2491 will require disclosure by the heaviest users of Restricted Use Pesticides, including four of the world's largest chemical companies currently conducting experimental "seed farming" operations on Kauai. Bill provisions require disclosure of toxic pesticides; buffer zones around schools, hospitals, residential areas and waterways; and a health and environmental study to better understand the impacts of the agro-chemical GMO industry on the island.
On Friday, Sept. 27, an amended version of the bill passed from committee and will go before the full Kauai Council for consideration shortly.
Read the full statement here:
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