FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
Legal Dream Team Reaffirms Commitment to Defend Bill 2491
from Interference by Pesticide Industry
In a letter to Kauai Mayor Bernard Carvalho, two pre-eminent attorneys in the field of pesticides and genetically modified crops reiterated their commitment to defend Bill 2491 from any legal interference by the pesticide industry.
Paul Achitoff is the Managing Attorney for the Honolulu office of Earthjustice, a national, nonprofit, public interest environmental law firm. George Kimbrell is a Senior Attorney with the Center for Food Safety, a national, public interest organization with more than 300,000 members nationwide.
Mr. Achitoff and Mr. Kimbrell have worked together on several landmark lawsuits in Hawaii and nationally concerning genetically modified crops and pesticides, including the Hawaii case, Center for Food Safety v. Johanns. The Johans case dealt with experimental biopharmaceutical crops that had been planted on over 816 acres on Oahu, Maui, Kauai and Molokai. Resolved in 2006, it was one of the first cases to hold that USDA has a duty to analyze the environmental impacts of experimental GMO crops.
Mr. Achitoff and Mr. Kimbrell have litigated numerous cases dealing with the federal laws directly governing such crops and pesticides as well as other environmental laws.
In their letter to Mayor Carvalho, the attorneys stated, “We urge you to allow Bill 2491 to become law. We will be there to defend it.”
Now that Bill 2491, as amended, has been passed by the Kauai County Council, EarthJustice and the Center for Food Safety would like to reiterate our commitment to defend the bill from any legal interference by the pesticide industry. We are working with interested community groups and individuals on a pro bono basis and are prepared to intervene in the event that the chemical companies challenge the bill in court.
. . .
No thoughtful, experienced attorney will offer blanket assurances about how any lawsuit will be decided. However . . . we believe that Bill 2491 is sound, and the mere threat of a lawsuit by industry interests should not prevent you or the County from taking action you believe is important to the community.
Mr. Achitoff and Mr. Kimbrell are also among nine (9) attorneys, including Retired Hawaii Supreme Court Justice Steven Levinson, who signed a joint statement in support of 2491.
They Mayor has until October 31st to sign the Bill into law, or to allow it to become law unsigned.
Bill 2491, in an amended form, was passed by the Kauai County Council at 3:30am on Wednesday morning, October 16th, after an eighteen (18) hour Council meeting attended by hundreds of residents. The Bill requires Kauai’s largest agricultural companies to disclose their use of pesticides and genetically modified crops. It also establishes buffer zones around schools, hospitals, roads and other sensitive areas, and requires the county to complete an environmental and health fact-finding study on the industry’s impacts. The victory comes despite intense pressure from the agricultural biotechnology and pesticide industry, which has considerable power on the island, as well as attempts to water down the bill from some state officials.
By sending their letter to the Mayor, both Earthjustice and Center for Food Safety showed their support for the sentiment expressed in a press release by the Center for Food Safety:
“The people of Kauai have been remarkable in their persistence in the face of corporate power. The County Council did the right thing by listening to the people and acting in their best interest rather than bowing to multinational corporations. . . . Center for Food Safety will stand with the people of Kauai. We are committed to working with allies on the island to defend the bill from any legal interference by the pesticide industry.