Judge rules Kauai's GMO law is invalid

Judge rules Kauai's GMO law is invalid

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Monday marked a big win for 'big ag' companies on Kauai in district court. Judge Barry Kurren ruled Ordinance 960, which established pesticide free buffer zones, mandated environmental and public health impact studies, and established penalties for non-compliance, was invalid because state laws preempt county laws.

Kauai Mayor Bernard Carvalho, who was on Oahu for a monthly meeting of mayors, spoke outside Honolulu Hale on the topic.

"We're happy to have a verified legal analysis of ordinance 960," Mayor Carvalho said.

Carvalho has at points been in the middle of a divisive issue. He has long stated he agrees with the intent of the law, but doesn't feel like it was 'proper and legal'. The mayor said Monday that he felt legislating was the wrong path to take.

"I felt strongly we could do that more in a business sense, in the aloha spirit way".

The managing attorney for Earth Justice's Hawaii office, Paul Achitoff, disagrees. "If you want to stop the chemical companies from doing what they're doing, which is having pesticides where they can effect people and their property and the environment, then you pass laws to do it".

He says he will advise his clients to appeal. He says the law is ambiguous, and there's room for the court of appeals to overturn the initial decision.

"Where is the evidence that the legislature intended for the state to have the exclusive authority to regulate pesticides everywhere in the state?" Achitoff said. The process could take up to a year and a half. In the meantime, Ordinance 960 will not be in effect.

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