GMO critics push for more pesticide transparency

Published: Jan. 28, 2017 at 1:29 AM HST|Updated: Jan. 28, 2017 at 8:35 AM HST
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - The battle over GMOs is shifting from regulating genetically modified crops to regulating the pesticides seed companies use while growing them.

GMO critics are pushing two measures that would require mandatory disclosure of when and where the companies spray the chemicals, as well as buffer zones around schools, hospitals and homes.

A third bill, introduced by State Sen. Josh Green, calls for a ban on the use of the pesticide glyphosate on all state and county properties. Glyphosate is used in Roundup and other weed killers.

"I don't think there's a debate over whether pesticides are dangerous. We understand they're dangerous," said Ashley Lukens, director for the Hawaii Center for Food Safety. "We just want to know where they're sprayed and if we can prevent them from being sprayed on our most vulnerable communities."

Industry experts say the risks are overblown.

"You're talking about levels of exposure... That people could not possible do for lifetime-type scenarios, decades-long types of exposures at levels that would simply never happen," said Renee Pinel, CEO of the Western Plant Health Association.

Pinel said mandatory disclosure would make it too expensive to farm, especially in Hawaii, where most farms are 50 acres or less.

"That's millions of dollar to implement this kind of program," she said.

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