The Truth About Bill 2491 Relating to Pesticides and Genetically Modified Organisms

As the author of Bill 2491 relating to Pesticides and Genetically Modified Organisms, I feel compelled to address the tremendous amount of misinformation being generated in the community as to its impacts and effects on our island community.

To be clear – Bill 2491 does not ban GMO’s and will absolutely not force or cause the closure of any GMO operation on Kauai.

Further – Bill 2491’s pesticide provisions apply only to commercial agricultural operations that use large amounts of Restricted Use Pesticides (RUP’s). 99% of these very toxic substances are used by just 5 companies on Kauai. The GMO companies apply approximately 18 tons of over 22 different types of highly restricted chemicals every year to their fields all over our island. These chemicals have warning labels that sometimes exceed 100 pages and many are banned in Europe and elsewhere in the world.

No one else on Kauai uses these RUP chemicals at any level even close to what is being used by these agrochemical operations. The GMO companies use 18 tons per year. All golf courses combined on Kauai use annually about 200 pounds of RUP’s total. While the State and County does utilize “general use pesticides” such as Round Up they do not use RUP’s at all in their roadside spraying.

No small farms will be impacted by Bill 2491 whatsoever because they simply do not use RUP’s at any significant level at all.

These same GMO companies are conducting experiments with pesticides and genetically modified organisms not approved for human consumption, nor approved for release into the open general environment. While these companies often deny this fact, I have clear and unequivocal documentation to prove this assertion.

Year after year, these large agro chemical corporations dump over 18 tons of 22 different types of Restricted Use Pesticides and an additional estimated 80 tons of General Use Pesticides (glyphosate, Round Up and other) into the Kauai environment. These toxic chemicals are often applied in fields near schools, hospitals, houses, streams and sensitive coastal environments.

There have been no studies, no research and no evaluation of what impacts this activity has on our community’s health and natural environment. There is no law in place at the present time that requires these companies to disclose the large amounts of toxic chemicals they use daily in our community. Nor is there any law in place today that prevents these same chemicals from being used in areas adjacent to schools, hospitals and other sensitive areas.

The heart of Bill 2491 is the “right to know”. Kauai’s people have the right to know what pesticides are being used in very large quantities and what experimental pesticides and experimental genetically modified organisms are being used in our County.

If passed into law Bill 2491 will:

1) Require mandatory disclosure of Pesticide and GMO use by large commercial agricultural entities and require a buffer zoned around schools, hospitals and other sensitive areas. This applies only to large users of Restricted Use Pesticides and will not affect small farmers at all.

2) Prohibit open air testing of experimental pesticides and experimental GMO’s. Note: This does not ban the testing but merely requires that it be conducted in an enclosed environment.

3) Establish a temporary moratorium on new GMO operations pending the results of an environmental impact statement and development of a permitting system. Note: This does not impact existing operations but only impacts expansion during the limited moratorium period.

4) Require the County of Kauai to prepare an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) on the impact of the GMO industry and its related pesticide practices within Kauai County. This will include independent testing of soil, water, air and volunteer residents.

5) Require a permitting system for GMO operations and establishes penalties.

6) Provides that all costs may be paid for via permitting fees assessed on those companies being regulated and via property tax directly connected to their operations.

Bill 2491 has been reviewed by numerous legal experts and has undergone many revisions during the drafting process. The County of Kauai has the legal authority to pass and implement the provisions contained within this measure. Nothing in federal or state law prevents us from taking this action and in fact both existing law and past court decisions support our right to protect the health and natural environment of our county.

Without question our community is growing increasingly concerned about the impact of the GMO operations and their related pesticide use on our island. This is a Kauai issue concerning activities and impacts that are occurring on Kauai.

Growing and experimenting with genetically modified organisms, using experimental pesticides and spraying a wide array of restricted and non restricted pesticides on a mass scale have impacts on our island, our health and our environment. There are direct impacts, secondary impacts and cumulative impacts but we don’t know what those impacts are because they have never been properly evaluated – and the companies in question will not give us the information needed to make a proper evaluation.

As an elected member of the Kauai County Council I am committed to working with my colleagues on the Council whom I know share my concerns, to pass into law an ordinance that will in fact further protect the health and safety of Kauai residents.

Please participate in the process and send your testimony to counciltestimony@kauai.gov and please take the time to attend the public hearing scheduled for 1:30pm on July 31 at Kauai Community College.

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About garyhooser

I currently serve as an elected member of the Kauai County Council. In a past life I was a Hawaii State Senator and Majority Leader and the Director of Environmental Quality Control for the State of Hawaii - in an even earlier incarnation I was an entrepreneur and small business owner. Yes, I am one of the luckiest guys on the planet. How lucky? Watch "The Hooser Story" http://www.garyhooser.com/ and read my blog at http://www.garyhooser.wordpress.com/ “Come to the edge.” “We can’t. We’re afraid.” “Come to the edge.” “We can’t. We will fall!” “Come to the edge.” And they came. And he pushed them. And they flew. - Christopher Logue (b.1926)
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12 Responses to The Truth About Bill 2491 Relating to Pesticides and Genetically Modified Organisms

  1. prentissc001@hawaii.rr.com says:

    Aloha Gary: Do you think we need a bill like this on Oahu? Chuck Prentiss

    • garyhooser says:

      Hello Chuck,
      Good question: Personally I think the entire State is entitled to the right to know what is going on in their communities but the answer to your question really needs to come from the residents who live there. That is how this Bill started…from regular people getting together and saying “what are we going to do…we have to do something”. A hui hou. gh

  2. Scott Goold says:

    Aloha Gary,
    Mahalo nui loa for working to protect us and our families. We truly appreciate your leadership!

  3. e.d. says:

    “The GMO companies use 18 tons per year. All golf courses combined on Kauai use annually about 200 pounds of RUP’s total. While the State and County does utilize “general use pesticides” such as Round Up they do not use RUP’s at all in their roadside spraying.” That about 41,400 pounds(GMO) compared to 200lbs(golf course).

    There have been no studies, no research and no evaluation of what impacts this activity has on our community’s health and natural environment. There is no law in place at the present time that requires these companies to disclose the large amounts of toxic chemicals they use daily in our community. Nor is there any law in place today that prevents these same chemicals from being used in areas adjacent to schools, hospitals and other sensitive areas.”

    Thanks for doing this, Gary.

  4. Mimsy Bouret says:

    Gary, You are our hero…. Thanks for taking this on…. The island will greatly benefit from your stewardship…. and so shall all of us living here. Mahalo Nui Loa

  5. Mike says:

    Gary this is a ban on GMO seed corn operations on Kauai. Since some of our best graduates now work at those companies I’m very concerned about what happens to them. Can you name the companies so there’s no misunderstanding we’re talking about the same people?

    • garyhooser says:

      I disagree totally with you. This is not a ban on GMO seed corn. Google is your friend, try it (here is a hint – every company in the GMO experimenting pesticide development business in the world is here except Monsanto )

  6. Sharon says:

    So true that we have a right to know what is being dumped into our beautiful environment, and mega thanks for having the courage and energy to address this critical issue.

  7. Candi LaCour says:

    Thanks Gary. I support you 100% in this.
    It’s refreshing to have someone fighting for us & our Island’s health —not to mention the health of the Marine life surrounding us, since all of these pesticides eventually run off into our Ocean waters’. There is only one Kauai & we don’t want to distroy it. Mahalo Nui Loa.

  8. Sara Miller says:

    why vote yes when we can vote NO and ban pesticide spraying altogether?
    Just because we know doesn’t give us the power to stop the release into the environment. I think we need to consider the negative aspect of the bill.

    • garyhooser says:

      While I appreciate and respect your opinion. In my opinion it is not feasible on many levels to “ban pesticide spraying altogether”. We are having a difficult time as it is even passing Bill 2491 that applies only to Restricted Use Pesticides and their disclosure…buffer zones etc. W

  9. laurel says:

    Good Luck bring light into the darkest heart Gary

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