Kauai council takes more time on pesticide rules

Two-month delay is sought as the county council considers pesticide and GMO regulations.

LIHUE, Hawaii (AP) — The Kauai County Council is taking more time to consider legislation regulating the use of pesticides and genetically modified crops by large agricultural businesses.

It had expected to vote on the bill Tuesday, but Mayor Bernard Carvalho Jr. asked the council for a two-month deferral to allow time to hold discussions with the state, the Honolulu Star-Advertiser reported Wednesday.

County Managing Director Gary Heu told the council that its timetable for implementing the ordinance is “unrealistic,” The Garden Island reported. Enforcing the bill’s provisions with limited county resources would be “challenging at best,” he said.

The council plans to resume its discussions Tuesday.

The bill would require Kauai’s largest agricultural companies — DuPont Pioneer, Syngenta, Dow AgroSciences, BASF and Kauai Coffee — to disclose the presence and use of pesticides and genetically modified crops. It would also establish pesticide-free buffer zones around schools, hospitals, homes and other areas and require the county to conduct a study on the health and environmental impacts of the industry.

Heu said there is nothing in the bill to prevent frivolous complaints related to pesticide violations.

The county estimates it would need to hire at least one specialist, administrative personnel and a hearings officer. It may also need to spend money on training and investigative tools like GPS equipment and soil sample testing.

That would cost nearly $1.5 million, including $125,000 that the county would need by Dec. 1, Heu said.

Officials are also seeking more time so they can discuss enforcement of disclosure and buffer zones with the state Department of Agriculture.

Councilman Tim Bynum, who introduced the bill with Councilman Gary Hooser, said enforcement wouldn’t be difficult because the companies keep detailed pesticide records.

“(The companies) would actually have to falsify their records and commit fraud to create a situation where they violate this law,” he said. “They would have to doctor their own records.”

Hooser said the bill would take effect six months after its approval, giving the administration time to “gather itself together.”

Hooser said the county lacked a sense of urgency on the issue.

Carvalho responded that the bill is an urgent matter, but more time and collaboration is needed.



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