Earthjustice and Center for Food Safety are representing a coalition of Kauaʻi residents and public interest groups in a legal intervention filed today to defend the County of Kauaʻi’s 2013 pesticide law from a challenge by chemical companies.
The law is charged with protecting Kauaʻi residents and the environment from exposure to pesticides applied to genetically engineered (GE) crops in the wake of repeated incidents of schoolchildren and other residents suffering symptoms of pesticide exposure, and inaction by Hawaiʻi authorities. The GE industry grows experimental and other GE crops on thousands of acres on the small island, in many places close to schools, homes, and waterways, and is known to spray some of the most toxic pesticides still in use, such as the organophosphate chlorpyrifos. The law requires the disclosure of pesticide and GE crops used on the island, and establishes buffer zones around sensitive locations like schools and hospitals.
“The spectacle of four multibillion-dollar multinational chemical companies suing for the right to continue spraying Kauaʻi’s residents with acutely toxic chemicals, and to keep what they spray and when they spray it a secret, is shameful,” said Earthjustice managing attorney Paul Achitoff. “Our clients deserve protection, and we will see that they get it.”
“Center for Food Safety stands with the people of Kauaʻi, and will protect this legally sound and important law from the pesticide industry’s attacks,” said George Kimbrell, senior attorney for Center for Food Safety.
The Kauaʻi County Council voted to enact the law in November 2013 after overriding Kauaʻi Mayor Bernard Carvalho’s veto. In January 2014, Syngenta, Pioneer Hi-Bred International, Inc. (owned by DuPont), Agrigenetics, Inc. (owned by Dow Chemical), and BASF Plant Science LP, which collectively farm some 12,000 acres on the island, sued Kauaʻi County, claiming the law is not legally valid.
The coalition of intervening groups is Center for Food Safety, Pesticide Action Network North America (PANNA), and Surfrider Foundation, and a citizen group of directly affected residents, Ka Makani Hoʻopono (The Wind That Makes Right).