Monday, August 25, 2014

Federal court rules State, not county, can regulate pesticides and GMOs

Kaua’i’s controversial Bill 2491/Ordinance 960 was slapped down today by Federal Magistrate Barry M. Kurren.

The County may not enforce the law

And while the judge’s ruling is complex, the message is simple.

The county can’t regulate pesticides or genetically modified crops, because the state already has global” and “comprehensive” regulatory mechanisms in place.

The County, thus, is pre-empted from enacting its own regulatory scheme.

The court case was brought after a messy little drama, in which the County Council passed Bill 2491 to regulate pesticides and GMOs in Kaua`i County, and then the mayor vetoed the bill, and then the County Council filled an empty Council seat in order to have enough votes to override the veto, and then the Council did override the veto by a 5-2 vote. 

That meant the ordinance could take effect. But the new ordinance was immediately appealed by Syngenta Seeds, Syngenta Hawaii, Pioneer Hi-Bred International, Agrigenetics and BASF Plant Science. 

Those seed companies sued Kauai County, since was required to enforce 960. Intervenors in the action included Ka Makani Ho`opono, Center for Food Safety, Pesticide Action Network North America and Surfrider Foundation, all of whom supported 960.

There were more than a dozen claims, but two ended up being enough to kill Ordinance 960.

“The Court’s ruling simply recognizes that the State of Hawaii has established a comprehensive framework for addressing the application of restricted use pesticides and the planting of GMO crops, which presently precludes local regulation by the county." 

In short: The state already comprehensively regulates pesticides, so the county can't. And the state already comprehensively regulates dangerous weeds and restricted plans, to the county can't. 

© Jan TenBruggencate 2014

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