Hawaii Takes GMO Fight to Switzerland

A Hawaiian official has returned from Switzerland, where he asked Syngenta shareholders to urge the chemical giant to withdraw from its lawsuit against his county’s regulation of genetically engineered crops.

Syngenta joined with Dow AgroSciences, DuPont Pioneer and BASF in a January 2014 federal lawsuit seeking to block enforcement of Kauai Ordinance 960 (formerly Bill 2491), which regulates testing of agrochemicals on GMO seed crops on Kauai.

Enacted in late 2013 by Kauai County Council in an override of the island mayor’s veto, Ordinance 960 requires the GMO seed companies to disclose when, where and how much chemicals they spray on their test crops.
The law also requires a 500-foot buffer between testing areas and schools, hospital and homes.

Syngenta and the other agri-giants claim that Kauai does not have the legal right to pass or enforce such regulation, and that state laws supersede the county ordinance.

Federal Magistrate Judge Barry M. Kurren in August 2014 found that state law preempted Ordinance 960, and enjoined the county from enforcing it.

The Kauai County Council voted the next month to appeal the ruling.
David Minkin, a special counsel hired to defend the county, said at the time that an appeal to the 9th Circuit would take at least a year.

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