Council repeals GMO law: Rapozo says it is time to move forward

LIHUE — Kauai’s pesticide legislation, Ordinance 960, was repealed Wednesday through the approval of Bill 2643 upon second reading during a Kauai County Council meeting.

“I’m glad it’s over,” said Councilman Mel Rapozo, who introduced Bill 2643. “We needed to move forward and start the healing process and this is the first step.”

Kauai Councilman Arthur Brun recused himself from voting because he works for Syngenta.

Ordinance 960, formerly Bill 2491, was passed in November 2013 and set out requirements for large-scale agricultural operations to disclose the use of pesticides and genetically-modified crops. It also required buffer zones around sensitive areas like schools and hospitals.

In November 2016, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled counties don’t have the right to regulate pesticide use by agrichemical companies, and only the state has the right for such regulations.

Since the ruling made the law unenforceable, Bill 2643 is more of a housekeeping issue, Rapozo said.

“The intent was to move forward and try and heal this island and bring people back together,” Rapozo said. “2491, it caused quite a division. In my recollection, this is the most divisive issue that we’ve had.”

With the ruling that the state must enact pesticide legislation, supporters of Bill 2491 said they will be working to accomplish their goals via the Legislature.

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