Kauai hui wants state, Syngenta to conduct environmental assessment

LIHUE — A Kauai hui involved in a lawsuit against the Hawaii Department of Natural Resources and the agroscience company Syngenta is continuing efforts to require the seed company to conduct an environmental review of their ongoing operations on the island’s Westside.

On Wednesday, Ke Kauhulu O Mana filed an appeal against a December order handed down in the environmental court on Kauai that rejected their argument that the state and Syngenta had failed to comply with HRS chapter 343, which governs Environmental Impact Statements.

The hui wants agroscience companies, starting with Syngenta, to conduct the lengthy assessments of their impacts to the environment because of alleged health and environment risks that come with the operations.

“We are the ones feeling the impacts from corporate agriculture,” said Westside resident Loui Cabebe, a member of Ke Kauhulu O Mana. “We are the ones who are hurting. We can see the damage that is being done to our land and to endangered birds and marine life. The burden should be on the companies to prove that their activities are safe.”

Cabebe continued: “Is it too much to ask our public officials to enforce our laws? Our regulators should hold corporations accountable. That is all we are asking them to do.”

Representatives from Syngenta did not return requests for comment before deadline on Wednesday.

The members of the hui, which are the plaintiffs in the case, believe Environmental Court Judge Randal Valenciano didn’t take the historical background of the land under consideration, according to Lance Collins, attorney for the plaintiffs.

Up until 1986, plaintiffs say, the land was solely approved for sugarcane seed growing, and they maintain the courts should look at the addition of other seed growing operations as “new agrichemical uses” with “cumulative impacts on health and the environment.”

“We believe the judge erred,” Collins said. “We were pleased that he acknowledged the relevance of the environmental law but his reasoning rested on his interpretation of ‘existing use’ and his readiness to accept Syngenta’s activities as a mere extension of that use.”

  1. Kimo February 1, 2018 7:10 am Reply

    Funny how Kauai is trying to be anti agriculture. Just what we need, making farming even more expensive and less sustainable. I cannot understand how people feel comfortable attacking our ag industry.

  2. harry oyama February 1, 2018 9:29 am Reply

    The best way to find out if the judge or politicians are bias is to check their bank accounts and see if they were “influenced” by Syngenta money. It is a fact that on a number of occasions, school children had to be sent to hospitals after smelling a strange odor coming from the fields being sprayed by Syngenta. Don’t wait another 30 years like in the case of Agent Orange to take effect when Syngenta goes bankrupt and unable to pay for damages!

  3. DevelopmentIsRegression February 1, 2018 1:32 pm Reply

    Kimo – Do you realize Syngenta is a chemical company not an ag. company? Kaua’i needs real food production not GMO chemical testing by chemical companies. Why not do an EIS? What are you afraid of?

  4. Manawai February 1, 2018 1:32 pm Reply

    @harry oyama – Let’s check your accounts and see how much Center for food Safety (an antithetical name) is paying you to be such a public numbskull.

    “We can see the damage that is being done to our land and to endangered birds and marine life.”
    Too late Cabebe! That stuff happened by the sugar plantations before you were born. DUH!

  5. John Zwiebel February 1, 2018 6:58 pm Reply

    What is the rational for not doing the testing being asked for? It isn’t like people aren’t scared for good reason. There are hundreds, if not thousands, of examples of the “government” promising us that “everything is fine” only to find out that it isn’t. Let’s take a random event that happened in Michigan. The flame retardant, PBB was mixed in with cattle food and the cows were slaughtered and people ate them. Now they are dying from cancers and kidney problems and other diseases.


    Not exactly the same, but the government did say “no problem”, and the companies selling the contaminated beef did say “no problem”. So why should people believe that the government and/or the corporation isn’t lying?

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