Political Radar


January 11th, 2014

Syngenta, Pioneer Hi-Bred and Agrigenetics -- an affiliate of Dow -- have sued to block Kauai County from implementing its new genetically modified organism and pesticide regulation law.

The law, which takes effect in August, imposes greater disclosure requirements on restricted use pesticides and creates buffer zones for crops near schools, homes, and hospitals.

The lawsuit, filed Friday in U.S. District Court, contends that the law irrationally prohibits the biotechnology companies from growing any crops -- GMO or not -- in arbitrarily drawn buffer zones, and restricts the companies' pesticide use within the buffer zones.

The disclosure requirements, the lawsuit argues, expose the companies to risks of "corporate espionage, vandalism and environmental terrorism."

The biotech companies argue that the county law improperly intrudes into state and federal regulatory territory. The law, the companies allege, also violates federal and state constitutional rights to equal protection and due process by arbitrarily targeting the companies while exempting other pesticide users, including the county, and by imposing burdensome operational restrictions and penalties.

The Kauai County Council approved the law in November after voting to override Kauai Mayor Bernard Carvalho Jr.'s veto. The mayor had vetoed the bill after citing legal flaws raised by the county counsel.

Anti-GMO activists have celebrated the Kauai law -- and a new law in Hawaii County that bans new GMO crops -- as victories in a campaign against GMOs and pesticide use in the islands.

The biotech companies are represented by top Hawaii attorneys. Paul Alston is representing Syngenta; Margery Bronster, a former state attorney general, is representing Pioneer Hi-Bred and Agrigenetics.

7 Responses to “Sued”

  1. Especially Incognito:

    Hawaii is owned by GMO companies.
    Too bad Native Hawaiians did not sue
    when the missionaries first came
    and spread disease that killed many Natives.
    That was the first "genecide".

  2. Recce:

    Sorry, Incognito, but you’re either a revisionist, a liar, a hater, or just ignorant. Missionaries didn’t bring disease to Hawaii. Here are a few facts for your edification:

    • 1778 – Captain Cook and his crew landed in Hawaii
    • 1785 – First trading ship stops at the Islands
    • 1788 – English trading vessels are in Hawaiian waters for three months
    • 1790 – John Young becomes an advisor to Kamehameha the Great
    • 1800 – Honolulu becomes a Pacific trading center
    • 1802 – First sugar crop produced on Kaua`i by a Chinese immigrant
    • 1804 – Plague sweeps the Islands, believed to have been Asiatic Cholera
    • 1805 – Estimated population of Hawaiians is 264,160.
    • 1810 – Sandalwood trade begins and first hotel opens
    • 1813 – First pineapple planted in Hawaii
    • 1815 – John Parker begins Parker Ranch in Waimea
    • 1817 – Russians built Fort Elizabeth on Kauai
    • 1819 – First whaling ships arrive in Hawaii
    • 1819 – Estimated population of Hawaiians is 144,000
    • 1820 – First missionaries arrive – more than 40 years after Western contact with Hawaii

  3. Guido Sarducci:

    Interview: Drug Dealing N. Shore Anti-GMO Leader Has 'Penchant for Violence'


  4. Bart Dame:

    Yep, the global biotech companies, hugely profitable, have high-priced attorneys working for them to intimidate those who resist their will. No surprise there. They are very litigious. In fact, even the threat of a lawsuit, delivered on an impressive enough letterhead, is usually enough for them to get their way.

    But it is not clear there is a correlation between their incredible wealth, their threats, their effectiveness at intimidating elected officials (when they are not bribing them), on the one hand and the soundness of their legal arguments, on the other. Even conceding, as I will, that they have spent years at the state and federal level to ensure the laws are written to their advantage. Surely, after getting their attorney appointed to the US Supreme Court (Clarence Thomas), one of their vice-presidents to the FDA and bribing countless senators, congressmen and presidential candidates, it is likely the courts will smile on them?

    That is NOT clear and that points to a very obvious SILENCE in this blog post. There are legal counter-arguments, with very qualified, national level attorneys who not only advised during the drafting of Kauai's Bill 2491, but have also volunteered to represent the county in the event of a lawsuit, which has now happened.

    Paul Alston is a top-knotch local attorney. But he does not always prevail, despite the threatening authority of his letterhead. Locally, top environmental attorneys have often prevailed against developers and the state. The Sierra Club, EarthJustice and the Native Hawaiian Legal Corporation have all had impressive wins.

    This case will draw national level legal talent to defend the decision of the Kauai council. This is far from decided. Lawyers file lawsuits all the time. There is a major difference between FILING a lawsuit and WINNING a lawsuit.

    It is worth noting that the pro-GMO forces, both the industry and those politicians whose careers they subsidize, think Hawaii's laws need to be amended to strengthen the claim that state and federal laws pre-empt the authority of counties to regulate agriculture. Why else are we going to see a strong push to pass a bill to accomplish this in the upcoming session?

    It is also worth noting that the GMO companies do not respect the right of the State government to regulate them and argue in another venue that it is FEDERAL law which should govern their operations, not county, nor state. And, at the same time, they are pressing for passage of the Trans-Pacific Partnership, which contains provisions which would pre-empt county, state AND federal regulatory authority, granting it to an unelected, transnational arbitration board, controlled by corporate interests.

    The GMO companies have huge resources and lots of people on their payroll to get their way. They will throw multiple legal arguments at their problems, hoping at least one of them will stick. But the resistance to their arrogance is growing across the planet. The people of the world have a pretty big tool box as well, though fewer hirelings.

  5. Especially Incognito:

    1778 Captain Cook first arrived.
    Seems he was on a mission.
    Seems one who is on a mission is a missionary.

    Plagiarist at its best. Proven.
    "Sorry, Incognito, but you’re either a revisionist, a liar, a hater, or just ignorant. Missionaries didn’t bring disease to Hawaii. Here are a few facts for your edification:" Recce

    I see no facts for my "edification" proving Missionaries did not bring any disease. Seems the "revisionist, a liar, a hater, or just ignorant"
    is just the twisted plagiarist. Rant on.

  6. Especially Incognito:

    "Too bad Native Hawaiians did not sue
    when the missionaries first came
    and spread disease that killed many Natives."

    WHEN? Genious just added dates.

  7. Andy Parx:

    The mischaracterization of the Kaua`i ordinance being strictly an "anti-GMO" effort belies the pesticide issue which is what is at the heart of the Kaua`i ordinance. But it's much sexier for the corporate media to yell "GMO GMO" than to actually look at the law that was passed.

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