Residents of the Hawaiian Islands just breathed a sigh of relief – literally, as the deadline passed for Hawaii’s House Judiciary Committee to hear House Bill 849, relating to Right to Farm, that would force residents to succumb to pesticide spraying without any say. All the while, companies like Monsanto, Dow, Syngenta, and BASF use Hawaii land as a testing ground for GM crops.
Bill 849 amends Hawaii’s Right to Farm Act to ensure that counties cannot enact laws, ordinances, or resolutions to limit the rights of farmers and ranchers to engage in agricultural practices – including spraying with carcinogenic pesticides.
Hundreds of citizens called and wrote letters to state legislators urging them to stop giving Monsanto, one of the largest lobbyists in the Islands, permission to continue spraying pesticides, especially near their schools, homes, and hospitals.
Lorna Cummings Poe, a Kaua‘i resident whose daughter and granddaughters are impacted by pesticide drift in Kekaha on the island’s west side, said:
“We can no longer put the interests of industrial agriculture before the interests of our keiki [children] and ‘āina [land]. Today’s decision shows that we’re moving in the right direction. I am hopeful for the future.”
As with many Big Ag bills, the title is confusing. Contrary to the language in the bill title, this measure would have protected the agrichemical industry’s ‘right-to-spray’ pesticides near schools and homes.
The death of this preemption bill means that industry lobbyists just choked on their own greed.
Center for Food Safety and Earthjustice legal teams are poised to deliver oral arguments and defend these ordinances before the Federal Court in Honolulu in June 2016.
Featured image credit: EarthJustice / NOEL MORATA