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Biotech Seeks to Stifle Agricultural Sovereignty in Hawaii

In January 2014, three biotech giants, Dow Chemical Co., DuPont Co and Syngenta AG sued to block Ordinance 960, a recently passed law that aims to protect environmental and public health on Kauai by requiring the three companies, along with the biotech firm BASF, to publicly disclose information about pesticide sprays and to establish buffer zones near schools and hospitals. Mike Ludwig of Truthout highlights this conflict’s broad implications for local governing bodies that seek to restrict global biotech companies and their products. Although many supporters of the ordinance have staunchly opposed biotech for some time, others critics have recently become involved due to the environmental injustice facing their communities.

The lawsuit is a complaint based on alleged selective enforcement against biotech practices. Since the passing of the ordinance, recipients of intensive lobbying from biotech in the Hawaii state legislature have attempted to undermine grassroots efforts like Ordinance 960, as both Ludwig and Elizabeth Renter of Natural Society report.

Establishment media outlets mentioned the suit, yet focused on the position of biotech companies. Little meaningful analysis of underlying issues was presented in response, aside from distorted statistics that serve to discredit any criticism of biotech.

Sources:

Mike Ludwig, “Hawaii’s GMO War Headed to Honolulu and Federal Court,” Truthout, January 28, 2014, http://www.truth-out.org/news/item/21506-hawaiis-gmo-war-headed-to-honolulu-and-federal-court.

Elizabeth Renter, “Hawaiian ‘Right to Farm Bill’ Would Block Local Pesticide/ GMO Bans,” Natural Society, February 10, 2014, http://naturalsociety.com/hawaiian-bill-restrict-countys-ability-reign-pesticides-gmos/.

Student Researcher: Rio Molina (Sonoma State University)

Faculty Evaluator: Tony Vigorito (Sonoma State University)

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