It was a marathon session that came to an end at 3:30 a.m. Wednesday. After 14 hours of testimony and discussion, the Kauai County Council approved a bill requiring businesses to disclose pesticide use and genetically modified crops on Kauai.
Some say Bill 2491 divided the community while others say it united an island.
"Nobody is really happy with it. I don't think anyone in this room is totally happy with this bill, but I think this is what we needed to move forward and to take a step in this direction to make a statement of concern," Kauai County Councilwoman Nadine Nakamura said.
The bill requires farms to disclose pesticide use and the presence of genetically modified crops. It would also require buffer zones near schools, homes, medical facilities, public roads, and waterways.
"To the seed companies, I want to make you understand we have to envision the future of our island. Your companies have you policies, we need to envision Kauai and the future," Kauai County Council Chairman Jay Furfaro said.
Mayor Bernard Carvalho, Jr. had asked the council to hold off for a month, allowing for more discussions with the state on enforcement. But Council Chairman Furfaro said there was no reason to delay the vote any further.
Bill 2491 passed by a 6-1 vote.
"I think it's very unusual anywhere in the United States, a small community like ours fought against major corporate interest and won the right to know what chemicals they're spraying in our community," Kauai County Councilman Gary Hooser said.
Kauai County Councilman Mel Rapozo was the lone dissenting vote, saying the bill was legally flawed.
"They utilized the pesticide health issue as the vehicle to go after the GMO companies, which I believe is not good policy," Councilman Rapozo said.
Councilman Hooser says the measure is legally sound.
"The companies will be in the position of suing Kauai County for the right to spray poisons next to schools and I believe they would lose in court and they would lose in the court of public opinion," Councilman Hooser said.
Both agree the focus should now be on healing.
"Can we restore the relationships that have been destroyed? I think to me is the bigger problem," Councilman Rapozo said.
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