Court Rules Feds Cannot Prevent Local Governments From Banning GMO’s

The US Court of Appeals ruled last Friday that federal law does not prohibit states and counties from passing local laws regulating and banning genetically modified crops.
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    This past Friday, the US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit issued a highly anticipated decision on whether federal and Hawaii state laws supersede the authority of individual counties to regulate the use of genetically modified crops and pesticide use. Hawaii, though many Americans don’t know, has been at the center of the GM debate for years as major GM seed and chemical companies have used the archipelago for “research and development” for over two decades.

    Though product testing and development sounds nice enough on paper, in practice it has allowed these companies to spray 17 times more restricted-use insecticides and pesticides per acre than is recommended for farmland in the continental US. In 2012 alone, 18 tons of agrochemicals, including atrazine and paraquat (both banned in Europe), were applied to the island of Kauai, with an area of less than 600 square miles. Local Hawaiian doctors as well as local residents have blamed the excessive use of pesticides for a spike in birth defects. “Your eyes and lungs hurt, you feel dizzy and nauseous. It’s awful,” middle school Special Education Teacher Howard Hurst, told the Guardian. “Here, 10% of the students get special-ed services, but the state average is 6.3%,” he says. “It’s hard to think the pesticides don’t play a role.”

    The Court of Appeals decision was anxiously anticipated by many of Hawaii’s residents, particularly those who live in the shadow of Monsanto, Syngenta, and Dow Chemical research farms. The court ruled that federal law does not prevent state or local governments from passing local laws which regulate or ban the commercial growing of GM crops. In its decision, the court recognized the potential damage that the widespread planting of GM crops causes to both farmers and the environment, saying that “the cultivation and testing of GE [genetically engineered] plants raises several well-documented concerns.” The court also noted that “transgenic contamination has previously caused significant economic impacts on farmers of conventional, non-GE crops.” The ruling also acknowledged that the “cultivation of GE crops also may raise environmental concerns, such as harm to beneficial plants and animals caused by the increased use of pesticides sometimes associated with testing and growing GE crops, the proliferation of ‘superweeds’ and other pests resistant to pesticides, and the reduction of biodiversity.” Ultimately, they declared that “The regulation of commercialized crops, both of GE and traditional varieties, remains within the authority of state and local governments.”

    Though the decision will be seen as a victory for local and state governments elsewhere, it will do little to help communities in Hawaii that were hoping to regulate or ban GMOs and experimental pesticide use. The court also ruled that under Hawaii state law, counties and municipalities do not have the authority to regulate or ban GM crops unlike other states. In Hawaii, such authority rests with the state alone due to existing state legislation on the matter. Earth Justice attorney Paul Achitoff expressed his disappointment with the court’s “misinterpretation” of Hawaii law, saying that “the decision leaves Hawaii unprotected from the harms the Ninth Circuit acknowledged. We believe that when Hawaii’s state courts have an opportunity, they will reject the Ninth Circuit’s conclusion on this point and allow Hawaii’s people to protect themselves, since the State certainly hasn’t protected them.”

    In addition, the court also ruled that the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) is the sole authority that can regulate field trials and experimental GM crops, which never state or local governments can ban or regulate. This will be yet another blow to Hawaii’s communities who have fought for years to regulate experimental pesticide use throughout the islands. Though the ruling will be heralded as good news by other states and local governments, Hawaiians must continue fighting on to counter the powerful influence of agrochemical and GM seed companies in their state government before real change can come.

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    • dak kol

      unfortunately, my brother in law was a professor at Monsanto funded UH in Honolulu and ran the lab there. – he wrote the white paper for Monsanto that advocated glyphosate was safe even at full strength levels. He has had three bouts of skin cancer. I continually lobby against all things not produced naturally in nature including isolates as well as chemical copies. Nature is biological and we are biological – and should be joined in the natural form.

    • Gmo Roberts

      So basically all the states need to pass laws protecting agriculture and farmers just like Hawaii has. We need to get our states in gear!!

      • blackfocus58

        Yes, that’s got to be the game plan!

        • alex

          the constitution already exist, you already have these freedom, it’s already unconstitutional to ban safe crop, it’s already unconstitutional to label gm food products as a different class of food

    • Mark Smith

      Looks lie BayerMonsanto is gonna have to buy another judge in Hawaii.
      It’s getting expensive.

      • alex

        lol not nearly as expensive as the millions the organics industry pour into fear mongering against a safe crop breeding technology, you would think if organic is actually better they could just show up gm crops in a fair equal and open market place,

        • 208s

          The unsafe part isn’t the “safe crop breeding technology”, it’s the cancer caused by the pestacides and herbacides those crops are engineered (not bred) to have sprayed all over them. Just ask the World Health Organization. Also, nobody spends more than GM companies to influence policy to make the food market unfair so don’t even

          • alex

            are you on crack?

            • 208s

              No, I’m just “not an idiot”

              • alex

                keep digging moron, you’ve only, proven my point, keep fearing one of the lowest toxicity pesticides ever

                • 208s

                  Erring on the side of caution would never make one a moron. With the extreme rates of cancer in the US it perfectly reasonable to be cautious. I think your original point is most likely incorrect anyway, it is well documented how much GM companies spend to influence public policy and I imagine they spend a lot more trying to sway public opinion as well. How about you enlighten us with some facts and give us some sources to prove your point? I’ll go first, nobody spends more money on agricultural lobbying than Monsanto:

    • RobertWager

      Wonder how many people knew about this from the National Academy of Sciences 2012 report-Impact of GE crops on Farm Sustainability in the US.

      “In general, the committee finds that genetic-engineering technology has produced substantial net environmental and economic benefits to U.S. farmers compared with non-GE crops in conventional agriculture.”

      or this from the European Academies Science Advisory Council 2013 report-Planting the Future

      “There is NO VALIDATED EVIDENCE that GM crops have greater adverse impact on health and the environment
      than any other technology used in plant breeding…There is compelling evidence that GM crops can contribute to sustainable development goals with benefits to farmers, consumers, the environment and the economy…It is
      vital that sustainable agricultural production and food security harnesses the potential of biotechnology in all its

      • tapatio



        • Mark Smith

          Should change his name again. He has so many accounts. To Robert Wages

          • tapatio

            I thought as much. Most of these ProTrolls have multiple accounts/browsers/computers.

            • alex

              no you’re just a pathetic deluded paranoid worm that gets called out for their stupid crap by multiple people, keep on showing how paranoid and deluded you are though, it’s great to watch morons dig their own graves

              • tapatio

                Just a wh0re for Monsanto.

        • alex

          cute pointless ad hominem crap, it’s good to know you have no counter points based in logic reason justification science liberty or reality

      • Mark Smith

        You mean the study that was funded by DuPont and Monsanto? that study? Robert, stop pointing to studies that are already debunked as paid for. You might as well be quoting the Genetic Literacy Project or teh heritage Foundation. Misha Poppof has published a lot for them sayig he thinks GMO are organic because they grow!! HAHAHHA! You post eight hours a day , five days a week. It’s your job. you have no credibility here.

        • alex

          lol nice non argument

        • This is like saying the IPCC is working for Exxon/Mobil. The science companies weren’t at all happy with the NAS report because it went too far in deferring to the nutcases who claim GE is a satanic practice.

      • dak kol

        please post links to those reports 😉