Kauai Mayor Bernard P. Carvahlo Jr. has vetoed Kauai’s groundbreaking GMO-related Bill 2491. The bill passed on October 16 after a nineteen-hour marathon hearing that lasted until 3:30 in the morning, not to mention months of protests and debates running up to the hearing.
But Mayor Carvahlo said in a press release that he felt he had no choice but to veto the bill on legal grounds. “I have always said I agree with the intent of this bill to provide for pesticide use disclosure, create meaningful buffer zones and conduct a study on the health and environmental issues relating to pesticide use on Kauai,” the mayor stated. “However, I believe strongly that this bill is legally flawed. That being the case, I had no choice but to veto.”
Prior to the county council vote that passed Bill 2491, nine Hawaii attorneys released a joint statement asserting that the bill was in fact legally sound: “We believe that Bill 2491 is sound, and the mere threat of a lawsuit by industry interests should not prevent the Council from taking action they believe is important to their community...We feel it would be unfortunate if the Council were to allow any well-financed opponent to determine public policy merely by threatening to sue.”
The well-financed opponents to which the attorneys referred include biotech giants like Syngenta, DuPont-Pioneer, Dow and BASF. Bill 2491 would force agricultural companies to disclose when and where they spray pesticides, restrict spraying to a certain distance away from public areas, and disclose what genetically engineered crops they grow on Kauai.
During the hearing that preceded the county council vote, Mayor Carvahlo’s concerns had focused on the financial burden the bill would put on Kauai, estimating that $1.3 million would need to be appropriated by next year to implement different aspects of the bill. Attorneys for the biotech companies had said the bill unfairly targeted big agriculture and allowed for “illegal taking” of company property.
The veto can be overridden by the Kauai County Council with a minimum of five votes.
Related on HuffPost:
A picture taken on October 9, 2008 shows an ultralight helicopter hovering above a field where Greenpeace activists and Austrian organic farming association BIO AUSTRIA wrote the message 'NO GMO' (Genetically Modified Organism) by planting light green coloured organic buckwheat in a field of organic peas in Breitenfurt, some 60 kms south east from Vienna. (DIETER NAGL/AFP/Getty Images)
Thirty-five tons of corn put by Greenpace activists at Mexico City's Zocalo Square as a protest against the sowing of transgenic corn, form a map of Mexico on February 26, 2009. (Ronaldo Schemidt/AFP/Getty Images)
People walk on a plateform past an advert against genetically modified (GMO) food on February 15, 2011 at a subway station in Paris. (MIGUEL MEDINA/AFP/Getty Images)
Greenpeace activists demonstrate against genetically modified organisms (GMOs) on November 24, 2008 in front of EU headquarters in Brussels. Greenpeace called on the European Union to suspend the authorization of GMOs until the EU is capable of evaluating the risks they pose. (DOMINIQUE FAGET/AFP/Getty Images)
Greenpeace activists stand a protest in front of Los Pinos presidential residence in Mexico City against the farming of transgenic corn in Mexico, on June 26, 2009. (ALFREDO ESTRELLA/AFP/Getty Images)
A Greenpeace activist impersonating Brazil's Chief of Staff Dilma Russeff takes part in a protest against the authorization to grow transgenic rice during a meeting of the National Biosecurity Technical Commission (CYNBIO) at the Science and Technology Ministry in Brasilia October 15, 2009. (JOEDSON ALVES/AFP/Getty Images)
Greenpeace activists distribute samples of transgenic rice as part of a protest against the authorization to grow transgenic rice during a meeting of the National Biosecurity Technical Commission (CYNBIO) at the Science and Technology Ministry in Brasilia October 15, 2009. (JOEDSON ALVES/AFP/Getty Images)
The logo of French 'Les faucheurs volontaires' (Volunteer trimmers of GMO) is seen as demonstrators stand in front of the booth of French union 'la confederation paysanne' (farmers union) during an action against GMO at the International Agricultural Fair on March 6, 2010 in Paris. The European Commission authorised, on March 2, the cultivation of a genetically modified potato, developed by BASF, the first such green light for 12 years. The issue of so-called 'frankenfoods' has long been a matter of fierce debate in Europe and the commission stressed that the Amflora potato in question would be able to be grown only for 'industrial use' including animal feed, rather than for human consumption. (BERTRAND LANGLOIS/AFP/Getty Images)
A couple waves after a parody of union between German chemical giant BASF (L) and the European Food Safety Authority (R) - Autorite europeenne de securite des aliments- (EFSA) during the International Agricultural Fair on March 6, 2010 in Paris. (BERTRAND LANGLOIS/AFP/Getty Images)
A giant banner depicting a farm, is seen as Greenpeace activists hold banners to protest against the genetically modified (GMO) food production in front of the parliament building of Budapest on February 10, 2010. (ATTILA KISBENEDEK/AFP/Getty Images)
A grey-cow is pictured near Greenpeace activists in traditional Hungarian costume standing in front of a giant banner depicting a farm as others hold a banner reading 'GMO-free Europe' to protest against the genetically modified (GMO) food production in front of the parliament building of Budapest on February 10, 2011 during a demonstration. (ATTILA KISBENEDEK/AFP/Getty Images)
Greenpeace activists hold a banner to protest against the genetically modified (GMO) food production in front of the parliament building of Budapest on February 10, 2010. (ATTILA KISBENEDEK/AFP/Getty Images)
A man dressed up as a bee holds a placard during a demonstration organized by French Professional Beekeepers Federation (FFAP) to protest against the use of pesticide on September 14, 2011 along the Saint-Bernard quay in Paris. (JACQUES DEMARTHON/AFP/Getty Images)
Anti-Genetically Modified Organisms (GMO) demonstrators protest in front of Colmar courthouse on September 28, 2011, eastern France, during the trial of 60 militants accused of destroying MGO plants. (FREDERICK FLORIN/AFP/Getty Images)
An anti-GMO activist holds a banner reading 'Science without conscience is but the ruin of soul' during an action to call for the ban of the 'MON 810', a variety of genetically modified maize (corn) developed by Monsanto Company on January 23, 2012 at a Monsanto storehouse in Trebes near Carcassonne, southern France. (ERIC CABANIS/AFP/Getty Images)
Is Branding Food With "GMO" the Kiss of Death?
Prop 37 in California proposes that genetically modified food be labeled "GMO". If you knew your food was genetically modified, would you still eat it?