LIHUE, Hawaii (AP) — Kauai’s mayor vetoed a bill Thursday that would have regulated the use of pesticides and genetically modified crops by large agricultural businesses.
Mayor Bernard Carvalho Jr. said in a statement that he agreed with the bill’s intent, but he vetoed the bill because it was legally flawed.
The Kauai County Council passed the measure, Bill 2491, by a 6-1 vote about two weeks ago. It would have required Kauai’s largest agricultural companies to disclose the presence and use of pesticides and genetically modified crops.
It would have also established pesticide-free buffer zones around schools, hospitals, homes and other areas. It would have required the county to conduct a study on the health and environmental impacts of the industry.
But Carvalho said in a letter to council members that existing federal and state laws appear to pre-empt the county from enacting its own pesticide laws. The bill may also violate Hawaii’s Right to Farm Act, he said.
The mayor said he wants the county to go ahead and study the health and environmental impacts of the industry and will work with the council to find money to fund an analysis.
“Our community is deeply divided over 2491 and we can’t allow that to continue,” Carvalho’s letter said. “It is my hope that after reviewing this opinion, the reasons for this action will be clear, and we can then focus on finding common ground and moving forward.”