About 4,000 people on Kauai in Hawaii marched on Sept 8 in support of County Bill 2491, which ensures the "right to know" about the GMO restricted use pesticides being sprayed on thousands of acres across the "Garden Island." This was the largest mass political rally in the history of Kauai, said a spokesperson for the coalition backing the bill
Bill 2491 mandates disclosure of all spraying activities on the experimental GMO seed crops (none of it for food) being raised here by the agrochemical companies BASF, Dow Agronomics, Syngenta and DuPont-Pioneer.
The bill further requires a buffer zone around schools and hospitals and residential areas, plus a moratorium on new GMO seed crops and open-air chemical field trials -- pending an environmental impact study.
All supporters need for passage of the bill is four out of seven council votes. Two "yes" votes are certain, the bill sponsors (Gary Hooser and Tim Bynum), and another council member (JoAnn Yukimura) is favoring most but not all of the bill. Three other council members (Nadine K. Nakamura, Mel Rapozo, and Jay Furfaro) still straddle the fence, and one (Ross Kagawa) is openly opposed to the bill. The mass demonstration today was meant to send a clear signal to all council members who hope to win re-election, said organizers.
The GMO seed companies are saying the bill puts agricultural jobs at risk. However, all these GMO farming jobs could be replaced by organic farming jobs, claim bill backers.
More to the point, if this bill does not pass, organizers privately fear a Kauai tourism boycott that likely would ruin the island economy and cost jobs for everyone. One person who asked not to be identified said she has seen the "boycott Kauai" literature being drafted by mainland activists.
For the website of the march organizers, visit: http://www.stoppoisoningparadise.org/