Kauai Councilman Gary Hooser and anti-GMO activists frequently claim the seed companies are “suing for the right to spray poisons next to schools, homes and hospitals.”
|Anti-GMO activists Leeona Thompson (Dylan Hooser's wife), left, and Fern Rosenstiel laugh as they hold an intentionally misleading banner.|
It's a great sound byte, if you want to portray a corporation as an unfeeling monster, and it fits on a banner. But as I learned when I toured the Kauai seed fields, it's a far cry from reality.
Bil 2491/Ordinance 960, the GMO/pesticide regulatory bill that seed companies successfully sued to overturn, states:
No crops may be grown within 500 feet of any adult family boarding home, adult family group living home, day care center, family care home, family child care home, medical facility, nursing home, residential care home, or school.
No crops may be grown within 500 feet of any dwelling....
Yet the closest fields to Kaumakani School are 1,300 feet and 2,500 feet away. Fields are 1,500 to 1,700 feet from West Kauai Veterans Memorial Hospital. And Syngenta voluntarily maintains a 1,500-foot buffer between Waimea Canyon Middle School and its nearest field, which hasn't been cultivated in years.
“We're paying [lease rent] for it still and we keep it mowed, but we have no plans to crop,” said Joshua Uyehara, station manager for Syngenta Hawaii LLC in Kekaha.
Syngenta does have one field near Hanapepe Heights, but it's never used it. Instead, the nearest cultivated field is some1,500 feet from the nearest residence. Pioneer and Dow have no fields within 500 feet of homes.
|Uncultivated Syngenta field near Waimea Canyon School.|
So why would companies “sue for the right to spray poisons near schools, homes and hospitals when they either a) don't have fields within the proposed buffer zones around those facilities, anyway, or b) have voluntarily imposed their own buffers?
Answer: they didn't. The seed companies' lawsuit was about many issues, including regulatory authority, equal protection, uncompensated “takings” of private property and violations of the Commerce Clause, Kauai Charter and the state's Right to Farm act.
The question now becomes, why do politicians like Gary Hooser and activist groups like Center for Food Safety, Hawaii SEED and HAPA continue to make a claim that is patently untrue?