A second anti-GMO law has been struck down in Hawaii, with a federal judge today overturning a Big Island ban adopted by its County Council.
U.S. Magistrate Judge Barry Kurren again ruled that county authority over GMOs is pre-empted by state law. He made a similar ruling in overturning Kauai County's Ordinance 960, which also attempted to regulate pesticide use by four GMO seed companies and Kauai Coffee.
The anti-GMO moratorium that Maui County voters narrowly approved on Nov. 4 is also likely dead, as Kurren will rule in the legal challenge to that initiative, too.
Kurren used the same rationale in striking down both the Hawaii and Kauai county bills: the state Legislature clearly intended for state agencies, such as the Departments of Health and Agriculture, to oversee such matters.
He also found that the Hawaii County Ordinance 13-121, which banned all but existing GMO crops, was partially pre-empted by federal law, a question that was not resolved in his ruling on Ordinance 960.
As in the challenge mounted to the Kauai ordinance, Kurren did not address many issues raised in the Hawaii Island complaint, which was filed by groups representing small banana, papaya and flower farmers, as well as ranchers, along with several individual farmers and the Biotechnology Industry Association.
He instead focused solely on the core issue: pre-emption.
Kauai County is pursuing an appeal, joined by Center for Food Safety, Earthjustice, Surfrider and Pesticide Action Network. Hawaii County hasn't decided if it will appeal, but Civil Beat reports that Sen. Russell Ruderman, who represents the Big Island and heads the Senate Agriculture Committee, said he may introduce a bill that gives counties authority to regulate.
Given the opposing views of his counterpart in the House, it's unlikely such a bill will go anywhere.
Meanwhile, CFS dismissed the second ruling as no biggie and vowed to fight on — or so long as the donations keep coming in.
Which reminds me of the latest fundraising appeal from Food Democracy Now! It was looking for dough to assemble “an emergency recount response team” to watch Oregon officials in each county recount ballots after the state's GMO labeling law lost by 812 votes.
In other words, fully milking it. That's how so many of these groups make money.