County should not rush GMO/pesticide legislation

The federal government employs thousands of people to study and regulate pesticides and genetically modified crops. The state spends extensively on overseeing these as well. I question whether giving the county new responsibilities in this area is appropriate.

The present annual budget for Maui County is nearly $600 million. As large as that amount is, for a population of 140,000 people, it does not seem to be sufficient for all of the county’s present needs. For example, the county should be working diligently with the state to prevent the little fire ant from becoming established here but so far there is little evidence of such efforts.

If the legislation being discussed is passed, it seems inevitable that the county would have to increase its budget to cover the salaries of scientists, inspectors and staff needed to monitor these activities. And if, as seems possible, the county is sued by the companies – with their extensive legal departments – more resources would have to be found.

The best course seems to be to wait and see what happens as the counties that have passed such legislation begin to implement it.

Finding organic and non-GMO products is not difficult; they are readily available. I suggest we take some time to continue educating ourselves on these issues, to learn about the conditions of local farmers and to share concerns and information with elected officials. Rushing precipitately into legislation might well prove counterproductive.

Beverly Bartlett