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Judge halts Big Isle GMO registration rules

March 11, 2014
The Associated Press

HILO (AP) - A judge is putting on hold Hawaii County's registration requirements for growers of genetically modified crops.

Hilo Circuit Judge Greg Nakamura granted a temporary restraining order Friday in favor of a papaya farmer whose lawsuit claims that the new registration law is "burdensome and intrusive," Hawaii Tribune-Herald reported.

Nakamura's order prevents the county from enforcing the registration requirement and disclosing information already received. The registry is part of the county's new law restricting the planting of genetically modified crops to enclosed structures such as greenhouses. Papaya growers are exempt but still required to register.

The lawsuit claims that the plaintiff believes giving up confidential information opens him up to vandalism or having trade secrets stolen.

"These are farmers who really fear for their plants, for their farms and for their livelihoods," plaintiff attorney Margery Bronster told the court via telephone.

Deputy Corporation Counsel Michael Udovic said the law is valid and is in the interest of public good. "I don't think it's wise," he said of the order.

Lawyers for the plaintiff are also seeking a preliminary injunction. That request will be heard March 24.

The lawsuit was initially filed on behalf of an unnamed farmer. Bronster said the suit is being amended to add another papaya farmer, Ross Sibucao. But she argued that the identity of the initial plaintiff shouldn't be revealed.



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