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New Kauai councilor is GMO swing vote

November 16, 2013
The Associated Press

LIHUE (AP) - The fate of Kauai County's bill to require large farms to disclose use of pesticides and genetically modified crops could be decided by a new council member.

Mason Chock was selected Friday to fill a vacancy on the council, which will allow the panel to vote on overriding the mayor's veto of the agriculture bill, the Garden Island reported.

The vote had been delayed until the council replaced Nadine Nakamura, who resigned to become Kauai County managing director.

Chock was expected to be sworn in today, in time for the vote.

Chock will be the swing vote on the divisive bill opposed by large farms and agriculture companies.

Supporters of the agriculture bill need five votes to override Mayor Bernard Carvalho's veto and had just four Thursday night.

Councilman Mel Rapozo opposed the bill early on and maintained his opposition. Like Carvalho, he favors a state voluntary compliance program for biotech companies.

Councilman Ross Kagawa voted for the bill Oct. 16 but on Thursday opposed the override.

"I always was against the bill from day one," but voted yes to show his willingness to move forward on the issue, he said.

Councilman Gary Hooser, an author of Bill 2491, suggested the recess to allow members to consider filling the vacancy. After the meeting, Hooser said he expected the override to pass and that he was surprised at Kagawa's position.

More than 200 people attended the meeting, and most who testified supported the bill.

The measure would require mandatory disclosure of genetically modified crops and pesticide use. It would prohibit the crops near schools, homes, medical facilities, public roadways and waterways. Large agribusinesses would also be required to provide annual public reports on genetically modified crops. Companies affected include Syngenta, DuPont Pioneer, BASF, Dow AgroSciences and Kauai Coffee, the state's largest coffee grower.

Biotech companies oppose the bill. Representatives say Carvalho recognized its legal flaws.



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