An Island Divided: Hawai'i Battles GMO Industry Takeover (Part One)
Written by Jill Ettinger
In June, 17 residents of Waimea, a small town on Kaua'i's southwest corner, filed a lawsuit against Pioneer Hi-Bred and the landowner Gay & Robinson for failing to control pesticide contaminated dust and erosion directly related to the company's GMO test sites.
The south and west sides of Kaua'i have been home to the world's largest open-air test fields of genetically modified organisms for nearly two decades. Taking over the land once dominated by a thriving sugarcane industry, DuPont, Pioneer, Syngenta, Dow, BASF and Monsanto now crowd the tiny island's once pristine landscape with fields of experimental genetically modified crops including corn, soy and sunflowers treated with a variety of experimental pesticide cocktails. Kaua'i's idyllic climate allows the biotech companies to get 3-4 planting seasons in every year.
The Waimea suit follows a similar lawsuit filed in May on behalf of nearly 200 individuals with related complaints against Pioneer's use of pesticides, which the plaintiffs say have not been controlled and are polluting the Waimea river, contaminating the area's coastline and reefs and endangering human health. But Pioneer maintains that it has done nothing wrong and is compliant with regulations that residents say are continually violated by the company. Local area farmers report that their non-GMO crops are being affected by crop drift and pesticides, and that the local bee populations are decreasing as a result of the chemicals.