Kauai fields
Melissa Emmons Photography

When Kauai passed stringent regulations over transgenic crops, I made a big to-do, saying that the new law represented “an anti-GMO wave rising.” Well, that wave has met a seawall in the form of Kauai’s mayor, Bernard Carvalho, who vetoed it on Halloween.

Carvalho said he actually supports the spirit of the law, but thinks it that it conflicts fatally with other laws already on the books. Sophie Cocke of Honolulu Civil Beat has the most complete reporting on this so far. She writes:

Biotech industry representatives indicated that they would sue the county if the bill passed. During hearings on the bill, attorneys for the biotech industry also insisted that aspects of the bill could be overturned in the courts because it is “vague and ambiguous” and it could lead to the “illegal taking” of property.

Basically, by passing this bill Kauai has picked a legal fight with the biotech industry. And that’s a fight the mayor thinks he’d lose. The county council, which passed the bill on a 6-to-1 vote, could still overturn the veto.

As I wrote before:

Hawaii is a key part of the plant-development process for seed companies. Because of the tropical climate, breeders can grow three generations of corn a year on the islands, and this speeds up the work of producing new varieties.

This bit of the tropics is also important to the industry because it’s within the U.S., free from the uncertainty and complication that comes with developing technology abroad, under a different set of laws. As a result, all the big seed companies are there.