Dust from GMO crops spurs residents' suit
Associated Press, Dec 16 2011
A group of Kauai [Hawaii] residents has sued a major seed company, saying its genetically modified crops have led to pesticide-laden dust being blown onto homes for more than a decade.
Attorneys for 150 Waimea residents filed the lawsuit Tuesday in 5th Circuit Court against Iowa-based Pioneer Hi-Bred International Inc.
Pioneer is a subsidiary of Delaware-based chemical maker DuPont Co.
Gay & Robinson Inc., which leases fields east of Waimea to Pioneer, was also named in the lawsuit.
Pioneer uses dangerous pesticides during open-air tests of genetically modified crops without controlling airborne pollutants as required by state and county law, the residents contend. Tradewinds blow across the test fields into Waimea, on the southwest coast of the island.
The lawsuit claims that "pesticides and fugitive dust from Pioneer's GMO Test Fields are recognized pollutants that present known and unknown risks to human health and the environment associated with acute, sub-chronic, and chronic exposure."
Residents want to know what chemicals are being used. They contend Pioneer has not investigated the degree of danger to residents and the environment.
In 2000, residents petitioned Pioneer to deal with the effects of the dust and chemicals, saying they were concerned about dust on "our homes, our cars, our streets and buildings, and most alarmingly, our children, who are forced to breathe dust-laden air as a part of living."
Pioneer responded with a letter vowing to take immediate steps to minimize dust from the fields.
But, the lawsuit says, "the influx of dust and chemicals from Pioneer's fields has continued while Waimea residents fight a daily battle to keep their homes and property free of dust and chemicals and continue to suffer on a daily basis."
Cindy Goldstein, the business and community outreach manager for Pioneer, told the Garden Island newspaper that she could not comment on pending litigation. "We've been a good community partner for over 40 years, and even though this suit has been filed, we'll continue to be a good community partner," she said.
Honolulu attorney Gerard Jervis, one of the lawyers representing the residents, said his clients "are living in lockdown, unable to open their doors or windows."