Families on the “Garden Isle” of Kauai are suing the Dupont-owned Pioneer seed company for failure to investigate the danger posed by open air testing of genetically modified crops. 150 Waimea residents filed the lawsuit Tuesday against Pioneer Hi-Bred International Inc., as well as the company that leases the fields to Pioneer, Gay and Robinson Inc.  The suit alleges that “Pioneer’s GMO operations have continually generated excessive fugitive dust and used inherently dangerous pesticides without taking preventative steps to control airborne pollutants as promised by Pioneer and as required by state and county law.”

Waimea residents first voiced their concerns about the known pollutants in a 2000 petition that asked Pioneer to address the impact of the dust and pesticides; Pioneer responded in a letter that it would take steps to minimize the dust, but has yet to show the community what steps they have taken. Although Pioneer notifies residents of the planting and spraying schedule, homeowners are living in “lockdown” with windows and doors closed year-round, cleaning continuously to cope with the fugitive dust.

Honolulu attorney Gerard Jervis, who was contacted to represent the residents a year ago, had toxicologists and researchers look into the Waimea fields where 200 foot live dust plumes rise and drift into the neighborhood below. The majority of the plaintiffs have been living there for decades. Cindy Goldstein, the business and community outreach manager for Pioneer, maintains that the company has been “a good community partner for over 40 years” and plans to continue its partnership. Jervis even met with Dupont at their requests, but the meeting “didn’t go anywhere.”

The suit did not disclose the amount requested but seeks to redress damage to property values and physical damage to homes. It will not address health issues, which may be part of a second lawsuit.

image: IRRI Images

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