Stop the Monsanto Doctrine from Poisoning Democracy

We, the undersigned, stand with the People of Hawaii, the SHAKA Movement, The Pesticide Action Network, The Center for Food Safety and Earthjustice in their historic effort to overturn the democracy-threatening Monsanto Doctrine: the right of agrochemical corporations to do whatever they want in defiance of local laws.

On June 15 a panel of federal judges from the Ninth Circuit Court met in Honolulu to hear oral arguments from three important cases that may result in the environmental equivalent of a Citizens United decision. 

During the coming year, this appellate court will either uphold or overturn three recent decisions by the lower federal District Court in Hawaii that invalidated the power of county governments and the environment. 

I join with tens of thousands of people across the United States and around the world to support the democratic right, and responsibility, of these local governments to protect the people of Hawaii from the impact of hundreds of experimental agrochemical farms across the islands that currently spray huge quantities of hazardous pesticides on genetically modified seed crops.

In cases involving the islands of Kauai and Hawaii a federal judge struck down local government laws that would have required buffer zones to prevent pesticide spraying near schools, and open air genetic engineering experiments that were seen as threatening to local organic agriculture. 

A different federal judge from the same Hawaii court made history last year when in two separate court decisions (involving the islands of Maui and Molokai) the result of a citizen’s initiative, that passed during the 2014 election, was invalidated.

The public initiative, which was the first ever passed in the County using its public initiative process, called for a moratorium on the production of GMO seed crops until they had been independently tested and proven safe.  Although such tests are something that have all failed to ever do, the federal court took the historic step of prohibiting Maui’s government from certifying the vote or implementing its new moratorium law. 

All three of the District Court Hawaii decisions under review blocked important, prudent public safety laws passed in Maui, Kauai and Hawaii counties from taking effect, based upon the ominous legal finding that the very power of the counties to make these laws was supposedly “preempted” by the superior power of the United States Government’s Department of Agriculture. In this, and in accepting preemptive powers from the Environmental Protection Agency and the Food and Drug Administration (neither of which have ever independently tested the long term health impact of GMO food, Roundup or other pesticides on human beings), the federal judiciary is being used as an instrument to hijack local democracy.

These rulings are based upon the finding that Monsanto, Syngenta, Dow Chemical, BASF, Dupont and Bayer multinational corporations which earn tens of billions of dollars a year, would, according to the federal court,  “suffer irreparable harm” from curtailing their operations to comply with local laws. The federal District Court ruled that local government has no power to require the agrochemical corporations operating in their backyards to abide by the most basic common sense public health laws. 

As a result of these three activist decisions by Hawaii’s District Court, the very federal agencies that were established by Congress  to protect people from corporations now protect the corporations from people -- and from all safety regulations by their local governments. If the precedent set in these rulings by Hawaii’s District Court is not overturned, local government will be rendered powerless to protect public health. Monsanto and the other five largest agrochemical giants in the world will have convinced a federal court to use its judicial power to override local legislative power, enforcing a preemptive authority never envisioned by Congress. 

Under this new Monsanto Doctrine, the regulatory agencies created to protect public health and the food supply of our citizens have been reinvented as legal shields to protect the world's most toxic agrochemical companies from the authority of local government to provide that very protection to its citizens. 

If left standing, this same Monsanto Doctrine will be employed as a weapon against common sense health regulations around the world, through international trade agreements like NAFTA, the TTIP and (if unstopped) the TPP, preventing entire countries from safeguarding public health.

The federal appellate judges from the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals have the power to overturn this theft of the basic human rights of the  people of  Hawaii, through their democratic representatives, to protect public health and safety. 

This landmark decision concerning these three Hawaii County cases will affect millions of people in Hawaii, across the United States, and around the world. 

On behalf of humanity and our common ecology, we, the undersigned, stand with the People of Hawaii in their historic effort to overturn the dangerous Monsanto Doctrine, and restore the essential human right of the people, through our democratic institutions, to protect public health and our environment.

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  • The People of Hawaii


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