Public Interest Groups Allowed to Intervene in Seed Companies’ Action Challenging Ordinance Regulating Use of GMOs and “Restricted Use” Pesticides.

Plaintiff seed companies filed an action seeking to invalidate and enjoin enforcement of Kauai County Code § 22-22 (2013), relating to pesticides and genetically modified organisms (GMO). Generally, the provision (which is set to take effect in August 2014) requires commercial agricultural entities to: issue weekly and annual reports regarding their use of "restricted use" pesticides and their possession of GMOs and to establish pesticide buffer zones between crops to which “restricted use” pesticides are applied and surrounding properties. The plaintiffs contended that the law was preempted by state and federal law and that it imposed burdensome operational restrictions violating their due process and equal protection rights. They also alleged that the buffer zone requirement would result in “takings” without just compensation. Several public interest groups sought to intervene in the action, contending that the county (which had limited resources) did not share and would not adequately represent the proposed intervenors’ interests. They argued, in particular, that the county would fail to protect their interests because the mayor had vetoed the bill before the veto was overridden by the county council. The court granted the motion, finding that the intervenors had satisfied the four-part test to intervene as of right under FRCP Rule 24(a)(2). Their motion was timely, they had demonstrated they had a significantly protectable interest, that interest may be impaired by the action, and they showed that the county "may not" adequately represent their interests.  Syngenta Seeds, Inc. v. County of Kauai, No. 14-00014BMK, 2014 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 56344 (D. Haw. Apr. 23, 2014)

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