GMO Chapter 2 – Big Island Farmer: Invalidate County’s Anti-GMO Ordinance

article top
Robert Thomas

BY ROBERT THOMAS – Here’s the Complaint for Declaratory Injunctive Relief, filed earlier this week in iwhich an anonymous Big Island papaya farmer challenges the County of Hawaii’s recently-adopted ordinance about GMO farming.

Although the ordinance exempts farmers who currently grow GMO papaya from the ordinance’s ban on “open air cultivation, propagation, development, or testing” of GMO crops or plants, it does require them to register with the County. More here on the lawsuit from the Hilo paper.


The complaint asserts the ordinance is preempted by the Hawaii Uniform Information Practices Act (the state law which requires public disclosure of public records), requires the farmer to give up trade secrets, violates the state constitutional right of privacy, violates due process, the Administrative Procedures Act, and something called the “Small Business Regulatory Flexibility Act.”

This is Chapter 2 in the legal pushback against county-adopted anti-GMO ordinances, with Chapter 1 being the federal court lawsuit challenging Kauai’s ordinance, filed in January. Damon Tucker has posted the supporting statement of Hawaii Farmers and Ranchers United, which states, “[w]e strongly support and Stand United with our fellow Farmers in this suit.”

Science. It’s the darndest thing.

Complaint for Declaratory and Injunctive Relief, Doe v. County of Hawaii, No. 14-2-0094 (Haw. 3d Cir. Mar….

– See more at:



Previous articleIs Obama for the Birds?
Next articleThe Real Stories Behind “The Descendants”
Robert H. Thomas is one of the preeminent land use lawyers in Hawaii. He specializes in land use issues including regulatory takings, eminent domain, water rights, and voting rights cases. He has tried cases and appeals in Hawaii, California, and the federal courts. Robert received his LLM, with honors, from Columbia Law School where he was a Harlan Fiske Stone Scholar, and his JD from the University of Hawaii School of Law where he served as editor of the Law Review. Robert taught law at the University of Santa Clara School of Law, and was an exam grader and screener for the California Committee of Bar Examiners. He currently serves as the Chair of the Condemnation Law Committee of the American Bar Association’s Section on State & Local Government Law. He is the Hawaii member of Owners’ Counsel of America, a national network of the most experienced eminent domain and property rights lawyers. Membership in OCA is by invitation only, and is limited to a single attorney from each state. Robert is also the Managing Attorney for the Pacific Legal Foundation Hawaii Center, a non-profit legal foundation dedicated to protecting property rights and individual liberties. Reach him at He is also a frequent speaker on land use and eminent domain issues in Hawaii and nationwide. For a list of upcoming events and speaking engagements.


Comments are closed.