Consultants leading a highly controversial analysis of the environmental and public health impacts of genetically modified farming in Kauai County issued a statement late Saturday responding to recent criticism.

The Hawaii Department of Agriculture and Kauai County commissioned the strategic consulting firm Accord3.0 in December 2014 to review existing research on the subject and examine whether the cultivation of genetically engineered crops has harmed Kauai residents or its environment.

A draft report published last month concluded there’s no statistically significant evidence proving that’s the case, but emphasized the dearth of data on pesticide use on Kauai. The report recommended the state adopt additional pesticide regulations that the seed industry has lobbied strongly against.

The Hawaii Crop Improvement Association, which represents the local seed industry, lambasted the report and urged the fact-finding team that drafted it to remove the mention of studies that weren’t peer-reviewed. Two representatives from the seed industry quit the group last week.

Peter Adler, who leads Accord3.0, said in Saturday’s statement along with consultant Keith Mattson that the resignations of those representatives were “unexpected, poorly timed, and completely unnecessary.”

Adler and Mattson defended the inclusion of studies that weren’t peer-reviewed, noting that includes state-sponsored data.

“To omit this type of information would invite criticism that the JFF (Joint Fact Finding) ignored data pertinent to the issue, which would have then tainted the report,” they wrote.

They additionally sought to dispel misperceptions about the report and its findings:

“There also appears to be some confusion regarding the finding of no evidence of causality between current agricultural pesticide use and harms to Kauai’s environment. Some view this as a rationale for doing nothing. Others would suggest the immediate cessation of pesticide applications by the seed companies. The JFF’s draft recommendations don’t suggest either. There is clear evidence of pesticide drift, albeit in trace amounts. These detections indicate the need for additional monitoring since the studies so far have been limited. Without additional sampling no one can know the true extent of pesticide drift, which may in fact be less than or more than current data report.”

Adler and Mattson further noted that in response to the draft report, Kauai’s legislative delegation has agreed to seek funding for pesticide monitoring studies, and the state Department of Health plans to do additional monitoring as well, among other initiatives.

Read the full statement below:

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