Bill 113 & The Big Picture

Richard Ha writes:

Yesterday at the
Hawai‘i County Council meeting, the anti-GMO Bill 113 got a positive
recommendation, meaning it now needs two votes by the Council and the Mayor’s
signature to be adopted.

From this morning's Hawai‘i Tribune Herald:

bill heads to council


staff writer

County Council committee gave a bill that would restrict the use of genetically
altered crops a positive recommendation Tuesday, ensuring that the legislation
would survive nearly five months after the committee first took on the
controversial issue.

legislation, Bill 113, was moved forward to the council level in a 6-2 vote
with Puna Councilman Greggor Ilagan voting no and Council Chair J Yoshimoto
voting no with reservations. Hilo Councilman Dennis Onishi was absent….

Read the rest

At yesterday’s
meeting, Councilperson Zendo Kern said the County has spent almost $20,000 on
meetings regarding this topic. He said, “We can’t keep doing the same thing
over and over and over again expecting a different result. That’s insanity.”

Dru Kanuha said, “I think we are completely wasting our time, the committee’s
time and taxpayer dollars on something that should have been talked about first
and foremost. 

Kanuha said a task
force should have been formed first, in order to investigate and suggest
action, and then a bill written.

But, instead, a bill
was written first. And the predictable outcome was people yelling and screaming
at each other.

Bill 113 exempts GMO papaya
and corn now in cultivation – but outlawing future biotech crops, while giving
GMO papayas and corn growers an exemption, de facto criminalizes those papaya
and corn farmers.

The bill’s sponsors say
we need to move fast before the big seed companies come to the Big Island. But there
are economic reasons they are not here. The Big Island is
geologically young and has not eroded enough to develop flat, fertile lands. Tractors
make money on the straightaways and lose money on the turns. Where we do have
limited areas of flat and fertile lands, there is no irrigation infrastructure.

Maybe now, in picking
up the pieces, we can focus on the big picture.
We need to have, in the spirit
of aloha, a serious discussion about food self-sufficiency for the island. We
will need everyone's contribution to this effort.

  • How can we achieve affordable food self-sufficiency?
  • How can we leverage our year-round growing season?

The downside of the wonderful
gift of a year-round growing season is that weeds, insects and diseases thrive
here, too.

In the past, we used
pesticides almost exclusively to increase production. Now, there are new, biotech
options that can help us increase production while decreasing pesticides. We
can lower food costs and decrease the pressure on our environment at the same

Remember, food self-sufficiency
involves farmers farming. If the farmers make money, the farmers will farm.