Richard Ha writes:
Though there are 820,000 acres of farmland on our
agriculture-based Big Island, our island’s farmers were not consulted when Bill
113, the anti-GMO bill, was drafted.
There is no question: Bill 113 will harm the livelihood of
Big Island farmers. It also means they will have to use more pesticides. It
will drive up their costs and make them much less competitive. It means our
island will be less food-secure.
Is this what we really want? Call or write your
councilperson and tell him or her to kill Bill 113.
Ask him or her to create a task
force so we can thoughtfully determine our way forward, in the spirit of aloha
– so we can provide affordable food for the rubbah slippah folks and move
toward food self-sufficiency.
When new biotech seeds are developed, people will be able to
buy small packets of them over the Internet. But not here. Bill 113 will make
it a crime for Big Island farmers to use those same seeds. Farmers using those
seeds, which will make farming less pesticide-oriented and more affordable,
would become criminals.
Such seeds are being developed right now by the University
of Hawai‘i and other universities and will help our crops become virus- and
disease-resistant. This will result in less pesticide usage and lower cost. With
Bill 113, only Big Island farmers will be banned from using them. This will
force Big Island farmers to use more pesticides than farmers off-island. Farmers are responsible stewards of the land, and this is a
depressing and discouraging thought for Big Island farmers.
More than 90 percent of the food grown on the Big Island is
grown by conventional farmers. Bill 113 will drive their farming costs up, not
down, and this is going to discourage farmers from farming. When farmers’ costs
go up, they are less able to pass those increased costs on. Farmers are “price
takers,” rather than “price makers.”
As costs go up, farming becomes less attractive and fewer
farmers continue to farm. Bill 113 makes the Big Island less food-secure.
Organic farmers elsewhere will benefit from new biotech
animal feed crops, because these will increase the source of manure for
composting. Nitrogen is important for protein and this is a crucial weak link
for organic farmers. Bill 113 means organic farmers on the Big Island won’t
have these benefits that other farmers will.
There are people that want to believe GMO crops are not
safe, but they are ignoring the evidence. The science. All the world’s major
health organizations endorse the use of GMO crops as safe.
More than two trillion meals made of foods containing GMOs
have been served over the last 20 years. In spite of all those meals, here in
Hawai‘i we have the longest life expectancy in the nation for those 65 years
Since ancient times, farmers in Hawai‘i have been respected
in the Hawaiian culture. Bill 113 will forever change that relationship and
will, instead, criminalize farmers. Some folks may even feel justified in
taking matters into their own hands. Is this really what we want?
Please contact your councilperson and tell them you want
them to kill Bill 113 and form a task force to carefully, intelligently study
how we move forward.
It's not a matter of who is right. It is a matter of what is