GMO Prohibition update (minus attachments)

Aloha Kakou,

On July 3, 2013, after two days of hearing Bill 79 at which 525 people signed up to testify, the County Council voted to recess the meeting until July 30th in Kona, at 9:00am, at which time they will discuss the bill.  Bill 79’s introducer, Margaret Wille, has withdrawn all previous amendments, and will introduce a newly amended bill.  No testimony will be taken at this meeting but council members may introduce amendments to this bill and will discuss it. Please show up at Kona council chambers, or any of the satellite offices and wear green in support of the bill.

Bill 79 aims for “prohibition” of GMOs, however, the use of the word “ban” is causing confusion. In effect, they both mean the same thing by law. The GMO crops covered under this bill if passed would be illegal to grow either way.  Please use the word “prohibition” to conform to the bill’s wording in your discussions and future testimony,

A couple of councilmembers have suggested killing Bill 79 by writing a bill for a task force to study the issue among all stakeholders, the goal being to forge a plan for co-existence between the organic, non-GMO, and GMO farmers.  GMO-Free Hawaii Island’s position is that co-existence only works for GMO farmers.  We urge you to look at the 2005 audit of APHIS, a regulatory branch of the USDA, which shows co-existence does not work; organic and non-GMO farmers seeds would always become contaminated, creating a win/lose situation: a win for the GMO farmers with the contaminating genes, and a loss for the non-GMO farmer due to pollen drift, insects or wind. Bill 79 addresses this fundamental issue and any further refining of the bill can be done through the amendment process. We urge you to read the two attached studies on the folly of “co-existence,” then set a meeting or just send a courteous email to your councilmember on this topic  before July 30, to urge them to discuss the bill with good intentions, propose necessary amendments and work in good faith to pass the bill.  Your help is needed to personally contact to your Councilmember at this critical juncture.

GMO-Free Hawaii Island supports an exemption to grow GMO papayas. We understand that this is already a prevalent yet struggling industry.  By working to get to know the papaya farmers, sharing farming knowledge and concerns and informing them of the premium-price market opportunities for non-GMO papaya, this industry could move towards a healthier and more lucrative market. We are all in this together- there is plenty of room on the grocery shelves, with over 90% of our food currently being imported.

GMO-Free Hawaii Island has taken the position that we do not support any other exemptions for any other GMOs. That said, we understand that in order to pass what we feel is the core intention of Bill 79, which is to restrict the further introduction and use of GMO crops, plants, seed, trees, fish, livestock, and other GMOs in Hawaii Island, certain concessions are needed.  If the final bill does contain any of those exemptions (except for growing livestock feed such as GMO corn, soy or alfalfa) at the end of the Council’s discussion, please support it because it will still be an historical step to preserve the healthy environment of Hawaii Island, provide food security and economic viability moving forward. The 2008 GMO coffee and taro ban was a much simpler ordinance with a strong message, paving the way to where we are today with Bill 79. Compared to the other islands, we are in a really good position, but once the GMOs get a foothold here, it will be difficult to remove them. Please continue to support this next step forward. Attached are a flier and handouts that you can print, post and hand out.


The team at GMO Free Hawaii Island

— Please spread the word with the above message.  Mahalo
Jim Albertini Malu ‘Aina Center For Non-violent Education & Action P.O. Box AB Ola’a (Kurtistown) Hawai’i 96760 Phone 808-966-7622 Email Visit us on the web at