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    April 2019
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Councilwoman Margaret Wille on Pending GMO Bills and Other Legislation

Councilwoman Margaret Wille

Councilwoman Margaret Wille

Bill 113: Proposed new Ordinance “ Protecting Hawai‘i Island’s Agricultural Heritage and Its Ecosystems from Harm from Genetically Engineered Organisms“

Margaret Wille on BILL #113: 

This revised version of Bill #79 prohibits open air cultivation of GMOs. My Bill would however exempt the papaya industry from this prohibition.  The Bill would also grandfather persons who are growing any other genetically engineered crops at this time, that is, in the same location where the crops are currently being grown. (We believe there may be no more than one or two farmers currently cultivating any other GMO crops).

My intent here is to draw the line on GMO’s at current usage – and at minimum prevent further infestation of GMO’s on this island. Otherwise we will suffer the same demise of organic and conventional agriculture for all GMO crops introduced here. What is important is to prevent one person’s cultivation of a crop that is likely to contaminate neighboring property, crops and vulnerable ecosystems. Note that under US patent laws, if pollen from GMO crops drifts on to a neighboring property – and contaminates crops on that neighboring property, the biotech companies can claim the resulting GMO crops on the neighbor’s property belong to the company that patented the GMO/GMO seeds. Keep in mind that my Bill would not affect the purchase/use of food or feedstock containing GMOs.

Brenda Ford has also introduced a GMO related Bill (#109) and her Bill will be discussed at the same time.  Ford’s Bill would prohibit all GMO crops/produce, including GMO papaya, after a 30 month period (except for scientific research in a high level containment facility).

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Margaret Wille on  GMO Ad Hoc Committee – Communication # 394:       

Wednesday Sept 4th at 1:30 pm Discussion and Formation of an Ad Hoc Committee Relating to Genetically Engineered Crops and Plants.

My intent here is to allow for follow-up discussions after passage of Bill #113.

The ad hoc committee would be limited in scope to review, assess, and make recommendations as appropriate for the County of Hawai‘i:

(1) Whether “co-existence” of open air cultivation, propagation, or development of any non-genetically engineered and genetically engineered crops and plants is possible, and if so, with respect to which crops and plants and under what conditions;

(2) Whether there are particular risks related to pesticides and herbicides used for genetically engineered crops and plants; and:

(3) The pros and cons of emphasizing indigenous and ecologically friendly methods of farming on the island of Hawai‘i.

The Ad Hoc committee will also investigate and suggest reasonable ways to enforce County of Hawai‘i ordinances restricting the cultivation, propagation, or development of genetically engineered crops and plants.

GMO Summit report Communication # 404:

Council Members Margaret Wille, Karen Eoff and Dru Kanuha will give a brief summary of the 2013 Hawai’i Island GMO Summit held on August 19, 2013.  

This GMO Summit was hosted by the Hawaii Island Economic Development Board and the Hawaii Leeward Planning Conference. This event was not open to the public but only to members of those organizations and invited guests. The presentation was a very lop-sided pro-GMO presentation. At one point Kamana Beamer (Kamehameha School) rose in disgust, explained he could not participate in such a one-sided presentation, and abruptly departed.

The host organization’s executive director stated reason for not having a fairer presentation was that they were not able to find anyone on the other side of the issue who was available!! Each of the big name pro-GMO mainland speakers professed that they were not paid to be there by the industry, however when asked who paid for their travel and hotels, the answer was the Hawaii Crop Improvement Association – which is the advocacy arm of the five biotech companies.

Note this agenda item is required under the Sunshine law, HRS 92-2.5, because more than two members of the Council were present at this event – an event where there was discussion of matters that related to council board business (the GMO legislation).

Other legislation of interest

Re: Rezone in South Kohala

Wednesday Sept 4th at 10:00 am –Bill 112: REZONE Agricultural 5 acres to Family Agricultural 2 acres, at Pu‘ukapu Homesteads 2ND, South Kohala, Hawai‘i, covered by Tax Map Key 6-4-018:087.

The applicants wish to subdivide a 5 acre property now located in a 5 acre ag zone into two family ag 2 acre lots. This location is identified as Prime Agricultural Land. The applications states this subdivision is being carried out to provide lots for the owners two children.

The Planning Director and Leeward Planning Commission support this change of zone request subject to a condition that will prohibit the construction of a second dwelling (Ohana) unit and/ or the establishment of a Condominium Property Regime (CPR) on the newly created vacant lot.