Mayor Kenoi on the GMO Issue

Big Island Mayor Kenoi is quoted as saying the following about the Genetically Modified Organism (GMO) lawsuits that are currently floating around the state in Hawaii Business Magazine:

Mayor Kenoi at the APEC Conference

Mayor Kenoi at the APEC Conference

“GMO has been very important and beneficial to our cut-flower, orchid, anthurium and nursery industry. The science research has been cutting-edge and we’ve seen a lot of innovation and creativity, and certainly in our papaya industry, the importance of research is well-known for maintaining, growing and protecting its viability.

I still don’t believe GMO is the issue facing agriculture – it’s water and access to land and how we can grow our next generation of farmers. GMO has taken a lot of energy and emphasis away from more important issues like these. Another important issue is access to markets, making it easier for farmers to overcome regulatory hurdles, reducing our dependence on imported food and providing real food security.

My message to the Council and the community is…”

You can read the rest of his message and other mayor’s thoughts on the issue here: “Talk Story with Neighbor Island Mayors”

“Chronology of GMO Ban Legislation in County of Hawaii” By Councilwoman Margaret Wille

Councilwoman Margaret Wille

Councilwoman Margaret Wille

Councilwoman Margaret Wille posted the following chronology of the GMO Ban Legislation in the County of Hawaii on her Facebook site tonight:

Bill 79
May 14, 2013 Public Safety & Mass Transit Committee: Meeting recessed with no action taken to May 29, 2013.

May 29, 2013 Public Safety & Mass Transit Committee: Postponed Bill 79, and motion to amend with the contents of comm. 271.146, to a Special meeting to be held on July 2, 2013 in Kona.

July 2 & 3, 2013 Public Safety & Mass Transit Committee: 2 full days of testimony. Meeting recessed to July 30, 2013; no action taken on Bill 79 (Comm. 271.146 was withdrawn).

July 30, 2013 Public Safety & Mass Transit Committee: Cancelled due to tropical storm Flossie

August 6, 2013 Public Safety & Mass Transit Committee: Bill 79 withdrawn by Council Member Margaret Wille to reintroduce the bill in a cleaner format.

Bill 113
Sept. 4, 2013 Public Safety & Mass Transit Committee: Meeting recessed to Sept 6, 2013; no action taken on Bill 113

Sept. 6, 2013 Public Safety & Mass Transit Committee: Meeting recessed to Sept 23, 2013; no action taken on Bill 113

Sept. 23, 2013 Public Safety & Mass Transit Committee: Experts on subject matter were called to share their expert opinions. Meeting recessed to Oct 1, 2013; no action taken on Bill 113.

Oct 1, 2013 Public Safety & Mass Transit Committee: Motion to amend with the contents of Comm. 393.51. Motion passed. Committee recommends passage of Bill 113, as amended to Draft 2, on first reading. 6 ayes, 2 noes, 1 absent and excused. Moves to Oct 16 Special Council meeting. Councilmembers voting no were Gregor Ilegan and Chairman J Yoshimoto. Councilmember Dennis “Fresh” Onishi was absent..

Oct 15, 2013 Special Council meeting: 4pm – 10 pm public testimony. 10 pm -10:30 pm Council discussion on Bill 113, Draft 2. Meeting recessed until Oct 16, 2013 at 1PM

Oct 16, 2013 Special Council meeting reconvened. Motion to amend Bill 113, Draft 2 with the contents of Comm. 393.68. Motion passed. Council discussed Bill 113, Draft 2 as amended. Bill 113, Draft 2 as amended passed first Council reading with vote of 6 ayes, 2 noes and 1 absent and excused. Motion passed. Committee recommends passage of Bill 113, as amended to Draft 2, on first reading: 6 ayes, 2 noes, 1 absent and excused. Moves to Oct 16 Special Council meeting. Councilmembers voting no were Gregor Ilegan and Dennis “Fresh” Onishi. Councilmember Zendo Kern was absent due to illness. Moves to November 6, 2013 Council meeting for second and final reading.

Communication 394
Discussion and formation of an Ad Hoc Committee relating to Genetically Engineered Crops and Plants. This has been postponed to Call of the Chair because an Ad-Hoc Committee cannot be formed at the same time that Bill 113 is being discussed.

Councilwoman Wille Continued in her next post:

Here is Bill 113 Draft 3, that passed the Council on October 16th. One more reading – on November 6th. I know it is not perfect — but solid enough to survive Kenoi administration’s scrutiny and hold up under anticipated legal and state level assaults.

AN ORDINANCE AMENDING CHAPTER 14 OF THE HAWAI‘I COUNTY CODE 1983 (2005 EDITION, AS AMENDED), BY ADDING A NEW ARTICLE RELATING TO GENETICALLY ENGINEERED CROPS AND PLANTS.

BE IT ORDAINED BY THE COUNCIL OF THE COUNTY OF HAWAI‘I:

SECTION 1. Findings.
(1) The public trust doctrine is memorialized in the Hawai‘i State Constitution, Article XI, Section 1 “Conservation and Development of Resources,” and in the Charter of the County of Hawai‘i, Article XIII, Section 13-29 “Conservation of Natural and Cultural Resources.” Pursuant to the public trust doctrine, our natural resources, including land and water, are entrusted to our care for the benefit of both current and future generations. The county government in its trustee capacity is subject to the precautionary principle and therefore must exercise a higher level of scrutiny in establishing reasonable measures and making appropriate assessments in order to avoid harmful impacts to our public trust resources. The Council therefore recognizes the right of the people and their government to guard against the intrusion of potential contaminants and prevent the contamination of non-genetically engineered crops, plants and lands by genetically engineered crops and plants without having to first wait for definitive science. As the United States Supreme Court made clear in Maine vs. Taylor (1986), the government is not required “to sit idly by and wait until potentially irreversible environmental damage has occurred or until the scientific community agrees on what disease organisms are or are not dangerous before it acts to avoid such consequences.” In this context the precautionary principle requires that if a new technology poses threats of harm to human or environmental health, the burden of proof is on the promoter of the technology to demonstrate that the technology is safe, not on the public or governments to demonstrate that the technology is unsafe;
(2) The Council finds that policies relating to agricultural practices are most appropriate to be determined by each county of the State of Hawai‘i given the island-by-island variation in customary and generally accepted agricultural practices and opportunities, the variation in topography and land ownership patterns, and in light of the natural geographic ocean barriers that allow for these distinctions.
(3) The Council finds that optimizing a local agricultural policy that promotes non- genetically engineered crops and seeds along with eco-friendly agricultural practices affords the County of Hawai‘i a unique economic opportunity to capture a niche market for non-genetically engineered produce, seeds, and meats. Optimizing this opportunity is consistent with the Hawai‘i County General Plan (Economic policies 2.2(h)): “Promote and develop the island of Hawai‘i into a unique scientific and cultural model, where economic gains are in balance with social and physical amenities. Development should be reviewed on the basis of total impact on the residents of the County, not only in terms of immediate short run economic benefits.”
(4) The Council finds it is important to protect the rights of farmers engaged in non- genetically engineered crop cultivation from the uncontrolled spread of genetically engineered organisms and associated pesticides.
(5) The Council finds that an expanded exemption for genetically engineered papaya is reasonable and appropriate because the genetic modification of papaya over the past decade has become so pervasive across this island that restricting cultivation of genetically engineered papaya would be near impossible at this time, the likelihood of genetically engineered cross pollination of papaya is reduced given the customary controlled manner of propagation, and in light of the substantial investment in controlled testing of this one crop over the past decade as the means of choice to address certain papaya diseases.

SECTION 2. Authority. The Council finds that its authority to impose restrictions on the cultivation, propagation, development, and testing of genetically engineered crops and plants to protect public and private property as well as surface waters, vulnerable watersheds, and our Island’s coastal waters, is granted to it by:

(1) The Hawai‘i Revised Statutes, Section 46-1.5(13), which states: “Each county shall have the power to enact ordinances deemed necessary to protect health, life, and property, and to preserve the order and security of the county and its inhabitants on any subject or matter not inconsistent with, or tending to defeat, the intent of any state statute where the statute does not disclose an express or implied intent that the statute shall be exclusive or uniform throughout the State.”;
(2) The Hawai‘i State Constitution, Article XI, Section 9 “Environmental Rights,” which states: “Each person has the right to a clean and healthful environment, as defined by laws relating to environmental quality, including control of pollution and conservation, protection and enhancement of natural resources. Any person may enforce this right against any party, public or private, through appropriate legal proceedings, subject to reasonable limitations and regulation as provided by law.”
SECTION 3. Chapter 14 of the Hawai‘i County Code 1983 (2005 Edition, as amended) is amended by adding a new article to be appropriately designated and to read as follows:

“Article __. Restriction of Genetically Engineered Crops and Plants.

Section 14-__. Purpose.
The purpose of this article is to protect Hawai‘i Island’s non-genetically modified agricultural crops and plants from genetically modified organism cross pollination and to preserve Hawai‘i Island’s unique and vulnerable ecosystem while promoting the cultural heritage of indigenous agricultural practices. The prohibition of open air cultivation, propagation, development, or testing of genetically engineered crops and plants is intended to prevent the transfer and uncontrolled spread of genetically engineered organisms on to private property, public lands, and waterways.

Section 14-__. Definitions.
As used in this article, unless otherwise specified:
“Genetically engineered” means an organism that has been modified at the molecular or cellular level by means that are not possible under natural conditions or processes. Such means include recombinant DNA and RNA techniques, cell fusion, microencapsulation, macroencapsulation gene deletion and doubling, introducing a foreign gene, and changing the position of genes. Such organisms are sometimes referred to as “genetically modified organisms” or “transgenic organisms.” Genetically engineered or genetically modified crops and plants include crops and plants for human consumption or for any other purpose. Genetic engineering does not include modification that consists exclusively of breeding, conjugation, fermentation, hybridization, in vitro fertilization, or tissue culture.
“Open air” means a location or facility that is not enclosed in a greenhouse or in another completely enclosed structure so as to prevent the uncontrolled spread of genetically engineered organisms.
“Person” includes natural persons, partnerships, joint ventures, societies, associations, clubs, trustees, trusts, or corporations or any officer, agent, employee, or any other personal representative thereof, in any capacity, acting either for himself, his heirs, or for any other person under personal appointment pursuant to law.
“Plant pestilence” means a virulent plant disease or infestation that is causing substantial harm to one or more crops or plants.
“Register” or “Registration” means registration by persons engaged in the cultivation, propagation, development, or indoor testing of genetically engineered crops or plants. Registration shall include: the tax map key and the council district of the property or properties; a detailed description of the location on the property where genetically engineered crops or plants are being cultivated, propagated, developed, or tested, which description shall include the size of the location and scope of usage; the name of the owner of the property or properties; the lessee or any other party in control of the genetically engineered plant or crop operation or usage; the type of genetically modified organism or transgenic manipulation used; the produce or products involved; the type, frequency, and customary amount of pesticides, inclusive of herbicides and insecticides, used; a description of any containment procedures employed; and relevant contact information.

Section 14-__. Prohibition.
No person shall knowingly engage in the open air cultivation, propagation, development, or testing of genetically engineered crops or plants.

Section 14-__. Exemptions.
The following persons shall be exempt from the provisions of this article:
(1) Persons engaged in the open air cultivation, propagation, or development of genetically engineered crops or plants, other than genetically engineered papaya, but only in those specific locations where genetically engineered crops or plants have been customarily open air cultivated, propagated, or developed by that person prior to the effective date of this article, provided that those specific locations or facilities are registered within ninety days of the effective date of this article; and
(2) Any person engaged in the open air cultivation, propagation, or development of genetically engineered papaya, whether prior or subsequent to the effective date of this article, provided that each location or facility wherein open air cultivation, propagation, or development of genetically engineered papaya occurs or will occur is registered as provided in this article.
Notwithstanding any other provision of law, these exemptions shall not allow for open air testing of genetically engineered organisms of any kind.

Section 14-___. Emergency exemption.
(a) A person who is engaged in the cultivation, propagation, or development of a non-genetically engineered crop or plant that is being harmed by a plant pestilence as defined in this article may apply to the council for an emergency exemption from the provisions of this article to use a genetically engineered remedy. The council may grant an emergency exemption by way of resolution, provided the council makes an affirmative finding that:
1) The cited plant pestilence is causing substantial harm to that person’s crop or plant;
2) There is no other available alternative solution; and
3) All available measures will be undertaken to insure that non-genetically engineered crops and plants, as well as neighboring properties and any water sources, will be protected from contamination or any other potentially adverse effects that may be caused by the genetically engineered organism or associated pesticides.
(b) Any exemption granted pursuant to subsection (a) shall include reasonable restrictions and conditions, including, but not limited to, full compliance with the registration requirements of this article and that the exemption shall expire on a certain day occurring within five years from the date of its issuance. Prior to expiration of the exemption, the council may adopt a resolution to extend the exemption for a specified period of time.

Section 14-__. Registration.
(a) All persons engaged in any form of cultivation, propagation, development, or indoor testing of genetically engineered crops or plants of any kind shall register annually beginning within ninety days of the effective date of this article, and shall pay an annual registration fee of $100 per location, payable to the director of finance. All contiguous land shall be treated as a single location. The director of the department of research and development, or the director’s authorized representative(s), shall administer the registration provision of this section.
(b) All persons engaged in non-commercial cultivation or propagation of genetically engineered papaya, in any stage or form, shall be exempt from this section. This registration exemption does not exempt persons engaged in research, development, or testing of genetically engineered papaya.

(c) Pursuant to section 92F-13 of the Hawai‘i Revised Statutes, information such as the name of the registrant and the exact location of the genetically engineered crops or plants may be withheld from the public to the extent that disclosure of that detailed information would otherwise frustrate the ability of the County to obtain accurate information.

Section 14-__. Penalties.
Any person who violates any provision of this article shall be guilty of a violation, and upon conviction thereof, shall be sentenced to a fine of up to $1,000 for each separate violation. The person shall be deemed to be guilty of a separate offense for each and every day a violation of this article is committed, continued, or permitted for each location. To the extent permitted by law, the person found in violation of this article shall also be responsible for all costs of investigation and testing, as well as for court costs, including but not limited to witness fees and witness expenses.

Section 14__ . Declaratory and injunctive relief.
A court of competent jurisdiction may hear proceedings for declaratory relief or injunctive relief, or both, for violations or potential violations of this article. To the extent permitted by law, the person found in violation of this article shall be responsible for all costs of investigation and testing, as well as for court costs, including, but not limited to, attorney’s fees, witness fees, and witness expenses.
.
Section 14__. Cumulative remedies.
The provisions of this article are cumulative. Nothing in this article shall affect any other remedy or relief that may be available to any adversely affected person or to the County or other governmental entity.
SECTION 4. If any provision of this ordinance, or the application thereof to any person or circumstance is held invalid, such invalidity shall not affect other provisions or applications of the ordinance which can be given effect without the invalid provision or application, and to this end, the provisions of this ordinance are declared to be severable.

SECTION 5. This ordinance shall take effect upon approval.

INTRODUCED BY:

_____________________________________¬¬¬___
COUNCIL MEMBER, COUNTY OF HAWAI‘I

_______________, Hawai‘i

Official Count – 100 Papaya Trees Cut Down in Puna

Hawaiʻi Island police have initiated a criminal property damage case in connection with the destruction of papaya trees at a farm in Puna.

Papaya Trees cut down at  Bernardos Farm.

Papaya Trees cut down at Bernardos Farm.

Sometime between 5:30 p.m. Thursday (September 26) and 6:30 a.m. Friday (September 27), 100 papaya trees were cut down in Kapoho off Highway 132 near the 4-mile marker. The trees were 3- to 4-feet tall and valued at $3,000.
Papaya Trees
Police ask anyone with information about this case to call Officer Cala Arnold at 965-2716 or the Police Department’s non-emergency line at 935-3311.

Tipsters who prefer to remain anonymous may call Crime Stoppers at 961-8300 in Hilo or 329-8181 in Kona and may be eligible for a reward of up to $1,000. Crime Stoppers is a volunteer program run by ordinary citizens who want to keep their community safe. Crime Stoppers doesn’t record calls or subscribe to caller ID. All Crime Stoppers information is kept confidential.

 

Another Puna Papaya Farm Attacked by Machetes

Another Puna Papaya farm has been attacked by one or more folks wielding machetes last night.  It’s at “Bernardos Farm” according to @Farmers4Choice.

Here is a picture of some of the damage:

Papaya Trees cut down at  Bernardos Farm.

Papaya Trees cut down at Bernardos Farm.

Farmers 4 Choice writes:

Really how dare you attack another small papaya grower? Who bought the machetes who destroyed over 100 trees this morning?

While the Hawaii Papaya Industry Association was gathering for their annual meeting and Mayor Billy Kenoi was speaking one farmer was absent; he was at his field with police overlooking destruction of his trees. A sad discovery awaited his trees had been chopped down!This is not okay, activism has gone to far now you have turned into eco terrorists! This is wrong!

We’re farmers not sex offenders, We will not register like a criminal…..
The criminals are the activists who have turned into ecoterrorists. Register the activists not farmers.
..

More here: We’re Farmers Not Sex Offenders

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).

Click to Enlarge

Click to Enlarge

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.

Commentary – Richard Ha on Bill 79, the Anti-GMO Bill

Click to read Richard's Blog on this

Click to read Richard’s Blog on this

Dear Editor,

Bill 79, the anti-GMO bill, has brought out a lot of concern and a lot of anxiety.

I say that we need to slow down. It would be premature to rush into a decision on this bill without taking the time to hear everybody’s input and address all the issues on the table.

Before we make big decisions – any of which could have unintended consequences – we should set up some sort of task force to look at the bigger picture of Hawai‘i’s self-sufficiency, and how we are going to achieve that.

How are we going to get there, all of us together? We need to end up at a place where we aloha each other, and take care of everybody.

Let’s not rush to pass this bill without fully understanding the bigger picture.

Richard Ha

Owner, Hamakua Springs Country Farms

 

Hawaii Crop Improvement Association Statement on Anti-GMO Marches Across the State

Hawaii Crop Improvement Association statement on Anti-GMO Marches Across the State:

HCIA

“Organizers of these anti-GMO and evict Monsanto marches are creating a hostile environment in our communities by using scare tactics and spreading misinformation. It is not pono to rally support for an agenda by repeating myths and exaggerations to our Hawaii communities. It is also unfortunate that misleading and false claims made by these activist groups are often repeated by mainstream media without verification of their accuracy.

“We value the concerns of the public and work to address these concerns through informative and respectful dialogue based on facts and proven studies. We also respect freedom of speech; however, we believe the community would be better served if they were provided facts instead of myths and false accusations.

Some of those facts include:

  • To date, people have consumed more than 3 trillion servings of foods produced using biotechnology, without one documented case of illness resulting from these foods.
  • Seed farmers keep agricultural land in agricultural use, with plenty of land available for other farmers. Seed farmers own or lease approximately 5 percent of the available prime agricultural land in Hawaii.
  • GMOs are some of the most extensively tested and federally regulated of all crops, so we actually know more about their safety than many other types of crops, including conventional and organic.”

Alicia Maluafiti, Executive Director of Hawaii Crop Improvement Association

Kauai Councilman Gary Hooser – “It’s Not About Eating The Corn” (Thoughts on GMO)

Sen. Gary Hooser

It’s not about eating the corn.

Not for me anyway.  The decision to eat or not eat the corn is only a small reason I support the labeling of genetically modified foods and hold deep reservations about the industry as a whole.

People on my island are getting sick. Many believe their sickness is being caused by the secondary and cumulative impacts connected to the growing of genetically modified organisms.

Yet when I’ve asked these companies directly and officially in writing to disclose what chemicals and in what quantities they are spraying, the industrial agrochemical GMO companies on Kauai have refused to do so.

For me, that alone is enough to keep me from buying their products or supporting their industry,  and to support full labeling requirements.
63 countries around the world including all of Europe, Russia, Japan, Australia and New Zealand require mandatory labeling of GMO products. Some countries have banned these products completely.

Many questions exist and many doubts persist. There are valid health concerns ranging from allergen sensitivities to hormonal disruption to cancer, related to the GMO’s and to the pesticide spraying that accompanies them.

There are concerns about the globalization and corporate ownership of the worlds food supply.  There are ethical and moral questions pertaining to the concept of corporations owning patents on living organisms both plant and animal, and to the increased diminishment of bio-diversity.  All valid reasons consumers may not want to buy these products and thus the need to require labeling.

For me, it’s personal.

Kauai is ground zero in the GMO industry.  These industrial agrochemical operations dominate the landscape of Kauai’s west side and are now moving into the southern and eastern land as well.  The fields of mostly genetically modified corn not intended for human consumption grow on approximately 12,000 acres of prime farmland stretching from the base of the mountains down to within just feet of the pristine ocean waters.

These crops are subject to spraying with toxic pesticides up to 6 days a week.

Over 200 residents of WaimeaValley have filed suit claiming negative impacts from pesticide laden dust blowing into their homes and onto their bodies.  Biologists estimate over 50,000 sea urchins died last year in near shore west-side waters.

People in all parts of Kauai County are growing increasingly concerned about the impacts that result from these companies spraying their fields with toxic and experimental chemicals that then flow into streams and near shore waters and cling to the dust which blows daily into neighborhoods and schools.

Yet these agrochemical companies, who are required by law to keep records of their pesticide use, tell me blithely to go elsewhere for the data.

About half the land used for GMO production on Kauai are public lands upon which zero property tax is paid.  But they refuse to disclose to the public what they are growing or what they are spraying on these public lands.  These large transnational corporations transfer their end products to related subsidiaries, benefit from Enterprise Zone and other GET exemptions and consequently pay zero GET tax on the products they produce.

State law and terms of the public lands lease/license require compliance with Hawaii’s environmental review law Chapter 343HRS, yet no documentation demonstrating compliance exists; no exemption declaration, no environmental assessment and no environmental impact statement.

Growing genetically modified organisms, using experimental pesticides and spraying a wide array of restricted and non restricted pesticides on a mass scale have impacts on our island, our health and our environment.  There are direct impacts, secondary impacts and cumulative impacts but we don’t know what those impacts are because they have never been properly evaluated – and the companies in question won’t even give us the information needed to make a proper evaluation.

So yes, I support labeling. Absolutely.

Labeling, mandatory disclosure and a permitting process that requires a comprehensive review of the significant environmental and health impacts to our island and our community caused by this industry – I support them all, because as you can see this is about much more than just eating the corn.

Gary Hooser
Member Kauai County Council – Former Director of the Office of Environmental Quality Control for State of Hawaii – Former Hawaii State Senator and Majority Leader

 

GMO Labeling Bill Advances in House

The House Committee on Agriculture (AGR) unanimously adopted HB174, which would require all GMO produce imported into the state to be labeled. The measure also passed Second Reading and advances to the Committee on Consumer Protection & Commerce. The advancement of the bill puts Hawaii on track to become the first state in the nation to require some form of GMO labeling.

capital

The bill was originally heard on Monday in a hearing that spanned more than 5 hours in the Capitol Auditorium. Hundreds of pieces of testimony from key stakeholders surrounding the issue were used to develop a draft that could keep the conversation on GMO labeling moving.

The latest version of HB174 is much narrower in focus than the original and addresses a great deal of the concerns voiced during Monday’s hearing. Under the most recent draft, only imported GMO produce would require labeling. GMO produce that is grown in Hawaii, most notably Rainbow Papaya, would not require a label. Processed foods, meat, poultry and dairy would also be exempt from the labeling requirement.

“This was the first time in the history of the House that a GMO labeling bill has made it out of committee,” said AGR Chair Jessica Wooley (Kaneohe, Heeia, Ahuimanu, Kahaluu, Haiku Valley, Mokuoloe). “The draft that was adopted was a true compromise that resulted in a victory for the people of Hawaii. Local farmers will not be negatively impacted, we will not have to pay for labeling on processed foods, meat or dairy, and, most importantly, people will be able to know what they’re eating.”

 

Bills on Taro, GMOs, and Local Agriculture to be Heard at the Legislature

Bills on Taro, GMOs, and Local Agriculture to be Heard

capital

WHAT:            The Committee on Agriculture will be hearing several bills relating to taro, GMOs, and growing our local agriculture industry.

WHEN:            Monday, February 4, 2013, 8:30 A.M.

WHERE:           Hawaii State Capitol Auditorium

WHY:               The Constitution of Hawaii mandates that the State “shall conserve and protect agricultural lands, promote diversified agriculture, increase agricultural self-sufficiency and assure the availability of agriculturally suitable lands.” These goals are also highlighted as a major priority in the Governor’s “New Day” plan. The Legislature aims to do its part to move Hawaii forward this Session.

WHO:               Chair Jessica Wooley, Vice Chair Richard H.K. Onishi, Reps. Tom Brower, Romy Cachola, Isaac Choy, Takashi Ohno, Gregg Takayama, James Kunane Tokioka, Clift Tsuji, Lauren Kealohilani Cheape, and Gene Ward comprise the Committee.

“This is a really exciting time for local agriculture,” said Rep. Jessica Wooley. “These bills could represent a turning point in the future of agriculture in Hawaii. Food security, increased local food production, recognizing consumers’ right to know what they’re eating, and protecting the most culturally significant crop in Hawaii are at the forefront of our agenda.”

The Hearing Notices posted below contain the bills on Monday’s agenda as well as links to submit online testimony.

http://www.capitol.hawaii.gov/session2013/hearingnotices/HEARING_AGR-WAL_02-04-13_.HTM

http://www.capitol.hawaii.gov/session2013/hearingnotices/HEARING_AGR_02-04-13_.HTM

 

 

Congressional Candidate Bob Marx on Jobs, the Economy, GMO-Labeling, and Education.

Speaking to a large crowd at the Hilo Woman’s Club this evening, 2ndCongressional District Candidate Bob Marx addressed a variety of issues including Jobs and the Economy, GMO-Labeling, and Education.

On education, Mr. Marx responded to the first question of a young woman in the audience who asked about the burden of her student loans: “New college graduates begin their careers with an average of $35,000 in student loan debt, in addition to any family repayment obligations or credit card debt they may have incurred. They face unemployment rates in the low teens, and most federally-backed student loans, like the popular Stafford program, come knocking on their doors immediately upon graduation and cannot be discharged or forgiven even through bankruptcy filing. And this Republican Congress is threatening to double the rates? That’s preposterous.”

“The near economic future for almost all college students will, unfortunately, be limited by the burden of the student loan repayment. How can we ask our kids and working families to put themselves through this?”  Marx asked, rhetorically.

Mr. Marx explained that many of the new graduates today have education debt higher than the cost of a modest home:  “That’s crazy,” he said, “the size of the debt has enormous future effects on the ability to get an affordable loan for a car to get to work or for a home to live in. To get a very low rate on a loan today, creditors look at one thing: debt-to-income ratio over an extended period. Are you good for it? They ask. Well, I think our young people and those who want to get back to work are good for it, and we should be there to help them out.”

Of course, it’s not just the college graduate who is getting hit. Many people on unemployment have seen their jobs evaporate and are left with unmarketable, less demanded skills that they once relied on for their livelihoods and well-being.

Marx responded, “If someone is out of work and has the drive to work, even in a new trade—like learning how to be a radiology lab tech, for example—then I think we, the same government and business that outsourced their last job to China or India, should be happy to contribute.”

For many young people, the overall cost of a college or university education can be managed or reduced by utilizing the Community College system for their lower division coursework and then transferring to a four-year College or University. Marx told the group, “I put myself through college working part-time and through Law School working full-time, so I know it can be done!”

When asked by a member of the audience if there was “a way out of the student-loan trap,” Marx said: “First of all, I don’t see it as a trap. True, for most, there is a financial obligation undertaken to get a higher education, and as with any large debt it may limit your future borrowing until it has been repaid. But the value of a four-year degree or a two-year certification program far outweighs the short-term burden. There is no greater investment an individual can make—or a country for that matter— than on education.”

Bob Marx restated his promise: “I will, as your Representative, work with every member of the Congress, regardless of ideology, to increase funding for and improve access to higher education and continual re-training for all Americans.”

Congressional Candidate Bob Marx on Genetically Engineered Foods (GMO)

Democratic Congressional candidate Bob Marx calls for the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to require labeling of genetically engineered foods.

Responding to a February 8th letter from US Congress to the FDA, where Democratic leaders Barbara Boxer (CA) and Peter DeFazio (OR) asked the FDA  to consider a legal petition filed by 400+ companies and organizations to demand that the FDA label genetically engineered food, Bob Marx declared:

“Our keiki and ‘ohana have been eating genetically engineered food for almost 15 years now. We don’t know if it is safe for them. As your Congressman, I will demand that Americans know the risks of genetically engineered food. We must demand that the federal government require transparency in the gentic engineered food industry.”

Marx continued, “Almost 80% of processed foods in US supermarkets contain genetically engineered ingredients.  Yet, we are one of the only industrialized nations in the world where we are not given the right to chose if we want to eat these potentially harmful products. This right to choose is a fundamentally American principle. Americans need to know what is in their food.”

In preparation for Wednesdays televised Town Hall meeting, hosted by the Hawai’i Democratic Party Environmental Caucus in Moanalua, O’ahu, Bob Marx had the following to say:

“The FDA says their hands are tied when it comes to labeling of genetically engineered food. We need to untie their hands – now. Genetically engineered food labels are required in 50 countries around the world, but not in America. Hawai’i’s residents live alongside genetically engineered food farms throughout the state, yet its risks are not known. Hawai’i’s newborns breathe in pollen that contain genetic material from experimental crops.”

“You can stop using DDT. You can recall a pesticide if you find out it’s harmful. But you can’t recall DNA. We must demand that the federal government require transparency in the genetically engineered food industry.”

Marx concluded, “We must stop tax breaks for large corporations that use Hawai’i as a genetics laboratory. That energy and those tax dollars must be redirected to benefit local farmers who are a cultural and economic backbone to our state. Instead, we must invest in sustainable agricultural initiatives at Universities and local organizations, to protect our biodiversity and the livelihoods of Hawai’i’s hard-working people.”

Japan Approves First Shipment of Genetically Modified Rainbow Papayas

After 13 years of negotiations, Japan has approved its first shipment of genetically-modified Rainbow papayas from Hawaii.

“The fact that the Japanese have tested it to the nth degree and evaluated its food and environmental safety proves it’s a good product,” said Rod Yonemura, consultant to the 160-member Hawaii Papaya Industry Association based in Hilo, capital of Hawaii’s Big Island…

…To introduce the Rainbow to Japanese traders, Yonemura said HPIA is planning a booth at the Super Market Trade Show in Tokyo Feb. 1-3, and another at Foodex Japan in Chiba March 8-9…

Full Article here: Japan Receives Hawaiian Rainbow Papayas

Hilo Tonight: Danger of Eating GMO Foods

An informative state-wide tour with best selling author and international speaker Jeffrey Smith, presenting on the Dangers of Eating Genetically Engineered (GMO) Foods.

Jeffrey speaks on Hilo Feb 17 & Kona Feb 21, and Oahu Feb 22-23.

Sponsored by Hawaii SEED, who will share perspective on local sustainable agriculture and food security.

dangers-flyer1

If you care about what you and your family eat and what’s being grown on our land, don’t miss this event!

International bestselling author Jeffrey M. Smith is a leading spokesperson on the health dangers of Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs). His globally respected research captured public attention in 2003 with his first book, “Seeds of Deception”, which exposed the serious yet unknown side effects of genetically engineered foods.

Founder of the Institute for Responsible Technology, Smith works internationally to educate on why agricultural biotechnology companies should not be in control of our food supply and how the FDA fails to keep our food safe. He has lectured in 25 countries, counseled world leaders from every continent, influenced the first state laws regulating GMOs and has united leaders to support The Campaign for Healthier Eating in America, a revolutionary industry and consumer movement to remove GMOs from the natural food industry.

A popular speaker, he has been quoted by government leaders and hundreds of media outlets across the globe including The New York Times, Washington Post, BBC World Service, Nature, The Independent, Daily Telegraph, New Scientist, The Times (London), Associated Press, Reuters News Service, Time Magazine and Genetic Engineering News.

This presentation is free and open to the public. Please spread the word!

More info here

Taro Production Up 10%

The National Agricultural Statistics Service said Hawaii farmers produced 4.4 million pounds of taro in 2008. That’s a 10 percent increase over the 4 million pounds of the traditional island staple and poi base that was cultivated in 2007…

…The service said the total value of Hawaii’s taro crop rose 16 percent in 2008 to $2.7 million…

…The number of taro farms remained unchanged last year at 105. But taro acreage increased by 10 acres to 390 acres…

More Here

Big Island Kalo Farmer Jerry Konanui

Big Island Kalo Farmer Jerry Konanui

The Dangers of Eating Genetically Engineered Foods: State-Wide Talks

An informative state-wide tour with best selling author and international speaker Jeffrey Smith, presenting on the Dangers of Eating Genetically Engineered (GMO) Foods.

Jeffrey speaks on Kauai Feb 10-12, Molokai Feb 15, Hawai’i Island; Hilo Feb 17 & Kona Feb 21, and Oahu Feb 22-23.

Sponsored by Hawaii SEED, who will share perspective on local sustainable agriculture and food security.

dangers-flyer1

If you care about what you and your family eat and what’s being grown on our land, don’t miss this event!

International bestselling author Jeffrey M. Smith is a leading spokesperson on the health dangers of Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs). His globally respected research captured public attention in 2003 with his first book, “Seeds of Deception”, which exposed the serious yet unknown side effects of genetically engineered foods.

Founder of the Institute for Responsible Technology, Smith works internationally to educate on why agricultural biotechnology companies should not be in control of our food supply and how the FDA fails to keep our food safe. He has lectured in 25 countries, counseled world leaders from every continent, influenced the first state laws regulating GMOs and has united leaders to support The Campaign for Healthier Eating in America, a revolutionary industry and consumer movement to remove GMOs from the natural food industry.

A popular speaker, he has been quoted by government leaders and hundreds of media outlets across the globe including The New York Times, Washington Post, BBC World Service, Nature, The Independent, Daily Telegraph, New Scientist, The Times (London), Associated Press, Reuters News Service, Time Magazine and Genetic Engineering News.

This presentation is free and open to the public. Please spread the word!

More info here

Hawaii Agencies Launch Food Safety Program

The State of Hawaii Department of Agriculture and the Hawaii Farm Bureau have partnered for a three-year pilot RFID program designed to promote food safety by enabling product visibility throughout the supply chain. The Hawaii Produce Traceability initiative uses RFID technology to track fresh produce down to the farm, or even field, level.

The initiative, the first of its kind in the U.S., offers a win-win situation for consumers and participating growers. When a food safety issue arises, product recalls can be enacted within an hour. With traceability down to the field level, growers can localize the impact of a recall to the relevant area, minimizing losses.


Beyond improving food safety, growers, who can participate by either slap-and-ship tagging or usage of a hand-held RFID system, can reap a bounty of other benefits from the program. Gathered data can be used to optimize harvest productivity, strengthen food processing controls, increase cold chain visibility, reduce produce dwell time on shipping and receiving docks, accelerate transportation times between trading partners and improve inventory turns; all this can help increase profit margins in a competitive industry.

Lowry Computer Products developed the first phase of the system, which includes hardware from Motorola and Symbol Technologies, software from Globe Ranger, and UPM Raflatac RFID inlays paired with waterproof labels. Lowry’s own Fresh Harvest tracking solution unifies these components, providing real-time supply chain data including when boxed produce is planted and harvested, what pesticides are used, and when and where RFID-tagged boxes are scanned. All this information is automatically uploaded into a database accessible to both program participants and, via the initiative’s web portal, the general public.

State officials are now planning for the next two phases of the initiative. Enhancements may include RFID-enabled cellphones to enable more farms to participate, and implementing produce temperature tracking to reduce the threat of food spoilage. The program may eventually be expand to cover 5,000 Hawaiian farms.

Funding for the pilot program was provided by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the Economic Development Alliance of Hawaii, the Federal State Marketing Improvement Program, and the Hawaii Farm Bureau Federation.

“The Ledge” Pt. 3: Relating to Taro Security and GMO

My father-in-law is one of the people spearheading this Taro Bill.  I’m not going to get into the debate here about GMO, but I just thought I’d pass along the information about the bill.

“Uncle (dad) shares a little about his life and connection with Kalo.
This video was made to encourage input from the public on House Bill 1663
prohibiting genetically modified taro.”

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=COajohsV4hA&hl=en&fs=1]

HB1663
RELATING TO TARO SECURITY.
Genetically Modified Taro; Prohibition
Prohibits the development, testing, propagation, release, importation, planting, or growing of genetically modified taro in the State of Hawaii.



Coming Soon: Seeds of Hope… The Future of Agriculture in Hawai’i

Here is a promo for the new movie “Seeds of Hope… The Future of Agricuture in Hawai’i“.  It was produced by the Hawaii Rural Development Council:

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=td-NVxbdWjA&hl=en&fs=1]

More information on the Hawaii Seed Organization here

Council Overrides Mayor Kim’s Veto… Bill 361 Taro/Coffee Bill to Become Law

I just got word that the council had enough votes to override Mayor Kim and that the Bill 361 will become law.

More of my blog posts regarding this Bill here.

This was one of the best moves this council has done.  They stood strong behind there constituents and I applaud them all for not sucking up to the big money corporations.

P.S. I’d like to thank the readers of my blog that I saw in the council room today before the votes were taken.  You know who you are. ;)