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Councilwoman Wille on Killed GMO Bill

The council members generally recognized there is a need to restrict any further introduction of the GMOs here on our island offering suggestions to address those concerns. Given the current presence of some genetically modified crops here, the challenge is to move forward in a manner that is pono and  minimize the impact on those adversely affected by any restrictions.

Councilwoman Margaret Wille

Councilwoman Margaret Wille

Bill 79 was cumbersome with layers of amendments.  For this reason, I withdrew the bill in order to submit a clean, simpler version.  This “withdrawal” was simply a good procedural move, and should not be interpreted as any less resolve on my part to meaningful legislation.

One suggestion being considered is whether to set up a council ad hoc committee (comprised of up to 4 members of the council) to address related issues and how best to implement and enforce legislation. I submitted this possible format for this ad hoc committee at the August 6th council meeting in Communication.

Home rule issue:  If Hawaii County residents want to limit the spread of GMO crops and plants on this island, we need to have an ordinance in place before the end of the year.  Otherwise, we can expect the biotech companies to seek and easily lobby for passage of legislation prohibiting any county level laws that may interfere with the biotech corporate agendas (During this last legislative session, Monsanto and associates sought to pass SB727 which would have gutted county government).  For this reason any effort to postpone passage of a bill restricting GMOs beyond December 2013 is tantamount to killing the bill.

Thank you.  I do want to thank all who have submitted written or oral testimony. Just this past week I finally received all written testimony to the council for the July 2nd hearing and I have read through almost all of the 1000+ letters in support of Bill 79, and the approximate 100 opposition letters.  Prior to the August 6th hearing we again heard from many, both in support and in opposition and I have also read through this wave of emails as well.

The next GMO hearing on my successor version to Bill 79 is expected to be scheduled in Hilo for September 6th at 9:00 a.m.

Councilwoman Margaret Wille