Hawaii’s Big Island Puts Ban on GMOs

Hawaii’s Big Island Puts a Big Ban on GMOs
Mayor Billy Kenoi, Hawaii’s Big Island Puts a Ban on GMOs

HAWAII – Last week, Mayor of Hawaii’s Big Island, Bill Kenoi, signed into law bill 113, which bans new GM crops from being grown.

Violators of the law, or of course those who grow GM crops, will be fined $1,000 per day, per location. Taxpayers probably wouldn’t be too happy about forking up the costs for investigations and other legal fees toward these offenders. No fear though: those costs will also be coming out of the violator’s pockets.

In a letter dated December 5th, Mayor Kenoi wrote, “Today our communities expect the government will be as cautious as possible in protecting our food and water supplies. We all want to minimize impacts to the environment while also producing abundant, affordable food for out local consumption.”

He went on to explain, “This ordinance expresses the desires and demands of our community for a safe, sustainable agricultural sector that can help feed out people while keeping our precious island productive and healthy.”

The bill exempts the island’s GMO papaya industry. The law reflects Hawaiian sentiments to encourage community-based farming, as opposed to letting global corporations take over their agriculture. Biotech companies have not yet begun operations on the Big Island, and the new bill will help keep it that way.

Kenoi said that the new law signals the county’s desire to encourage community-based farming and ranching, as opposed to playing host to global agribusiness corporations in a letter to council members announcing his decision to sign the bill.

None of the biotech companies that have taken up root in Hawaii in recent years, such as Monsanto, Syngenta and Pioneer, operate on the Big Island. The new law makes sure that remains the case.

“Our community has a deep connection and respect for our land, and we all understand we must protect our island and preserve our precious natural resources,” Kenoi wrote to council members. “We are determined to do what is right for the land because this place is unlike any other in the world.”

Kenoi said debate over the bill at times grew “divisive and hurtful” and that some of the island’s farmers have been “treated disrespectfully.” He urged community healing.

“We are determined to reunite our farming community to create a stronger and more vibrant agricultural sector,” he wrote. “It is time to end the angry rhetoric and reach out to our neighbors.”

The majority of Hawaii’s farming industry opposed the bill.

Passage of the Big Island bill comes just weeks after Kauai passed its own law relating to GMO and pesticide disclosure. A bill similar to Kauai’s law is expected to be introduced in the Maui County Council on Friday.

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