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Bill on genetically modified food labels debated

By Anita Hofschneider

Associated Press


Environmental groups are urging state lawmakers to require all genetically modified food to carry boldface labeling.

House lawmakers debated the bill Monday, which proposes mandatory labeling of any genetically modified agricultural commodity sold in Hawaii.

Advocates say people deserve to know whether their food is genetically modified so they can make informed choices about what to buy and eat.

"I and many mothers deserve the right to know what we are feeding our children," said Jessica Mitchell, one of several parents who testified in favor of the bill.

Opponents argue that the labels will drive up food costs and that there are no nutritional differences between food grown naturally and food that has been modified.

Alicia Maluafiti of the Hawaii Crop Improvement Association says requiring labeling is unfair to Hawaii residents, particularly small farmers who would be forced to comply and shoulder higher costs.

"If you pass a mandated labeling bill, you're going to force a mandatory regulatory process and a tax on consumers for 80 percent of the food that's in the supermarket," Malua­fiti said. "It's not fair for every family in Hawaii that's struggling every day to put food on the table."

Community members presented conflicting scientific research supporting their opposing positions.

Labeling of genetically modified food has stirred controversy in other states, as well. A ballot measure to require labeling of genetically modified food in California was defeated in November after opponents spent $46 million in negative advertising.

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hawaiinui wrote:
Labeling costs should be no more than when we adopted the HI-5 on our beverage containers and is of little or no consequence when every consumer deserves to know what they are eating, period! Alicia Maluafiti (a paid lobbyist) of the Hawaii Crop Improvement Association says "If you pass a mandated labeling bill, you're going to force a mandatory regulatory process and a tax on consumers for 80 percent of the food that's in the supermarket," Malua­fiti said. "It's not fair for every family in Hawaii that's struggling every day to put food on the table." By this standard, it would mean that we'd like to eat food that is cheap (regardless of the long term effects) rather than food that is safe. Either way, we (the consumer) have the right to know and choose what we consume.
on February 5,2013 | 02:14AM
BluesBreaker wrote:
False. Labeling would require that national companies create a special bag, just for Hawaii and redesign their packaging to include a separate label with the specifications set forth in the bill. This would affect the design of package considerably. The alternative would be for local merchants to put labels on by hand. This would be a full time job, since most food on our grocery shelves contains crops grown using agricultural biotechnology.

None of this makes sense because the EPA, FDA, DOA and many other agencies and organizations have stated that GMO foods and non-GMO foods are identical and there is no difference nutritionally or in the way the body absorbs them. Three trillion serving of GMO foods over the past 15 years and no scientific evidence that they have caused any health or safety problems. In other words, a big expense for no good reason.

on February 5,2013 | 05:40AM
bender wrote:
There's no reason they would have to create special packages for Hawaii. Just because it's labeled GMO or Non-GMO doesn't mean it could not be sent to the other 49 states. All those agencies you mention have vetted other food and/or medicines in the past that turned out to be bad for us.
on February 5,2013 | 06:25AM
Skyler wrote:
Very true - and how much can three words, "Contains GMO ingredients" cost anyway?
on February 5,2013 | 09:21PM
hawaiinui wrote:
"Labeling would require that national companies create a special bag"...how is that necessary? Recycable cans were marked with several state names, and then Hawaii was added...has that ever raised the cost of soda for us? And the idea that the look of the container or having to redesign the packaging "considerably" is not so? Imagine a simple :GMO" included in the ingredient portion of the packaging. This is simply, labeling simply gives consumers the option to buy something or not. It's a choice, not a consumption mandate to demonize a product. All the MILLIONS spent to "kill" such iniatitives through well paid lobbyists only raises concerns as to why not label. If it's so safe and benign, simply label for the "consumers right to know" and let the cards fall where they may.
on February 5,2013 | 06:31AM
mamacita808 wrote:
Well said, hawaiinui,
on February 5,2013 | 06:44AM
GoRaiders wrote:
Exactly! and btw, calling it a "tax" is a disingenuous lobbist's scare tactic. If it so safe, why the resistance? Why not give the information to the consumers and let them decide whats best for them...unless you're worried you have an inferior product. I love my caged in chicken and GMO mass produced food Again, Its simply about disclosure.
on February 5,2013 | 01:13PM
Venus1 wrote:
Oregon does it !! The U S should !!!Hawaii certainly should label.
on February 5,2013 | 10:53AM
eleu808 wrote:
Is $46 million in negative advertising a good return on investment? "Instead of quelling the demand for labeling, the defeat of the California measure has spawned a ballot initiative in Washington State and legislative proposals in Connecticut, Vermont, New Mexico and Missouri, and a swelling consumer boycott of some organic or “natural” brands owned by major food companies" And this month, a senator in Missouri, home of Monsanto, one of the biggest producers of genetically modified seeds, proposed legislation that would require the labeling of genetically engineered meat and fish. “I don’t want to hinder any producer of genetically modified goods,” the senator, Jamilah Nasheed, who represents St. Louis, said in a news release. “However, I strongly feel that people have the right to know what they are putting into their bodies.” (STEPHANIE STROM, NY Times, 1/31/13)
on February 5,2013 | 04:44AM
Mike174 wrote:
Label it!
on February 5,2013 | 05:07AM
BluesBreaker wrote:
The anti-GMO crowd embraces the same thinking as those who oppose vaccines and deny global warming. They refuse to accept science in favor of religious, political and/or philosophically based beliefs.
on February 5,2013 | 05:44AM
bender wrote:
You forgot to mention those who are on healthy living lifestyles. That doesn't include me but I do feel they should know what they are buying. If we can have truth in lending laws then why not labeling laws. Perhaps some of those would be eye openers.
on February 5,2013 | 06:26AM
hawaiinui wrote:
Simple not so. Anyone (GMOers or not) can reject having innoculations because they CHOOSE to (religious reasons, fear of shots, whatever) but they simply DON'T know what they're eating (and have been eating for too many years as it seems) and that is just not right. And anyone's refusal to "embrace" the your opinion in regards to vaccines, global warming as they feel compelled is their right and privilege living in America.
on February 5,2013 | 06:40AM
Motherof9 wrote:
Funny that you mention innoculations. What's in those vaccines? Many medicines are derived from gmo products. Insulin and a number of anti-siezure and birth control meds come to mind. Does that make it bad? With gmo so pervasive and yet the US (and world) life-expectancy increasing every decade, where's the evidence that gmo is killing our children? If you don't want to ingest gmo, go organic. Those folks have already discovered they can make a nice buck selling "organic" labelled stuff, so you should go patronize them. Leave the gmo stuff for us non-believers.
on February 5,2013 | 11:27AM
mamacita808 wrote:
So what? Science from who? The people who are making money off the GMO poison they are trying to shove down our throats. Companies like Monsanto and Mycogen. What about the science that says it cannot be proven that GMO is NOT harmful? What about all the Round Up in our food being consumed by innocent children? Again, if GMO is all fine and dandy like these companies claim, then why deny the public the right to know and make the choice for ourselves?
on February 5,2013 | 06:49AM
Skyler wrote:
Well said, and I agree - if it's NO BIG TING, why all the fuss? Only takes 3 little words to let you know: "Contains GMO Ingredients" - they can put it right under the ALLERGEN label, if they want.
on February 5,2013 | 09:24PM
shee26 wrote:
No one is denying anyone the right to know. Do your own research from the science perspective, if you dare to that is. Start of by understanding the basics of genetics, of which most people have really no clue about.
on February 5,2013 | 09:40PM
Motherof9 wrote:
People should just assume that whatever food they are buying contains some genetically modified material, since most of it does. If growers or manufacturers who do not use any GMO products want people to know that about them and their products, then they should include that on thier labels as a selling point. What's the big deal? Why force more cost and government regulation onto the citizenry?
on February 5,2013 | 07:41AM
GoRaiders wrote:
Because its the right thing to do? what a concept.
on February 5,2013 | 01:12PM
Maneki_Neko wrote:
"I and many mothers deserve the right to know what we are feeding our children,"

Exactly. End of story.

on February 5,2013 | 08:33AM
st1d wrote:
difficult to comment on the merits or drawbacks of the debate as the star advert refuses to designate exactly what bill the story refers to. it's so simple to include the bill number and title in the report, at least it would be for a competent reporter or paper.
on February 5,2013 | 12:57PM
HDougMatsuoka wrote:
A couple of omissions in this story. (1) The actual bill this article is about. Itʻs HB174 Relating to Food Labeling; (2) What will it take to get the Star Advertiser editors to check the names of spokespersons from a list of registered state lobbyists? Alicia Maluafiti is a lobbyist for the GMO industry. The Hawaii Crop Improvement Association is an umbrella group of lobbyists from Monsanto, Syngenta, Pioneer Hi-Bred, Mycogen, BASF, and Dow. This link goes to the Hawaii State Ethics Commission pdf file of all registered lobbyists. http://hawaii.gov/ethics/lobby/lobfiles/reglob/lljun12.pdf
on February 5,2013 | 06:50PM
st1d wrote:
thank you. reading hb174 brings up two questions.

1. if a gmo product/organism does not exhibit/possess gmo traces, how is the dept of health to develop protocol to identify a gmo product/organism.

2. if this section does not apply to places that serve ready to eat food, how will it apply to supermarkets that offer ready to eat food? markets that offer food for immediate consumption, it seems, would be able to sell unlabeled foods in other sections of the markets and not be in violation of this proposed bill, defeating the purpose of this bill.

on February 5,2013 | 08:03PM
Skyler wrote:
Thank you, Mr. Matsuoka. I don't know what's happened to real reporting these days... sad really (no pun intended).
on February 5,2013 | 09:26PM
Slow wrote:
Mahalo for providing essential factual data. At least the SA provides this forum and contributors such as you make it valuable. Please continue to do so and help upgrade this part of the SA.
on February 6,2013 | 12:28PM
shee26 wrote:
Everyone and their aunty can say, GMO is bad, get rid of it, I won't eat it. But I wonder, really, how many of them even know what the heck DNA is? Let alone what it does in a cell. How does DNA and human nutrition related to each other? The anti-science movement is such a hypocrisy. The same people that claim global warming the the same ones who cry out GMO is dangerous. Global warming evidence came from scientific evidence yet you reject the same science that studies GMOs and its safety. The anti-science movement indeed are the ones who doubt vaccinations and the science behind it, while children around the world die and yearn to be protected from such preventable diseases. The pervasive myths are all over the internet like the RoundUp corn causes tumors. Do you even know who did that study and what happened to it? Nope, cause you probably only read excerpts on it some biased website that had no science behind it. The European Food Safety Association found that it was flawed and that it was not of sound evidence. The scientist would not even release all of his data for further review! Then again, most people can't even understand any of the information on these studies anyways. The anti-GMO folks also claim that it kills people. Uh, name one. I can go on and on about the deaths and disability caused by eating organic food. Talk about right to know, know what E. coli 0157 is and how it is used affecting organic food. They also are the ones who cry out that it is dangerous because "we just don't know." You're right, you just don't know about what genetics is. Ignorance is bliss! If you wish to not be ignorant and get educated, then I urge you to look up the name Mark Lynas. Then there is all the demonizing of Monsanto. Um, yeah, if you steal intellectual property from someone after signing an agreement, you will be sued. If I had a novel device I invented and someone else tries to sell it, I'd be sure to sue them and stop them from using it. Why is that wrong? Just because you wanted Food, Inc. and all the skewed Hollywood documentaries on the big screen and you believe it all and don't even research the issues. Yup, Hollywood is sure full of reliable sources of information. Like Jenny McCarthy and her tirade about vaccinations and autism despite Dr. Wakefield losing his medical license for falsify data, doing unethical actions, and conflict of interest such as being paid by lawyers of autistic kids and their parents. That's a great example of crooked science at its best. As far as adding costs, more regulations means more costs. The costs are called implementation. Read the testimony from these bills and educated yourselves of where it comes from. How much more can we keep choking our hardworking local folks off already? Then you want to talk about special interests and greed of the big companies like Monsanto... Just look up the close ties one of the introducers of the bill is to the environmental groups. Did you know that each time environmental groups like EarthJustice sues the state or the federal government they get to recover their costs from us the taxpayer. Here's one, a low estimate is around $4.7 billion dollars were paid to them in 2003-2007. That's just the tip of the iceberg. Talk about taxpayer rip off! As BluesBreaker mentions too, yes, we special Hawaii folks will need a special label for our food and that might mean exclusions from even bothering with bringing food here in the first place. Why would food producers who are food safety certified want to take more time to specially treat food that is already deemed safe just for us when it will break their margins. Is that good for the public? Thank you to all you conspiracy theorists for perpetuating the anti-science movement and divulge to the world our ignorance.
on February 5,2013 | 09:28PM
kalanik001 wrote:
shee26 you rant like you are paid by monsanto or some other agribusiness conglomerate.there is science on both sides of argument, its a matter of who you trust. the folks that gave you "pink slime ground meat product" or concerned citizens. 99 percent of the population doesnt care what misinformation paid lobbyists spew forth. bottom line the public has a right to know. we have labels that list nutritional information, calories, hydrogenated oils, info for diabetics, country of origin, etc. what could possibly be so harmful of adding two little words to the label. "contains GMOs"
on February 5,2013 | 11:14PM
shee26 wrote:
what science? seralini? junk science and flawed methods? run a small business and see how implementation of regulations costs. run a farm and try to make a profit then see what its like. yeah i rant just like all you conspiracy anti-science folks. what's so harmful about it? what's DNA?
on February 6,2013 | 05:53AM
Slow wrote:
While this is an energetic defense of GMO and attack on the non-GMO folks, it ignores the most fundamental point made by many: WE HAVE A RIGHT TO KNOW!
on February 6,2013 | 10:51AM
shee26 wrote:
If you read the bill, guess you won't be eating out at restaurants because they don't have to label foods that are GMO. If you eat out a lot, there goes your consumption of GMO foods and "unknown risks." If you want to know with a label, then it is there... Organic. Its not an attack, it called presentation of facts.
on February 6,2013 | 06:38PM
st1d wrote:
will bouys who are now gulls be required to be labeled gmo.
on February 6,2013 | 09:50AM
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