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GMO-labeling proposal dead for this session

By Sarah Zoellick

LAST UPDATED: 04:45 a.m. HST, Mar 22, 2013

Senators Thursday afternoon deferred for this session a bill that calls for genetically modified imported produce to carry labels, opting instead to pass a resolution that requests several state groups study the issue in more detail and report back to the Legislature. 

Sen. Clarence Nishihara, chairman of the Senate Agriculture Committee, said he believed the deferral was more prudent and responsible than passing House Bill 174, which the state Attorney General has said could be found unconstitutional.

Organizations such as the University of Hawaii Economic Research Organization; the state departments of Agriculture, Health, Business, Economic Development and Tourism; and the College of Tropical Agriculture and Human Resources will be asked to study the feasibility of labeling GMOs and the economic impact labeling would have on businesses, consumers and farmers, as well as review studies on the impacts of GMO food on health and agriculture in Hawaii. 

Senators said roughly 130 individuals testified in person Thursday morning, and many more written testimonies were submitted.

Testifiers lined up more than 30 minutes early outside a Senate hearing room Thursday morning, and were allowed to address the committee until 11 a.m.

Senators previously indicated that the chamber would not hear the bill on the grounds that the state Attorney General said it could be found unconstitutional. Subsequently, lawmakers on Tuesday announced the bill would be heard in response to public pressure from GMO labeling advocates.

Nishihara announced before the hearing that the committees decided to take public testimony as a way to clear up misconceptions and educate the community about what the bill aims to do. 

Testifiers expressed concern that not all would be allowed in the small hearing room, explaining to senators that they want to be able to “feel” the testimony. Others, particularly those who traveled from neighbor islands, expressed displeasure that the hearing would end promptly at 11 a.m. and written testimony submitted 24 hours prior to the hearing would be accepted firs

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serious wrote:
To me, this is not a State matter. The Feds should get this on their agenda on a national basis, it's too complicated. Personally, I go by taste and price.
on March 21,2013 | 10:52AM
jess wrote:
It will have to be a fed matter for it to go in full effect since USDA regulates food. But, if there's enough huhu within the states the feds will have to do something. I go for taste and price too, but I'm not going to pay top dollar for "local" ingredients saturated in round up.
on March 21,2013 | 12:04PM
hi96822 wrote:
It makes sense that Hawai’i could lead the nation when it comes to regulating bio-technology...why wait for Washington? We should and need to be a leader in this issue---politicians are you up to the task or u just going to punt??? Hawaii is unique in the world...repeat the entire world, when it comes to biotechnology-we are the world's largest producer of GMO seed, we are the worlds leader in open field testing experimentation of future GMO crops, back in around 2006 Hawaii won one of the fist successful law suits against the bio-tech industry and shut down the open fiend testing of biopharrmed crops (biopharrming is the development of vaccines and pharmaceuticals using plants that are GMO'ed--yes, fields in Hawaii were growing plants that had been GMOed to produce vaccines and drugs, in the open air--that got shut down), also around the same time 2006 UH-CTAHR tried to GMO and patent Kalo (taro), to Native Hawaiian and others here that was a total affront to Haloa and that got shut down and the patents torn up. The GMO papaya, one of the very few commercial whole foods that is GMOed, was developed here in Hawaii. The seed growing operations here in Hawaii that besides the American chemical corporations Monsanto and Pinoeer/Dupont, include the Swiss chemical company Syngenta, and the German chemical company, BASF; Both of these foreign firms cannot legally do what they do here in their home countries. Repeat, there is a nexus of bio-technology research, development and production in Hawaii that is found nowhere else in the world. We need to lead and we need to regulate it on our own terms. Hawaii has a geography, history and traditions found nowhere else which is reflected in our unique and distinct body of law…we can continue to do this, lead---leaders lead or we will find new leaders. I Mua!
on March 21,2013 | 02:28PM
Maneki_Neko wrote:
Despite efforts by the paper to make anti-GMO folks look like crazies, the fact is that most of these people are just like you and me - average persons who would like to see GMO products identified at the point of sale. Clearly, those supporting GMO labeling are in the majority, a wide majority. The bill is about labeling, not banning or making value judgments. The cost of compliance (unless our politi-weasels go crazy) is minimal since everything already has a label or sign.

It is obvious that the people want GMO labeling. It is time for the politicians to stop playing games and start listening to the people.

on March 21,2013 | 11:18AM
loquaciousone wrote:
I kinda like that picture from yesterday's story. Reminds me of the movie the Ten Commandments.
on March 21,2013 | 11:31AM
OldDiver wrote:
Heh, I know which picture you are talking about.
on March 21,2013 | 03:29PM
HaoleGuy wrote:
It was a classic picture.
on March 21,2013 | 05:46PM
star08 wrote:
Its indicative of a lack of interest by so-called newspaper that they release a notice for the announcement of the testimony at 10:35am when the testimony ends at 11a. Ha! We can see.
on March 21,2013 | 12:12PM
HaoleGuy wrote:
Those that support GMO labeling are not in the "wide majority". I've seen more people protest and testify for public libraries than the GMO group. They are just more vocal.
on March 21,2013 | 05:46PM
mcc wrote:
Monsanto is destroying our aina with chemicals and GMO's.
on March 21,2013 | 11:27AM
BluesBreaker wrote:
This is just an attempt by anti-science types to affix a label to safe products that are just as good nutritionally as non-GMO products for religious, political and philosophical reasons. There's no scientific basis for this legislation whatsoever. Labeling is also strongly supported by Whole Foods for financial reasons, since irrationally stigmatizing GMO products will drive more business to them and their hyper-expensive stores.
on March 21,2013 | 11:28AM
Kalaheo1 wrote:
BluesBreaker wrote: "This is just an attempt by anti-science types to affix a label to safe products that are just as good nutritionally as non-GMO products for religious, political and philosophical reasons."

I'm actually a pretty science-y guy. I don't have a problem with protein either, but I appreciate that food has to list list protein content on the label. I like being an informed consumer, and feel that GMO corporations should be proud of their products and invite examination of their modifications rather than hide that information.

I also am wary of people like you who try to equate hybridized plants like grannysmith apples with salmon altered with whole segments of eel DNA.

I don't that the grocery store chain Whole Foods has spent anywhere near the millions and millions and millions that Monsanto, Syngenta Dupont and BASF. If you have evidence to the contrary, you should post it. As far as I know, this information isn't available for Hawaii, but look how much these GMO corporations have spent just in California lobbying to defeat labels for GMO foods:

on March 21,2013 | 11:54AM
OldDiver wrote:
Kalaheo1. I'm kinda mixed on this one. Are there peer reviewed scientific studies which show GMO foods are dangerous? I haven't found any yet. Perhaps you can provide me a link to one. Appreciate it.
on March 21,2013 | 03:27PM
Kalaheo1 wrote:
Ther aren't any that I'm aware of. GMO food might be prove to be completely safe and without environmental consequences. I suspect that our bodies will digest them just fine.

But lack of evidence isn't evidence and I think people should be able to know what they are eating. I don't think it's unreasonable for people to know what it is they are putting into their bodies, or if they are supporting business that engages in trans species DNA transfers.

Also, I get suspicious when I hear people like Bluesbreaker pretending there's a "whole foods" conspiracy when the GMO companies really are the ones lobbying our elected representatives like crazy.
on March 21,2013 | 04:38PM
postmanx wrote:
I agree with Kalaheo, I'm very pro science, in fact it's my understanding of science that makes me want to know which products are created using GMO technology. I want to be able to compare the taste of GMO foods versus non GMO foods and can't do this unless I know which is which. I also too don't understand why the GMO companies are not more proud of their products. They should be dieing to label them.
on March 21,2013 | 12:42PM
hi96822 wrote:
OH right, there is no scientific basis for claiming they are substantially equivalent either (that is the reason the feds dont require labeling, because GMOs are considered "substantially equivalent" to non-gmo food) it was a policy decision under Bush I and Dan Quale, not based on science, based on policy, the policy of giving the biotech industry a pass$$.
on March 21,2013 | 01:45PM
HealthyandHappy wrote:
Can't the legislature just form a committee to study the issue?
on March 21,2013 | 01:53PM
jess wrote:
Ha! Instead of going into effect in 100 years it would be thousands of years. The states can't do anything, this is merely a stepping stone to a national GMO labeling movement.
on March 21,2013 | 02:01PM
st1d wrote:
finally, an end to this year's bad science and greed with the anti gmo cult. but, like a stubborn wart, it will be back next year flaunting flawed studies and increased profit making measures against the gmo industry.
on March 21,2013 | 02:42PM
hi96822 wrote:
bad science greed cult flaunting warts profits gmo industry flawed
on March 21,2013 | 03:38PM
Mediocrates wrote:
Monsanto got what it paid for and yet the amount of lost wages of all those who took time off work to come down and bother testifying sadly doesn't count for squat. Corrupt officials bought by corrupting interests can never write just laws to protect the people. The people's will and rational demands obviously counts for nothing for some of these Senators.
on March 21,2013 | 02:54PM
Maneki_Neko wrote:
Death by the oh so convenient "let's ignore the people and study this some more." Of course no funding of these studies will be provided.
on March 21,2013 | 03:42PM
HaoleGuy wrote:
If it was, I am sure someone like you would criticize them for wasting money on a study! You made up your mind already, please stop pretending you even care about a study.
on March 21,2013 | 05:51PM
shee26 wrote:
No, just ignore the truly ignorant ones who make noise. Until these anti-GMO folks get a clue as to how to do legitimate science to prove their points, all the signs of protest, fear mongering, name calling tactics will only show that they should not be legislating laws.
on March 21,2013 | 06:38PM
holumuahawaii wrote:
The anti-GMO people are not crazy. Lots of primitive people believe, as do many anti-GMO supporters her in Hawaii, that they are personally and biologically related to plants. Nothing crazy about that, oh no. And those folks who appear at legislative hearings in 2013, and testify that before, when they ate GMO foods their bodies were wracked with disease, but now that they are "GMO free" that their bodies are as healthy as the day they were born, are not one bit like those poor wretches in 1413 or 1713 or 1813 who said the same things about how they "felt" before and after either (a) God touched them, or (b) St. Somebody touched them or (c) they had been cured by a bottle of Dr. Good's Peppermint Elixer. The anti-GMO folks are not crazy, just incredibly gullible.
on March 21,2013 | 04:56PM
shee26 wrote:
They are the smartest folks in the world! I'd rather have the Babes Against Biotech protecting my food any day than a food safety scientists with a PhD!
on March 21,2013 | 05:24PM
false wrote:
I guess we need to vote against Sen Roz Baker and Sen Kalani English
on March 21,2013 | 11:27PM
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