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Environmentalists push for GMO labeling in Hawaii

By Anita Hofschneider

Associated Press

LAST UPDATED: 01:37 p.m. HST, Feb 04, 2013

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

House lawmakers were debating 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 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 from 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 for genetically modified food has stirred controversy in states nationwide. A ballot measure to require labeling of genetically modified food in California was defeated last November after opponents spent $46 million in negative advertising.

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st1d wrote:
again, i ask that the star/advert reporters include bill numbers and titles when reporting about legislative measures. it is difficult to determine the veracity of the report without having access to the text of the bill.
on February 4,2013 | 01:25PM
false wrote:
There are multiple bills dealing with the labeling of GM food products. The bill heard today was HB174, RELATING TO FOOD LABELING.

The GM businesses want to deprive consumers of the right to make an informed decision by hiding from us knowledge whether the products we buy might contain GM material or not. They argue we are too ignorant to make such decisions and should rely instead upon decisions made by the food corporations who stand to profit from having us believe there are no possible ill-effects from these products.

Many of hte politicians voting on these bills receive significant campaign contributions from the GMO companies. Again, we are supposed to believe their views are not impacted by the fact they are being paid to think there are no ill-effects. The entire process is corrupt. The right of consumers to make informed decisions is a core principle in an honest marketplace. And the liability of food-producers for dangers they might subject consumers to is another key element necessary for an honest marketplace. Should GM foods eventually be shown to have ill-effects, how can consumers know their problems stem from those foods and how can the producers be held accountable?

Too many politicians will bend the rules in order to do the bidding of Monsanto and the other giant corporations. We demand transparency, fairness and an end to these conflicts of interest behind campaign contributions.

on February 4,2013 | 04:30PM
st1d wrote:
thanks, false, much easier to determines what's going on with bill numbers.

from hb174: "Genetically engineered material" means material derived from any part of a genetically engineered organism, without regard to whether the altered molecular or cellular characteristics of the organism are detectable in the material.

(f) The director of health shall adopt rules, pursuant to chapter 91, necessary for the purposes of this section, including rules for the testing of foods and raw agricultural commodities to determine the presence and content of genetically engineered material."

the first section states that an item may be considered gmo even with no detectable gmo material in it. then the bill makes the health dept responsible for detecting the presence of gmo.

sounds like chasing ghosts.

on February 4,2013 | 04:51PM
entrkn wrote:
GMO labeling is in all of our best interest... except the tainted farm corporations and food processing corporations.
on February 4,2013 | 01:26PM
eleu808 wrote:
These companies should just label GMO already and stop trying to hide what is in the food we are eating. Food companies should be proud and brag about the food they sell, GMO or not. Unless they want to continue to spend more of their profits trying to crush any attempt to label our food supply, 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" (STEPHANIE STROM, NY Times, 1/31/13)
on February 4,2013 | 02:02PM
GoRaiders wrote:
Aside from HI Crop Improvement just who are the "opponents"? representatives from Con Agra? Monsanto? They spent $46M in California to get people to vote against their own best interest, but they want us to think they represent the farmers and the consumers. Did you ever wonder why this current generation of kids has so many allergy issues than prior generations? Just Label it. Its the right thing to do.
on February 4,2013 | 02:04PM
Motherof9 wrote:
Here come the haters! The anti-gmo mob clearly assumes that only modern technology equals more risk when it comes to food production. They conveniently overlook the fact that there are many very natural and organic causes of illness and early death, as the tradegy involving organic beansprouts in Germany proved in 2011. This was a public health catastrophe, with the same number of deaths and injuries as were caused by Chernobyl, because E.-coli, probably from animal manure, infected organic beansprout seeds imported from Egypt. Fifty three people died and 3,500 suffered serious kidney failure. And why did these consumers choose organic? Because they thought it was safer and healthier - more scared of trivial risks from highly-regulated chemical pesticides. Did the pro-label lobby forget to mention that? Viewed without prejudice, much of the anti-gmo/pro-organic rant is based on the naturalistic fallacy that natural is good and engineered is bad. Fallacy because there are plenty of 100% natural poisons and ways to die, as the relatives of those who died from E.-coli poisoning would tell you. Our lawmakers should demand clear and convincing evidence of gmo harm before subjecting the vast majority of Hawaii's people to the whims of self-righteous whack jobs.
on February 4,2013 | 02:25PM
GoRaiders wrote:
Nice try Monsanto. This has nothing to do with the merits or not of being vegan or eating organic.
on February 4,2013 | 05:53PM
shee26 wrote:
yup, accuse a person of working monsanto because they don't agree with you. really effective when you don't have a valid reply to the facts.
on March 4,2013 | 07:06PM
Nalochun wrote:
Isn't Alicia Maluafiti and the Hawaii "Crop Improvement" Assn. a spokesperson and front group for the giant food and agriculture industries? As such, aren't they more interested in protecting their profits than protecting the people and the aina?
on February 4,2013 | 02:47PM
Kaleo744 wrote:
I have seen GMO labeling on lots of products jere and on the mainland and the pricing to non gmo labeling products are the same and in some case cheaper,so enough with that scare tactic of telling the public that prices will increase substantially if GMO labeling becomes required..look at all the foreign countries they all have GMO labeling, THE BIG "M" and its deep pockets who has all of these legislatures saying other wise...crooked government who suffers? ALl due to the all mighty Dollar...I hope some day it will all start to crumble....that would a day to celebrate...
on February 4,2013 | 03:42PM
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