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GMO food bills rejected

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Bills to require genetically modified food to be labeled as such have been taken off the table this legislative session.

The Senate Agriculture committee voted Feb. 1 to kill Senate Bill 713, which would have required genetically engineered foods to carry prominent GMO labels, and SB 711, which would have required labels on genetically modified fish.

Critics of the measures argued that identifying genetically modified food in this way would discriminate against local farmers who use biotech crops.

"The perception here is that there is something inherently wrong with this technology, which is contrary to what is widely accepted by the scientific community," said Russell Kokubun, chairman of the state Board of Agriculture.

Kokubun told lawmakers that the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the Food and Drug Administration and the Environmental Protection Agency have determined that there is no significant difference between genetically modified and non-GMO crops.

Robert Harris, director of the Sierra Club’s Hawaii chapter, told lawmakers that GMO food holds unforeseen risks that are important to consumers.

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