Yesterday concluded two day’s worth of testimony to restrict genetically modified organisms on Hawai’i Island. Though ironically the initial impetus in genetically engineered foods began there with the GM papaya, the Big Island – unlike all the other Hawai’i Islands – has not yet been inundated with GMO farms. (For more about the topic, read this recent Huffington Post article “GMO & Pesticide Experiments in Hawai’i: The Poisoning of Paradise” on the precarious situation.) This may be due in part to the lack of soil there, as well as the fact the people have been so diligent in fighting against it, particularly with coffee and taro – but it’s only a matter of time if it’s not stopped now.
A large number of people, from all islands, turned out both pro and con for Bill 79, with lots of informed testimony. This could have some implications on other anti-GMO bills on the table in Hawai’i, including Bill 2491 on Kauai. An overwhelming majority of the public favored the Bill, while pretty much everyone speaking out against it either farms GMOs, works for GMO companies, or are bought for and paid by GMO companies. Opposers to the bill seemed oddly misinformed, not just about GE crops, but about the bill itself, which includes exemptions for existing GMOs – like papaya – already on the island.
Here are a few testimonies that should go viral. Check out Big Island Video News for more of the proceedings.
Kealoha Sugiyama’s testimony was a crowd favorite – see why:
Comedian and organic farmer Aunty Granny Roseanne Barr was front and center. She grabbed her balls (or nuts) a few times at the meeting (symbolically), offering some help to the current GMO farmers on the Big Island, “Everybody here is very giving, and they would bend over backwards to burn those papayas and grow something decent.”
A pretty good timeline of the GMO fight in Hawai’i*, leading up to Bill 79:
The food fight will continue July 30th, Tuesday at 9AM in the Kona Council Chambers (we find this very curious, as the next date for the Kauai Bill 2491 Public Hearing is July 31st, which would obviously make it more difficult for activists, organic farmers, etc. to attend both. Hmmm.)
From Babes Against Biotech:
Hawaii County Bill 79 to ban GMOs is recessed until July 30, 9AM in Kona Council Chambers…. Wille will introduce a stronger draft with less holes and exemptions which biotech could enter below the radar upon. Ilagan stated he plans to introduce an amendment as well, which will be upon the original draft as Willes’ final amend[ed] version will not be available until then…. [After] which case the Council will have to agree upon a version in discussion of multiple proposed amendments. Be on the lookout, reach out to your Hawaii Councilmembers.