Friday, July 19, 2013

Newsletter: Hawaii County Council will discuss Bill 79 on July 30th, 2013

Aloha Kakou,

On July 3, 2013, after two days of hearing at which 525 people signed up to testify on Bill 79,  the County Council voted to recess the meeting until July 30th in Kona, at 9:00am, at which time they will discuss the bill. No testimony will be taken at this meeting but council members will be able to introduce amendments to this bill, or vote on the bill in it’s current form. Please show up at Kona council chambers, or any of the satellite offices-and wear green in support of the bill. Bill 79’s introducer, Margaret Wille, has withdrawn her previous amendments, so the bill now reverts to it’s original form (per the May 14th meeting). 

Bill 79 aims for “prohibition” of GMOs, however, the use of the word “ban” is causing confusion. In effect, they both mean the same thing by law. The GMO crops covered under this bill if passed would be illegal to grow either way. That said, just to keep to the wording of the Bill’s title, in your discussions and future testimony please use the word “prohibition.”

A couple of council members have suggested "killing Bill 79 and write a bill for a Task Force” to study the issue with all stakeholders, the goal being to forge a plan for co-existence between the organic , non-GMO, and GMO farmers.”  GMO-Free Hawaii Island’s position is that research has shown that co-existence only works for GMO farmers.   

We urge you to read these two studies on the folly of “co-existence,” 
  1. 2005 Audit Report of APHIS (75 pg PDF)
    A regulatory branch of the USDA, which shows co-existence does not work; organic and non-GMO farmers seeds would always become contaminated, creating a win/lose situation: a win for the GMO farmers with the contaminating genes, and a loss for the non-GMO farmer due to pollen drift, insects or wind.
    Bill 79 addresses this fundamental issue and any further refining of the bill can be done through the amendment process.
  2. Exploring Coexistence of Diverse Farming Practices (11 pg PDF)
    “Coexistence = Contamination” October 2005 – February 2007
    Organic Farmers: Una Greenaway, Melanie Bondera, Vincent Mina, Richard Spiegel, Kimberly Clark, Routh Bolomet
  3. Call, Email or Meet with your Council Member
    Set a meeting or just send a courteous email to your council member before July 30th, to urge them to discuss the bill with good intent, propose necessary amendments and work in good faith to pass the bill.  Your help is needed to personally talk to your Councilmember at this critical juncture of the bill.

GMO-Free Hawaii Island supports an exemption to grow GMO papayas. We understand that this is already a prevalent yet struggling industry.  By working to get to know the papaya farmers, sharing farming knowledge and concerns and informing them of the premium-price market opportunities for non-GMO papaya, this industry could move towards a healthier and more lucrative market. We are all in this together- there is plenty of room on the grocery shelves, with over 90% of our food currently being imported. 

GMO-Free Hawaii Island has taken the position that we do not support any other exemptions for any other GMOs. That said, we understand that in order to pass what we feel is the core intention of Bill 79, which is to restrict the further introduction and use of GMO crops, plants, seed, trees, fish, livestock, and other GMOs in Hawaii Island, certain concessions are needed to get this bill passed.  If the final bill does contain any of those exemptions (except for growing livestock feed such as GMO corn, soy or alfalfa) at the end of the Council’s discussion, please support it because it will still be an historical step to save the healthy environment of Hawaii Island, provide food security and economic viability moving forward. 

The 2008 GMO coffee and taro ban was a much simpler ordinance with a strong message, paving the way to where we are today with Bill 79. Compared to the other islands, we are in a really good position, but once the GMOs get a foothold here, it’s really hard to remove them. Please continue to support this next historical stepping stone. There is an attached flier that you can print out yourself to spread the word about Bill 79. Mahalo!
The team at GMO Free Hawaii Island

Event Flyers for July 30th, 2013
4 Up - 8.5 x 11 - Portrait 2-sided

Sent on July 18, 2013

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