Thursday, October 31, 2013

Bill 113 - Final Reading! Com #393.70

Aloha e kakou,

The final hearing of Bill 113 is scheduled in Hilo on Tuesday, Nov. 5, 2013 at 2:00 p.m. GMO-Free Hawaii Island is supporting the immediate passage of Bill 113 even though it is not exactly the ordinance that we worked hard to achieve. This difficult decision was made based on the following:

  1. Councilmember Margaret Wille will not remove the Emergency Exemption from the bill
  2. Corn will not be sunset in order to protect from a potential challenge because the bill exempts only papaya.
  3. If there are many objections to the bill, Council Chairman Yoshimoto is likely to postpone the bill.
  4. The danger with postponement is that the bill will not be passed by December 31st, and the County risks being overridden by State legislation aimed at pre-empting the Counties’ right to pass GMO ordinances.
  5. If the bill is not passed, this topic cannot be brought before the Council for two years.

Kauai Councilman, Gary Hooser’s Bill 2491 to regulate biotech chemical spraying was gutted to remove all references to GMO regulation, and he advises us to take the small steps forward. The previous Hawaii Council vote was 6-2 with Councilman Kern absent. The final vote could be better. State Senator Russell Ruderman describes Bill 113 as a big step forward because it will prevent biotech field testing, and other positive aspects are that it will stop new GMO crop plantings, current GMO growers are required to register to disclose their operations and with the exception of papaya, are limited to specific locations cultivated prior to the effective date of the ordinance, and an emergency exemption application is a long process requiring at least four appearances before the Council.

For those who haven’t seen the current Bill 113 in its entirety, here is the link:

Moving forward there are other ways to tackle the GMO problem. The Ad Hoc Committee could tighten up the language of the bill, new bills can be introduced, and there is the option of amending the County Charter by ballot initiative.

When the bill passes, the challenge will be to encourage Mayor Kenoi to sign it into law. If the mayor vetos the bill, it is very possible that the yearend goal to avoid state pre-emption would be missed.


Mahalo for your support!
GMO-Free Hawaii Island

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Bill 113 - TAKE ACTION

Aloha e kakou,
The vote after the first reading of Bill 113 at the full Council hearing on Oct. 16, was 6-2 with Zendo Kern absent, Onishi and Ilagan voting NO.  Council Chair J. Yoshimoto changed his previous NO vote to YES.  Mahalos are in order for his support of the bill.  Councilmember Onishi's amendments to gut the bill were not brought up for discussion.
The second and final reading of the bill and vote could be scheduled for the next full Council meeting which is Nov. 6, and we will confirm the date when it is set.

The vote was taken on an amended bill that most citizens did not have an opportunity to see,

  1. which now includes an emergency exemption enabling a grower to apply to Council to use a GMO remedy for a crop experiencing "substantial harm" by a plant pestilence and where there is no alternative solution.  The exemption would be granted for 5 years with possibility of renewal. Councilmember Wille explained that she wrote it to dispel the fears of interested parties.  
  2. The registration section was also amended to withhold the exact location of GMO cultivation to public access, to address the fears of GMO growers that they would be targets of vandalism. 
TAKE ACTION:  The Emergency Exemption (see page 5 of the bill) is dangerous and has to be removed from the bill before it becomes law.  PLEASE CALL OR EMAIL ALL COUNCIL MEMBERS TO DEMAND ITS REMOVAL.  PLEASE CALL COUNCIL CHAIR J. YOSHIMOTO TO LET HIM KNOW THAT YOU DID NOT SEE THE NEW EMERGENCY EXEMPTION BEFORE YOU WROTE YOUR TESTIMONY, and testimony must be allowed on it because it changes the bill.  

Any of the points below would be important to discuss when you contact them.
  1. As we have experienced with papaya, the growers are fighting a losing battle to keep their shrinking markets.  Using GMO as a remedy did not save the industry. 
  2. This exemption actually guts the purpose of the bill.
  3. This is a loophole allowing exemptions to unlimited GMO crops or other GMO materials.  
  4. Contamination from an emergency exempted crop cannot be tracked without expert resources and can occur far from the growing site. 
  5. This exemption could allow for GMO crops with new unsafe traits for which the County does not have the resources to evaluate.
  6. A "GMO remedy" can mean newly developed materials applied to crops or soil, not just a GMO crop to replace the affected crop.  
  7. Organic farmers cannot use this option if they are losing a crop.
  8. The emergency exemption limits what neighboring non-GMO farmers can grow.
  9. The export market will not support GMO crops, so why allow them to use up precious island resources.
  10. GMO crops destroy life and should not be allowed to replace one on Hawaii Island that is dying out. 
  11. It is impossible to verify that there are no alternative sources for a plant pestilence.
  12. If Bill 113 does not provide for enforcement, how will any exempted GMO crop be enforced for contamination or any other "potential" adverse effects?
  13. Sunset the contaminating GMO corn in Hamakua. 
SEND THIS MESSAGE OUT TO YOUR NETWORKS.  A very large response is needed.
Mahalo for your QUICK ACTION to get this exemption removed from the bill.

GMO-Free Hawaii Island

Hawai`i County Council Contact Information

Bill 113 - Critical Amendment Com #393.68

Aloha e kakou:

The first hearing of Bill 113, Draft 2, at full Council ended at 10:30pm, Tuesday Oct. 15, and has been recessed to 1:00 pm Oct. 16.  Testimony was concluded and discussion on the bill and several amendments will now take place.

On Oct. 15, Councilmember Wille introduced an amendment to Draft 2.  Communication 393.68 has added in the Findings section that “Council finds that policies relating to ag practices are most appropriate to be determined by each county…”

Comm 393.68 also adds an Emergency Exemption that would allow growers to apply to Council to use a GMO remedy if their crop or plants are being harmed by a plant pestilence.  The exemption would be for 5 years with possibility of renewal.

GMO corn continues to be exempted in these new versions.

The bill is essentially being gutted by Comm 393.68, and being turned into a “GMO permission bill.” This is a loophole and the Emergency Exemption could be applied by Councils with differing political agendas and views on agricultural practices on the Big Island.  You can't have healthy soil, food, communities and people by continuing to use crops that destroy life. 

Please email Councilmember Wille to remove this dangerous Emergency Exemption.  After this first round of voting by the full Council takes place, a final round will be scheduled.  Please act now.
P.S.  Kauai County Council has passed Bill 2491 to control biotech pesticides, 6-1 !!

Mahalo for your continued support.
GMO-Free Hawaii Island

Hawai`i County Council Contact Information

Thursday, October 10, 2013

SPECIAL MEETING for GMO Bill 113 on October 15, 2013 at 4 pm

SPECIAL MEETING: 4 PM - October 15, 2013
Council Hearing for GMO BILL #113

Bill 113 was passed by the PSMTC on October 1, 2013 it is now before the COUNCIL for the first of two readings, on October 15, 2013.

Bill 113 GMO Prohibition (Comm 393.62) is on the Council agenda Tuesday, October 15, at 4:00 p.m. in Kona. Testimony is allowed on this second draft of Bill 113. There is a possibility that testimony could continue on Wednesday, but that is not known at this time. Don’t wait on that possibility….send your written testimony now.
In conjunction with the bill is Comm 394 formation of Ad Hoc Committee Relating to GE Crops and Plants, and testimony can be given on this.
Submit Testimony:
This is the last step to PASS the BILL!

Councilmember Wille is interested in passing the bill and forming an ad hoc committee as quickly as possible. One reason is the looming threat from the next Hawaii Legislature to pre-empt home rule. There is a problem with the bill….it allows Big Island Dairy’s GMO corn to continue to grow.

The bill grandfathers in GMO corn in Pepeekeo, Honomu and Ookala (approx. 350 acres) spread along the Hamakua coastline, allowing it to continue to grow, but not to expand acreage. This exemption is out of sync with GMO prohibition of “open air” cultivation. If GMO corn is not prohibited, non-GMO corn growers in Hamakua and elsewhere on Hawaii Island would be hard put to bring in a clean crop.

It is the intention of Councilmember Wille to have the ad hoc committee remove the GMO corn exemption AFTER the bill is passed. This “good intention” doesn’t assure removal, and could get derailed, leaving Hawaii Island with a second open air contaminating crop alive and well in the field.

Call your councilmember requesting an amendment be written to sunset GMO corn and presented at the Oct. 15 hearing. The Council contact list is attached. Testimony to sunset this corn within 24 months would be a good follow up to a call requesting an amendment. MANY VOICES MUST BE HEARD TO GET GMO CORN OUT OF THE BILL BEFORE IT PASSES.

Councilmember Onishi has drafted three amendments to gut the bill. Please also testify that you do not support these amendments along with their “Comm” numbers.
  1. Comm 393.052 Amendment to Bill 113 to exempt GMO research & cultivation by universities and government agencies, flower/horticulture industry, and allow cultivation of approved GMO crops/plants.
  2. Comm 393.053 Amendment to Bill 113 to exempt GMO papaya from registration. 
  3. Comm 393.054 This amendment repeats papaya and university/government GMO statements in both amendments above.

Mahalo for your continued support and action on this important issue.
GMO-Free Hawaii Island
FaceBook Page:

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Bill 113 Passed - What's Next?

Aloha e kakou,

Thanks to all of the activists and supporters who worked on this: GMO prohibition Bill 113 passed out of the Public Safety and Mass Transit Committee on Oct. 1, with a vote of 6 – 2 and a positive recommendation to the Hawaii County Council. Councilman Onishi was not present and amendments he submitted to the bill previously will be discussed in the full council when it convenes to take up this bill.
The YES votes were from Councilmembers Wille, Poindexter, Ford, Eoff, Kanuha and Kern. The NO votes were Yoshimoto and Ilagan, Onishi was absent. Although Kanuha and Kern did vote for the bill, they can easily waiver as we can be sure that opponents of the bill will be campaigning hard. In order to prevent a veto by the mayor, 6 votes are needed when the full council votes on it. We have work yet to do to insure the bill’s safe passage.

Council contacts listed below.
An unresolved issue is that the bill “grandfathered in” the GMO corn grown by Big Island Dairy in Pepeekeo, Honomu and Ookala (approx. 350 acres). Councilmember Wille was anxious to pass the bill to defend home rule, that the state Legislature may attack next session and that is why she called for the vote now. She believes that the contaminating corn can be handled later via an ad hoc committee. In reality, non-GMO corn growers would be hard put to safely grow corn on the Hamakua coast by allowing this particular “open air cultivation of GMO.”
A coordinated effort is necessary to urge councilmembers to write an amendment to this discriminating exemption, to have a true “no open air cultivation” law, and a first mention could be made when you send your thanks them.

The formation of an Ad Hoc Committee to study GMO issues and make recommendations or amendments to this bill has been postponed until the bill passes, on advice of corporation council that concurrent work on the bill and in any ad hoc committee is not legal.
The date and time the full council schedules this bill will be sent as-soon-as it is known. There will be opportunity for public testimony after which the Council will vote on it, and that process may take two sessions.

District 1 - Valerie Poindexter 
(808) 961-8018
Fax: (808) 961-8912

District 2 - J Yoshimoto 
(808) 961-8272 
Fax: (808) 961-8912 

District 3 - Dennis “Fresh” Onishi 
(808) 961-8396 
Fax: (808) 961-8912 

District 4 - Greggor Ilagan 
 (808) 965-2712 
Fax: (808) 965-2707 

District 5 - Zendo Kern 
(808) 961-8263
Fax: (808) 961-8912 

District 6 Brenda Ford 
(808) 323-4277 
Fax: (808) 329-4786 

District 7 - Dru Mamo Kanuha 
(808) 323-4267
Fax: (808) 329-4786 

District 8 - Karen Eoff 
(808) 323-4280 
Fax: (808) 329-4786 

District 9 - Margaret Wille 
(808) 887-2069
Fax: (808) 887-2072 

Mahalo for your continued support and action on this important bill.

GMO-Free Hawaii Island