Hawaii Signs Bill Banning GMOs, Encouraging Community-Based Farming and Food Self-Sufficiency

Dec 9, 2013 by NATASHA LONGO

Representing the people and members of the Hawaii County Council, Mayor William P. Kenoi has signed a bill relating to genetically engineered crops and plants, effectively booting global agribusiness and instead encouraging support community-based farming and ranching.

After careful deliberation and discussions with members of his
administration and the public, Mayor Kenoi signed the bill into law on December 5th, 2013.

The new bill states they will not allow propagation, open air cultivation or any expansion of genetically engineered products and holds a stiff fine for violators. Violators will be charged $1000 per day, per location.

Hawaii will not burden the tax payer for costs involved for violators. In inclusion to the daily fines, violators will subsequently be held accountable for costs of investigation, court and legal costs, damage caused to non-genetically engineered crops, plants, neighboring properties and water sources.

Just last spring, an amendment inserted into the 2013 Farm Bill passed by the House of Representatives’ Agriculture Committee would revoke the ability of individual states’ lawmakers to pass GMO-labeling laws, food advocates warned.

Earlier this year Mexico placed an indefinite ban on genetically-engineered corn, banning companies like Monsanto and DuPont/Pioneer from planting or selling their corn within the country’s borders.

A month earlier the Russian Prime Minister ordered agencies to consider a possible ban on all GMO imports into Russia.

In the summer, three Italian ministries had signed a decree banning the cultivation of Monsanto’s genetically modified corn, citing environmental concerns.

In the United States, it now appears that Hawaii is at the forefront in the anti-GMO movement, a proliferation of organized regions across the country committed to banning and eradicating GMOs from the food supply.

Mayor Kenoi stated:
“Our community has a deep connection and respect for our land, and we all understand we must protect our island and preserve our precious natural resources. We are determined to do what is
right for the land because this place is unlike any other in the world. With this new ordinance we are conveying that instead of global agribusiness corporations, we want to encourage and support
community-based fanning and ranching.”

According to Kenoi, the debate over this bill was divisive and hurtful, and some of the hard-working farmers who produce food for the community have been treated disrespectfully.

“We are determined to protect every farmer and rancher. Agriculture on Hawai’i Island will continue to grow with county assistance, investment and support,” Kenoi stated.

That commitment includes initiatives such as the public-private partnership to improve and expand the Pa’auilo Slaughterhouse to support the grass-fed beef industry, and the launch of the Kapulena Agricultura Park, the largest agricultural park in the state on 1,739 acres of county-owned land.

It also includes support for innovative training programs to grow the fanners of the future, and to train veterans to engage in agriculture on Hawaiian Home Lands, and the introduction and advancement of Natural Farming as a sustainable method of producing healthier crops and livestock.

In addition it it will involve the completion of the first-in-the-state Food Self-Sufficiency Baseline Study of Hawai’i Island to measure the island’s progress toward food self-sufficiency.

Kenoi emphasized that Hawaii is determined to reunite the farming community to create a stronger and more vibrant agricultural sector:
“It is time to end the angry rhetoric and reach out to our neighbors. Our
farmers are essential to creating a wholesome and sustainable food supply on this island, and they deserve to be treated with respect and aloha. We must tum now to a meaningful, factual dialogue with one another.”

With the approval of the bill, the administration will launch a year of research and data collection to investigate factual claims and to seek out new directions that farming in the community should take. This work will include an expanded database detailing the locations of
both organic and conventional farms, the crops that are grown, more accurate estimates of the revenue earned from these enterprises, and the challenges our farmers face in meeting food safety and organic certification requirements.

“We will work with our farmers and our ranchers to carefully monitor the impacts of this bill over the next year to separate speculation and
guesswork from the facts,” Kenoi added.

“Today our communities expect that government will be as cautious as possible in protecting our food and water supplies. We all want to minimize impacts to the environment while also producing abundant, affordable food for local consumption. This ordinance expresses the desires and demands of our community for a safe, sustainable agricultural sector that can help feed our people while keeping our precious island productive and healthy,” he concluded.

We can only commend the courage and efforts the island of Hawaii is taking to ensure a safe and sustainable food supply. Other states should take note and use Hawaii as a model to defeat global agribusiness and become part of what is now an agricultural revolution.


Natasha Longo has a master’s degree in nutrition and is a certified fitness and nutritional counselor. She has consulted on public health policy and procurement in Canada, Australia, Spain, Ireland, England and Germany.

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