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Organic Consumers Association

Hawaii County Council Moves to Ban GE Coffee & Taro

Council Chairman Pete Hoffman said he has heard "overwhelming" public testimony in favor of the ban, and he'll likely support it again Thursday.
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Big Island prepares to ban GMO crops
The Associated Press, 11 November 2008

HILO, Hawaii (AP) - The Big Island may make it illegal this week to grow genetically modified taro and coffee.

The Hawaii County Council on Thursday plans to override a veto of an islandwide ban on testing, introduction and cultivation of genetically modified organisms.

Outgoing Mayor Harry Kim vetoed the measure in October, which passed the council on a 9-0 vote. It only takes six votes to override Kim's veto.

"My position remains unchanged. I think we need to protect our coffee farmers and our taro growers from genetic drift," Councilman Bob Jacobson said. "I'm wholeheartedly in support (of the proposed ban)."

Supporters of the ban claim transgenic crops could contaminate organic and specialty varieties. They've also called for more study of potential health risks caused by eating genetically modified products.

Researchers say science is needed to protect crops from disease and pests.

Kim told lawmakers that police would have trouble enforcing the ban, genetic modification research is needed and Hawaii should fulfill its role in meeting worldwide food production demands.

Councilman Stacy Higa said he's undecided about how he would vote.

"I am torn on the fact that we always need science and laboratory testing going on," said Higa, who had planned to travel to the mainland this week but was reconsidering his trip so he could vote.

Council Chairman Pete Hoffman said he has heard "overwhelming" public testimony in favor of the ban, and he'll likely support it again Thursday.

"I see nothing in the mayor's letter that would change my mind," Hoffman said.

If the ban becomes law, violations could trigger fines of up to $1,000.

 

 

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