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BLOG: Marathon GMO Bill Testimony Pau; Discussion to Resume July 30

July 3, 2013, 6:45 PM HST (Updated July 5, 2013, 5:42 PM)
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Several hundred people who testified on a proposed Big Island ban on some genetically modified crops will have to wait at least six more weeks to learn its fate.

A Hawaii County Council committee met in Kona this week to consider a bill proposed by Kohala Councilwoman Margaret Wille that would prohibit introduction of new genetically modified organisms on the Big Island and place restrictions on those already here.

Testimony in person in Kona and remotely from several satellite county offices around the island went on until 6 p.m. on Tuesday, and continued nearly that late tonight.

This was actually the fourth day the Committee on Public Safety and Mass Transit has spent considering Bill 79 since it was introduced in April. The measure was also the subject of two days of testimony and discussion in May.

Councilwoman Margaret Wille has indicated she intends some fine-tuning for Bill 79 when a committee takes up deliberations again on July 30. Courtesy photo.

Councilwoman Margaret Wille has indicated she intends some fine-tuning for Bill 79 when a committee takes up deliberations again on July 30. Courtesy photo.

The time spent on the bill has made it the most contentious issue to face the county’s legislative body in decades — and the bill hasn’t even yet made it to the full council.

Some of the testimony in favor of Bill 79 appeared to treat it as a referendum on the worthiness of transgenic produce in general.

Meanwhile, those opposed to the bill say it and its supporters have failed to take into account the benefits GMOs have had on agriculture here and worldwide.

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The GMO legislation has prompted rallies and protests from both sides, including one involving a demonstration and procession in Hilo on June 28.

Following today’s completion of testimony committee members decided to resume discussion of the bill at a meeting scheduled for 9 a.m. on Tuesday, July 30, in Kona.

Wille has already submitted one amendment to the bill and has indicated that she intends to do some additional fine-tuning on it before it comes up for a vote by the committee.

After that it will move to the full council where it will have to undergo two more votes.

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