East Hawaii News

Anti-GMO Legislation Withdrawn; New Versions Forthcoming

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After four days of passionate public testimony and extensive internal deliberations, a Hawaii County Council bill that would have placed restrictions on genetically modified crops on the Big Island has been withdrawn.

Councilwoman Margaret Wille, who had introduced Bill 79 in April, today made the motion to kill the bill during a meeting of the Committee on Public Safety and Mass Transit.

The measure would have banned new genetically modified crops on the Big Island and placed restrictions on the growing of an existing one, papayas engineered to resist the ringspot virus.

Wille had already made substantial amendments to the bill and had indicated in recent weeks that more changes were to come.

She said today that she now plans to introduce a new version of the bill.

Councilwoman Brenda Ford told her colleagues today that she also intends to introduce legislation dealing with genetically modified organisms or GMOs.

Hundreds of people have testified on Bill 79 over four days of meetings that concluded on July 3 in Kona.

Part of the overflow crowd in the hallway outside the County Council chambers. Photo by Dave Smith.

Part of the overflow crowd in the hallway outside the County Council chambers. Photo by Dave Smith.

While most of those testifying were in favor of the measure, there were also many who said the legislation would have a chilling effect on Big Island agriculture.

Although the testimony period was cut off after the July 3 meeting, the matter attracted an overflow crowd to the council’s Hilo chambers today in anticipation of a vote that would have sent the bill to the full council with either a favorable or negative recommendation.

The matter was previously scheduled for July 30 but was postponed until today out of concerns about the impact of a then-approaching Tropical Storm Flossie.


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