East Hawaii News

House Bill Would Preempt County’s Anti-GMO Law

January 23, 2014, 6:43 PM HST
* Updated January 23, 11:00 PM
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 A Big Island lawmaker is proposing a change to state law that would preempt the Hawaii County ban on new genetically modified crops.

While it doesn’t specifically mention GMO crops, House Bill 2506 would prohibit any law passed by local governments that prevents farmers and ranchers from using agricultural technology or practices not prohibited by federal or state law.

The bill would amend the state’s existing Right to Farm Act, which Rep. Richard Onishi described in a statement as providing “protection from unreasonable controls on farming operations and from nuisance suits which might be brought against them.”

The bill is sponsored by 36 members of the 51-seat House of Representatives.

Onishi, a Democrat who represents the 3rd House District that includes the area from Hilo to Pahala, is among the bill’s 28 primary sponsors.

Other Big Island representatives on that list are Cindy Evans, Faye Hanohano, Mark Nakashima and Clift Tsuji.

The only Big Island House members not listed as a sponsor are Nicole Lowen and newly appointed Rep. Richard Creagan.

The Hawaii County Council voted in November to prohibit any new open-air cultivation or testing of GMO crops. Existing GMO crops, including papayas, are exempted.

Mayor Billy Kenoi signed the bill into law in December.

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