Kouchi, Kawakami & Tokioka squirm

SUBHEAD: Tell Senator Kouchi to play it straight. DO NOT shift GMO labeling burden to stores!

By Phoebe Eng on 9 March 2013 in Island Breath -
(http://islandbreath.blogspot.com/2013/03/kouchi-kwakami-tokioka-squirm.html)


Image above: Architectural rendering of Whole Foods store in Kailua, Hawaii.  From (http://jeffbrink.com/image-of-the-month/whole-foods-%E2%80%93-kailua-hawaii/).

Several Kauai voters recently received Rep. Tokioka's response to our letters of support of HB 174 (GMO labeling bill). See (http://islandbreath.blogspot.com/2013/03/ron-kouchi-gmo-labeling.html).

Rep. Tokioka states that while he supported the bill (with reservations) he, Rep. Derek Kawakami, and Sen. Ron Kouchi are working instead on what he calls a "Whole Foods" approach. Rep Tokioka, Rep. Kawakami and Sen Kouchi prefer to allow grocery stores and other food outlets to adopt their own labeling programs. However, as lawyers point out, this is already allowable.

Rep. Tokioka also says it is impossible to determine or verify whether all products contains GMO's. However, also according to lawyers, GMO labeling would be just like any other labeling requirement - there would be spot inspections and enforcement against those who break the law. (for Rep. Tokioka's full response to those who wrote letters of support for HB 174, see bottom of this email).

Fortunately for all of us who support GMO labeling, Whole Foods just coincidentally announced Friday that it WILL NOW REQUIRE the labeling of GMO's sold in its stores! Here's a quote from Whole Foods co-CEO:

"We are putting a stake in the ground on GMO labeling to support the consumer's right to know," said Walter Robb, co-CEO of Whole Foods Market. "The prevalence of GMOs in the U.S. paired with nonexistent mandatory labeling makes it very difficult to select non-GMO products. We are increasing our support of organic, and we are working with our supplier partners to grow our non-GMO supply chain to ensure we can continue to provide these choices in the future."

So Please, if you have 5 minutes today...

PLEASE cut and paste the article below to Reps. Tokioka, Kawakami, Morikawa...and most importantly Sen. Kouchi.

Please let them know that the GMO companies need to be responsible for the labeling of GMO foods, not shopkeepers and grocery outlets. Avoiding responsibility and shifting the cost burden onto others, and hiding important information from consumers is not the pono way of doing business or serving consumers and families in our state.

Sen. Ron Kouchi
phone: 808-586-6030
fax: 808-586-6031
senkouchi@Capitol.hawaii.gov

Rep. Jimmy Tokioka
phone:  808 586 6270
reptokioka@capitol.hawaii.gov

Rep. Derek Kawakami
phone: 808 586 8435
repkawakami@capitol.hawaii.gov

Rep. Dee Morikawa
phone: 808 586 6280
repmorikawa@capitol.hawaii.gov

Malama pono




Whole Foods plans to label GMOs by 2018

Whole Foods Market (Nasdaq: WFM) announced at Natural Products Expo West that, by 2018, all products in its U.S. and Canadian stores must be labeled to indicate whether they contain genetically modified organisms (GMOs). It is the first national grocery chain to set a deadline for full GMO transparency.

"We are putting a stake in the ground on GMO labeling to support the consumer's right to know," said Walter Robb, co-CEO of Whole Foods Market. "The prevalence of GMOs in the U.S. paired with nonexistent mandatory labeling makes it very difficult to select non-GMO products. We are increasing our support of organic, and we are working with our supplier partners to grow our non-GMO supply chain to ensure we can continue to provide these choices in the future."

Whole Foods Market now has 3,300 Non-GMO Project verified products, more than any North American retailer. In 2009, it began putting its 365 Everyday Value™ line through Non-GMO Project™ verification and encouraged its grocery suppliers to do the same. It is expanding this effort to work with all suppliers as they transition to ingredients from non-GMO sources, or clearly label products containing GMOs by the five-year deadline. The company will announce its progress along the way.

"We're responding to our customers who have consistently asked us for GMO labeling and we are doing so by focusing on where we have control: in our own stores," said Robb.

GMOs are now part of an ongoing national conversation, thanks to efforts of various advocacy groups and to U.S. states considering their own labeling laws. Robb added, "While we are encouraged by the many mandatory labeling initiatives, we are committed to moving forward with our own GMO transparency plan now."

"We have always believed quality and transparency are inseparable and that providing detailed information about our products is part of satisfying and delighting the millions of people who place their trust in Whole Foods Market each day," said A.C. Gallo, president of Whole Foods Market. "This bold task will encourage manufacturers to ask deeper questions about ingredients and it will help us provide greater transparency about what we sell, so our customers can be empowered to make informed decisions."



Rep. Tokioka's acknowledgement to letter writers on HB 174

Aloha,

Thank you for contacting me regarding HB 174; relating to the labeling of GMO and non-GMO products. In recent weeks, our office has been the recipient of numerous phone calls and emails regarding this Bill. I have been and will continue to support this Bill as I feel the goal of HB 174 is beneficial for all.

On Tuesday in the House Chambers, HB 174 had its third reading, was subsequently voted on then passed by the House of Representatives. It is now making its way to the Senate Chamber for their consideration. During the vote, I voted YES, however with reservations.

 The only reason for my voting with reservations is NOT because I do not support the Bill, but because as HB 174 currently reads, there is no mechanism in place or system that would be implemented which would guarantee that all "non-GMO" products are truly non-GMO. Moreover, it would be impossible for the State of Hawai‘i, Departments of Health or Agriculture, to inspect ALL goods that are imported into Hawai‘i and determine whether or not the product is GM or non-GM.

To address this issue, one possible solution that Senator Kouchi, Representative Kawakami and I have been working on would be for individual stores/chains to adopt or implement programs of their own modeled after a program currently in place at Whole Foods Market (WFM).

What WFM has done is they offer separate sections for non-GMO products. These products as well as the shelves they occupy are clearly labeled "GMO-FREE". The products have also been certified as "GMO-FREE" by the Non GMO Project. The Non GMO Project is a non-profit organization that is independent from WFM whose sole function is to verify that non-GMO products are in fact non-GMO.

What I like about the WFM model is that there is little to no Governmental involvement. Senator Kouchi, Representative Kawakami and I have met with many of the grocery stores, including Times/Big Save, Foodland and Safeway to name a few, to encourage them to follow the WFM model. Thus far the dialogue has been productive and their responses have been positive.

Many of the individuals who have contacted me feel that Hawai‘i could be a leader in the GMO labeling movement, which I am in agreement – to a degree. Realistically however, the Federal Government, through the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and/or the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), would have the greatest impact on achieving a comprehensive nation-wide labeling and monitoring program to identify GM products apart from GMO-Free products.

To that end, we will be introducing a resolution asking our Federal Delegation to pass a law that would adopt uniformed standards for labeling throughout the entire nation.

For the current status of HB 174 you may click here or copy and paste the following link into your web browser's address bar (http://www.capitol.hawaii.gov/measure_indiv.aspx?billtype=HB&billnumber=174).

Should you have any questions, please feel free to contact our office at (808) 586-6270 or via email. Thank you again for your sharing your thoughts and concerns, your input is greatly appreciated and I will be sure to keep it in mind as we move forward.

Aloha and Mahalo,

Rep. Tokioka


See also:
Ea O Ka Aina: Ron Kouchi & GMO labeling 3/8/13



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