Big Island NO GMO Bill

SOURCE: Shannon Rudolph <>
SUBHEAD: Hawaii County Council hearing on Anti-GMO Bill 79 packs in hundreds to testify Big Island

By Staff on 2 July 2013 for Big Island Videos  -

Image above: Crowd at Big Island County Council hearing on Bill 79. From original article.

In what will end up being one of the longest public hearings in recent memory, hundreds signed up to testify at the Hawaii County Council committee hearing on bill 79 – which would prohibit genetically modified organisms on the Big Island. The debate has reached a fever pitch over the last few months (see the timeline video below).

On one side, those who favor organic growing methods, concerned over the corporate reach of companies like Monsanto – the powerful, multinational agricultural biotechnology corporation. On the other: papaya farmers, many of whom already use a transgenic, virus resistant Rainbow papaya to earn their living. They have found support from some of the island’s large farmers and ranchers, who say they depend on the science to survive.

The conflicting campaigns came to a head today, as the Committee on Public Safety and Mass Transit’s meeting at the West Hawaii Civic Center was packed to capacity. A TV was set up outside the room for the overflow crowd, and the remote teleconference sites were inundated with testifiers. About 400 people signed up to speak. At three minutes apiece, the council was looking at 12 hours of public testimony.

Most of the input was in favor of the bill introduced by Kohala councilwoman Margaret Wille (see some of the testimony for and against to the right). Supporters identified themselves with a green armband, and when they spoke, they silently cheered one another with a coordinated hand wave. Applause was forbidden, as the council hoped to maintain decorum despite the passions involved.

The diverse assortment used humor, quoted research, and spoke with emotion as they tried to convince the council to support the bill. Celebrity resident Roseanne Barr was front and center.

There were some who testified against the bill. Monsanto Hawaii’s Alan Takemoto and Hawaii Crop Improvement Association president Mark Phillipson went into the lion’s den, speaking out against the measure. Dr. Dennis Gonsalves, the man credited with developing the transgenic Rainbow papaya, was also in attendance.

Opponents of the bill include the Hawaii Papaya Industry Association, Hawaii Floriculture and Nursery Association, Big Island Banana Growers Association, Hawaii Dairy, and Hawaii Cattlemen’s Council.

The day continues on Wednesday, and some say it could even continue into Friday (no testimony on the 4th of July) when the councilmembers are expected to vote on the bill, giving it either a positive or negative recommendation before it goes on to the full council.

Video above: Time line on Anti-GMO Bill 79. From original article ( See others there.

See video at:

See also:
Ea O Ka Aina: Big Island GMO Bill 6/27/13


  1. Bill 79's supposed exemptions for GM papayas really amounts to defacto ban on them, to wit, from Bill 79's text:

    "(c) Any person using transgenic organisms in the production of agricultural produce or the raising livestock of any kind prior to the effective date of this article under the exemption allowed in subsections (b) and (c) is exempt from the prohibition set forth above in section 14- (a), provided documentation of the usage, the defined location and the extent thereof, is submitted to the department of environmental management, along with proof that all transgenic organisms are physically contained, as defined herein."

    "Physically contained” means following USDA protocols and guidelines at the BSL-3-Ag Containment Level or greater as outlined in USDA Departmental Manual No. 9610-001: “USDA Security Policies and Procedures for Biosafety Level-3 Facilities.” -

    Just what is BSL-3-Ag containment? See this slide show.

    There's no way that real farmers can operate under such draconian and totally unnecessary restrictions.

  2. Aloha Old Technician,

    That appears to be what you are. When you say "real farmers" you really mean techno-indusatrial farmers.

    What you don't get is that "real farmers" of the Green Revolution are the cause of the problem - not the solution.

    There dependence on petrochemical fertilizers/pesticides, petroleum fueled machinery, and intercontinental supply lines is suicidal.

    Time for backyard gardens and 100 acre family farms - not "real farmers".

    Juan Wilson
    Publisher Island Breath

  3. A farmer that decides to grow GM papayas doesn't suddenly stop being a real farmer because of that decision. Without GM papayas, there would be little papayas at all, including the organic ones. GM papayas are providing herd immunity to the rest.

    It should also be noted that one doesn't need petroleum to produce fertilizers. Google the Haber process to see why.

    And as far as small farms being the way to go, consider this thought experiment:

    Suppose there were 4 rectangular shaped farms, just small enough to be considered, "small". Suppose these 4 farms all shared at least one common side with each other, as is often the case with farms. Suppose that the only thing separating these farms from each other are barbed wire fences.
    One day, the 4 farmers meet each other at their common corner and they find out they are all growing the same crops, use the same techniques, using the same equipment. One gets an idea! "Let's cut down those barbed wire fences!". They all agree. Now they notice they, as a group, no longer need 4 tractors, only 1 or 2 and likewise for their other major equipment. They are notice they can combine their purchase orders and get price breaks.
    Question: Did cutting those barbed wire fences,thus making the 4, just small enough to be small, farms into 1 not small farm suddenly decrease their efficiency? If so, how?

    And, what is your definition of a, "family", as it pertains to farming ?

    - Mitch

  4. Mitch,

    Thanks for taking the time to clarify your points. I have decided to respond with another post, rather than take the space up here. See post "No to Agriculture" 7/15/13 at:


    IB Publisher