The big island ‘Hawaii’ signs bill 113, prohibiting biotech companies to plant new GMO crops
Recently, Mayor Billy Kenoi signed Bill 113 into law that would forbid biotech companies and farmers from planting and growing new genetically modified crops. The bill signed by Mayor Kenoi is aimed to effectively block biotech companies from taking any deeper root on the big Island. Those who would violate the law would be fined $1000 per day and are responsible for the costs of investigation, legal procedure, and any damage to other non-GE crops, neighboring properties or water sources.
“Our community has a deep connection and respect for our land, and we all understand we must protect our island and preserve our precious natural resources” says Mayor Kenoi. “We are determined to do what is right for the land because this place is unlike any other in the world. With this new ordinance we are conveying that instead of global agribusiness corporations, we want to encourage and support community-based farming and ranching”.
According to Mayor Kenoi , the debate over this bill has been divisive and hurtful, and some of the big Island hard-working farmers have been treated disrespectfully. But such challenges would make Hawaii even stronger to protect its agricultural heritage and the County will continue to support and treat its farmers with respect to create a wholesome and sustainable food supply for the big Island.
However the bill exempts more than 200 papaya farmers who grow genetically modified papaya and other crops or plants that have been cultivated and developed prior to the effective date of this bill:
Hawaii was one of places in the world that was known for low contamination and growing the best food free of chemicals and pesticides, but thanks to giant biotech and chemical companies, the big Island has turned into a GMO battle field for testing new row of GM crops.
Although the Bill 133 has banned planting any new GE crops (with exemption of papaya), so far, Monsanto has planted more than 8,000 acres of Hawaii with GE seeds that are contaminating and ruining the organic and non-GMO crops. A heaven-sent fruit like the Hawaiian papaya is now genetically modified to be resistant to ringspot virus by inserting the protein of the virus into the fruit—similar to the way that vaccines create immune system by creating an antibody.
Monsanto and their biotech buddies have also gotten their hands on the patent for GE papaya that will allow them to use it against organic farmers if organic crops are contaminated with GMOs (even through cross-contamination). Now cross-contamination of GM papaya with organic papaya is becoming a big problem in Hawaii. More than 50% of papayas are now genetically modified and reports show that even organic papayas have small traces of GE contamination in them.
According to an article published by Civilbet.com, the sales of papaya was gradually dropped in half after the DNA of GE papaya was manipulated by giant biotech Monsanto in the late 1990s in order to withstand ringspot virus. Now almost half of GE papayas are being rotten on the papaya trees and farmers are stuck in middle of a much larger battle initiated by greedy giant chemical and Frankenfood companies including Monsanto, Syngenta, DuPont, Pioneer, Dow and BASF.
A similar bill to 133 known as Pesticide disclosure Bill 2491 was recently overrode by Kauai County Council after Kauai’s Mayor Bernard Carvalho vetoed the bill. The bill would put new regulations on GMO crops and would require commercial agricultural companies to disclose the type and the quantities of the chemicals that they spray on their fields.
According to civilbeat.com, Mayor Carvalho showed up in front of the council members pleading his case and urged the council to pursue a more collaborative approach that involves working with the state officials and biotech companies. "I do not believe Bill 2491 is the correct and legal path," he said.
Mayor Carvalho also mentioned that “although some activists support the bill hoping that Kauai would become a model for other counties, we are not placed in these positions to be a hero or pave the way for other communities. We are here to take care of Kauai and Niihau and the people who live here. Efforts of this magnitude take time, patience and above all heartfelt collaboration — and it takes leadership."
Big victory for anti-GMO activists since despite Mayor Carvalho’s plead, the members of the council voted 5 to 2 for the override of the bill:
For many years now, Maui’s local resident have shown concerns about the giant biotech takeover of their Island and the fact that giant Monsanto, Syngenta, DuPont-Pioneer, Dow and BASF are destroying the Island’s environment and the health of its local residents.
According to civilbeat.com, before Council’s voting on Bill 2491, the supporters of the bill took to the street in protest, camped out overnight on the lawn nearby to secure seats for numerous hearings, testified in front of the council for countless hours and erected signs with such slogans as “OMG GMO!” and “Malama Aina”.
Also, the supporters of the bill who were mainly the biotech farm workers and their families protested in the county council lawn over the weeks showing their support for the giant Ags and the mayor.
However, the County could be threatened by lawsuit since the giant biotech companies had previously vowed to sue the county if the bill was passed and Mayor Carvalho has argued that the bill is flowed and therefore legal actions should be taken against the bill.