Rep. Clift Tsuji, Chairman of the House Committee on Agriculture, announced today the committee passed out SB958, in an amended form, to include a five-year moratorium on genetically modifying any Hawaiian taro within the state. The moratorium does not include non-Hawaiian varieties of taro.
In his opening statement to the committee, Rep. Tsuji emphasized that the bill does not prohibit or discourage the research, testing and planting of genetically modified non-Hawaiian taro. Further, the bill does not prohibit or discourage the genetic modification of any plant organism other than Hawaiian taro.
"The day-long hearing on this bill was very informative, and I think our members were appreciative of the thoughtful and well-researched points from testifiers on both sides," said Rep. Tsuji. "As a result of that day, we worked very hard to reach a fair compromise, and one that is respectful of both the Hawaiian culture and scientific research."
The measure passed the committee with a vote of seven (7) ayes, two (2) ayes with reservations, and three (3) noes. The ayes were: Brower, Chang, Herkes, Manahan, Tsuji, Yamane, Yamashita. The WR's were: Ching, Wakai. The noes were: Berg, Hanohano, Meyer.
The effective date of the bill is July 1, 2008. The bill now goes to the entire House for a floor vote. If passed by the House, the bill goes back to the Senate. If the Senate does not agree with the House amendments, the bill will head to a conference committee.